Esteban Granero believes Queens Park Rangers' stunning victory at Stamford Bridge gave the most eloquent answer to criticism of the club's big-money imports. Their influence had been under the microscope in recent weeks, with Harry Redknpapp and Clint Hill raising sensitive questions after José Bosingwa's refusal to be a substitute. "Last night everyone saw that the players who arrived in the summer gave everything, that they cared just as much as any players on the pitch," Granero said. "We were happy for the chance to show our commitment and we did that."
Granero, who arrived from Real Madrid last August, was delighted to end the recent sequence of defeats that culminated in a chastening 3-0 defeat at home to Liverpool. "We know we cannot play again like we did in that game," he said. "But even after we lost against Liverpool we still believed we could get out of trouble. The manager talked to all the players after that game and told us that we are not going to get relegated. We believed when we were eight points behind and we believe even more now that the gap is down to five. The more confidence you have, the smoother things go on the pitch. Things are easier for everyone when you are winning games, especially against big teams like Chelsea."
There is an obvious temptation to load such a result with "turning point" significance, and Granero said he is optimistic about QPR's prospects under new management: "I have a lot of faith in Harry Redknapp. We all do. We have taken nine points since he came to us and we believe we are going in the right direction. It's clear that the team and the manager are very connected and that is very important because we have a big challenge and this is how to find a good way out."
Granero had found himself out of favour for a number of games recently but was not minded to react negatively. "I was on the bench for a few games after Harry arrived. But it's normal when a new manager arrives that some things will change. He took on a team that had not won all season so he had to change some things. We cannot be selfish. We have to think about the team."
Although Granero came with a reputation forged at the Bernabéu, he is not completely unfamiliar with the nuances of a relegation threat. The Spaniard spent two seasons with Getafe, which familiarised him with life at the wrong end of the table. "When I was in Getafe we had a tough season and only escaped relegation on the last day," he said. "So it's not a new situation for me. Of course I didn't expect to be fighting relegation when I came to QPR. But that is the situation now so we have to accept that and fight to stay up. I came to England to face big challenges and this is very big."
QPR take a breather from their survival mission with an FA Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion this weekend. Granero again referenced his experiences with Getafe, with whom he reached the Copa del Rey final: "The wins we achieved in the cup gave us a lot of confidence in the championship."