Harry Redknapp quits QPR to end disappointing run at Loftus Road
It was a subdued Harry Redknapp who made a brief appearance on transfer deadline day. The usual star of the show was lacking his trademark spark. For starters, he was not talking through a car window. Sky TV's Gary Cotterill was told in no uncertain terms that QPR would be doing no business, to follow chairman Tony Fernandes' earlier pronouncement.
"No more cheque book," Fernandes had tweeted. "We have good players. Bought all the players manager asked for in sunmer [sic]. Our players not mercenaries. Good guys."
Redknapp had been denied a stage that he had made his own so many times before. Emmanuel Adebayor's snub to Rangers -- the club was reported to be interested in Tottenham's striker -- was the last of his options, and the manager was gone from the club within hours. "We have tried, but it's not easy," he told Cotterill with a definite tinge of resignation, though few would then have predicted such an imminent parting of the ways.
Reports suggest that Redknapp, who became QPR manager in 2012, handed in his resignation at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The official reason for Redknapp's departure is knee-replacement surgery that will stop him taking any part in training sessions. Redknapp told the Daily Mail's Martin Samuel, who ghosted his autobiography, that he had come to the decision when the time came to travel to Rangers training.
"That's when I decided to call Tony," he said. "It must have been 5.30 a.m. I just told him he needed someone who could properly coach and manage the team in the next 10 weeks. It's such an important time. They need someone who can give it everything." The whole episode reminded of Sir Alex Ferguson's 2013 departure from Manchester United first being blamed on a hip operation preventing his presence on a pre-season tour. It soon transpired that there were other reasons for that abdication, namely that Ferguson and family felt they'd had enough. As Redknapp's son Jamie joked with Thierry Henry on Sky Sports on Monday about being Rangers' new signing, there was little hint that Dad might step aside.
Perhaps Jamie shares his father's inscrutability, though in recent months Redknapp has carried an air of what bordered on disinterest in his team's repeated failings. "It is hard to win away," he shrugged when Rangers lost at Burnley three weeks ago to continue a dreadful 100 percent record of losing away from Loftus Road. "What will be, will be," Redknapp said after a home defeat to Manchester United on Jan. 17, as speculation mounted that Fernandes and his cohorts might be considering a change. "I don't worry about the owners. That's their choice if they want to make a change."
It appears that Fernandes' refusal to let Redknapp "wheeler deal," to use a phrase he took exception to, was hint enough of the club's future plans. Serious money has been lavished on the club in the two years since Redknapp succeeded Mark Hughes. Fifty-two million pounds have been spent on transfers on 21 players, with veteran free signings like Rio Ferdinand and Richard Dunne on high salaries amid a wage bill higher than Atletico Madrid's. In that time, Rangers were relegated and then squeaked to promotion after a fortuitous Championship playoff final defeat of Derby in 2014.
This season has been a dreadful struggle: Five victories have left Rangers marooned in the bottom three. Something needs to change, since Rangers are staring down the barrel of what may be a 30 million pound-plus fine for breaching Football League financial fair play regulations if they return to the Championship.
After playing in pre-season with a 3-5-2 formation brought in by part-time coach Glenn Hoddle that was abandoned after two competitive matches, Rangers have never found their step. It won't get any easier as they face a remaining fixture schedule that includes visits from Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and trips to Liverpool and Manchester City. Equally confused has been Rangers' hierarchical structure. Les Ferdinand was employed in the summer as head of football operations, a job title that Redknapp described as "stupid".
"Tony felt he'd be good to have." Redknapp said of Ferdinand's presence in October. "That's where we are at the moment, who knows where we will be next week? Who knows?"
Now Ferdinand is in temporary charge, with Chris Ramsey coaching alongside him. The pair worked together at Tottenham last season, with their presence pointing heavily to former Spurs' manager Tim Sherwood joining them in west London.
Redknapp says that he plans -- post-surgery -- to return to football, but it is tempting to think that, approaching 68 years of age, his last deadline-day deal is already done.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.