Harry Redknapp has admitted that Queens Park Rangers' team spirit has been torpedoed by acrimony over wage inequality at the club.
Rangers are almost certain to be relegated from the Premier League even if they beat Reading on Sunday and the manager acknowledges that part of the reason for their predicament has been a lack of squad unity throughout the campaign.
"There are splits in the camp," said Redknapp. "I'd be liar if I said there wasn't, it's been obvious for everyone to see all year. It's a problem, it's not easy." QPR invested lavishly last summer, and again in January, to attract big-name players on salaries that in some cases dwarf those paid to longer-serving team-mates such as Shaun Derry, Jamie Mackie and Clint Hill, who helped the club win promotion from the Championship two years ago. The failure of some of the new arrivals to produce performances as high as their salaries has sown discord.
"People don't mind others getting good money if they earn it," Redknapp said. "It's not a problem if you play at a club with Robin van Persie, Steven Gerrard or someone and you know that he's getting 140 grand a week and someone else is getting 50 grand, you don't mind that because you know he's worth it. But when players look and think 'he's not doing any better than me'," it's difficult."
Redknapp previously vented his frustration at QPR recruits "who earn far too much money for their ability", notably expressing his dismay last December when José Bosingwa, who was signed from Chelsea on a £65,000-per-week deal, objected to being named as a substitute for the match at Newcastle.
Redknapp, who is resigned to going down this season, will try to offload highly-paid flops this summer in preparation for a promotion bid from the Championship next season. He says that players "with good character" will be top of his wish list, saying that, while he will always be eager to sign inspirational veterans, the experience of Andros Townsend this season shows that enthusiastic youngsters should have a big role to play. Townsend has brought freshness and flair to QPR since joining on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in January but will miss Sunday's game at Reading due to injury. "Andros has been excellent for us and we are going to have to look at the loan market this summer for young players who are hungry," said Redknapp.
A new striker will be among the manager's priorities. He knows QPR are unlikely to keep hold of the sought-after Loic Rémy and Bobby Zamora's hip woes mean he is unlikely to be a regular starter. An operation would repair the problem definitively but put Zamora out of action for around 10 months so Redknapp, left, hopes the player will postpone surgery until the end of next season so that he can play some role in the promotion push.
"We'll look to keep him going because if he's out all year, what's the point? He's out of contract next year so you need him playing."
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