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Why QPR chairman should look beyond Harry Redknapp

Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes

Friday, November 23, 2012
3:38 PM

“A fool and his money are soon parted”, the saying goes, and rarely has it been more applicable to any individual than Tony Fernandes.

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When the Malaysian businessman took over QPR in August 2011, the general consensus was that his stewardship of the club could only be an improvement on the unpopular regime of Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone.

Fernandes has made different mistakes to Briatore and Ecclestone. But, just like his predecessors, he appears unwilling to learn from them, or incapable of doing so.

The Rangers chairman has sanctioned enormous spending sprees – on wages if not actual transfer fees – in each window since he took over. That gross irresponsibility is the main reason that the club find themselves in a perilous position at the foot of the Premier League.

Fernandes bandies around the buzzword ‘stability’ an awful lot, yet he does not seem to understand its meaning.

At least half of the players QPR signed last summer were not needed. Why did Mark Hughes want two goalkeepers? Or three midfielders? Or an ageing, average centre-forward to replace perfectly decent back-up strikers like Heidar Helguson and DJ Campbell?

It was inevitable that such an unnecessary recruitment drive would lead to turmoil – poor team spirit and a manager with no notion of his best side.

But Fernandes is so clueless about football that he totally embraces the Sky Sports mantra: signing another player is always good news because it shows ‘ambition’ and ‘healthy competition’ for places.

Apart from the scale of Rangers’ frenzied spending, questions need to be asked about the area in which their net has been spread. Almost without exception, all their recruits have joined from bigger clubs than QPR.

How motivated can the likes of Esteban Granero, Julio Cesar and Park Ji-Sung be about playing at Loftus Road? Why do Rangers appear to have no interest in attracting younger, hungrier players who would relish the step up?

Given these blunders, it makes no sense to turn to Harry Redknapp – the epitome of a manager who is only interested in buying and selling. But mostly in buying – and usually ageing players with limited resale value.

It’s hard to imagine that if – as all indications suggest – Redknapp takes over the manager’s chair in the near future, January will not see more of the same in a desperate attempt to rescue Rangers’ Premier League status.

And here’s the nub of the problem. For many years now, those in charge it QPR have only ever considered the short-term.

Most fans are terrified at the prospect of relegation – and understandably so. However, Newcastle and West Ham are both good examples of clubs that dropped out of the Premier League in recent years and returned in far better shape.

But, while the consequences of going down are likely to be painful, the consequences of going down with Redknapp in charge could well be devastating.

Despite the tag of miracle-worker that Redknapp – aided by his many friends in the media – likes to attach to himself, there is no guarantee that he will keep Rangers up.

He failed to save Southampton in 2005 and, more pertinently, failed to get them anywhere near challenging for promotion before jumping ship to rejoin Portsmouth.

Ah yes, Portsmouth. The club that are now in League One and almost went out of business during the summer after Redknapp’s years in charge had saddled them with a colossal wage bill.

The reality is that QPR could find themselves in the Championship at the start of next season and they need to think about who is best equipped to rebuild the club in those circumstances, should the worst happen.

My personal preference would be to move for a younger, up and coming manager – someone with a good track record who appears to get the best out of his players while recruiting wisely. Gus Poyet or Malky Mackay would both be high on my list.

And, before anyone dismisses those names due to a lack of top-flight experience, just consider that Gerry Francis and Ian Holloway – two of the club’s most successful managers in recent times – had only Bristol Rovers on their CVs before they were appointed.

Fernandes never bothered looking around for a replacement after he fired Neil Warnock. It would be nice to think he has learned from that mistake, rather than eagerly entrusting his credit card to Redknapp.

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