Saturday, December 22, 2012
Overpaid QPR stars irk Redknapp
Kristan Heneage, St James' Park
The Mayans may have been incorrect in their predictions for the end of the world - but for QPR fans, a similar feeling will likely be sweeping over them on Saturday night as they nurse yet another defeat.
It had been a difficult week for Redknapp, his admission that he was wrestling with a number of injuries may have seemed like psychological warfare, his confirmation after the game that both full-backs had pulled out on the morning of the game suggesting he was hamstrung before he had even arrived at St James' Park.
A visibly sodden pitch meant that touch and technique were under constant examination. Fabio Da Silva, who was starting just his fifth game of the season, looked ragged and raw at left-back. In what was a poor day for the Brazilian, his was the kind of performance that highlights why he was loaned out by Manchester United and not challenging Patrice Evra.
Turned and beaten time and again, only some sympathetic decisions from referee Kevin Friend stopped him placing his team-mates in greater danger. In the opening half, Friend was more foe to Newcastle as he consistently gave decisions against the home side. When he relented slightly, ironic cheers were the punishment for his inability to see things their way.
After the match however, Fabio was not the target of Redknapp's ire. Slumped forward in his chair, his lack of forward options prompted an inquiry as to whether he would be supplementing his options in January. His response was blunt, and gave telling insight to the potential inner turmoil festering at QPR.
"I don't want to spend their [the owners] money really," he said, "I've got to be honest with you there's an awful lot of players at this club that earn far too much money for what they are, not all of them but an awful lot of them."
Perhaps the most frightening revelation came when the 65-year-old told the assembled reporters how he had recently fined a player who was earning more per week than any player during his management of neighbours Tottenham Hotspur. Arriving long after the horse had escaped the stable, Redknapp's surprise at the situation was evident in both his words and posture.
"They've got a stadium that holds 18,000 people," he continued, "You shouldn't be paying massive wages when you've got 18,000 people at the football club should you? This club holds 55,000. I bet most of their players won't be anywhere near the wages they're earning."
Linked with Demba Ba, Redknapp dismissed the Senegalese frontman as being outside the club's price bracket, regardless of how much they could do with his talents. Yet despite his ability, things were not clicking for the former Hoffenheim man. That allowed substitute Shola Ameobi to earn the adulation of those who have watched his nigh 13-year professional career with Newcastle.
Prior to his introduction they were stuttering. The duo of Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen were content to deal with mediocre crosses all afternoon, but the introduction of Ameobi offered a far more burly threat.
Just before the hour mark, Pardew was ready. "Come on Shols," he bellowed, ushering his powerful striker and Gabriel Obertan towards the fourth official. A replacement for a disappointed looking Papiss Cisse, Pardew was able to make light of the lack of effort from Cisse to engage in a handshake. "He did shake hands with me, I took a little bit longer, but I got there," he said with a wry smile.
Ameobi's impact was nigh instantaneous. A powerful aerial target, everything was being aimed at the academy graduate. Ironically, his goal represented the antithesis of that approach, highlighting his supreme composure under pressure. In what was almost a carbon copy of Leon Best's strike that won this fixture last year, his left-footed strike elicited a fist pump of relief from Pardew.
The goal represented a double celebration for Ameobi, who was named in Nigeria's preliminary squad for January's African Nations Cup. The prospect of losing the 31-year-old for a month may concern Newcastle fans. Pardew, though, does not believe his striker will be absent.
Although there was an increased effort from QPR to get back into the game, they struggled to trouble the home side. The mercurial Adel Taarabt is normally the fulcrum for Rangers, but failed to do anything of note at St James' Park.
For Redknapp, a Boxing Day clash against West Bromich Albion is up next, and the former Pompey boss desperately tried to offer some comfort to those concerned Rs fans: "We've got two centre halves giving everything, they're great competitors. If I can find a few more like them you've got a chance."
Next for Pardew is Christmas dinner, and the admission that his dessert will taste that extra bit sweeter following three pre-Christmas points.