Harry Redknapp's Link With Ukraine Could Have Forced QPR's Hand

Harry Redknapp

Harry Redknapp is poised to become the manager of Queens Park Rangers following Mark Hughes's dismissal by the Premier League's bottom club on Friday. The 65-year-old returns to work five months after being let go by Tottenham Hotspur, despite guiding the club to fourth in the table.

Redknapp told Sky Sports News: "Hopefully we can get it done tonight, there shouldn't be any problems." His appointment is expected to be confirmed after Saturday's trip to Manchester United, where he will watch his new club from the stands. He should be in charge for Tuesday's game away to Sunderland.

"There are a couple of bits to be sorted out but I've left it to other people and said I want it to happen because it's a club I want to manage," he said. "I'm looking forward to it. It's a big challenge and a tough job to take on – but I'm up for it.

"I'll watch the game tomorrow. I will probably travel up and watch the game in the stand. If everything gets sorted, and I'm sure it will, I'll be in Sunday morning, will have the team in training on Monday, then fly up to Sunderland."

Hughes's exit came as no surprise after he had failed to guide the team to even one league victory this season despite lavish investment during the summer, yet the timing of his dismissal was curious.

QPR's owner, Tony Fernandes, agonised long and hard over whether to give up on Hughes. Last Saturday's emphatic defeat by Southampton left the club with only four points from 12 matches.

Hughes appeared to have survived a board meeting on Monday but Fernandes, who is in Malaysia, spent the last few days on the telephone listening to the opinions of staff at Loftus Road – including several players – as well as his fellow shareholders, Amit Bhatia and Ruben Gnanalingam.

The manager's fate may have been sealed by the prospect of his replacement being unavailable. Overtures from the Ukrainian Football Association to Redknapp could have helped force Fernandes's hand. "Yesterday I was almost on my way to the Ukraine. It was something I fancied doing – but this has changed everything around," Redknapp said.

"You know what the game's like. I lost my job at Tottenham and Mark Hughes is a top, top manager and a great guy. Sometimes these things happen. QPR couldn't get the results they needed. You couldn't have too many worse starts but I'm ready to give it a go and see if I can change their fortunes around. If I can keep them up I'll be the happiest man around. There are some good players there but I've got to find a way of picking a team that can win some games." He added: "The players have got to start performing. If they do that we've got a chance."

Redknapp revealed he hoped Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond would continue to be a part of his background team. "They obviously want to get back into work as well but Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki are there at the moment and they are great lads as well. Let's hope they can get a result at Old Trafford."

Hughes may have feared the chop but was still caught off guard. He was scheduled to oversee training on Friday before hosting a pre-match press conference but instead he arrived for work and was told by the club's chief executive chairman, Philip Beard, that his time was up.

"Queens Park Rangers Football Club has terminated the contract of manager Mark Hughes with immediate effect," read a statement on the club's website a short time later. "This decision has been taken after careful consideration by the board of directors, following numerous meetings over the last few days. The board of directors wish to thank Mark for his commitment, hard work and dedication in his 10 months in charge. Mark has shown integrity and professionalism throughout his time here but ultimately the circumstances we find ourselves in have left the board with very little choice but to make a change. The board will now be working actively to put a new managerial structure in place as soon as possible."

Within hours the club moved to begin negotiating with Redknapp to take over. The club want Redknapp to mount a similar rescue to the one he accomplished at White Hart Lane when he salvaged a talented squad that had sunk to second from bottom under Juande Ramos.

QPR are five points from safety already and have the worst goal difference in the league as they head to Old Trafford to face second-placed United. Relegation could be ruinous for a club that invested heavily in new players over the summer, offering tempting wages to attract the likes of Park Ji-sung and Fábio da Silva from Manchester United, the Brazil international goalkeeper Júlio César from Internazionale and Esteban Granero on loan from Real Madrid.

The Premier League television revenue is due to rise by 71% next season and missing out on that would be particularly galling for a club with lofty ambitions but a ground capacity of only 18,500.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Paul Doyle, for The Guardian on Friday 23rd November 2012 23.34 Europe/London

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