QUEENS Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp admits his struggles are only beginning after the west Londoners’ two-year stay in the Premier League expired in suitably meek fashion yesterday.
A goalless draw at the Madejski Stadium condemned both Rangers and Reading to relegation from the top flight with three games still remaining, and prompted Redknapp to ponder his next challenges.
The former Tottenham boss expects offloading well-paid players in order to ease QPR’s huge wage burden to prove as difficult as tackling the notoriously competitive second tier.
“There are an awful lot [of players] here who have good contracts and it would be hard to get rid of them even if I wanted to shift them. You can’t shift people on two or three-year contracts for good money,” he said.
“It has not been an easy club to manage, but if it had been easy I wouldn’t have got the job. I’m only concerned about the owners of the football club. QPR are not a super power going into the Championship.”
Redknapp cited Nottingham Forest, Derby, Leicester, Blackburn and Burnley among the “14, 15 or 16 clubs in the Championship who have won things” and who he expects to make returning to the Premier League difficult.
“There is a whole lorry-load of them, Leeds United one of the greatest clubs in football history, there are massive clubs in that division,” he added. “QPR have got no divine right to come back up next season.”
QPR looked most likely to earn a stay of execution in the early stages, midfielder Esteban Granero hitting the top of the bar and striker Jay Bothroyd lobbing onrushing goalkeeper Alex McCarthy but seeing his shot drop wide. Reading striker Pavel Pogrebnyak went closest at the other end, seeing one effort cleared off the line by Jose Bosingwa and another shot curl narrowly wide, while substitute Adam Le Fondre headed over.
“I’ve been here for five games now,” said Reading manager Nigel Adkins. “What happened previously was not in my control.”
BATTLE FOR SURVIVAL
ONLY one relegation place remains vacant, following confirmation that QPR and Reading are to drop out of the Premier League, and Wigan currently look favourites to fill it. Aston Villa can pull clear of the bottom three tonight at home to Sunderland, although the Black Cats have won back to back games. The 6-0 drubbing to Liverpool on Saturday has deepened concerns at Newcastle, who have played a game more.