With Harry now gone due to dodgy knees and QPR sat perilously in the relegation zone, you could be forgiven for thinking that this season was only going one direction.
The truth of the matter is that he had taken the club as far as he possibly could and his wheeler-dealer style management didn’t pay off this time around. Tony Fernandes, the Rangers chairman, said himself that they had a good bunch of lads at the club who weren’t mercenaries. It’s a big challenge, but a perfect one for someone like former Tottenham boss, Tim Sherwood, to properly launch his managerial career. He’s available, young, and has no doubt whatsoever over his own ability.
When Tim Sherwood left Tottenham Hotspur in 2014, he did so in the midst of claims that players at the club lacked “guts and character”. It was an astonishingly honest assessment of his side in the wake of a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea, a team which included Kyle Naughton, Younes Kaboul, Michael Dawson, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon, Emanuel Adebayor and Sandro. They all started less than a year ago in that drubbing, and now all of them have either been sold, loaned, or were being desperately offered to other clubs as the transfer window shut.
The point is that Tim was right and his ability to sniff out bad apples will be particularly poignant should he take the QPR hot seat. It’s a squad with plenty of quality that should be looking at a mid-table finish rather than just trying to avoid the drop. Experienced heads such as Rio Ferdinand, Bobby Zamora and Joey Barton haven’t been able to keep theirs, and so responsibility has been left to some Premier League newcomers who have done just about enough to give QPR hope of survival.
Sherwood can be credited for bringing Harry Kane through the Tottenham U21 team and into the starting XI, and his faith in Nabil Bentaleb was a master stroke as the player went on to star for Algeria in the 2014 World Cup. Tony Fernandes admitted on transfer deadline day that they had spent their money in the summer on targets picked out by Harry Redknapp, and so there will be a big onus on bringing through younger players if the first team genuinely just aren’t good enough. Interestingly enough, Sherwood branded Sandro just that whilst in charge at Tottenham having left him out of a Premier League squad altogether, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain a future there under new management.
But the real crux as to why QPR is the right club for Tim is the chairman. Tony Fernandes showed incredible loyalty, dignity and character under a Redknapp reign which had promotions, relegations, spats and Adel Taarabt. These types of people are rare in football, as Sherwood found out under Daniel Levy after a solid, if unremarkable, debut season in charge. If he’d been given a summer to bring in his own players and imprint his style on the team during pre-season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him doing equally as well a Pochettino has this term. He’s been in the running for jobs at Crystal Palace, West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle, but after seeing the debacle at those club over recent seasons it’s no wonder he chose to wait for the right opportunity.
This spell out of football, looking on as an observer, will have done him the world of good. He’s a cracking manager in the making and can revitalise a Queens Park Rangers team into playing the type of football befitting of the squad at his disposal. He’s already worked with Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey who have been placed in temporary charge of first team affairs with the former imminently moving into the Director of Football role. This will ensure that Sherwood gets the stability and backing he needs to stamp his identity on a side.
While Harry takes time out with a knee operation at the age of 67, Tim is the young pretender (in the grand scheme of managers) whose inexperience should breed a fearlessness that has been lost in QPR’s buckling performances away from home this season.