Premier League Playback: Can QPR survive without Harry Redknapp?

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REDKNAPP WALKS OUT: GOOD OR BAD FOR QPR?

On Tuesday the Premier League was stunned as veteran manager Harry Redknapp walked away from his position at Queens Park Rangers.

The R’s are in the midst of a relegation battle and with Redknapp, 67, citing knee replacement surgery as the reason for his departure, it seemed like somewhat of an excuse rather than a genuine reason for leaving with 15 games to go.

[ RELATED: Who will replace Redknapp? | ‘Arry walks out on QPR | ]

Without a win, or a point, away from home all season (that’s a PL record), QPR are a bit of a mess right now. After a recent defeat at Burnley fan unrest was evident a Clint Hill and some supporters allegedly had a “few quiet words” while it was clear Redknapp was starting to lose the supporters as criticism from home fans compounded poor defeats.

After no new players arrived during the transfer window, Redknapp looked unusually downbeat on Deadline Day when over the years he has done more business than any other Premier League manager and thrived off of last minute wheeling and dealing to improve his squads considerably. Here’s what Redknapp had to say after walking away from QPR.

“I have had such a fantastic time at QPR. I would like to thank the Board, the players and all my staff, and especially the supporters who have been absolutely fantastic to me since I arrived at the club for their tremendous support. Sadly I need immediate surgery on my knee which is going to stop me from doing my job in the coming weeks.

“It means I won’t be able to be out on the training pitch every day, and if I can’t give 100 per-cent I feel it’s better for someone else to take over the reins. My relationship with Tony Fernandes has been one of the highlights of my footballing career and I wish the club every success. I am confident they will survive in the Premier League this year.”

One of Redknapp’s biggest features as a manager over the years has been his charisma on the training ground and in the dugout. If he has lost that, as it seems, then one of his biggest attributes to inspire his players has gone. He has since stated that he will return to management after he recovers from his knee operations. But after leaving QPR in the lurch at a crucial point of the campaign, what does it say about his appetite? Sure, he may have put QPR’s interests ahead of his own, which is admirable, but a new manager or someone promoted from within now has a huge job on their hands to clean up the mess Redknapp has left behind.

[ RELATED: In-depth interview with Hoilett ]

QPR’s squad is full of veteran players on massive wages (their wage bill is reportedly higher than reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid and German giants Borussia Dortmund) and there’s a real threat looming that if they get relegated from the PL this season then they could risk expulsion from the Football League as they will likely be unable to meet UEFA’s strict Financial Fair Play rules.

[ RELATED: Watch full match replays | PL standings ]

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Is Tim Sherwood, a disciple of Redknapp, ready to replace him at QPR?

The odds are high for QPR to stay up and if Redknapp isn’t up to for the challenge then he’s right to step down now. The R’s are only one point from being out of the relegation zone but they have won just five games out of 23 this season and need to turn things around. Fast. Over the years he’s steered West Ham and Portsmouth away from relegation but has also faltered with Southampton and QPR as he took them both down. If you look at the case of Saints, Pompey and at the current financial situation at QPR, Redknapp’s expensive buys have put all three clubs in real danger.

Southampton and Portsmouth both plunged into administration soon after Redknapp’s departure (it was not all his fault, as poor management at boardroom level played a big part) and QPR could be heading in the same direction. He took Tottenham from last place to the UEFA Champions League, was touted as the next England manager and worked his way up from the lower leagues to become one of the most recognizable managers in the world. Yet you get the feeling his powers are faltering and his straight-forward but slightly antiquated tactics, especially away from home, have put QPR in serious trouble.

This weekend they host Southampton at Loftus Road (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via Live Extra) as Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey have been placed in temporary charge by owner Tony Fernandes. The fans will rally behind their team and turn the stadium into a fortress as they have done plenty of times this season. It really gets rocking.

All the attention has now shifted to who can come in and replace Redknapp. Tim Sherwood is the bookies replacement, as he learned his trade under Redknapp and worked with Ferdinand at Tottenham. Is he the right man for the job? They could promote from within with Ferdinand, Glenn Hoddle, Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan already on the coaching staff, but a fresh face and new ideas are needed if QPR are going to save themselves.

Time is on their side to turn things around but after Tuesday’s events, ‘Arry is not.

