QPR manager Harry Redknapp believes that the club’s failure to sign striker Peter Odemwingie in January has proved costly this season.
The Premier League strugglers have won just four times in the current campaign and sit 19th in the table with 24 points from 34 matches, leaving them all but relegated.
They are 10 points behind 17th-placed Aston Villa ahead of their meeting with Manchester United on Monday and Redknapp – who insists he was always realistic about the club’s status – feels that things could have been different had he signed the Nigerian.
Odemwingie has scored 30 Premier League goals in 85 league appearances for West Bromwich Albion but was keen to join QPR in January, only for the deal to fall through late on transfer deadline day.
The nature of the collapsed transfer was very public – with Odemwingie filmed and interviewed on live television while waiting at QPR’s training ground for a final decision – and Redknapp says it would be the one major thing, bar results, that he would have changed with the benefit of hindsight.
“Apart from results, I wouldn’t have changed an awful lot about the last five months, really,” Redknapp said.
“I’d probably have tried harder to get the boy from West Brom, Odemwingie. He might have really given us something up front, with Bobby Zamora not being 100 per cent fit. He might have scored four or five goals that make the difference.
“We couldn’t have got much closer to signing him – he was outside our front door – but he made one big mistake, the kid. He turned up at the football club, he was silly. But he did no different to what about 50 other footballers did on the same day.”
Redknapp laid the blame of the club’s relegation firmly on the players and said he would like to freshen up his squad over the off-season – although with the club financially committed to several players on big contracts, he is unsure how much money he will have to spend.
“The thing that makes me laugh more than anything is when I hear people saying, ‘They (the players) have gone down, they won’t want to play in the Championship.’ Well, who put them in the Championship in the first place?” Redknapp added.
“Let’s get one thing straight, they are in the Championship because they weren’t good enough in the Premier League.
“Do they (the players) owe the club to stay and get QPR back up? Well, that depends on who you want to keep. You’d like to freshen it up if you could. I’d like to go out and build my own team in the summer if I had the chance but I don’t know whether I’ll be able to.”
QPR’s relegation could be confirmed on Monday if Villa can claim a shock win at Manchester United, but it is more likely to be sealed at fellow strugglers Reading on Saturday.