Harry Redknapp will not have finished the reorganisation of his QPR squad by any stretch of the imagination.
As August progresses, it is almost certain a number of the higher wage earners who came in during their abomination of a Premier League season last year will be leaving.
Redknapp has often bemoaned the spirit and attitude which has existed at Loftus Road since he has taken over, and will be looking to move on the mercenaries who were looking for the easy money and replace them with his own men.
Arrivals have already come through the revolving door in the shape of Richard Dunne, Karl Henry, Danny Simpson and most recently Charlie Austin. All good signings, and good players, who, in Redknapp’s eyes at least will want to perform for him. This is something he would not have said the same about regarding some of the players he inherited.
Many have already left; Campbell, Samba, and Mackie have followed Cisse and Bosingwa out of W12. The Joey Barton saga still rumbles on however, with Marseille unwilling to meet his wage demands, and Everton now mulling over his very tempting offer to play for them on the “cheap”. It is doubtful he will still be there when the window shuts, but no one has yet been prepared to take the risk.
Even so, the squad which is left is strong. On paper it has to be the strongest in the division. Too strong for the Championship, but not much different from the squad which was relegated from the Premier League. How will players more used to playing top division football cope with the specific demands of the second tier?
Of course, there is no guarantee that these players will still be in White City come the end of August, but the Championship season kicks off tomorrow, and unless there is some hectic activity, the likes of Loic Remy, Julio Cesar, Stephane Mbia, Park Ji-Sung and Esteban Granero will be donning the blue and white hoops and stepping out against Sheffield Wednesday.
How they perform will say a lot about the changes which Redknapp has made over the summer, and will indicate to him how much work he still has to do. The first game of the season often throws up some crazy results, but the expectation around Loftus road come kick off will be of a comfortable victory against a side who struggled for the majority of last season.
If he fields his strongest side, Redknapp should be expecting the same and anything other than three points will be looked at as a bad result.
QPR will no doubt be up at the right end of the league this year and everyone knows that their MO is to bounce back at the first time of asking.
They already have some of the best players in the division, they have the richest chairman and they have the largest parachute payment ever paid out to a relegated side. All things point to a return, but it will be down to the players and their attitude
Having started sculpturing his squad to his own liking, there will be no excuses for Redknapp come the end of the season. He has all the tools for a successful season.
If there isn’t a promotion at the end of it, the wisdom of taking the job in such a dire situation after Mark Hughes’s sacking will certainly be questioned, and his reign at QPR will go down as an indubitable blot on an otherwise impressive managerial CV.
image: © Tom Cuppens