Championship Play-off Final 2014: Harry Redknapp faces exit if Rangers fall at the last

 

Harry Redknapp could be in charge of Queen’s Park Rangers for the final time today, with the veteran manager at risk of losing his job should they lose their Championship play-off final against Derby County at Wembley.

Despite having the strongest squad in the division, with by a distance the biggest wage bill, Redknapp could only guide Rangers to a fourth-place finish in the table this season, five points behind third-placed Derby and 13 away from the automatic promotion places.

Redknapp insisted that the season would not be a failure even if they did not win promotion but the board are not certain to see it that way, and a parting of ways would be likely in talks after the final. The manager has one year left on the contract he signed in November 2012.

“My focus is Saturday,” Redknapp said in his press conference on Thursday morning. “Let’s get a result Saturday and then we can all sit down on Sunday and Monday and start planning for the future. We haven’t even thought about next year yet.”

Redknapp argued that regardless of the financial muscle of his squad – their wage bill for the 2012-13 season was £78 million, 128 per cent of the club’s turnover – there had been so much disruption at Loftus Road that promotion straight back to the Premier League was always going to be difficult.

“I think at the start of the year people were talking about wage bills and this, that and the other all the time,” he said. “We had 18 players leave here. We let a lot of players go that we didn’t want to keep, but we also let players go that we did want to keep.

“Look at the season Loïc Rémy’s had, Stéphane Mbia has scored two goals in the Europa League semi-final for Seville, Adel Taarabt’s playing for Milan,  so they weren’t exactly mugs we let go. We had to change a lot of people around.”

This turnover in players gave Redknapp a fear that Rangers were at risk of “doing a Wolves” and getting relegated for a second consecutive season. “I just think we’ve done well, to be fair,” he said, when asked if QPR’s spending put more pressure on him.

“If you think about it logically, we let a lot of good players go and almost throwing a team together at the start of the year. When I went to Peterborough this year in pre-season [on 13 July] and got beat, I thought we could be in trouble. I got a feeling, if we aren’t careful we could ‘do a Wolves’ this year. That was my honest opinion at that time.”

“We got beat badly at Peterborough, went to Exeter [on 11 July], nicked a result, struggled there and I thought ‘it’s going to be tough here’. The way we set off and the way we have gone, I’m very pleased. We lost a couple of key players at the wrong time who were very important to us. And we had that little slump but we have come back from it.”

Redknapp said he wanted to win today’s final for the sake of QPR’s owners, who have spent so much of their money on the club. “They are nice people,” he said. “I’m desperate to win for them, and desperate to win for the fans. That’s the only thing I’ll be interested in.

“I won’t be going to a party on Saturday night if we win,” he added. “I’ll be going and having a bit of pasta with  my wife.”

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