Can you ever have too many players? Of course you can. QPR’s recent misfortunes are, unfortunately a clear testament to that.
Stockpiling is for valuable materials, vaccines, hazardous nuclear waste and in the case of certain military dictators, weapons too. But you don’t under any circumstances stockpile professional footballers; and that’s why Mark Hughes deserved the sack.
Sparky really should have known better. He’s been in football long enough to know that excess playing personnel can lead to only one thing, and that’s dressing room mutiny.
As with any kind of unrest, the power lies in numbers. If you have too many senior players unhappily sat outside of the first team, you’re simply asking for trouble. Unified by disgruntlement ‘the bomb squad’ will rise up together, bitching about their boss while forming an influential alliance against their leader. What have they got to lose?
Succeed on the pitch, and the rebellion has no clout. There’s no negative voice worth listening to when the points are stacking up. Unfortunately, if you keep on losing, which was Hughes’ problem, then the dissenters’ strength grows at a rapid pace. And the dressing room is lost.
While I was a player at Roots Hall in 1999, Alan Little, lesser known brother of Brian, took over as Southend United boss, immediately bringing with him half of the York City squad and an assortment of other new faces. The signings were OK, but no better than the current incumbents. That didn’t matter though, as Little’s players were from the word go, automatic first choice.
Due to the sudden and mass overcrowding in Southend United’s arrivals lounge, a large group of us – myself included – were ostracised before we’d even been given a chance to do something wrong. Isolated, unwanted, and under-used we didn’t like it, so what did we do? We slated him at every opportunity, and didn’t bother trying to bond with his new boys. The end result was a fractured, disjointed and under-performing squad.
Ring any bells, QPR?
Every new manager will bring in their own players - its par for the course - but it’s also vital to blend them in with the existing squad, not to bulldozer them out of the way. And if you have too many bodies, you have to let more go, and that was the schoolboy error Hughes made at Loftus Road.
Harry Redknapp’s appointment represents the greatest chance Queens Park Rangers has of preserving its all-important Premier League status. I’ve got no doubts about that.
Everyone in the Hoops squad suddenly has a clean slate, which will ensure instant peace at the training ground. Redknapp’s not a robot, so he will have his own preconceptions (don’t we all) but at least individuals have a relatively even chance between now and the end of January to prove to him that theirs is not a position he needs to re-strengthen.
Mark Hughes signed some damn fine players. You can’t tell me that the likes of Julio Cesar, Junior Hoilett, Esteban Granero, Bobby Zamora and co, haven’t raised the bar in west London.
All Harry has to do is lift morale, and find the right blend. Isn’t that what he tends to do best?
Snapping up big-name players that happen to become available without a care for those who’ve places are being taken, works much better when you’re at your PC playing Football Manager than it does in real life.
Professional footballers are emotional creatures, that don’t like feeling mistreated. If they see an injustice, if they see somebody whose just taken their position only giving 75 per cent, if they’re axed from the squad without having had a chance – and if the team’s not improving as a result – a real life professional footballer will kick off in frustration.
The time for moaning and groaning is over at QPR.
As Harry Redknapp outlined in his opening press conference, all he needs his bulging but talented squad to do is work hard, run for each other, and do their collective best.
If that happens, QPR probably won’t go down. It’s not too late to save themselves.