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Players should be embarrassed, claims Henry James Redknapp

Tuesday, 27 November 2012 - 11:49am IST | Agency: Daily Telegraph

Redknapp arrived at QPR's Harlington training centre yesterdaylooking fresh, healthy and ready for the considerable challenge of reviving the Premier League's bottom-placed team. He could not wait to start, having spent five months out of the game.

This has been a truly remarkable year in the life of Henry James Redknapp. He has been cleared of tax evasion, missed out on the England job, been dismissed by Tottenham after leading them to fourth in the Premier League, wooed by Ukraine and now recruited to rescue Queens Park Rangers.

Redknapp arrived at QPR's Harlington training centre yesterday on Monday looking fresh, healthy and ready for the considerable challenge of reviving the Premier League's bottom-placed team. He could not wait to start, having spent five months out of the game.

"I went through a tough old year so maybe the break wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to me,'' Redknapp reflected. "I haven't seen a Premier League game since I finished at Tottenham. I thought if I turn up people will go: 'Oh what's he doing here, they've lost a few games. He's after my job.'

"I used to pootle along and watch Bournemouth play on Saturday afternoons. Loved it. Watching lower division games, popping downstairs and having a cup of tea with the managers. They are fantastic lads. It was a bit of reality.

"It was a difficult year. The whole thing was a bit bizarre how it all finished up for me at Tottenham but that's life. I didn't go away from Tottenham that night when Daniel Levy sacked me and wanted to jump off the edge of Bournemouth. The next day I was up playing golf.

"Tottenham was a great time. The highlight was probably beating Man City away to get in the Champions League.

"I don't spend my life holding grudges against people. Daniel has just rung up, wished me all the best.

"I didn't go home that night when I heard on the radio that Roy [Hodgson] had been given the England job and lock myself up in a room."

And then Redknapp added: "It's only a game, only a job. You want to go up to see all these kids at the Victoria school - that is life."

Redknapp is a patron of the Sparkle Appeal which raises funds for the Victoria Education Centre in Poole which works with youngsters who have physical and neurological problems.

He was ready to return, though. Redknapp had missed the coaching, picking the team, the adrenalin of match-day. He was about to sign a four-year deal to coach Ukraine if QPR had not come calling.

"It wasn't as if I had to live in Ukraine. Fabio Capello is manager of Russia but he lives in Italy. I could have gone over at weekends, watched some games, spent a few days at home. I spoke to Andrei Shevchenko about it. He said there were some good players there. I was excited about it. I would have gone. There was a committee and one of them wanted Sheva and the rest wanted me."

But what about when Ukraine play England next September? "It would have been difficult! But you can't say: 'Oh, it doesn't matter if we don't win today.' I would have been sent down the salt mines!"

He knows the size of the task at Loftus Road but he has faced similar challenges before.

"Portsmouth was a tough one, keeping them up when it looked like we were doomed. If I'd failed there, I probably wouldn't be alive now. This is a tough one as well.

"We keep saying we have a good team but how do you end up with four points? It's an embarrassing total for the players to have. They have to do better. They should be embarrassed.

"You can talk to players all day and those who aren't playing will blame those who are playing. Those who are playing will blame somebody else. Mark Hughes has got the sack and he's an excellent manager.

"I've come to a good club here. I've met the people here and they're good, nice, genuine people. They're not ruthless people."

Although his focus is on shoring up the defence, Redknapp is aware of QPR's tradition of creative players such as Stan Bowles and Rodney Marsh.

"They always had great No?10s over the years. It was a good side, the team that nearly won the title on the last day of the (1975-76) season with Frank McLintock, David Webb. They had some great players and characters."

Of the current No?10, Adel Taarabt, Redknapp said: "I've got to get the best out of him."

He played down talk of David Beckham arriving, although he added: "I still think to have him at any football club would be a great influence on the team, on the club." Redknapp did namecheck Michael Dawson - "a top player."

Redknapp, who confirmed that "deals are being done" to bring in Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan, wants to turn Loftus Road into a fortress. "To play there was always intimidating. It's a close little ground.

"The fans will get behind us at home and make it an intimidating place if they see people chasing, working, running and closing down. If they see people losing the ball and standing around, they'll get the hump. They are paying their wages. We want to establish QPR as a good Premier League team."

At the end of his extraordinary year, Redknapp is smitten with the bug again. "QPR is my team now,'' he smiled. "My grandkids are all getting QPR kits this week."


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