What QPR can learn from West Brom, West Ham, Fulham & Wigan as they scrap for survival
15:04 05 March 2013
Can rock-bottom QPR achieve the impossible and beat the drop this season? The odds are stacked against them but history suggests it would be wrong to write them off.
After Saturday’s 2-1 victory at relegation rivals Southampton, things suddenly look a little less bleak for Harry Redknapp’s side.
Three crucial points at St Mary’s have helped big-spending Rangers claw their way back into the dogfight, and although they remain bottom of the Premier League table, the gap to safety is reduced from seven points to four with 10 games to play.
Redknapp was named ‘Harry Houdini’ for taking Portsmouth back from the brink in the 2005-06 season – but can he repeat the feat with QPR?
Wigan, Aston Villa and Reading are also under threat this year and here are four other sides who defied the odds to beat the drop in recent seasons.
West Brom (2004-2005)
In 2005 West Brom made history when they became the only team in Premier League history to escape relegation after being bottom of the league on Christmas Day. Bryan Robson took the reigns at the Hawthorns in November 2004 with the Baggies 17th in the table after Gary Megson’s sacking. He endured a nightmare start but got his first league win at the 12th attempt, a 2-0 triumph at home to Manchester City. They made gradual improvements after that and after drawing 1-1 against Manchester United at Old Trafford in their penultimate game, a 2-0 home win over Portsmouth on the final day was enough to lift them from 20th to 17th as Southampton, Norwich and Crystal Palace all fell through the trap door.
The Baggies’ final points tally of 34 remains the lowest ever to achieve safety but it will give QPR hope that their fate is not sealed just yet.
West Ham (2006-2007)
Carlos Tevez is the name that immediately springs to mind here, as the Argentine hit six goals in the last nine games to keep West Ham in the top flight. The Hammers were a whopping 10 points adrift at the beginning of March, but their great escape culminated in Tevez scoring the only goal in a famous 1-0 victory against Manchester United at Old Trafford on the final day of the season. That win consigned Sheffield United to the drop but the Blades angrily pursued the Hammers through the courts over Tevez and Javier Mascherano’s ineligibility. West Ham eventually agreed to pay over £18million in compensation to Sheffield Utd but the Hammers’ late-season victories over Arsenal and Everton, as well as the Red Devils, should not be forgotten.
QPR could use inspiration to beat the big boys this campaign as their last three games see them face Arsenal, Newcastle and Liverpool.
With five games to go in 2008 Roy Hodgson’s Fulham looked doomed. The Cottagers were without an away win all season when they travelled to the Madejski Stadium to face Reading on April 12 where a 2-0 victory gave them a glimmer of hope. They lost their next game against Liverpool and then, 2-0 down at half-time against Manchester City, it looked like the end. What happened next was nothing short of astonishing, as two goals from Diomansy Kamara, including a stoppage-time winner, sparked a remarkable escape. Then, having beaten relegation rivals Birmingham 2-0 in the penultimate game, Danny Murphy’s 76th-minute header against Portsmouth on the final day gave them a 1-0 win to stay up on goal difference. The run didn’t end there though, as next season Hodgson led Fulham to a seventh-place finish and the season after that they reached the Europa League final.
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes would surely approve.
When Roberto Martinez’s Wigan lost 3-1 to Tottenham on January 31, 2012, they were rock-bottom of the Premier League, on eight games without a win and staring down the barrel. But Wigan have become masters of escapology since their arrival in the top flight in 2005, and last year’s feat was truly remarkable. The Latics steadied the ship after the Spurs defeat, with only one loss in their next six games giving them a chance. A 2-1 victory against Liverpool at Anfield then sparked an amazing run of seven wins from their last nine games. That hot streak included wins against Manchester United and Arsenal and a 4-0 thumping of Newcastle. They finished the season on 43 points, well clear of the drop zone.
QPR will be hoping this season will be different for Martinez’s survival specialists.