Premier League Schedule – Week 23

Result Recap & Highlights
Arsenal 5-0 Aston Villa Recap and watch here
Chelsea 1-1 Man City Recap and watch here
Crystal Palace 0-1 Everton Recap and watch here
Hull City 0-3 Newcastle Recap and watch here
Liverpool 2-0 West Ham Recap and watch here
Man United 3-1 Leicester Recap and watch here
Saints 0-1 Swansea Recap and watch here
Stoke 3-1 QPR Recap and watch here
Sunderland 2-0 Burnley Recap and watch here
West Brom 0-3 Tottenham Recap and watch here

BREAKING DOWN DEADLINE DAY

Well, the January transfer window is slammed shut and Deadline Day has come and gone.

[ RELATED: Every deal in January, here ]

The biggest deal of the day was Juan Cuadrado’s $40 million move to Chelsea, more on that shortly, but although there were a flurry of late deals, things were busy but not hectic over the past month despite record revenue levels for every single PL club.

Here’s a few stats to break down Deadline Day…

  • 4th highest January window in terms of money spent ($200 million) since it arrived in 2003-04
  • PL clubs spent $68 million on Deadline Day
  • 50 percent of gross transfer spending by PL clubs was on overseas players
  • Signings made by Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal account for 50 percent of spending
  • PL clubs ($200 million) spent the same as clubs in Germany, France and Spain combined

Here’s a graph from Deloitte to show you the trend in transfer windows since 2003-04.

WHO DID THE BEST BUSINESS?

Jose Mourinho once again looked like a mastermind in the transfer market as Chelsea managed to bring in a Colombian star from the World Cup for a player who has underwhelmed at Stamford Bridge.

Juan Cuadrado arrived from Fiorentina for $40 million and Andre Schurrle left for Wolfsburg for $32 million. Masterclass. Cuadrado, 26, will add an extra dimension to Chelsea’s attack and boost Mourinho’s options in the final third heading into the last 15 matches of the season. Schurrle didn’t fail at Chelsea, but he hardly set the world alight at Stamford Bridge.

[ RELATED: Chelsea’s transfer wizardry has them ahead of FFP ]

Here’s the transfer grades dished out for all 20 PL teams by PST’s Kyle Bonn, how did your team do?

There were also plenty of deals which did and didn’t get over the line late on, as well as these intriguing storylines to explore below.

DEPLETED CHELSEA ESCAPE VS. CITY

It wasn’t a classic, was it?

Chelsea sat back and soaked up pressure from City, especially in the second half, and City’s one-dimensional attacks were rather easy to break up. With two holding midfielders playing for each team (Nemanja Matic and Ramires for Chelsea; Fernando and Fernadinho for Man City) there was no penetration in midfield and the entire game got clogged up in the engine room. With no Yaya Toure for Man City (Africa Cup of Nations) running beyond defenses and no Cesc Fabregas pulling the strings for Chelsea (injured hamstring), both midfield’s lacked their chief creators as sluggish build ups were easily thwarted by defenses.

[ RELATED: Player ratings | Three things we learned | Lampard reflects ]

Frank Lampard jumped off the bench for the final 15 minutes and got a deserved heroes welcome back at Stamford Bridge for the final time. But he did little else.

All in all, the match touted as a “title decider” didn’t deliver a match of tremendous quality and entertainment. Chelsea did not have a shot on goal after Loic Remy’s 41st minute opener and without Diego Costa for the next three games, plus Fabregas’ status unknown, Mourinho may be worried their lead at the top is only five points. For Man City, they couldn’t afford to lose but still have plenty of ground to make up if they’re going to overhaul Chelsea to clinch back-to-back titles. The best thing about this match was that the title race is still well and truly on the line.

STURRIDGE RETURNS, SPARKS LIVERPOOL

Liverpool fans, he’s back.

After five months on the sidelines, Daniel Sturridge returned to the pitch on Saturday. And he scored. It doesn’t get much better than that does it?

The Reds beat West Ham United 2-0 to go within four points of the top four and they now have their most talented attacker at their disposal for the final third of the campaign. Sturridge’s arrival back on the scene will make a huge difference and relieve plenty of pressure on Raheem Sterling.

Can Liverpool keep surging and challenge for a top four finish? With Sturridge around and the Reds now seven games unbeaten, why not? Brendan Rodgers has got his boys playing again, as the 3-4-3 formation is working a treat and is giving his players the perfect platform to launch attacks but also stay more solid at the back. Next up: Everton in the Merseyside derby at Goodison Park. No better way to send out the message that your back in the groove and ready to finish the season strong than by beating your fierce rivals. Right?

Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Editor and Lead Writer takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here.