There has been a lot of clamour from frustrated QPR fans to "play the kids" for this, the last game for the club in the Premier League. Harry Redknapp rightly poured cold water on that bad idea -- even though we have a young side currently at U18 level that has won its third league title in a row. - Remy available for Liverpool trip Maybe it is because they came through a grueling final against Huddersfield in the week that they should not play. But to put youngsters out at Anfield -- particularly on a day when Liverpool will be looking to celebrate the end of the 16-year career of Jamie Carragher with a win -- would be misguided.
"That [QPR] team wouldn't finish in the top half of the Championship next year, that's the facts." So said Harry Redknapp two Saturdays ago in the wake of another home defeat, this time a 1-0 reversal against an Arsenal side that have won eight of their last 10 -- and only dropped points in two draws, against Manchester United and Everton. Tuesday, they relegated Wigan with a 4-1 drubbing. It is a squad that -- at last count -- consisted of 20 players who have played international football. And we are not talking the Faroe Islands or San Marino here: more England, France, Portugal, South Korea, Cameroon.
It is going to be far too much to ask the vast majority of our wonderful players to play for a bit of pride these final two games - it would appear pride has no place after the fall. Already Stephane Mbia - him of the grand gesture, walking ceremoniously into the crowd after every game to give a young boy his shirt - has allegedly tweeted his way to a new job: he's been fined by the club. Perhaps this is the new policy from now until the end of the season: claw back some of the indecent wages in fines.
Let's start with the most important aspect of Saturday's late afternoon 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal - the team sheet. QPR manager Harry Redknapp has been quite clear that he is not going to field anyone who he feels is not good enough to play for the club. It is a miracle he can get 11 players on the pitch. Samba Diakite again finds himself out of the picture. Junior Hoilett - one of Mark Hughes's bright young things for the future - was nowhere near the first-team squad, and it is difficult to see either featuring again for Redknapp.
Now that we are relegated, the focus must surely be on the 11 players that Harry Redknapp puts on the pitch against Arsenal -- and those on the bench he gives a game. Despite falling short so many times this season, the vibe coming out of the club in the wake of confirmation of the inevitable has been very encouraging. First up: the retaining of Harry Redknapp. This can only be a good thing. For a start, it means some continuity in the coaching of the club, which has been sorely lacking since Tony Fernandes took over.
My first reaction to Joey Barton's twitter comments after QPR's 0-0 draw at Reading Sunday, when he was quick to lambast Jose Bosingwa for being seen laughing when walking down the tunnel after relegation was confirmed, is: "Who are you to talk?" I mean, it is almost a year since Monsieur Barton's own actions -- getting sent off at Manchester City on the last game of the season -- almost cost QPR its Premier League place. I believe the line the newspapers are taking is that it is a bit rich coming from the enfant terrible of English football.
In the end, nobody's heart was in it. The 0-0 draw that sent both Reading and QPR down to the Championship was, as the scoreline suggests, bereft of any excitement, short on goalmouth action, and predictably a long way short of Premier League standard. At the bitter end even, the pretense of caring whether QPR went up or down completely deserted the players -- perhaps highlighted perfectly by the last person to touch the ball, Rob Green, ambling across his goalmouth to take a goal kick from the farthest away point.
So, once more QPR contrive to convince the world that any relegation from the Premier League is well deserved with a 2-0 defeat at home to a Stoke in such poor form that they have only beaten the bottom two in the last 14 games. - Match report: QPR 0-2 Stoke And the stats -- which show 25 shots to Stoke's 11 -- and 54% possession for the home side -- tell the lie of this QPR side. It is disjointed and unable to string more than a few passes together -- strangers in a desperately put together side.
With the patient diagnosed as terminal, it becomes a case of when rather than if for Queens Park Rangers. The first - and in the interest of extending the season - possible day of death is upon us. Lose against Stoke in front of the Loftus Road faithful and Championship football next season is confirmed if results go against us. If we win, the next stage is lose and no matter what results elsewhere are, QPR go down. If the club get past that stage then we're looking at still being alive with three games to play.
In a fit of maudlin -- exacerbated by Sunderland's 3-0 victory at Newcastle -- I watched the video of QPR's League One promotion season of 2003-04 Sunday night. I am not entirely sure I know what I was looking for -- whether it was the comfort of knowing that once QPR won games, clues as to the current malaise or just to bring back some happier memories of being a QPR fan. Watching that squad, which was born after the free-fall out of the Championship with a side of journeymen and old-stagers who were hindered by the turmoil behind the scenes that comes when a club slips into administration, made me wonder where we went so wrong.
Harry Redknapp believes that the away game against Everton on Saturday is "massive". I think he means the points gap between QPR before -- and probably after the trip to Goodison Park -- is massive. - Redknapp hits 'low' point To win or to go for the draw is the big question. With a ten-point plus gap on identifiable targets to overhaul, surely a win is absolute necessary. Perhaps. But a draw, and then wins in our next three games against Stoke, Reading and at home to Arsenal would make ten points and then, well, who knows?
And so there it is - the end is nigh. That QPR should be scuppered in their bid to beat the Teflon team from the North in Sunday's 1-1 draw hurts most, as it was a reckless challenge that was probably the final nail in the coffin. Not dissimilar in nature to that of Callum McManaman who, like Wigan, remain unpunished for his discretion that put a Newcastle player in hospital. - Brown: Maloney's super strike saves Wigan - Martinez: Worst performance of the season Bobby Zamora will not play again for QPR this season, and it is possible that he has played his last game in the Premier League -- certainly as a QPR player.