Redknapp Is Forcing A Revised Opinion

Harry Redknapp may be a figure of derision to many, but Matt Stanger is impressed with his pre-season plans at QPR thus far. It might be time to give credit where it's due...

Last Updated: 03/08/14 at 14:50 Post Comment

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It might be time to revise our opinion of Harry Redknapp and QPR.

The former Tottenham manager is derided almost every time he opens his mouth - or Range Rover window - but criticism of his plans this summer is misplaced. Even a move for Rio Ferdinand has been met with knowing groans on Twitter and talk of Redknapp failing to learn his lesson but, with reported wages of £40,000 a week, recruiting a player of Ferdinand's experience could prove excellent value for money in QPR's survival bid.

Of course, there is a strong chance that Ferdinand will play fewer than 20 matches, but the education he can provide fellow new arrival Steven Caulker on the training pitch is priceless - for the R's and England. For a one-year contract at a total cost of around £2m to owner Tony Fernandes, this makes perfect sense from both a football and business perspective. An unusual occurrence at QPR, for sure.

Redknapp's role in the business side of the game is largely responsible for his negative reputation. His wheeling and dealing is a key feature of deadline day, as his face pops up on Sky Sports News with promises of transfers in the pipeline. Without Redknapp, the entire phenomenon would not exist as we know it. Perhaps it would never have grown into the event we're now accustomed to, lacking the characters on which to base a tapestry of entertaining tittle-tattle.

But Redknapp's desire for a done deal isn't always conducive to a shrewd recruitment policy. Just ask West Ham fans about Florin Raducioiu or Marco Boogers, or Southampton supporters about any of the five new signings in January 2005 - including relegation specialist Nigel Quashie - en route to the club dropping into the second tier for the first time in 27 years.

At Spurs, a ten-point gap to Arsenal in the race for fourth was surrendered in style in 2011/12 after Redknapp brought in Louis Saha and Ryan Nelsen in January while deciding to allow Roman Pavlyuchenko, Steven Pienaar, Vedran Corluka and Sebastien Bassong to leave. 'Strengthen while you're ahead' is one of football's famous mantras, but Redknapp weakened Spurs' grip on third, ultimately losing a place in the Champions League as well as his job.

Instead of England or the Champions League in 2012/13, Redknapp found himself suffering relegation with QPR as his career threatened to peter out. There wasn't much sympathy. However, there is a case that he has been tarred with the same brush as Mark Hughes at Loftus Road - accused of over-spending on over-the-hill players when the Welshman was certainly more guilty of that mistake than his successor. It wasn't Redknapp who signed Jose Bosingwa on a three-year deal for reported wages of £65,000 a week.

In fact, although Redknapp gained a pitiful 21 points from his 26 games in charge that season, the closest QPR came to saving themselves was the manager's £8m deal for Loic Remy in January, the striker scoring six goals in 13 matches to earn himself another year in the top flight with Newcastle. Similarly, a loan move for Andros Townsend briefly lifted performances, while Christopher Samba came and went for a jaw-dropping £12m. Ultimately, it was no loss to the club other than a six-month gamble on the defender's wages.

Apart from a £5m deal for Matt Phillips, Redknapp spent wisely in the Championship, securing promotion at the first attempt, and it would seem steady progress is set to continue. As well as moves for Ferdinand and Caulker, the R's are reportedly close to sealing a loan for Juventus full-back Mauricio Isla, and have been linked with talented but affordable stars such as Mathieu Valbuena (who has since joined Dynamo Moscow for £6m) and Steven Defour. Meanwhile, the wage bill has been reduced with the departure of five first-team players, including £14m worth of Hughes recruits in Stephane Mbia and Esteban Granero.

If Redknapp's plans continue to take shape in the current fashion, he will deserve a decent amount of praise for carefully preparing QPR for a lengthy survival battle. Promoted clubs often splurge on a new striker before shrewdly addressing the transfer market - such as Cardiff's £8m acquisition of Andreas Cornelius last year and Leicester's similar outlay on Leonardo Ulloa in this - but Redknapp has acted sensibly in strengthening his defence first.

Of course, it would surprise no-one if he returns to form with a deadline-day splurge to throw all sense out the window, but at the moment it would seem he is smarter than most care to acknowledge. It might be late in the day for Redknapp to restore his battered reputation, but he deserves credit for everything he has done thus far this summer - be it grudging or otherwise.

Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.

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