Harry Redknapp will not use Saturday's visit of Aston Villa to initiate a conversation concerningthe future of Darren Bent, and said he may not spend at all in the January transfer window if Queens Park Rangers enter the new year in an apparently hopeless position.
Of the club's six fixtures before the turn of the year only one – the Boxing Day visit of West Bromwich Albion – is against a club currently in the top half of the table. But six of their first seven league matches of 2013 will be against current top-half sides, with Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United among them.
With his team four points adrift at the bottom of the Premier League, yet to win a game and with the worst goal difference, Redknapp's feeling is that the club's future is likely to be determined before January. "Darren Bent's a good player, but I'm not even looking at January at the moment, honestly. It's now," he said. "There's games between now and the window that really will decide where we're going. If we're still in [contention], we can look at that in January and see if we can go from there."
While Redknapp continues to insist that he can lift the team away from danger – "I'm optimistic. I feel it can be done and if I didn't think that I wouldn't have come here" – Rangers' position is sufficiently dire that he must at least consider the possibility of failure.
"We've got to make sure we're not cut adrift and that we're back in there with a chance," he said. "What's the point in the club spending money in January, bringing more players in, if we're cut adrift? You don't want that to happen. I don't want us to put ourselves in a situation where next year we're overloaded with wages and not in the division. What we do in the next six or seven games will decide where we go in January."
Though Bent currently languishes on the fringes of Aston Villa's squad, QPR may not be in a position to gamble on a single player the amount of money Villa would seek for a striker who cost them a fee rising to £24m less than two years ago.
Perhaps a more likely target is Liverpool's Joe Cole, a free transfer in 2010 and yet to start a league game this season. "I've always liked Joe," Redknapp said. "I signed Joe as an 11-year-old, so no one knows Joe better than me. I still think he's got the talent to be a top player. I like him very much – as a person as much as a player – and I tried to take Joe to Tottenham [before he joined Liverpool], but I've not made any inquiries."
Redknapp will attempt to recreate his success under similar conditions as those at Portsmouth, whom he rejoined seven years ago next week and eventually guided clear of relegation with a run of six wins in their last 10 games. "You just need that one result to click you, to give you a bit of confidence," he said. "That particular run clicked one day when we played Manchester City at home and scored the winning goal in injury time.
"When the players came in afterwards it was like we'd won the league, or won the cup, and then we went on a run and got out of trouble. It was that one last-minute goal from Pedro Mendes that kicked that off. That's what we need now. We need a win, quickly, to give us a bit of belief and get us up and running."