Another Premier League record in England was broken this weekend, but whereas record breakers are usually steeped in esteem, some carry a lot of indignity. During the week, UEFA Champions League holders Chelsea crashed out of the tournament at the group stage, the first side ever to do so in the defence of their European crown.
While that news has been a strong focal point around Europe, lesser news has filtered through from England as bottom side QPR remain without a win after sixteen matches into the season. A new record for a winless streak from the start of the season in the English top flight. But is it all doom and gloom at Loftus Road?
Recently former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp was drafted into the club to take charge and to rescue a dire situation. Out had gone former boss Mark Hughes, who had led Rangers through thirteen miserable results without giving their fans any three-point games to cheer about. Installed in the London side’s hotseat was Harry Redknapp, the man the fans themselves wanted to come and rescue them. Redknapp was the driving force behind Tottenham’s rise from strugglers to a force to be reckoned with on the domestic and European scenes. Can he do the same with QPR? Three matches into his reign, there will be mixed emotions about that.
QPR’s survival is still hanging by a thread of optimism, a lot of which will simply come from the fact that Redknapp is the man in charge. There has been a slow upward swing since he arrived, picking up a point in each of his three Premier League matches at the helm of QPR. Optimism can be gleaned from their improved performances under Redknapp, showing more fight and determination to beat the odds and beat the drop. Redknapp and the long suffering QPR fans, who saw their side beat relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, can take optimism from the fact that they were leading away at Wigan on the weekend. The pessimism will come from the problems at the back which have plagued them all season, as they couldn’t hold on for that precious victory, having to settle for a draw.
Not since Swindon Town’s 15 match winless start to the 1993/94 Premier League season, in which they ended up getting relegated, have a club had to wait so long to try and get a win on the board. Redknapp is quite the pragmatic man, saying that he may not even spend money in January if they are still so far adrift of safety.
“If you are still adrift in January what is the point?” he said.”If that was the case I would advise the owners not to spend their money.
“If we are in touching distance then I’m sure we will have a go and get one or two in but they can’t keep spending their money and upping the wage bill.
“You’ve got to see where you are in January. If you are in touching distance then maybe you can go and get a couple in who can make the difference and get out of it that way. If we can do that then maybe we will have a go.
But that doesn’t mean that Redknapp won’t be looking to add to the squad as the sole priority is maintaining Premier League status. There are 22 games remaining for the season and already QPR are eight points away from safety. Redknapp, who had been linked with the recent Ukraine job, has a reputation of making shrewd loan deals and getting the best out of players who have underperformed at other clubs, or have not been given a real chance in England’s harsh top flight. To that end, salvation for QPR could come from America. With the close of the MLS season, the January transfer window could see Redknapp looking for loan players from North America, players like the well travelled Robbie Keane, and former Everton players Landon Donovan and Tim Cahill.
So it looks as if QPR’s future will rest on a hastily assembled band of loan players as opposed to handing out permanent contracts.
Swindon Town were unable to hold onto their Premier League status after not winning in their first fifteen matches. Is QPR’s fate already sealed, or there is another rescue operation to come from Redknapp? Current Swindon Town boss Paolo Di Canio, said that Rangers should build a statue of Redknapp outside of Loftus Road if they stay up this season. That is the size of the task ahead at the club.