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Aidan O'Hara: Redknapp at QPR for a good time – not a long time

IN THE early part of the last decade I went into a well-known building society to find out how much of a mortgage I could get, naively keen as I was to stop paying out 'dead money' in rent by instead saddling myself with a lifetime of debt.

"How much will you give me?" was the gist of the inquiry. "How much do you want?" was the response.

After a brief conversation, they were willing to loan €420,000, which represented 100pc of the mortgage to be repaid over 35 years to a man in his early 20s who was in a reasonably, but far from spectacularly, well-paid job.

There are two ways to go with this kind of offer. The first is to do the maths and realise that you would be thoroughly screwed if you lost your job, the house lost value or the interest rate went up by a fraction, two of which have subsequently happened.

The second is to take the Harry Redknapp approach, which states that if somebody is stupid enough to give you a huge amount of money to spend, then you should go ahead and spend it.

Last week, Redknapp was in the firing line for the spending policy of his club when Queens Park Rangers' accounts revealed that their wages-to-turnover ratio was 91pc – even though it happened before Redknapp joined.

The figures ran up until May 31, 2012, and revealed that for every £100 that Queens Park Rangers take in, £91 of that goes on wages. That percentage is certain to have increased in the 10 months since after the arrival of Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar, Esteban Granero, Jose Bosingwa and Stephane Mbia during the summer.

Having said that he didn't want the owners to be ripped off as they had been in the past, Redknapp then broke the club's transfer record twice in January by signing Loic Remy and Christopher Samba on combined wages that wouldn't get much change from £200,000 a week.

The trick that Redknapp learned a long time ago is to pay tribute to the chairman for signing players and, given that many of them have an ego that makes players look humble, this serves the dual purpose of praising your boss, while also providing Redknapp with an escape clause if things go wrong.

"I don't know the situation of the owners no more than I knew the situation of the owners at Portsmouth," he insisted last week. "I don't ask the chairman to spend his money. If he wants to bring in a player then so be it." The general wisdom is that if things do go wrong, and QPR are relegated, the club's finances could make the Irish banking sector look like a well-oiled machine of virtue and competence.

Yet even though Redknapp's name will be associated with reckless spending should QPR be relegated, his sole job is to keep the club in the Premier League because, even before he arrived, they knew that relegation would mean financial disaster.

In an ideal world, the manager would be interested in a club's wages-to-turnover ratio but, like a teenager heading off for a summer holiday, Redknapp already knows that he is at QPR for a good time, not a long time.


With the money they spent in January, they are now the equivalent of the Titanic heading for a slightly bigger iceberg than the one they were already on course to hit.

The key difference between the scenario now and the one Redknapp started with is that QPR now have a chance of avoiding the iceberg of relegation altogether.

Unlike Arsene Wenger or Alex Ferguson, Redknapp has never been much of a guardian for a club's future, preferring to focus instead on the here and now which, for the most part, he does quite well. Nobody repeats the "two points from eight games" mantra from his time at Tottenham quite as often as Redknapp himself, but the fact remains that, from that point, they finished eighth, fourth, fifth and fourth in the following seasons.

And for that achievement, at a club that had been consistently regarded as a soft touch throughout the Premier League years, he was sacked.

Should Redknapp keep QPR in the Premier League, there will be similar arguments to the one that seeks to denigrate his achievements at Spurs.

"There was already talent there and they were in a false position," could be applied to QPR in much the same way as it could to Tottenham but, four points and no wins from 13 games was the true picture when Redknapp took over at Loftus Road. There was precious little false about their position rock bottom of the table.

They haven't yet moved off the foot of the table but, after two momentum-building victories, now find themselves within four points off safety with nine games remaining and the prospect of next season's £50m television revenue to paper over the financial madness.

For QPR, the disastrous consequences of relegation are much the same as they were before Redknapp's arrival, yet the possibility of escaping the sinking ship is greater. Expect the chairman to get full credit.

Irish Independent