QPR's Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane with different mindset
AUG 22, 2014 5:31p ET
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp returns to White Hart Lane on Sunday with a very different mindset than when he faced his former club Tottenham over two years ago.
Redknapp took over the Loftus Road outfit in Nov. 2012 when the club was rock-bottom of the Barclays Premier League and very ill-disciplined. When Rangers hosted Tottenham the following January they managed to come away with a 0-0 draw. The result did little to affect the standings as Queens Park Rangers finished dead last and were relegated to the Championship.
This season, the sun shines a bit brighter on West London, at least for now. Despite the 1-0 opening day defeat to Hull City, the Hoops looked the better side after creating the majority of the scoring chances. Redknapp has had time to mold his squad instead of walking straight into a relegation battle.
"Harry Houdini" is a known wheeler-dealer in the transfer market and has made some solid signings this summer. In addition to Rio Ferdinand, Steven Caulker, Mauricio Isla and Jordan Mutch, Redknapp has brought in Dutch international Leroy Fer from Norwich City and Chilean forward Eduardo Vargas on loan from Napoli. Redknapp is hoping Fer's international experience will improve his side's chances of survival.
"He will be an excellent signing -- a Dutch international who played in the World Cup," said Redknapp. " He is an outstanding midfield player and will bring a lot of qualities to the club. It's a massive boost and I'm delighted we've been able to get him to QPR. He's got a great physique, gets box to box â I think he'll be a good signing for us."
Vargas will already feel a bit more comfortable than most new arrivals as his friendship with compatriot Isla helped him make his decision.
"Mauricio [Isla] and I often speak on the telephone and he said it's a great relaxed city to work in, and said it's a good bunch of players to work with," added the Chilean schemer. "The Premier League is the most renowned league in the world and I'm looking forward to playing here in England."
When someone comes in, you can expect someone to also go out.
Veteran goalkeeper Julio Cesar, who was expected to provide stiff competition for Robert Green, has moved on to Portuguese side Benfica on a two-year deal after being released by the club. The Brazilian shot-stopper spent the majority of 2014 on loan at Toronto FC. His World Cup performances should have put him a strong position to be QPR's number one, but he started the opening game of the season on the bench.
Now Redknapp only has goalkeepers Green and Brian Murphy to choose from. Murphy has made over 100 appearances in the lower divisions, but has only made two senior appearances for the R's since 2011.
Another worry the manager has is losing first team coach and former England manager Glenn Hoddle. Tony Pulis' sudden departure at Crystal Palace has created a vacancy that Hoddle is in the running to fill. Hoddle has only recently arrived at Loftus Road, but Redknapp understands if the lure of a management position at a Premier League club tempts the former Spurs star.
"I'm hoping obviously he stays, but football is football," Redknapp admitted to reporters earlier in the week. "I'm delighted to have Glenn here, but listen, if it's something he wants to do, there's nothing we can do. If that's what he wants to do, but I'm hoping he stays with us because I really want him to be part of our team this season."
Redknapp will hope Palace hires a manager sooner rather than later to avoid any shuffling of his backroom staff.
Saturday's match also sees another former employee make his return. Caulker spent four years at the club, spending most of his time on loan at Yeovil Town, Bristol City and Swansea City. He will be looking to make a big impact and show Tottenham brass what they'll be missing.
QPR should take heed of Tottenham's recent performance against West Ham. Spurs underperformed on the day and it took a Mark Noble penalty miss and a late winner from debutant Eric Dier to take home all three points at Upton Park. Queens Park Rangers will look to create as many chances against Tottenham as they did against Hull to give new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino something to worry about.
Every manager has problems, small and large. Thankfully for QPR, the start of the season has not brought many. In a few months time, though, that could all change.