Ryan Nelsen believes the appointment of Harry Redknapp as manager will galvanise Queen’s Park Rangers as the club look to avoid relegation.
Redknapp’s first game in charge since taking over from Mark Hughes ended in a goalless draw at Sunderland on Tuesday night, with the new manager declaring afterwards that he had seen enough in his new players to suggest they could yet stay up.
Hughes was sacked last week after failing to win a Premier League game this season, and the veteran defender Nelsen, who has been signed by Hughes (twice) and Redknapp (once), said: “Harry will bring in his own ideas, and some confidence. We just have to start producing and get some points.
“It is a clean slate for everybody and everybody will have to impress just to stay on the field. It was very sad to see Mark go because he has transformed QPR. It may not look like it from the outside, but inside it’s a whole different club. It’s a Premier League club now, but unfortunately the results didn’t go for him and I felt really bad for him.
“To be fair, Harry didn’t really have to say it for us to know we are not in a nice position. None of us like it. None of us have been in this position before. It’s horrible. Harry has come in, I know him really well and his credentials speak for themselves. It is up to us now to bring in results for him. He was happy with the clean sheet and the point, but I think there was a slight disappointment in his voice because we had some good chances and we were the better of the two teams. If a neutral was watching, you wouldn’t think we were at the bottom. He is just trying to keep everyone positive. As I know Harry, him and his staff will be doing their utmost to get us points.”
Martin O’Neill, whose side also appear to be in a relegation battle, has admitted his players are beginning to find it difficult to play at the Stadium of Light. Some sections of Sunderland fans backed his side during Tuesday night’s match; others, however, were more critical, and jeers rang out around the stadium when referee Andre Marriner blew the final whistle.
O’Neill revealed his players had drawn comparisons to the atmosphere there in the closing days of the Steve Bruce reign. In Bruce’s final game, when Sunderland had lost to Wigan on 26 November last year, there was vitriolic abuse for the manager, which led to his dismissal four days later.
“The lads said it was really tough last year as well around this time,” O’Neill said. “The matches the boys played before Steve departed – it was particularly tough when they lost against Wigan, the lads were saying.
“We have to tough it out. The crowd gets edgy and this is a sign of character as much as anything else. You have to play the ball you choose, and not the one the crowd want you to play. Ours wouldn’t be the only crowd that would get anxious about such things.”
Sunderland have won just four of their last 26 Premier League games and the on-loan Tottenham left-back Danny Rose, who has been one of the few plus points for O’Neill this season, said: “We can’t afford to hide now. We need 11 fighters on the field and seven fighters on the bench.”