LONDON, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Queens Park Rangers’ new manager Harry Redknapp knows the plaudits for success this season will come if he can keep the west London club in the Premier League although it will be no easy task as he readily acknowledges.
Basement club Rangers are four points adrift of second-bottom Southampton, who beat them 3-1 at Loftus Road last weekend, and are the only side in England’s four professional divisions not to have won a league match this season.
The club’s record of just four points from 12 matches cost Mark Hughes his job on Friday when club owner Tony Fernandes finally lost patience having appointed the Welshman and given him millions to spend in the transfer market.
“It’s about the players,” Redknapp told Sky Sports News on Friday. “The players have got to start performing and if they do we’ve got a chance. We’ve got to find a way of getting the best out of them... But it won’t be easy for sure.”
He will have to use all his famous motivational skills to turn things around at QPR, whose plight is remarkably similar to the situation he found himself in when he was named Tottenham Hotspur manager in October 2008 in place of Spaniard Juande Ramos.
Spurs were also bottom, with two points from eight matches, but ended the season in eighth spot having lost the League Cup final in a shootout to Manchester United at Wembley. Arguably, though, they had a much stronger squad than Rangers.
Redknapp led Tottenham to fourth place the next season, which brought Champions League qualification, and repeated that finish last term, although they missed out on the continental competition after sixth-placed Chelsea were crowned European champions.
He then lost his job after Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy decided he wanted to take the club in a different direction.
The 65-year-old Redknapp has been involved in Premier League survival scraps at Southampton - relegated under his leadership in the 2004/05 season - and their south-coast rivals Portsmouth, who he helped avoid the drop a year later.
Having been linked with the Ukraine national team this week, Redknapp takes over an experienced squad which includes stand-in skipper Ryan Nelson, who he brought to Spurs for a six-month spell last season.
Hughes, who joined QPR in January after quitting Fulham the previous year, was backed heavily by Fernandes in the recent transfer window, bringing in the likes of goalkeeper Julio Cesar from Inter Milan and Esteban Granero from Real Madrid.
The squad has been hit hard by injuries, losing strikers Andy Johnson for the season and Bobby Zamora for three months.
However, QPR picked up only six wins in 30 league matches under Hughes, whose previous managerial posts include Wales, Blackburn Rovers and Manchester City, and he only just kept the club up last season.
Hughes has left his successor with a difficult task and instilling a ‘winning mentality’ will be one of Redknapp’s biggest challenges but the fans believe that if anyone can get Rangers out of trouble it is ‘Harry Houdini’.
“It’s a privilege to go there and manage them. I will do my best. I‘m looking forward to the challenge,” said Redknapp. “If I can manage to keep them up I will be the happiest man around.” (Editing By Ken Ferris and Alison Wildey)