History Repeating Itself: Is Harry Redknapp Gambling With Another Team's Future At QPR?

on February 01 2013 1:08 PM
Stop me if you've heard this one before... Harry Redknapp spending huge sums of money at a club where they have, at best, a modest turnover, in the hopes they survive relegation. Sound familiar? This isn't the first time Redknapp has found himself in this situation. When he was manager of Portsmouth he was in this exact same situation. He spent big money and even bigger salaries on players to save the club from relegation. How did that turn out? Portsmouth were relegated, Redknapp walked away from the mess he left the club in and the club plunged into chaos. They were relegated again and have been in administration numerous times. The club almost folded last season and players this year have been playing on short-term deals simply to keep the club going. Is history repeating itself? It certainly appears very similar, Redknapp taking over a struggling Queens Park Rangers team languishing at the bottom of the table. He has used the January transfer window to strengthen the squad, but has he gambled the club's future on it like he did at Portsmouth? Well, that is up for debate. The QPR Chairman, Tony Fernandes, has offered nothing but support to his Managers since he took over the club. With Neil Warnock, he gave him the necessary funds to get the team promoted to the Premier League. When they struggled last season he was removed and Mark Hughes replaced him. Hughes was given funds and allowed to offer unattached players high wages to convince them to sign for QPR to ensure their safety. They survived on the final day of the season despite a dramatic defeat to Manchester City that gave them the Championship. This pre-season was no different. Big signings and hefty salaries, 12 new faces brought into the squad to prevent the dramatic events of last season. Big names like Julio Cesar from Inter Milan, Park Ji-Sung from Manchester United and Junior Hoilett from Blackburn Rovers. Expectations were high and a comfortable mid-table finish was widely predicted. Things didn't pan out the way everyone thought they would. They had a catastrophic start to the season which has seen them rooted to the bottom of the league for the duration of the season. The new signings took time to gel with each other and with their new team-mates and the Premier League is a very unforgiving place which doesn't allow for any adjustment period. With no win in the first 12 games Fernandes once again wielded the axe and Hughes was dismissed. Harry Redknapp was immediately appointed as Manager, some stating he had been approached long before Mark Hughes was removed. Redknapp has a history of getting teams out of troubled situations and was seen as the perfect fit to get the best out of these under-achieving players. During his first press conference, he stated that he was surprised the amount of money the squad were on and he "Had no desire to spend anymore of the Chairman's money". Most scoffed at that notion, Redknapp is known for his dealings in the transfer market and if he had money available he was going to spend it. Results began to improve and although they remain bottom of the table, they have closed the gap to the teams above them. They are 4 points away from safety and now have a fighting chance of staying up. However, now the January transfer window was open and Redknapp would have the chance to get reinforcements, even if he had stated otherwise. Redknapp brought in 6 new players during the Window, not bad considering he said he wasn't looking. What's more, he bought players on big salaries that could make-or-break QPR's future. Loic Remy arrived from Marseilles for £8 million ($12.75m) and weekly pay of £80,000 ($127,000). Remy has genuine quality and marked his debut with a goal. He offers something different, a powerful striker with a soft touch and a cool finish. He will be essential if QPR are to get out of trouble this year. They have been severely lacking in the goalscoring department and Redknapp has taken a big gamble on Remy, who was considered surplus to requirements at Marseilles after a poor run of goalscoring form. As usual, it was the last day of the Transfer window that provided the most drama for Redknapp. He seems to thrive on the hustle and bustle of the last day wherever he has been and at QPR it was no different. He shocked many by gaining the signing of Christopher Samba for the substantial sum of £12.5 million ($19.77m). Add to this his weekly wage of £100,000 ($158,200) and this represents a huge financial outlay on Samba. Samba has Premier League experience, having played for Blackburn Rovers before falling out with their management before moving to big-spending Anzhi in Russia. Samba is a Mountain of a man and will provide them with defensive stability that they will lose with the loss of Captain Ryan Nelsen, who has departed to take over as Head Coach of Toronto FC. Samba will be a physical presence in both penalty areas and is known for getting his fair share of goals from the Centre Half position. Redknapp also turned to his former club Tottenham Hotspur on 'Deadline Day', swooping to sign former England International Jermaine Jenas and the promising Andros Townsend on loan. QPR will be paying Jenas around £65,000 ($102,000) a week, a considerable gamble on a player that has struggled with injuries and form during the last few years. Jenas was once labelled as one of the brightest prospects in English football when he left Nottingham Forest for Newcastle at the tender age of 19. Things haven't gone according to plan and he was even loaned back to Nottingham Forest, now in the Championship, at the start of the season. How much Jenas will be able to contribute remains to be seen, Redknapp has worked with him before at Tottenham and he will be hoping he gets the same player at QPR, another huge gamble. Not every transfer on the final day of negotiations went smoothly. The Peter Odemwingie situation was farcical. The clubs were said to have agreed a fee of £3 million ($4.74m), Odemwingie said his goodbyes at the training ground and headed for London. However, West Brom stated that they wanted young forward Junior Hoilett on loan for the remainder of the season. Furthermore, Albion wanted QPR to pay every penny of Hoilett's £80,000 ($127,000) a week salary for the duration of the loan. Chairman Tony Fernandes refused this and despite the lengthy negotiations the deal was called off. That didn't deter Odemwingie however, who arrived at Loftus Road, QPR's stadium, without permission and was subsequently refused entry. This situation was comical and Odemwingie was asked to leave the West Brom training ground this morning and told not to return until next week. He would have been a valuable asset with his pace and work-rate and he would have taken the pressure of Remy in the goalscoring department. Alas, it wasn't to be. He has removed a couple of the higher earners off the wage bill,, with Djibril Cisse, Anton Ferdinand and Alejandro Faulin all departing on loan. Still, this is one of the highest paid squads in the Premier League and to go down would be cataclysmic for the financial security of the football club. Tony Fernandes has insisted he won't walk away when the going gets tough. However, as Portsmouth fans will tell you, talk is cheap. He has invested enough to suggest he won't be walking away anytime soon, giving Redknapp £20.7 million ($32.7m) in January alone. It has also laregly been financed by himself and board members, meaning that they wouldn't be in any severe debt to numerous banks. I think the signing of Chris Samba will ensure they are playing Premier League football again next season. His leadership, experience and presence will make it hard for teams to break QPR. Redknapp sure hopes that this is the case. He could have bet QPR's future on it. Dean Jones: Follow me on Twitter @DeanJones_