Conor Heffernan examines the volatile situation between QPR boss Harry Redknapp and midfielder Adel Taarabt, a player that the manager has lambasted publicly.
When asked about Adel Taarabt’s absence from his side in the aftermath of QPR’s defeat to Liverpool at the weekend, R’s boss Harry Redknapp claimed the midfielder was struggling with fitness issues and was three stone overweight. It became a talking point in the media the next day and QPR’s poor performance was largely forgotten.
For critics of the 25-year-old midfielder it seemed like nothing had changed. After all, Taarabt has constantly been presented as a problem player to work with. But this time something was different. This time, Taarabt was being made a scapegoat by his own manager.
In an interview with the English Press earlier today, Adel Taarabt showed off his slender physique, proving beyond doubt that he was far from three stone overweight. Harry Redknapp had lied. When pressed on the Taarabt issue by the Sun newspaper the QPR head boss was unrepentant.
“The only reason he has lost weight is because he has had tonsillitis. That’s the only way we could get any weight off of him…Even I could suck my stomach in for a picture and look OK.”
The Redknapp/Taarabt story has the potential to cause yet another schism in the QPR dressing room and disrupt the R’s season even further. Taarabt has claimed that Redknapp barely takes an interest in his players, spends most of his time in his office and is completely unaware tactically. Rather than face such criticisms head on, Redknapp has decided that name calling is the best defence, and has labelled Taarabt a liability.
While all this plays out in the media, the English press are ignoring one simple fact. QPR are struggling and Harry Redknapp must ultimately be held accountable. The same media which consistently lambastes struggling managers, is giving old ‘Arry a free ride.
Last season Taarabt was arguably AC Milan’s best player during his six-month loan in Italy and this season he has spent most of his time with the QPR reserves. Journalists writing on Taarabt’s bust up with Redknapp tend to mention this only in passing. Regardless of Taarabt’s supposed attitude, does it not seem strange for a 25-year-old to suffer such a fall from grace? Apparently not.
Harry’s big money signings such as Rio Ferdinand have also faltered but still the media restrains itself. This isn’t a petition calling for Harry’s job but rather a questioning of why one manager gets a free ride whilst his team desperately struggles. Harry is known for being on good terms with the media and it seems that this is one reason why he is being treated so kindly. After all, any manager as open about his transfer policies as Redknapp is good to have around come transfer deadline day.
It’s interesting to note that only the local papers in London have decided to report truthfully on Redknapp’s unpopularity amongst at Loftus Road. The National Papers seem content to pretend that all’s rosey in London. The Taarabt saga is yet another example of Redknapp diverting attention away from his own side’s poor performances. As manager the buck stops with him. At least it should.
Whether or not the press see it that way is another matter.
Conor Heffernan, Pundit Arena.
Featured Image By James Boyes from UK [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.