HARRY REDKNAPP has described the performance of his new Queen's Park Rangers players this season as "embarrassing" as he prepares to take charge of the Premier League's bottom-placed team for the first time.
Introduced as Mark Hughes' successor at Loftus Road, Redknapp did not spare the players when it came to his assessment of their form ahead of tonight's game against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.
"Anyone should be higher than four points," he said. "It's an embarrassing total for the players to have. They have got to do better.
"It is no good us all kidding ourselves, saying they have all done great and fantastic. You can't be doing great if you have only four points, can you? That's impossible.
"It is not tough to work it out. How can you have four points from 13 games? Something has got to be wrong. I've got to find what is wrong and put it right quickly. That's the challenge.
"It's difficult. 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. The (former) manager, who is an excellent manager, has got the sack. It's up to me to make my own decisions over what's wrong with them and what needs doing."
Having been linked with a potential January move for David Beckham, Redknapp said that he had received a congratulatory text message from the former England captain and regarded the 37-year-old as a positive influence but did not suggest there were any plans to sign him.
Redknapp was met on his first day at the training ground by shareholder Kamarudin Bin Meranun but there was no sign of chairman Tony Fernandes.
The former Tottenham manager picked out the lack of strikers - due to injuries to Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson - as a particular problem but said that he did not anticipate major investment in January and would try to make loan signings.
He said: "The owners have been fantastic. They've brought players in. I don't think a club brought more players in than QPR.
"Now it's up to the people who run the team to get the best out of what's here.
"I'm sure if there's one or two in the window, a couple of loans or whatever, then we'll be interested, but there's not going to be wholesale spending. The owners have spent a lot of money here."
A striker and a centre-half are priorities with Peter Crouch and Michael Dawson two players whom Redknapp is interested in.
Crouch has played for Redknapp at three different clubs on four separate occasions and began his professional career at QPR. Nevertheless, it would prove hard for QPR to persuade Stoke to part with him mid-season.
Redknapp claimed that he would have taken the job of managing Ukraine had QPR not contacted him on Friday.
He said: "It was a good job. I spoke to (Andriy) Shevchenko about it. He said there were some good players there and I was excited about it. I would have gone that weekend."
Redknapp's assistants Kevin Bond and Joe Jordan have both signed contracts at the club.
Redknapp also suggested that he would regard keeping QPR in the Premier League as his most significant triumph against relegation to date.
"I've got no time for people losing the ball, throwing their arms up in air, and standing around with their hands on their hips," Redknapp said. "We're in a relegation battle, we've got four points. It's their fault (the players) - nobody else's."
Redknapp, Meanwhile, admits he needed a break from football after capping the craziest year of his life by taking the QPR job.
Succeeding in what he admitted was the "toughest" assignment of his managerial career should be child's play compared to the stress of beating charges of a far more serious nature back in February.
Then, Redknapp was fighting for his very freedom in a tax evasion trial which ultimately saw him cleared.
The footballing disappointments which followed -- being snubbed for the England job and sacked by Tottenham -- simply compounded what had been an emotionally exhausting first half of 2012 for the 65-year-old.
Asked if it had been the craziest year of his life, he said: "Yeah, oh yeah. Certainly. The whole thing was a bit bizarre, wasn't it?
"I probably needed a break.
"Maybe it wasn't the worst thing that could have happened."
Neither was losing out to Roy Hodgson for the England job or being sacked by Spurs.
"I didn't go home that night when I heard on the radio that Roy had been given the England job and lock myself up in a room," he said. "I didn't go away from Tottenham that night when Daniel Levy sacked me and want to jump off the edge of Bournemouth Pier. The next day I am up playing golf.
"I mean, what can I do? That is the way that I am."
Redknapp claims that before Manchester United against QPR on Saturday, he had not attended a Premier League game this season for fear of his presence being misinterpreted as a sign a manager was set for the chop.
Instead, he watched a lot of football on television and at his beloved Bournemouth, where he took on an advisory role in September.
He also spent time in the local community, which includes Victoria Education Centre and Sports College, a haven of high-quality care for disabled youngsters.
"You want to go up to see all these kids at Victoria school," he said. "That is life. This is only football. It is only a game."