Wednesday 22 January 2020

Redknapp to rescue as axe falls on Hughes

Jeremy Wilson

Harry Redknapp will make his return to football at Queens Park Rangers after agreeing to replace Mark Hughes on a deal worth around £7.5m until the end of the 2014-15 season.

Hughes was sacked by QPR chief executive Phil Beard shortly before training yesterday morning and, having declined the option to continue for one final match against Manchester United this afternoon, had the remaining 23 months of his contract terminated.

Redknapp confirmed that he was in formal talks with QPR yesterday and, having reached a verbal agreement to succeed Hughes, the details on his new two-and-a-half year contract were being finalised last night.

Barring any dramatic and unexpected hitch, Redknapp will be at Old Trafford today to watch QPR play Manchester United. He will then begin his new job tomorrow, ahead of Tuesday night's match against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light.

After spells at West Ham United, Portsmouth, Southampton and Tottenham, it will be Redknapp's fifth Premier League club of a career in management that reaches its 30th anniversary next year.

Kevin Bond, his assistant at Tottenham, Portsmouth and Southampton, is expected to join his backroom staff, as is David Coles, Redknapp's goalkeeping coach at Southampton and Portsmouth.

QPR are winless after 12 Premier League games and sit at the bottom of the table with just four points.

Tony Fernandes, the QPR chairman, had regularly said that Hughes would be given time as manager, using his Twitter account this season to post numerous votes of confidence in the manager and calls for stability.

There was, however, a split among shareholders over the best way forward after the dismal 3-1 home defeat to Southampton.

The performance, more than the result, and also the way that significant sections of Loftus Road turned on Hughes, convinced other influential shareholders that a change was urgently needed to preserve the club's Premier League status.

Fernandes had wanted Hughes to be given today's match at Manchester United to provoke a reaction from his players, but, with some of the squad also unconvinced that he was the right man to take the club forward, the chairman accepted the need for change yesterday morning.

Although very much the front-man at QPR, Fernandes owns his 66pc stake with two business partners, Kamarudin Meranun and Ruben Gnanalingam. Significantly, the remaining third of the club is controlled by the Mittal family. The shareholders have already all put significant loans into QPR and, with the club believed to have accumulated even more 'soft' debt over the past year, it is likely to have been vital to keep major investors on board.

It is understood that the club did take soundings this week from senior players both on Hughes and also the prospect of Redknapp coming in as his replacement.

The change will certainly be costly. Redknapp is understood to have agreed a salary of £3m a year and also a significant bonus if he does lead QPR to safety. Hughes is also in the process of negotiating his compensation, although he may just continue to be paid a salary until either he finds another job or the expiry of his QPR contract, also worth around £3m a year, in 2014.

The change is also likely to have ramifications for the club's backroom staff, with many key appointments, notably technical director Mike Rigg, having been made in consultation with Hughes.

Redknapp is also certain to want to make changes to a squad that, while costly and containing plenty of proven Premier League experience, has proved dysfunctional so far this season. Hughes has recruited 13 players since becoming QPR manager in January and questions have been raised among fans about the influence on the club's transfer policy of his agent, Kia Joorabchian.

QPR assistant manager Mark Bowen and first-team coach coach Eddie Niedzwiecki , will take charge of QPR's match against Manchester United today, but it is unclear whether they will remain at the club in the longer term.

Redknapp has been out of football for five months after first missing out on the position of England manager and then being controversially sacked by Tottenham despite leading them to Premier League finishes of fourth, fifth and fourth during three full seasons at the club. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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