Loic Remy’s move to QPR, rather than to Newcastle United where he was widely tipped to link up with French compatriots Hatem Ben Arfa and Yohan Cabaye, has raised more than a few eyebrows among the footballing public. Accusations of greed are sure to surface, with QPR’s current league position and the suggestion that QPR will offer Remy wages far higher than Newcastle can afford. But, financial reward aside, the former Marseilles man may yet have the last laugh.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned about him over the years, it’s that QPR’s boss Harry Redknapp is not just a canny operator in the transfer market, but that Redknapp talks the language that footballers want to hear. Redknapp has an uncanny ability to make the best of whatever he’s given, to raise the bar of performance from so-called lesser players, and to turn around underperforming teams by re-energising and motivating talented yet underperforming players. So called unfashionable clubs such as Bournemouth, West Ham and Portsmouth all flourished under the tutelage of Redknapp, and while he may count his time at Southampton as something of a blip, the transformation of Tottenham Hotspur from bottom of the league relegation candidates to Champions League quarter finalists was astounding. With half a season still to go, and some fragile-looking teams sitting just above the Super Hoops, a turnaround in their fortunes is not unthinkable.
Remy may represent a gamble to QPR’s chairman Tony Fernandes on top of an already huge outlay on players, but along with the rumoured signing of Yann M’Vila, Fernandes is obviously willing to back Redknapp’s judgement on signings, and importantly, must believe that his manager’s ability to save the R’s from the drop is worth the punt. QPR’s last two performances give credence to this view. A 1-0 victory at third placed Chelsea and a 0-0 draw against the free-scoring Champions League chasing Tottenham were gutsy affairs in which Rangers showed real team spirit. The recent 3-0 reverse at home to Liverpool shows that not all the problems have been consigned to the Loftus Road dustbin, but a marked improvement under Redknapp is certainly beginning to tell.
Newcastle, Remy’s jilted suitors, could yet be sucked into the relegation scrap. QPR’s improvements, allied with the recent upturn in form of the likes of Reading and Southampton, should have the Magpies anxiously looking over their shoulders. Their form this season as compared to last has been abject. The prospect of Rangers leapfrogging Newcastle, with the creativity of Adel Taarabt, industry from the likes of Clint Hill, Sean Derry and Jamie Mackie, and an attack spearheaded by the highly rated Remy, should not be discounted. Remy yet may prove to be the spark that lifts QPR above the rest of the teams fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table. With Harry Redknapp’s record, you shouldn’t bet against it.