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Redknapp gambles on veteran Dunne
Redknapp gambles on veteran Dunne
Monday, 15th Jul 2013 22:50 by Clive Whittingham

Harry Redknapp’s transfer strategy for this summer became a little clearer still today as another of the vastly experienced veterans he’s been linked with – Richard Dunne – agreed a one year deal at Loftus Road.


Dunne started his career with Home Farm in his native Ireland before transferring to Everton in 1996. He made his debut in January 1997 as the Toffees beat lower league Swindon 3-0 at home in the FA Cup, becoming the youngest Everton player to appear in the competition in the process. Still just 17 years of age he was part of the Everton side that won the FA Youth Cup a year later and although he later graduated to the first team and made 72 appearances between 1996 and 2000 – all but seven of them from the start – his path to regular first team football was restricted by the likes of Dave Watson, David Unsworth and Marco Materazzi.

In October 2000 his former Everton boss Joe Royle recruited him for a second time, spending £3m to take him to Maine Road in an effort to maintain Man City’s place in the Premier League. Royle had led City to consecutive promotions from the third tier and despite Dunne’s arrival the rapid accession proved too much to sustain and the Sky Blues were relegated at the end of the season. Kevin Keegan took over and guided City back to the top flight but Dunne’s off field behaviour looked to have jeopardised his part in the promotion.

He came close to having his deal at City torn up altogether when, in 2002 and aged 21, he turned up to training in what the club described as a “dishevelled state” Having decided against sacking him the club said Dunne would embark on a “specialist training programme”. City said at the time: "Richard Dunne has accepted the seriousness of his situation having had similar disciplinary problems in the past.”

He rarely looked back from that reprieve. Dunne was a constant during a time of great change at City that saw them go from a team capable of yo-yoing between the top three divisions from their Moss Side base to the global super power we see at the Eastlands Stadium today. Having worked their way through the controversial ownership of Thaksin Shinawatra to their present situation with Sheikh Mansour the club has changed beyond all recognition. Accident-prone chief executive Garry Cooke even singled Dunne out as a character from a bygone age when he tactlessly said: "China and India are gagging for football content to watch and we’re going to tell them that City is their content. We need a superstar to get through that door. Richard Dunne doesn’t roll off the tongue in Beijing."

The fans thought otherwise. The likes of Robinho and later Carlos Tevez may have signalled a new era at City but the supporters who’d stuck with them through the hard times named Dunne their Player of the Year for four consecutive seasons from 2004/05 to 2007/08 – a club record. Aged 26, he was named as club captain by then manager Stuart Pearce. Dunne also became an international regular - making his debut for Ireland in 2000 against Geogia and amassing 77 caps to date including outings in the 2002 World Cup and 2012 European Championships.

In 2008/09 he made 47 starts for City in all competitions despite three red cards which took his overall dismissal total to eight – a Premier League record held jointly with Duncan Ferguson and Patrick Vieira.

Although he signed a four year contract extension in 2008 Dunne was moved on a year later following the arrival of Kolo Toure and Joleon Lescott at Eastlands. Martin O’Neill paid £5m to take him to Aston Villa and he quickly became a key part of a typical O’Neill team that thrived on good service from wide areas from both set pieces and open play. His first goal for the club came in October against his former employers Manchester City.

Dunne was an automatic choice under O’Neill but swiftly fell foul of the disciplinary regime imposed by his successor Gerard Houllier. Villa fined him £100,000 – two weeks wages – along with his centre half partner James Collins for engaging in a drunken row with club staff in 2011. Villa were prevented from imposing the more serious punishment they desired by rules agreed with the Professional Footballer’s Association.

Nevertheless he was a regular under Alex McLeish and may well have been under Paul Lambert last season had an Achilles injury, which followed hot on the heels of a broken collar bone as well as groin problems the previous season, not ruled him out for the entire campaign. He as released at the end of the season after 114 appearances and five goals in four years at Villa Park. Rangers have now signed Dunne, 34 in September, on a free transfer ahead of reported interest from Hull, West Ham and Derby. The R’s have agreed a one year contract that does have break clauses included should he suffer another long term injury.


