A defiant Harry Redknapp has claimed Queens Park Rangers will retain their Premier League status this season despite seeing his side thrashed at home by Liverpool to leave them eight points from safety and bottom at the turn of the year.
QPR shipped three goals in the opening half-hour to a visiting team denied the presence of their own manager, Brendan Rodgers, by a bout of the norovirus, with Luis Suárez running riot. Redknapp admitted afterwards that certain members of his squad had "miserable faces too often" with José Bosingwa, who refused to sit on the bench in the recent derby against Fulham, now apparently "injured".
Attempts will be made to move on disaffected players though, if reinforcements can be added, the manager is convinced QPR will survive. "I still think we'll stay up," said Redknapp. "People will think I'm mad, but I think we will. I only want positive players around me. I said that in the dressing room after the match. Those who are moping around … the subs are not playing because they're no good. If they were any good, I'd be picking them. I don't need miserable faces, I don't need them around me. I need people who are upbeat because the next two games are unbelievable, Chelsea away and Tottenham at home … two of the best teams in the country. But we've got to keep going and I still think we'll do it.
"I know what the problems are. You need to have everyone working as a team together. If one or two don't buy into it, you have a problem. A few have miserable faces too often for some reason. If there are people who don't want to be here, as soon as the window opens we'll see if we can fix something up for them if we can, but it's not easy moving people on. Bosingwa's injured, he has been ever since the day he wasn't on the bench [against Fulham]. Not fit to train. But I've had a good chat with the players, a meeting, and they'll be in on Monday and we start again. You don't give up."
QPR have games at West Ham United and against Manchester City after the two daunting derbies to come – they visit Stamford Bridge on Wednesday – with only one win to show from 20 league games. The owner, Tony Fernandes, took to Twitter on Sunday evening in his post-match despair as the soul-searching continued: "No excuse. Lost for words. Back to the drawing board. Woeful performance. When we signed all those players. Everyone was full of praise. No one thought we would be in such a mess. Not over yet though."
Yet the reality was that Rangers were outclassed by Suárez and Liverpool – who lost José Enrique to a slight hamstring tear before the end – with Redknapp's team well beaten for the first time under his stewardship. "You look at the quality of their players, and they're a club who've spent £200m on their players and we couldn't get near them," said the manager. "They ran us ragged. Suarez has been doing that against everyone this year, he's one of the top half dozen strikers in the world, and my centre-halves – both 35 – gave everything they've got."
Asked about strengthening in the mid-winter window, Redknapp added: "Well, if we can find the right players, get one or two in to make the difference, get Bobby Zamora fit to give us a target up there … he could make a difference, Bobby. This was the first time we've had a 'doing' but I just believe we will [stay up]. I just feel we can still turn it round, if we can get one or two in now. It can still make the difference and we can do that."