Harry Redknapp Says QPR's Shock Win at Chelsea Shows They Can Stay up

Dirty Harry

Harry Redknapp reflected on one of the finest and most exhilarating results of his long career as his Queens Park Rangers team beat Chelsea 1-0 at Stamford Bridge to fire their hopes of avoiding relegation and possibly deal the fatal blow to their west London rivals' hopes of winning the Premier League title.

QPR had not won at Chelsea for 30 years and the last time they beat Chelsea by this scoreline in the league was in October 2011 – an occasion that would change the landscape of English football. John Terry's racial abuse of Anton Ferdinand was the prompt for a sequence of events that saw England lose their captain and their manager, and the magistrates court and a Football Association commission become involved.

This result will not have the same wrecking ball capacity but Redknapp hopes that it could serve as the touchstone for his club climbing off the bottom of the table to safety and Rafael Benítez, his Chelsea counterpart, all but admitted that the title had moved out of reach. "We have to do everything almost perfect now if we're going to reduce it back," Benítez said.

Redknapp's emotions contrasted sharply. "I said to Joe Jordan [the QPR assistant manager] that I can't remember having many better wins than this one," he said. "To come here against a team who are absolutely flying and on the back of our losses to Liverpool and West Brom ... it was just a great result.

"You hope this can be a turning point. It is the first away win [in 24 league matches] so let's hope we can build on that. There is still a long way to go but it is encouraging. We had a good meeting after the Liverpool game on Sunday. I think I convinced the players that we can stay up.

"I said that on Sunday and everybody probably thought I was mad. But I didn't go home thinking we were doomed and 'What have I done here?' We can turn it around ... get this lot working and improve the squad in the window and we can give ourselves a chance. Tonight has proved that."

Benítez highlighted the strain on his squad, who have had to play the busy festive programme on the back of their trip to Japan last month to contest the Club World Cup. He defended his policy of rotation, as he reported that the goalkeeper, Petr Cech, would be out for "two to three weeks" with a groin injury and the captain, Terry, had no return date because of the bone bruising to the knee.

"You could see that some players were a little bit tired," Benítez said. "We were not precise with our passing and didn't play with the high tempo we were expecting. At the end we made a mistake and gave them a chance. There were many things that were not working for us.

"I have no regrets about my selection. In the last few games [Victor] Moses and Oscar were playing, so it was just Marko Marin who was the difference for this game. We cannot keep playing with the same players every game. And if you're playing the team at the bottom of the table at home, you have to trust your players. I trust them and thought it would be fine.

"We were worried about being tired, which was the reason we put out some fresh legs to keep the tempo of the game. But QPR were deep, they were waiting to play counter-attack and we couldn't keep the tempo. It's difficult for us now as we're playing so many games with a small group of players. You could say today that they couldn't get to the right level."

The final word went to Redknapp, who is determined to build the kind of momentum at QPR that helped him lead Portsmouth, one of his former clubs, to Premier League survival in 2006.

"When you are sitting at home tonight, even the teams with 20 points, they have gone 'This result ain't very good for us,'" Redknapp said. "I have been there. That has sent a few shocks to everybody. We have got to make the most of it. The atmosphere afterwards was fantastic. We have got to build on that now."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by David Hytner at Stamford Bridge, for The Guardian on Thursday 3rd January 2013 01.01 Europe/London

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