QPR draw 0-0: not a Redknapp miracle - but it's a start
'Confidence is key and I have to keep encouraging them,' says new manager after Sunderland draw
Sunderland 0 QPR 0. As miracles go, it was a minor one. But at least Harry Redknapp celebrated his first game in charge of QPR by ending a run of six successive away defeats.
The goalless draw at the Stadium of Light put a smile on Rednapp's face though he admitted there is still a great deal of work to be done if Rangers are to avoid relegation in May. "It is going to be tough, let us not kid ourselves," he said afterwards. "But we've got a chance. Confidence is key and I have to keep encouraging them."
Rangers remain rooted to be foot of the table on five points and still searching for their first win of the season, but Redknapp's criticism of his squad at the weekend seems to be having an effect. The former Sours manager, who replaced Mark Hughes as QPR boss, had watched from the stands as QPR slumped to a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, and later told the players they'd either have to shape up or ship out.
The response from the Rangers squad was a battling performance in heavy rain. "I liked the look of us," declared Redknapp. "The midfield was very strong - the three lads there looked very good. They are powerful and had bags of energy."
Jamie Mackie and Adel Taarabt both came close to scoring for QPR, but Redknapp will have been left unimpressed by the finishing skills of Djibril Cisse, who fluffed three chances to put Rangers ahead. Nonetheless it was a valuable away point, and one that moves them to within four points of second-from-bottom Reading who lost at Aston Villa on Tuesday night.
Villa's 1-0 win came thanks to Christian Benteke who rose to head home a corner on 80 minutes. The goal lifts Villa above Southampton and out of the relegation zone, and they now face a trip to Loftus Road on Saturday for what will be Redknapp's first home match in charge of his new club.
Taking positives from what he saw at Sunderland, Redknapp urged QPR fans to support their team as they begin the battle to stay in the Premier league. "I feel more optimistic now than I did on Saturday," said Redknapp. "If the QPR fans get behind us, who knows what can happen. I think the two clubs are similar and the fans can make a big difference."