MARTIN O’Neill says Sunderland have to be wary of the new manager ‘bounce’ when Harry Redknapp takes charge of Queens Park Rangers tonight for the very first time.
The former Spurs boss was in the stands at Old Trafford on Saturday to run the rule over his new side, and this evening will mark the first time since Mark Hughes’ sacking that he has appeared in the QPR dugout.
O’Neill of course knows all about the boost a new manager can give a side – it is almost exactly a year ago since he took over the reins at the Stadium of Light and sparked an instant revival in the club’s fortunes.
“It’s the way of football that a new manager can come in and results can instantly improve,” he agreed.
“Certainly that is what Queens Park Rangers will hope for, and we’ll be conscious of the fact that they’ll come here wanting to make a good start.
“But regardless of whether it is his first game or not, Harry Redknapp is an exceptional manager – he will do a good job there.”
O’Neill, like many others, thought Redknapp would get the England manager’s job when Fabio Capello stepped down.
And he says that the Londoner’s managerial record was definitely good enough for him to be considered for the national role.
“Like everyone else I thought he would get the England job,” O’Neill told the Gazette. “It seemed certain he would, and no one could have argued if he had been appointed after the job he did at Spurs.
“He has an ability to build good, attractive teams, and that Spurs side were excellent.
“They reached the Champions League once, and were desperately unlucky not to reach it twice, and when the England job came along I thought that it would be his.”
England’s loss will be QPR’s gain in the view of the Black Cats’ boss.
“I think he’ll do a very good job at Loftus Road,” O’Neill added. “He has been a very fine manager for a long time.
“He’ll want them to get off to the best possible start tonight, and we’ll be aware of that.
“But we have to go out there and show what we can do.“I’ve been pleased with the quality of our performances in recent weeks, if not the results, and we just have to keep trying to take it up a notch every game now.
“We’re in a position in the league where things are so tight – we’re two or three points away from the relegation zone and two or three points from mid-table – so we know what’s at stake.
“Southampton have shown what can be done with back-to-back wins – it has really lifted them from a difficult position and given them light at the end of the tunnel.
“So we know that we’ve got to go out there and string a few good results together, starting with QPR tonight.”