The fat lady will sing if Aston Villa produce something surprising on Monday evening but, regardless of the result at Old Trafford, QPR's return to the Championship can now be regarded as inevitable.
He has tasted success in the second tier – with Portsmouth 10 years ago – but since then there have been Champions League trips to San Siro and the Bernabéu and it is not long since he seemed set for the England job. If Redknapp visits his old haunts next season, it will be at Dean Court rather than White Hart Lane. His last managerial spell outside the top flight lasted five months and ended in acrimonious resignation at Southampton in December 2005.
Still Redknapp insists the prospect of the Championship holds no fear. "I started off at Bournemouth for 10 years and loved every minute of it," said Redknapp. "I love football. I loved it [in the Champions League], going to Milan and winning, it was great. But this is where I am now and I'll get on with the job."
His assessment of his own future stopped a long way short of a demand to be given the chance to lead the club back up again – "You never know what happens in football. It's up to the owners, whatever they want to do is good with me," he said on Saturday – but he did outline his blueprint for second-tier success.
"You'd like to freshen it up," he said. "When I went to Portsmouth that first year I was lucky, an awful lot of players were out of contract and I could change things around. And I brought characters into the club – like Arjan de Zeeuw from Wigan, who was an absolute leader of men, a fantastic person. That's what you're looking for, you need people like that to come in.
"I took Paul Merson for five grand a week, Villa were paying him the rest of his wages, and he turned the club around for me with his ability and enthusiasm. That's what you're looking for and they're out there. We've got some. But you'd like to change things around a bit if you can. In the summer I could build my own team if I have the chance but I don't know if I'll be able to."
That was a reference to the amount of expensive dead wood that needs to be shifted out of Loftus Road if Redknapp is to be able to create his own side. With a Premier League win percentage no better than his predecessors at QPR, Neil Warnock and Mark Hughes, both of whom were sacked by the owner, Tony Fernandes, it remains to be seen whether the Rangers hierarchy will give him that chance.
Stoke's victory, sealed by Peter Crouch's first-half tap-in and Jonathan Walters' penalty 13 minutes from time, eased the pressure that had been building on Tony Pulis. But his assistant, Dave Kemp, denied the criticism had affected the Stoke manager.
"It's water off a duck's back," said Kemp. "That's the business we're in. If you stick yourself up as the manager, you might get some plaudits when it's going well but then people are just waiting for you when it's not going so well.
"It's always going to be up and down. You're there to be shot at. That's the nature of the business. It can be quite harsh but, if you want to be popular, don't be a football manager."
Man of the match Peter Crouch (Stoke City)
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © curiouslypersistent