“I’ve been very close to signing for Harry on a couple of occasions and the opportunity to work with him really appealed to me. Players want to play for Harry and I’m no different. I know the club didn’t have a good season last term, but – having spoken to Harry, as well as Tony – there’s a real determination to bounce back into the Premier League, which is where we all want to be. I’ve played in the Championship and won it with Manchester City, so hopefully my experience will benefit the team over the course of the season.” - Richard Dunne

“This is a great signing for us. He’s a top-class defender and a great guy. He’s a good character and just what we need. He was City’s Player of the Year four years running, and he will be fantastic at this football club. He’s exactly the type I’m looking for. Obviously he had his problems last season with the injury but there’s an agreement in place that if he breaks down, the contract can be ended. He’s confident he’ll be okay and from our point of view, if he doesn’t have any problems with it then we’ve just signed a very, very good centre-half.” - Harry Redknapp

A large no-nonsense experienced centre back with an ability to score goals (albeit mainly at the wrong end). Slightly worried about the lack of pace, but a decent signing nonetheless. - N12Hoop

Good signing really. There are bad points to him (age, pace, etc) but we are never going to get a flawless player are we. The main thing is he is definitely a 'right sort', he will know about the challenge of the Championship and I imagine even if he be a 7/10 man you will get that every game. If he stays injury free he could be key over 20 or so games this season. My main concern is pushing Onouha out of the first 11 to make way for him which would be a mistake. I hope he is considered as back up and more of a squad player. Hill and Nedum should be first choice. -Simmo

Sensible deal for a player who should be sound, when fit. Adds to my conviction that we won't concede many goals this season. Derby Hoop


The last time my parents moved house the cabinet maker charged with designing and building the bedroom suites was given one specific instruction: no full length mirrors. That wasn’t due to some latent narcissistic, anorexic tendencies among family members but in fact the presence of the household dog, a whippet called Bramble who could kindly be portrayed as simple minded and more accurately described as possibly the thickest being ever to grace the earth.

For the full 15 year term of Bramble’s life she had to be kept away from mirrors of any sort because the sight of her own reflection would send her into full on attack mode, presumably believing it was actually another dog on her patch. Random fits of barking followed by a loud crash and bang would be heard at odd times of the day or night when she’d gained access to a room with a mirror in it and plunged headlong at the reflection. No amount of cuts and chipped teeth would convince the stupid mutt that it was actually her own reflection barking and snarling back at her.

An outsider looking in at QPR signing Richard Dunne today may well be shaking his head in the same resigned, exasperated way we used to before fetching the hoover to deal with the shattered glass. Old? Yes. Questionable fitness? Hasn’t played a competitive game for more than a year. Well past his best? Almost certainly. A season of just four wins culminating in a humiliating relegation apparently hasn’t deterred QPR from their path; if there’s a journeyman footballer out for a final pay day when no other club will take him then Loftus Road is the place to be.

That joke about QPR assembling their squad from a 2005 Premier League sticker book remains valid. It can now be joined by one about Rangers finally signing a proven top flight goalscorer – Dunne holds the record for Premiership own goals with nine, the last of which was scored for QPR at Loftus Road in a 1-1 draw with Aston Villa the season before last.


But perhaps, perhaps, this one might be different. Rangers’ best signing of last summer, in fact the only half decent signing of last summer, was Ryan Nelsen – another 34 year old centre back with dodgy ankles who it seemed had little left to offer but who led a shambolic team magnificently in both performance and attitude. Rangers missed him badly when he left, despite spending £12m on an apparently much better replacement in Chris Samba, and will hope that Dunne can fill his role.

Manager Harry Redknapp has spoken about getting the “right sort” into the club. It had been hoped by many, and still is, that this meant younger, hungrier, better scouted players with commitment to the cause and points to prove. Swansea, Norwich, West Brom and others have all plundered this market to great effect while Rangers have been pisballing about unveiling Ji-Sung Park and declaring themselves a global brand. Danny Simpson and Richard Dunne, with Scott Parker and Peter Crouch heavily backed to follow them, hardly speak to that aim and could well simply be the same mistakes being repeated.

