Dec 1 2012 By Paul Warburton
QPR 1-1 Aston Villa
The new QPR boss had better Harry up if he wants to keep the fans happy.
The people’s choice got no more luck than the man he replaced in a scrappy game where meaningful moves were as rare as pixie dust.
The magic needed was missing from everybody but Adel Taarabt, but he was definitely the lone Ranger who probed and pushed, although scorer Jamie Mackie might disagree.
Redknapp could only silently fret as Shaun Wright Phillips blew a gilt-edged chance in the first half, but neither he nor Paul Lambert in the opposite dug-out could complain about a lack-lustre second period befitting two struggling teams.
It started badly for Hoops, when in the same goal his woeful sojourn started way back in August, Rob Green got a hand to the drive that beat him on just six minutes.
But there were plenty thinking the England keeper should have done better than parry Brett Holman’s effort in off the left hand post.
In truth, two poor midfield passes out of defence started the rot, and it as panic stations straight after as Rangers players sought to clear heads.
Mackie did it spectacularly when he rose between two defenders to glance his header into the far corner having met Samba Diakite’s chip into the box.
Rangers got an instant reprieve when Christian Benteke was marginally offside, if that, when he too rose unchallenged to head home with the defence all at sea.
The recalled Wright-Phillips might have cemented a spot in the side had he got the better of his one on one with Brad Guzan after 30 minutes.
Even though he took Esteban Granero’s fantastic through ball in his stride, the Rs forward fired straight at the keeper who shinned the ball away.
But there was nothing wrong with the hit straight after as Wright-Phillips latched onto another ball over his shoulder and crashed the near post from 18 yards only to see the effort fly back down the pitch.
And then in an off the ball incident that no one including ref Howard Webb saw, Stephane M’bia (pic) went down and lay motionless.
It was several minutes before the QPR defender was gingerly stretchered off with his head and neck in a brace, and it seemed to take the sting out of a half where both jittery defences fretted when the ball came near him.
It was 53 minutes before Wright-Phillips got another sniff of goal when he turned his man beautifully to bring a close save out of Guzan.
The keeper was equal to the hook over his shoulder from Ryan Nelsen as the ball pinged about the box.
It looked certain sub Park would fire Rangers into the lead when he was put into space on the left from Taarabt’s astute pass. There was plenty of fizz in the shot, but it was straight at Guzan and easily fisted away.
Clint Hill was closer with a looping header from a corner that made the keeper stretch and push the ball on to the angle of post and bar.
However, a winter of discontent might just get worse when Redknapp gets the medical reports on M’Bia – taken to hospital for a scan before the game ended – and Diakité who limped off after taking a knock in the second half.