The sight of Queen's Park Rangers' players slumped on the Villa Park turf at the end gave Saturday's result the feel of a pivotal moment in the relegation fight –yet the west London club's manager, Harry Redknapp, maintains that survival is not beyond his men.
Rangers ended the weekend seven points behind 17th-placed Villa and needing to surpass the escape act that Redknapp's Portsmouth managed seven seasons ago. At this stage in 2006, Portmouth had 24 points to QPR's 23 and Redknapp admitted that his task at Loftus Road was "probably tougher"; yet Rangers' performance in Saturday's seesaw contest gave him hope, despite the need for "four or five wins" from a side with just four so far this season.
"This is probably tougher from where we were," replied Redknapp when asked about Portsmouth, "but we're playing all right. I think we look like we can score suddenly but we have to go and win away from home somewhere – we have to win at Fulham, at Reading, one of those games, and we've got to win our home games. If we can do that we can still stay up. It's not impossible."
QPR's next match is at Fulham on 1 April – a month that also brings home fixtures against Wigan Athletic and Stoke City and trips to Everton and Reading. "I just think we need to play as we are at the moment, and just cut out [the mistakes]," added Redknapp. "It was always going to be hard but we are playing well at the moment, that's the encouraging thing."
Rangers' pain was Villa's gain on an afternoon which suggested Paul Lambert's faith in his inexperienced players is finally paying off. Lambert, the Villa manager, spoke afterwards of the difficulty of "trying to build something plus get results" and they owed this result to two players in particular.
Goalkeeper Brad Guzan, first choice this season ahead of Shay Given, made three world-class saves in the first half before forward Andreas Weimann inspired Villa to victory in the second. The 21-year-old Austrian, a peripheral figure under Alex McLeish, scored one goal and set up another, and Lambert said: "I don't think he was a regular in the side [but] he has been given a chance and he's playing exceptionally well.
"Whether Andi plays off the line or through the middle, he seems to score but the biggest compliment I can give him is he is a brilliant guy and gives you everything he's got."Reuse content