But what Redknapp has on his hands at the moment is a poisonous dressing room chock full of the worst examples of the modern footballer: Stephane Mbia, Joey Barton, Jose Bosingwa, Shaun Wright-Phillips and so on - massive money, limited ability, zero commitment, lousy behaviour, pathetic attitudes to their profession. Strong personalities all of them, quickly sucking the life out of a once likeable club, splitting the dressing room into several cliques and not giving a single shit about QPR’s demise or how it’s affecting either the supporters and the naïve but likeable owner who is currently furnishing a lavish lifestyle they scarcely deserve. In an ideal world you get rid of all of them all at once, pretty much the entire squad in fact, and replace them but that is inhibited by the length and size of their contracts and the transfer window system. A transition period must ensue while they’re slowly moved on and in the meantime simply picking up five or six 20 year olds from League One and the Championship and throwing them into the snake pit could do more harm than good. You only have to look at how Junior Hoilett became a shadow of the player he’d been at Blackburn in the course of 12 months to see how draining the current situation in W12 can be.

What is needed is a change of attitude and ethos. Some strong characters to retake the dressing room and do it how Harry Redknapp wants it doing. One or two like Dunne and Parker are probably necessary before the younger more impressionable players can be added. As long as Redknapp does indeed intend to go after the latter eventually, then pursuing the former to begin with may be no bad thing.

As for Dunne’s influence on the pitch – who knows? Magnificent for the Republic of Ireland in Russia the season before last he may still have it within him to dominate Championship forwards. But at 33, with a 12 month absence with an Achilles injury under his belt, he could well be a spent force. He’ll likely share the centre back spot with fellow grizzled old pro Clint Hill alongside Nedum Onuoha – but it’s in the dressing room where Rangers need his impact to be felt.

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N12Hoop added 23:10 - Jul 15
Completely agree with your comments about the need to get the right sort of players in to galvanise the place and make it a better place for current and future players. My biggest concern however has to be fitness. If injuries prevent him from playing regularly then effectively we are no better off than before, irrespective of whether we have to pay him or not.
Depending on whether or not Harry has his eye on any other defenders, I'd be tempted to give Ben Haim another year as well. Not everyone's cup of tea, but we'd have a player who didn't disgrace himself last year and could fit in at fullback or centre back if need be and give us reasonable strength in depth at the back.

ozranger added 23:19 - Jul 15
I think Dunne will be a supporting player, but will still get some games, especially by October, when his fitness starts to build. Strength, etc is one thing, but match fitness is another, and he has missed a good portion of the pre-season as it is. The decision to have a break-out clause is applauded and hopefully this is TF's doing to commence to reign in any possible future problems. Yet, back to the initial point. Over a 46+ game season, you practically require at least two players for each position. So, adding Dunne, and hopefully someone like Ben Haim will help to cover the FB position. Finally, my real concern is how much are his wages. If, only a few seasons ago he was on £50K, how much is he on now and should we be paying a part-time player that much?

Northernr added 23:36 - Jul 15
I'm surprised by the support for Ben Haim. This is a player with a proven track record over the last six or seven years of getting himself a nice contract and then sitting on his fat ars doing absolutely nothing, bleeding every last penny of it dry even when the club he's playing for is about to be liquidated. And he's not that good even when he does put his mind to it.

ozexile added 23:40 - Jul 15
Good article and I'm prepared to put up with him if the young players are on the way. Otherwise I've never rated Dunne but if he can grab a few players by the lapels, pin them up against the dressing room wall and tell them how it is. Then he'll do for me.

Neil_SI added 00:06 - Jul 16
I've been thinking about this signing and I just wonder... the question is why? Would you pair Richard Dunne and Clint Hill together in the centre? It's not something you'd think would be sensible, but then we ended up with Ryan Nelsen and Hill as a pairing last season, albeit at the expense of setting the team up to prevent their lack of space being exposed.

We're surely not wanting to play that way in the Championship, so either Dunne is a rotation policy with Hill, or in actual fact, perhaps Redknapp is going to try something remarkably different after all and look to a 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation, which we saw signals of in the second half against Exeter.

