Wheeling and Dealing: Harry Redknapp and QPR

Queens Park Rangers were relegated from the Premier League in the 2012-13 season. With how they performed, the relegation could be better described as the Premier League instituting the mercy rule. QPR didn’t win a game until January, only managed 30 goals in 38 games and finished the season with a grand total of four wins and 25 points. Their leading scorer was Loic Remy. Remy didn’t join the team until January.

QPR had a net spend of -40 Million pounds. Only three teams had a net spend worse than that: Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool. Manchester United won the league that year, Chelsea finished third during that same season, and Liverpool was a Steven Gerrard slip away from winning the league last season. These awful transfers led to Mark Hughes getting sacked in November after managing a measly four points in QPR’s first 12 matches. Harry Redknapp was brought in and did what he could but QPR’s situation was a mess that no one man could fix. Even the mighty Harry Redknapp.

With QPR facing life in the Championship, Harry Redknapp went about doing what he has a reputation for: wheeling and dealing. He loaned out several players whose wages couldn’t be covered on a Championship budget like Adel Taarabt and Loic Remy. He also got rid of dead wood like Jose Bosingwa and Christopher Samba.

Redknapp made use of free transfers and loans in the summer and winter windows to bring in Richard Dunne, Danny Simpson, Benoit-Assou Ekotto, and Ravel Morrison. Dunne, Simpson and Ekotto were three fourths of a defense that was third best in the Championship. Meanwhile Morrison put in four man of the match performances (according to WhoScored.com), along with six goals and two assists from the attacking midfielder position in 16 appearances. Redknapp also managed to nab Charlie Austin from Burnley for 4.09 million pounds. The striker led QPR with 19 goals.

Redknapp’s smart business brought to QPR to the Championship playoff. After playing 46 league games, QPR had to play three more games to return to the Premier League. They beat Wigan 2-1 over two legs, setting up a playoff final with Derby County. QPR had a worse passing percentage, only 32% possession, had a player sent off and only one shot on goal and the score was tied in the 89th minute. And QPR won.

***

Redknapp has brought success to whoever he manages, with a career going back to the 1980’s.

At his first job in England with Bournemouth, Harry promoted the team into the second division of English football in the 1986-87 season.

But Redknapp really came into his own in charge of West Ham.  He used academy products like Michael Carrick, Joe Cole and Rio Ferdinand and acquired players like Stuart Pearce and Paolo Di Canio to lead West Ham to a fifth place finish, their best in the Premier League era.

Later at Portsmouth, Redknapp got his club promoted to the Premier League. After a brief and not successful stint at Portsmouth’s fierce rivals, Southampton, Redknapp returned to Pompey.  In his second go around at Portsmouth he did something no English manager has done since: win the FA Cup, which he did in 2008 after beating Cardiff City in the final.

Perhaps Redknapp’s best work was the last job before he had QPR when he was in charge of Tottenham. He took over Tottenham in 2008 with Spurs having just two points from eight games in an awful start under the management of Juande Ramos.

Redknapp used the winter transfer window to bring in useful players like Jermain Defoe and Wilson Palacios and narrowly missed a Europa League spot. In his first summer, Redknapp continued to show his understanding of how to do smart business in the transfer market. He bought 19-year old Kyle Walker, Niko Kranjcar and Peter Crouch and built Spurs into a team that could play in the Europa League, maybe even the Champions League.

Redknapp’s transfers did just that, Tottenham having finished fourth with 70 points. Harry had led Spurs to their first Champions League berth since the 60’s. In the 2010-11 Champions League, Tottenham reached the quarterfinals. They beat Inter Milan in the group stage and AC Milan in the round of 16 before bowing out in the quarterfinals to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid.

After only making the Europa League the following year, Redknapp led Tottenham to a fourth place finish in the 2011-12 finish. However, they didn’t make the Champions League (thanks to Didier Drogba), and after what would’ve been Tottenham’s second Champions League berth in three years, Redknapp was sacked.

Redknapp is a great manager who also brings entertainment to the table. At West Ham, Redknapp, as he later revealed, was sacked from talking to a fanzine.

Then at his first go-around at Portsmouth, he resigned over feuds with Portsmouth’s owner over his assistant and the director of football. He then went to Portsmouth’s biggest rivals, and then came back to Portsmouth. I’m struggling to think of any example in any sport where a manager or coach left a team for it’s rival and then went back to the team he just betrayed.

To arrive at Tottenham, Spurs had to purchase his contract which led Redknapp to say “Pompey couldn’t sell a player in the [transfer] window so we sell the manager”. And then he left Tottenham over money demands. In short, the notoriously named wheeler dealer’s career is a wheel of a deal in and of itself.

Redknapp also excels at entertaining press conferences and interviews. There’s the time he swore on live TV after being called a wheeler dealer or getting water poured all over him.

Redknapp’s 2014-15 QPR will be a team with two major storylines besides ones from the manager himself. After 12 years at Manchester United, Rio Ferdinand will try to give the Premier League one last year hurrah, making Redknapp Ferdinand’s first and last manager in the Premier League. Ferdinand also doesn’t shy away from attention. He was a pundit for Match of the Day during the World Cup and has expressed his interest in managing England in the future.

Then there’s Joey Barton. Barton has a laundry list of incidents on and off the pitch which has earned him a reputation for being one of the biggest cunts in football. There’s the time he spent 77 days in prison, the time he got sent off against Manchester City for elbowing Carlos Tevez, not to mention his endless Twitter spats. Yet despite his behavior on and off the pitch, Barton has an 11-season Premier League career for Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR. Because he’s a pretty decent footballer.

QPR is not your average freshly promoted EPL team, and Harry Redknapp is not your average freshly promoted EPL manager. They’re both much more interesting.

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About Jordan Katz

Journalism student at the University of Maryland.
This entry was posted in English Premier League, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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