Arsène Wenger didn't see it, José Mourinho says they parked the bus and Alan Pardew will insist that "we was tired," but no one deflects blame quite like Harry Redknapp.
An unexpected side effect of the FA's decision not to hand him the England job, and Daniel Levy's to sack him from Spurs, Redknapp was appointed QPR boss in 2012; armed with a top six transfer kitty and tasked with the sole aim of keeping them in the premier league. He didn't; and pointed to the poor signings made under his predecessor Mark Hughes.
Despite suffering relegation, Redknapp retained his post as QPR set their sights on an automatic return to the top flight. 19 new signings have arrived at Loftus Road this season, but The Hoops' hiccupping form is not indicative of a side certain to go up. Still, club owner Tony Fernandes is backing his man. Taking to Twitter to assuage concerns over the team's promotion struggle, he has insisted, "Nothing wrong with Harry," and warned that it "takes time to rebuild. May take years to get it right."
But this concession is something of a double-edged sword for everyone at the club, including Redknapp. With QPR recently announcing a loss of £65million for 2013, fans are being forced to confront an uncomfortable reality about the future of their club. After years of sustained heavy spending, the basket case of their cavalier economic policy has finally been exposed. Fernandes allowed both Hughes and Redknapp to spend recklessly, boosting the club's wage bill by nearly £20million. It led The Rs to spend over £78million on wages last year, which was £17million more than the club's total income.
With Financial Fair Play reviews lurking ominously on the horizon, QPR are caught between a rock and a hard place. Without promotion, offending second tier clubs will be subject to transfer embargos, while a promoted team will only face a fine. If QPR fail to get promoted, they will find themselves lumbered with an unmovable mound of misjudged marquees on exorbitantly high wages; while if they do make it to the premier league, offloading high earning top performers thanks to relative austerity, could see them get sent straight back down.
From this situation, two questions can be raised over Harry Redknapp's management. The first is how complicit was he in QPR's demise? The second is what can he do to save them, and by extension, himself?
The club's scattergun recruitment policy can be traced in equal measure to Fernandes' naivety and Redknapp's own propensity to chance it. The result of this is that QPR have overpaid for a number of underperformers and piggy-backers off a previous reputation. Typically, players under Redknapp have signed on lengthy and/or lucrative deals, ham handedly justified by some line that it was necessary beat off the competition. Pray tell, who else was in for Oguchi Onyewu? Redknapp's multiple flops are often reluctant to leave, leading many to be sold or released at a significant loss. His few successes like Loic Remy, meanwhile, look set to jump ship on to bigger and better things.
But Harry Redknapp isn't a bad manager, right? He took Spurs to fourth; he saved Portsmouth from relegation and then won them the FA Cup two years later. Indeed, no one is more fond of these facts than Harry himself. Yet, his record at QPR risks overshadowing it all. Certainly, what prevents consensus in lauding Redknapp as a 'triffic' manager are his dealings in the transfer market - for every Jermain Defoe at Portsmouth, there is a Marco Boogers at West Ham. That he will falter without money behind him is a recurring criticism and one not invalidated by his most recent job, where resources are running dry and form is following.
Fernandes probably won't sack Redknapp even if QPR fail to secure promotion, because he's acknowledged the financial gravitas of their situation; but Redknapp is a proud man who won't want his stake as the second best manager England never had to go down the drain.
Even if it means getting by on a shoestring budget for the foreseeable future, Redknapp must be perceived to succeed at QPR. That can only be done with a swift admission of mea culpa and a return to tactics rather than transfers in order to justify his own excessive hype.
Failing that, the poor sod will probably end up with a column in The Sun. Of course, he'll have to learn how to read first.Suggest a correction