One of the problems we've always had in recent years is how poor we are bringing the ball out of the back four, which limits our progression up the pitch. Dunne is vastly experienced, but I'm not sure he offers much of an improvement in that regard in terms of being a ball playing centre half, and we still need one of those if we want to progress our style of play.

Nevertheless, a fit Dunne who is on form is a solid and consistent performer and I'd imagine if we got ten matches out of him, they'd be no worse than the ten we got from Christopher Samba. Hopefully this deal will offer us some value in the same way Nelsen's did.

I still question why a player like Dunne would come to QPR though, what's in this for him that he can't find or get elsewhere? It could also mean the end for Tal Ben-Haim, but then, Dunne is a centre back and offers less versatility and cover than Ben-Haim currently does.

...and the centre backs are all eerily similar to one another in their style and strengths and weaknesses. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, but the fact that I feel that way makes me question the balance of it on paper.

Myke added 00:07 - Jul 16
Clive, this is a spot on assessment of Dunne in my opinion. Your comparison to Nelsen I believe is absolutely correct. He too was only supposed to be a 'back up' defender and we all know how that turned out. I believe Dunne too, if he has genuinely overcome last years injuries may well become aregular as the season progresses. Hopefully beside Onouha whom he knows from his City days. This is not to shove Hill out - at championship level he can still play left back and that's our defence sorted.
Ozexile, I'm amazed to hear you say you never rated him. At his peak he was one of the top centre-halfs in the premier league for several seasons. And his performance in that Russian game that Clive alluded to was breathtaking. He singlehandedly kept Russia at bay with a performance the likes of which I have never seen since or before from a centre-half. I fully accept those days are gone, but a fully fit Dunne is still one hell of an addition to the squad

Kaos_Agent added 00:11 - Jul 16
Apparently no one is concerned by the impressive collection of yellow and red cards Dunne has amassed over his career? He and Clint should be a sight to behold when challenging incoming forwards. Worth the risks if he can right the dressing room imbalances, but that's a lot to ask of one man.

ozexile added 00:27 - Jul 16
Myke everytime I see him he's either scoring OG's, getting sent off or turning like the QE2. I didn't see the Russia game so I cannot comment. I hope I'm wrong I'd like nothing better than for him to succeed.

N12Hoop added 06:07 - Jul 16
NorthernR: my support for Ben Haim is based on the fact that we still need a competent defender who is happy to warm the bench, hopefully not play too much but when he does can do a reasonable job. Ben Haim fits this bill and, if Dunne has been bought as a 1st choice with Hill his back up, we are still at risk of being very light in this area if and when they pick up injuries. Sure I'd like to see us sign a younger highly rate defender but if we don't then this would seem like a logical step to me.

QPRski added 07:47 - Jul 16
I very much enjoyed and appreciated the "opinion" section.

I personally will reserve judgement and base it upon his performances. I quietly hope that he will be injury free and will turn up to be a gem like Clint Hill, Ryan Nelsen or a Sean Derry. Certainly I think that he is a "pro" in his attitude.

Also, applause to the board for devising a sensible contract. Seems that we may be applying lessons learned?

Myke added 07:52 - Jul 16
Ozexile, I think that most of his OG's stem from deflections as he attempts to make last ditch clearances. David Luiz was rightly lauded for his last ditch goal line clearance against Spain when the score was still only 1-0, but it could just as easily have been a spectacular own goal. It's difficult to explain away his red cards except again to point to his commitment which is at times ill-judged. He is by no means a hot-head. You would have got very long odds on Zamora being sent off for a near decapitation versus Wigan, although I accept that Dunne's misdemeanours are far more frequent than Bobby's. Can't argue with the QE2 analagy except to say well he is built like a tank!! Look, just because he's Irish doesn't mean I can't see his flaws and shortcomings, which are exacerbated by age and injuries. However, IF he can remain injury free, I think he could be the perfect foil (and a great mentor) for the faster, younger, but less physically dominant Onouha. Like I said above, Hill could still play at LB at this level, far more likely to get through a full game (and season) than Traore. I accept this would give us less attacking options down the left, but if we can retain Hoillett, and he can regain his form, that shouldn't be an issue

ozexile added 08:14 - Jul 16
Myke good reply. Lets keep our fingers crossed.

