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New boss Redknapp up for tough QPR challenge

Ex-Spurs manager takes charge and plans to revamp Premier League’s bottom club

Image Credit: AFP
Harry Redknapp
Gulf News

London: Harry Redknapp was preparing Saturday to take over as Queen Park Rangers manager, saying he was relishing the challenge of dragging them off the bottom of the English Premier League.

Redknapp was immediately in talks with the west London club after they sacked Mark Hughes on Friday, following a miserable run of results that has left them as the only club without a win in English league football this season, 12 games in.

Former Tottenham manager Redknapp intended to be in the stands at Old Trafford on Saturday as QPR visit second-placed Manchester United, with Hughes’ assistants Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki in charge for the match.

“I’m hopeful we can get it done,” Redknapp told Sky Sports television on finalising a deal. “There shouldn’t be any problems.

“I fancy getting back into the Premier League. QPR is a good club, with great fans and a great atmosphere.

“There are a couple of bits to be sorted out... but I’ve left it to other people and said I want it to happen because it’s a club I want to manage.

“I am looking forward to it. It’s a big challenge. It will be a tough job to take on but I am up for the challenge.

“If everything gets sorted, and I’m sure it will, I’ll be in Sunday morning, will have the team in training on Monday, then fly up to Sunderland,” who QPR face on Tuesday.

Redknapp left Tottenham Hotspur under a cloud in June. He fell out with chairman Daniel Levy after the England job he wanted went to Roy Hodgson.

The former Portsmouth and West Ham boss said he hoped to bring in Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan as his assistants, reuniting the back-room staff he had at Spurs and Fratton Park.

QPR’s move for Redknapp came just hours after Hughes was dismissed.

Rangers announced they had “terminated the contract of manager Mark Hughes with immediate effect”.

Hughes had received backing from the club’s Malaysian owner, Tony Fernandes, in recent weeks, but last weekend’s 3-1 loss at home to fellow strugglers Southampton left them five points adrift of safety.

“Mark has shown integrity and professionalism throughout his time here, but ultimately the circumstances we find ourselves in have left the board of directors with very little choice but to make a change,” a statement said.

The 49-year-old Welshman had only been in charge at Loftus Road since January and under him they avoided relegation on the final day of last season.

However, Hughes found himself the subject of sustained media scrutiny as he struggled to turn around QPR’s poor start to this season.

Hughes signed several new players in the pre-season but the team have under-performed badly and the former Fulham manager was the target of anger from fans during the loss against Southampton.

“Mark Hughes is a top, top manager and a great guy as well. He was just unlucky and they just couldn’t get the results they needed,” Redknapp said.

“I’m ready to give it a go now and see if I can change their fortunes around. But it won’t be easy for sure.

“There’s some good players there and I have obviously got to find a way of picking a team that can win some games. They have gone 12 games without a win so you couldn’t have too many worse starts than that.

“It’s going to be a tough job to keep them up but it’s a challenge and I love a challenge. I am going to go in and give it my best shot and if it works it will be fantastic.”

Redknapp said he would not be looking for another round of drastic player changes in the January transfer window.

“I don’t think too much will happen in January. There is a big staff there and you can’t keep bringing players in. The players have got to start performing,” he said.

Hughes was the second Premier League manager to lose his job this season, after Roberto Di Matteo was sacked by west London neighbours Chelsea on Wednesday.

Redknapp, 65, was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in June.

He was linked this week to the vacant managerial position with the Ukrainian national team.

“I was almost on my way to the Ukraine. It was something I fancied doing — but this has changed everything around,” he said.

After their visit to Manchester United, QPR face three games against other teams in the bottom six.

The trip to Sunderland is followed by a home game against Aston Villa and a clash with Wigan Athletic at the DW Stadium.