Queens Park Rangers need to win at least four more games to avoid relegation.
Having survived the drop on the final day of last season Mark Hughes promised better fortune this time round, but a poor start to the campaign saw the Welshman sacked after a dozen matches. The arrival of Harry Redknapp led to a surge of optimism at Loftus Road, yet with just eight games remaining, they remain bottom of the Premier League standings.
Their latest defeat came on Saturday afternoon to fellow strugglers Aston Villa, who gave their own chances of avoiding relegation a huge boost with the 3-2 win. After the match Redknapp stated his belief that his players are playing well enough to maintain the clubs top-flight status, but accepts they need to win at least half of their remaining eight fixtures.
“It’s going to be tough but we are still there, so who knows?” the 66-year-old, who last season led Tottenham Hotspur to a fourth-place finish, told Sky Sports. “We have got to keep playing; we are playing so well at the moment. We just need to win four or five games. It’s hard to do when we have not won that many all year, but it’s not impossible we are playing well enough to do it.”
Even winning four games would far from guarantee the Londoners’ safety, considering they are currently seven points adrift of safety. Due to the international break the Hoops will have to wait until Easter Monday to resume their escape bid, when they make the short trip to Craven Cottage to face Martin Jol’s Fulham. That will be the first of five games in April, a month which has so often proved critical at both ends of the table in past campaigns.
Villa, meanwhile, have now won three of their last five matches, with just Arsenal and Manchester City getting the better of them during this sequence. Whilst they are still far from maintaining their ever-present record in the Premier League, there is a genuine belief within the club that they will avoid a first relegation since the 1986/87 season. And manager Paul Lambert, who recorded successive wins for the first time since succeeding Alex McLeish, claims the supporters can take credit for their part in backing his young players in recent weeks.
“The crowd today, the noise was deafening at times,” he told Sky Sports. “That shows the potential that is here if you get them on your side and that crowd kept going. I have got nothing but praise for the crowd since I have been at the football club. They have been right behind us when we have been beaten pretty heavily. It is a big thanks from myself to the crowd, that’s for sure.”