Much has been made of Queens Park Rangers frenzied activity in the January transfer window. The bumper £12.5million deal for Christopher Samba and the frankly bizarre case of Peter Odemwingie being locked out of Loftus Road meant QPR were top billing on Sky Sports News' transfer deadline day show. The consensus view is that co-owner Tony Fernandes has gambled recklessly in the last chance saloon in a fairly desperate attempt to keep QPR in the Premier League. Few are convinced that 'Uncle' Tony's latest transfer splurge will save the superhoops' bacon. Many respected sports commentators adjudge that the horse has already bolted. The bookies make QPR 4/6 third favourites to go down.
It is not hard to make the case that Queens Park Rangers are destined for the dreaded drop. After all, the hoops are bottom of the table, four points from safety and have only won twice this season (both in west London derbies). There are persistent rumours of dressing room bust-ups between the Stakhanovite players who got QPR promoted - the Derrys, Mackies and Hills - and the more mercenary types (I'm looking at you Jose Bosingwa) who, are, in the words of the long-suffering R block faithful "only here for the money." And lots of it.
But all is not lost. While there's no denying that the R's are peppering precariously around the relegation trapdoor, there are some rock-solid reasons QPR can escape the dreaded drop:
Adel Taarabt: The best technician in the Premiership
There's nowhere else to start. Put simply, keeping hold of Taarabt in the January transfer window is a bigger boost to QPR's survival prospects than all the signings lumped together. Those minnows AC Milan were reportedly sniffing around so retaining King Taarbs wasn't a given. Taarbs has been in utterly dazzling form over the past month and is arguably the best technical player in the Premiership. I'm aware this is a big shout but anyone who saw him bamboozle the Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester City defenses will know he has 'tekkers' to rival van Persie. Make no mistake, the mercurial Morroccan is undoubtedly QPR's main man; he almost single-handedly got QPR promoted and his purple patch in last season's nerve-jangling run-in, which included vital goals in home wins against Arsenal and Spurs, was the chief reason the R's stayed up.
Wheeler-dealer extraordinaire 'Arry has ben widely ridiculed in the last few days but he is one of only three managers to oversee 600 Premier League games. That's an awful lot of experience, of know-how. His start in the Loftus Road dugout has demonstrated why he's never been short of a day job. A strangely pragmatic 'Arry has curbed his natural attack-minded tendencies to put out thoroughly drilled, organised teams capable of grinding out results against the league's big boys. The 'false nine' system he deployed at Chelsea had the tacticians like Zonal Marking drooling and rightly so. It verged on genius. Redknapp's managerial task is now is to move away from the cagey 4-5-1 formation (recently adopted to avoid a battering from the big guns) to a more swashbuckling, attack-minded 4-4-2 capable of actually scoring goals. Starting with Norwich at home.
Fixture list: A dog in the fight
There's no better way to win a relegation dogfight than taking maximum points against fellow scrappers. Thankfully, QPR have some choice opportunities to inflict damage on their rivals in the last 14 games. The home games against Newcastle and Wigan and aways at Southampton, Villa and Reading scream 'six pointer.' And there are other winnable fixtures on the list - Sunderland and Stoke at home, Swansea and Fulham on the road.
Loic Remy: The next Thierry Henry?
QPR have been crying out for a pacy striker who can get in behind defences (and actually finish) since Sir Les packed his bags for Newcastle way back in 1995. Everyone in the blue-and-whited hooped enclave of west London has everything crossed that Remy can be the next Thierry Henry (an not the next Eric Sabin). Initial signs are roundly positive. His off-the-ball running and composed finish at West Ham set the pulses racing. And you don't pick up 17 caps for France unless you are a little bit special.
Junior can come of age
QPR fought off top Bundesliga sides to sign Hoilett in the summer and it looked to be a superb bit of business. A 22-year-old capable of scoring seven times (mostly spectacularly) in that p*ss-poor Blackburn side had to be a great addition, right? Wrong so far - Hoilett's failure to 'train on' has been hugely disappointing. Regardless, fending off West Brom's deadline day raid for Hoilett was savvy - he still has the potential to be QPR's sleeper hit. If he can awaken from his strange slumber to light up QPR's run-in then he'll be (cliché klaxon) like a new signing.