DesertBoot added 09:14 - Jul 16
Signing a player in the hope he gets a few games this season.....

nedflanders added 09:22 - Jul 16
I understand people's concerns over the amount of red/yellow cards he's picked up in his career, but everyone seems to be missing the point that these were all picked up in Premiership - you get away with a lot more in the Championship so hopefully it wont be as big a concern. If you look at the three rotating centre backs that helped Cardiff to promotion last season, Connolly, Turner and Hudson, they are all the wrong side of thirty but were magnificent. As fans, we need to get our heads round the fact the Championship is a different kettle of fish altogether....

probbo added 09:42 - Jul 16
The problem we had in defence during the second half of the season was Redknapp's insistence on accommodating Chris Samba, who we now know (through his own admissions) was nowhere near fully fit. Now admittedly that was in the Prem and we are now in the Championship but this can't be seen as a long term solution to finding a solid centre back. There are plenty of pacey Championship centre forwards who could turn a 33 year old injury prone centre back inside out (DJ Campbell anyone?!).

On the flipside, I do not doubt his combative spirit and perhaps as Keegan did all those years ago when he signed Brian Kilkline, perhaps Redknapp sees Dunne as installing some guile in the team and someone who can bring some spirit and unity to a dis-united dressing room.

And also, its a one year deal, not a Hughes inspired four/five year contract. If we'd done one of those i'd be scratching my head in disbelief!

SomersetHoops added 15:52 - Jul 16
Clive I take your point about how the poison in the dressing room has undermined good players. You and I both hope Dunne can strengthen the good influences we have. If he can help make QPR a proper team again that will be a big benefit. I wouldn't expect him to play twice a week, but we didn't think we would get many games from Nelson who played and played well in almost every game he was available for. It would be great if Dunne could do that as well. I think he's not someone to be messed with and I hope the disruptive elements in our ranks are now suitably worried.

TacticalR added 16:49 - Jul 16
When I first heard about this signing, my immediate reaction was that this smacks of a tired manager signing tired men.

As others have said, we can only hope he is a Ryan Nelsen rather than a Kieron Dyer.

richranger added 21:02 - Jul 16
Hmm - an interesting one this. Could be 'the right sort' - but also seems to have Discipline problems - he was fined by Villa only 2 years ago for a drunken brawl. I don't know how that fits in with the new 'zero tolerance' regime that got Adel sent home....

qprmick added 00:33 - Jul 17
We got lucky with Nelsen, can we get lucky again? If he can change the poisonous atmosphere in the team it will be a good thing. I wonder if Dunne was a mate of Barton at CIty, they seem to be two of a kind. We might see the nutter appear in our colours again. Interesting days ahead.

qprmick added 04:59 - Jul 17

This suggests Barton won't be wearing the shirt any day soon

isawqpratwcity added 11:03 - Jul 17
I fully endorsed the 'splash cash to stall the fall' strategy, and I was wrong.

But I'd still advocate it again. I wanted the kudos of the club being in the top flight. TF was making a hard-nosed decision of 'speculating-to-accumulate' by hanging on to theos Sky millions. But we were let down by the managers. Warnock has the best excuse, with T&C deciding to act like Scrooge was a spendthrift because they had no intention of being there when the Premiership season finished, forcing him into panic purchases as the window closed. Hughes and Redknapp have no such excuse. They both proved to be poor selectors in the transfer market, and unable to motivate their players.

I'm interested to see how HR manages now that we are the recently Premiership club, still with bags of cash to regain that status. So far, the jury's still out.

Kaos_Agent added 16:33 - Jul 17
Well we can all see the results of Barton's "lifestyle coaching". Clearly he needs more than one coach; how about a full entourage?

Nelsen's great success with us was down to positioning, situational awareness, timing, and knowing just what he could get away with. Dunne's proliferation of cards suggests that he is not be up to those standards, or has not been in the past. And the older one is, usually the harder it is to coach these things.

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