Queens Park Rangers vs Sunderland Live Streaming QPR v Sunderland
In the big January transfer gamble, QPR twisted, Sunderland decided to stick. IN opposite ways, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers both gambled in January. Each were facing relegation, although the threat loomed far larger over QPR than the Black Cats. With Harry Redknapp in charge, the Rs were only ever going to go one way.
As usual we had all the grand talk of not “seeing the owners have their pants taken down”, claims he would not be that active in the transfer market, then the footballing equivalent of a trolley dash.
Loïc Remy arrived on wages a desperate Newcastle United were unprepared to match, while Chris Samba left the gold mine that is Anzhi Makhachkala for £12.5m. Two familiar faces came from Redknapp’s old club Tottenham Hotspur in Jermaine Jenas and Andros Townsend, and Yun Suk-Young and former Sunderland loanee Tal Ben Haim completed the set.
No one was sold, although Kieron Dyer and Ryan Nelsen were released and others loaned out.
There would have been more incomings had QPR been able to agree a fee with West Bromwich Albion before a sheepish Peter Odemwingie knocked on the locked Loftus Road door with a Sky TV crew in tow.
QPR owner Tony Fernandes might have asked himself what it would have been like if Redknapp was actually the “wheeler dealer” he once famously objected to being referred to as.
In fairness to Redknapp, it was no different to most recent transfer windows at Loftus Road when others sat in the manager’s office.
Sunderland’s approach could scarcely have been more different, but it too was risky.
They did bring players in, spending the best part of £10m on Danny Graham and Alfred N’Diaye and borrowing Kader Mangane, a centre-back not yet considered match-fit enough to play for the first team.
Louis Saha, James McFadden, Fraizer Campbell, Connor Wickham, Ji Dong-won, Jordan Pickford and – after a spot of transfer window hokey-cokey – Ahmed Elmohamady and David Meyler all went out, some temporarily.
The Black Cats have no cover at centre-forward – though that will change when Wickham returns from his loan at Sheffield Wednesday – or either full-back position.
Excluding those out on loan, Sunderland have 21 senior players to choose from; QPR have 33. It would be over-hyping things to suggest today’s Premier League game will prove which club got its approach right.
But although Martin O’Neill went down a very different route to his counterpart, that does not mean he thinks Redknapp and Fernandes have got things wrong.
“The owner has decided to go with it,” he said. “The consequences will be borne out later on.
“They’ve put themselves in a position where they can get out of trouble. They did an awful lot of work in January to rescue the situation, they invested heavily in the team.
“The owners decided this was the way to go and Harry’s strengthened the side in terms of the players they have brought in. They’ve added some quality to the squad.
“They’ve bought players in but of course it takes time to gel. By bringing those players in they have obviously given themselves a better chance of survival. That was a big win for them against Southampton (2-1 last Saturday) and they will feel they’re in touching distance and have all to play for with ten games to go. They’ve got a very big squad from which to choose, so they will not be short of numbers in terms of quality.
“You would think that side in normal seasons would certainly be capable of comfortably finishing in the top ten, if not challenging.”
Neither side’s approach has changed their situation much, not yet at least. But while QPR are still adrift at the bottom, Sunderland’s position is far less clear-cut.
“We’re three points off the top ten but you’re still looking over your shoulder (six points above the relegation zone),” reflected O’Neill.
“We’re three points off the top ten, yet you still have to be anxious, because we still need the points on the board.” Injuries to Wes Brown and Lee Cattermole – “you kind of learn to play without them and you just have to get on with it” – have depleted Sunderland’s already thin resources. But there is at least a reinforcement in the offing when Wickham’s loan ends.
“After today we can call upon Connor Wickham, he can come back,” O’Neill points out. “He’s had good experiences at Sheffield Wednesday.
“I think you always run that risk – you would like some players to get out, get some games so they’re ready and match-fit but you still run the risk of lessening the quality of your squad.”
There was talk of Wednesday looking to extend the loan, but it is yet to reach O’Neill’s ears.
“I’ve only seen the comment,” he said. “(Wednesday manager) David Jones hasn’t spoken to me about it (extending loan). I’ve been lucky enough to see him a couple of times at those games too.”
You could never imagine QPR leaving themselves so short. But right now it is not hard to imagine them being relegated.