QUEENS Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp has prioritised bolstering his goal-shy forward line in the January transfer window as he prepares to launch his latest attempt at the great escape tonight at Sunderland.
Redknapp, who replaced the sacked Mark Hughes at the Premier League’s basement club on Friday but did not take charge of Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at Manchester United, admitted signings would be scarce next month.
Hughes overhauled the playing squad in the summer, recruiting 10 new players to add to his three purchases in January, meaning there is limited scope for Rangers’ owners to fund another spree.
But with top scorer Bobby Zamora and fellow striker Andy Johnson facing months out injured, and Djibril Cisse managing just one league goal so far this term, Redknapp will look to add greater firepower.
“We’re not overloaded with strikers here. That’s certainly an area we are short. If there are one or two in the window – a couple of loans – then we’d be interested,” Redknapp said yesterday.
“There won’t be wholesale spending. The owners have been fantastic. I don’t think too many clubs brought in more players than QPR did. Now it’s up to the people who run the team to get the best out of them.”
Redknapp revealed David Beckham had texted to wish him luck but played down suggestions the former England captain, who is set to leave Los Angeles Galaxy next month, would join QPR in January.
The former Tottenham boss could not prevent Southampton’s relegation from the top flight in 2005, but saved Portsmouth from the drop the following season and reversed a dreadful start by Spurs when he took charge in 2008-09.
Yet the 65-year-old believes keeping QPR in the Premier League after the worst start by any team in the competition’s history – four points and no wins from 13 games – is the sternest test of his career.
“We mustn’t kid ourselves, this is much tougher that those two jobs in my opinion, but I’m optimistic we can pull it off,” he added. “I want to be successful here, really badly. I want to keep this team in the Premier League. If the players try as hard as I am going to try we’ll be successful.”
Redknapp’s quest begins at the Stadium of Light against a struggling Sunderland side who have won just twice in the league since 24 March – when they beat QPR 3-1 in the same fixture last season.
Former Tottenham assistants Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan are set to join Redknapp, who was dismissed from White Hart Lane in the summer despite leading them to a top-four finish, at Loftus Road this week.
Redknapp dismissed the notion of recalling Joey Barton from Marseille as the controversial midfielder’s loan deal is due to last for the season.
■ TOTTENHAM: Took over in October 2008 with Spurs bottom of the league and only two points from eight games. Recovered to finish eighth
■ PORTSMOUTH: Returned to Pompey in March 2005 with the side in the relegation zone and three points adrift of safety after 15 matches. Managed to survive with a game to spare
■ SOUTHAMPTON: Joined in December 2004, a point from safey after 16 games. Relegated on final day