Harry Redknapp is going through a period as troubled as that of his QPR team. He regards himself as lucky to have managed so long at the top level, but also admits that he goes home after defeats and speaks to no one – not even his dogs. So there must have been many uneasy silences at Sandbanks in recent weeks.
His problem is not that QPR are playing badly – they are performing better than at any time since he took over. Yet they have lost key games. At Aston Villa it was a failure to press home a dominant first half, at Fulham on Monday two uncharacteristic errors from Christopher Samba and a penalty miss from Loïc Rémy. At such times the powerlessness of the football manager must be at its most frustrating. But Redknapp says he will still blame himself if players' errors take QPR down.
"I would beat myself up over it, I think we all do," he said. "But the team is playing as well as it ever has, and that is what has been such a shame in the last two games. The performance at Villa was the best since I've been here. It was a different QPR team, going forward, making chances and looking as if we were going to score goals. Suddenly you've got Rémy, and he can score. Andros Townsend has given us something."
And Samba too. "He had one bad day. He'll come back strong. At Southampton the other week he was fantastic for us when we were under pressure, won every header. He knows he had a bad day, he was really low, but he's fine. "
Which goes for QPR's squad. "They're giving everything they've got and I've got no problems with them," Redknapp said. "They just haven't had the breaks."
Of the sort that today's opponents, Wigan, two places and seven points better off, enjoyed against Newcastle United 15 days ago. "They should have been down to 10 men. Then Newcastle get a corner in the last minute and the referee gives a goal-kick. Wigan get a corner, Figueroa punches it – everyone sees it except the referee – and they score. Wigan should never have won."
If Samba, Rémy and the referee do their jobs today, Redknapp believes QPR can chalk off one of the five wins he estimates are the minimum needed for safety.