Harry’s Back: Redknapp named manager at QPR

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It seems like he’s been gone for a while, but in reality, new Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has only missed four months’ worth of matches. Dismissed by Daniel Levy and Tottenham Hotspur this summer, the former West Ham, Portsmouth, and Southampton boss is back on the sidelines at Loftus Road just in time for a transfer window, a great service to Sky Sports News producers expected to shoot a deadline day Redknapp through a Benz’ window.

It’s all part of the surreal comedy that surrounds one of England’s best managers. Perhaps he’s not quite the coup that QPR’s release claims (after all, where there really any better options for him?), but he’s about as good as Rangers could have hoped to land. Judging by his success as Spurs, where he guided Tottenham to two top four finishes, he’s certainly an upgrade over the man they let go. Instead of being run by someone perpetually weighed down by a perceived lack of respect (and attitude that extends back to Mark Hughes’ playing days), QPR gets a man with clear shoulders.

They also get a bit of a media whore. And Redknapp’s sure to make bids for Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe in the January window. Now QPR fans are the ones that get to make jokes about `Arry throwing 11 guys out there and seeing what happens, though his self-proclaimed tactical agnosticism has long been debunked. The smarmy relationship with the press that creates a tabloid boardroom – it’s all part of his charm. Redknapp will give Rangers fans plenty to talk about off the field should he fail to change fortunes on.

Those fortunes have left QPR without a win, the only Premier League team that’s failed to claim three points all season. They have the worst goal difference in the league and are six points away from safety, albeit with 26 matches left in the season. It’s a record that leaves few questions about whether Hughes deserved to stay on; rather, it’s unclear what took chairman Tony Fernandes so long to make a move. As bold as QPR have been with their checkbook, they were far less so when it was time to make a change.

But that checkbook has left a stocked cupboard for Redknapp. It’s a team that can challenge for more than a mid-table position, but there’s no reason a squad with the likes of Julio Cesar, Ndeum Onouha, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Alejandro Faurlin, Park Ji Sung, Adel Tarrabt, Junior Hoillett and Bobby Zamora should be in this position.

QPR’s main problem has been in attack, where they’ve scored only nine goals though 12 matches. Redknapp’s teams have always been capable going forward, so their dearth of goals should end soon, especially since the mere absence of Hughes should help. All season, Rangers have looked weak and dispirited, an extension of the cloud surrounding their former manager. For QPR’s attack, there’s as much subtraction going on as addition with this managerial switch.

That switch will take full effect on Tuesday when Redknapp mans the sidelines at the Stadium of Light. Today, at Old Trafford, he’ll be on the sidelines as his new squad faces Manchester United.

Redknapp’s managerial record:

Team From To Record
G W D L Win %
Bournemouth 19 October 1983 9 June 1992 7002457000000000000457 7002180000000000000180 7002107000000000000107 7002170000000000000170 700139390000000000039.39
West Ham United 10 August 1994 9 May 2001 7002327000000000000327 7002121000000000000121 700185000000000000085 7002121000000000000121 700137000000000000037.00
Portsmouth 25 March 2002 24 November 2004 7002116000000000000116 700154000000000000054 700126000000000000026 700136000000000000036 700146550000000000046.55
Southampton 8 December 2004 2 December 2005 700149000000000000049 700113000000000000013 700121000000000000021 700115000000000000015 700126530000000000026.53
Portsmouth 7 December 2005 26 October 2008 7002128000000000000128 700154000000000000054 700129000000000000029 700145000000000000045 700142190000000000042.19
Tottenham Hotspur 26 October 2008 13 June 2012 7002198000000000000198 700198000000000000098 700150000000000000050 700150000000000000050 700149490000000000049.49
Queens Park Rangers 24 November 2012 Present 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 50000000000000000000 !
Total 70031274000000000001,274 7002520000000000000520 7002318000000000000318 7002437000000000000437 700140820000000000040.82

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

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French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

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Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

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Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.

Allow England defender Alfie Mawson to charm you

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Swansea City’s Alfie Mawson is at England national team camp, and the young man is conducting himself in downright adorable fashion.

It seems the 24-year-old London defender cannot quite believe Gareth Southgate called his name for the Three Lions.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“A lot of people wouldn’t have even heard my name until this call up,” Mawson told the BBC. “You know it’s down to performing well at certain times, it’s down to doing the right things and sometimes it’s down to being a nice person.”

Mawson has played every minute for Swans this season, picking up two goals and an assist. More importantly, he’s won 3.3 aerial battles per game and 6.3 clearances.

While this won’t necessarily serve him well against the Netherlands and Italy in this week’s friendlies — they don’t put a lot of hopeful balls into aerial or clearing positions — it’s kept Mawson on the England radar for this summer’s World Cup.

Mawson is two seasons removed from playing in the Championship, and was loaned to lower league clubs like Maidenhead United and Welling United. At the time, he was going to “car boot sales with my girlfriend” which from my limited Googling seems the English equivalent of a yard sale and flea market combined.

“We are in a good position now where we don’t really have to do the car boots unless she wants a bit of excitement on a Sunday morning.”

Pretty good position, yeah.

FIFA urges Russia to hasten work on delayed World Cup arena

AP Photo/Oleksandr Stashevskyi
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SAMARA, Russia (AP) FIFA has urged Russia to speed up World Cup preparations at a stadium which needs “a huge amount of work” to be ready on time.

With less than three months to go until the World Cup, the 45,000-seat Samara Arena is the only one of 12 stadiums which doesn’t yet have a pitch installed.

The stadium in the Volga River city of Samara was already badly delayed due to a complex roof design, but now cold weather in the Russian spring is causing further problems. The pitch can’t be installed until the weather warms up.

“Obviously we would expect further progress than this,” FIFA’s chief competitions official Colin Smith said on a visit to the arena Wednesday. “We don’t yet have a pitch, and obviously we need to wait for some warmer weather conditions in order to get this pitch installed.”

As of Tuesday, instead of a field, there was an area covered with tarpaulins and snow. Temperatures are forecast to stay slightly below freezing for the rest of the week.

“There’s a huge amount of work still to be done,” Smith added. “From the information we’ve received there’s nothing stopping all these areas being completed on time. It just requires commitment and more manpower to get it done on time, and when we talk about on time, we’re talking about the commissioning date of the end of April.”

If that date passes, it could restrict FIFA’s ability to test the stadium with Russian league games and install World Cup equipment. Outside the arena, deep snowdrifts cover much of an area that is due to be landscaped for the tournament and will host some facilities for fans.

Alexander Fetisov, deputy governor of the Samara region, said the stadium will be ready.

“I’d like to avoid unnecessary dramatization of the situation,” he said. “Everything is being done so that the stadium is commissioned in the time required.”

Samara isn’t the only World Cup field which has drawn attention in recent weeks. The stadium in Kazan has been widely criticized by Russian fans after a brown, muddy surface was used for league games after the winter break.

Smith said FIFA was offering Russia help to get its fields ready, adding, “We’re doing everything possible and we’re convinced that we’re going to have a very, very high standard of pitches at this tournament.”