November 23, 2012

LONDON (AP) -- Five months after being dismissed by Tottenham, Harry Redknapp is set for a return to the Premier League after opening negotiations with Queens Park Rangers about replacing the fired Mark Hughes.

QPR, stuck in last place in the league without a win this season, finally lost patience with Hughes on Friday and made him the second top-flight manager to be fired this week - after Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea on Wednesday.

And QPR, which has only four points from 12 games, has turned to Redknapp to revive its faltering campaign.

"Contact has been made between QPR and us,'' Redknapp's representatives said in a statement.

Redknapp took charge of Tottenham in 2008 when the team was last in the Premier League with only two points from eight games. He turned their fortunes around, guiding them into the Champions League for the first time in 2010.

He was fired in June despite Tottenham finishing in fourth place last season, and has since taken on a non-paid advisory role at third-tier Bournemouth and become a television pundit with the BBC.

Redknapp is the massive favorite with some British bookmakers to replace Hughes, whose fate was sealed by QPR's 3-1 loss to Southampton last Saturday.

"Mark has shown integrity and professionalism throughout his time here, but ultimately the circumstances we find ourselves in have left the board of directors with very little choice but to make a change,'' QPR said in a statement.

Fans turned on Hughes - and the QPR players - after the loss to Southampton, which left the team five points from safety with nearly a third of the season gone.

"Maybe it's a watershed moment because we can't get any lower,'' said a despondent Hughes, who had 1 1/2 years left on his contract.

Tellingly, QPR owner Tony Fernandes refused to defend Hughes last weekend, as he has done in recent weeks. Only last Friday, Fernandes posted a Twitter message responding to calls for Hughes' departure, saying: "Won't be happening. For the one millionth time. Hahaha. Stability.''

That changed this Friday.

"This decision has been taken after careful consideration by the board of directors, following numerous meetings over the last few days,'' QPR said.

Assistant coaches Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki will take charge of QPR's match at Manchester United in the Premier League on Saturday.

Hughes managed to keep QPR in England's lucrative top league thanks to a strong finish last season and attempted to revitalize the squad by signing 11 players in the offseason, including Park Ji-sung from Manchester United, Jose Bosingwa from Chelsea and Julio Cesar from Inter Milan.

Getting so many new players to gel has been his major problem, while the team has struggled to score and also has one of its leakiest defenses.

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