QPR rescue mission dawns for Redknapp
LONDON (AFP) –
New Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has called for an immediate improvement as he takes charge of the Premier League’s bottom club for the first time at Sunderland on Tuesday.
Redknapp replaced the sacked Mark Hughes on Saturday and watched from the stands as his new side took the lead at Manchester United later that day, only to fall to a 3-1 defeat.
With just four points and no wins from their first 13 matches, QPR have made the worst ever start to a Premier League season.
However, their next three games are against other teams in the bottom half of the table, with Sunderland’s visit followed by a home fixture with Aston Villa and a trip to Wigan Athletic.
With Hughes having invested heavily in big-money summer signings who have yet to spark, Redknapp knows he will not have much room to manoeuvre in the January transfer window, but he saw signs of encouragement at Old Trafford.
“I’m not here for a short-term fix, keep the club up. I want to build something here,” Redknapp told the QPR website.
“I want to stay up and then build a team next year that can progress and eventually be up in the top half of the table every season.
“I thought the lads worked hard on Saturday. For 60 minutes we were right in the game and went 1-0 up.
“We got done on a couple of set plays but up until then we matched Man United all the way and deserved to be where we were and could have gone two up.”
Redknapp has previously saved Tottenham Hotspur from a similarly hopeless position but he conceded that the QPR job was the biggest challenge of his career.
“I would think yes,” he said. “Four points is a difficult situation but we can do it. A couple of wins and it can all change.”
Sunderland appeared to have turned a corner after winning 3-1 at Fulham a week ago to register only their second win of the season, but they lost 4-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
Martin O’Neill’s side currently sit two points above the relegation zone in 16th place, eight points clear of QPR.
Tuesday’s other match is another relegation tussle, as third-bottom Villa welcome second-bottom Reading to Villa Park.
Southampton’s victory over Newcastle United on Sunday saw the Saints move out of the drop zone at Villa’s expense, but Villa coach Paul Lambert struck a positive note after his side’s 0-0 draw at home to Arsenal.
“We defended very, very strongly,” he said.
“When you play United, (Manchester) City and Arsenal back to back it’s a tough thing mentally. I see them training every day and the way they perform, I don’t have a problem.
“Tuesday against Reading will be tough but we’re playing well at the moment. There’s a good belief that we can win games.”
Fixtures (1945GMT unless otherwise stated):
Sunderland v Queens Park Rangers, Aston Villa v Reading (2000GMT)
Everton v Arsenal, Swansea City v West Bromwich Albion, Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool, Southampton v Norwich City, Chelsea v Fulham, Stoke City v Newcastle United, Manchester United v West Ham United (2000GMT), Wigan Athletic v Manchester City (2000GMT)