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Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp 'surprised' at Play-Off Final win

24 May 2014

Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp admitted he was surprised that his side won the Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Final against Derby County.

Redknapp's team were second-best for large periods of the Wembley showdown, and Derby's dominance only grew when Gary O'Neil was sent off for QPR on the hour mark after bringing down Johnny Russell just outside the penalty area.

Despite their numerical disadvantage though, the West London outfit used every day of their combined experience to defend for their lives before snatching a last-gasp winner through Bobby Zamora.

"We were hanging on after we went down to 10 men," Redknapp confessed in his post-match press conference.

"Our only hope seemed to be to hold on until extra-time and that's the best outcome I could see coming for us. In fact, we were probably only going to win if it went to penalties, I'd by lying if I said otherwise.

"I'd just brought Bobby on and then Gary was sent off. I have no complaints about the red card. I didn't think he was the last man, but it's a cynical foul.

"I had no options at that stage. We had to put Charlie Austin back into midfield to keep our two banks of four, and bring Armand Traore back to left-back.

"When Bobby's shot hit the back of the net I was surprised because I honestly couldn't see it coming. It was a fantastic finish and was a great feeling.

"Credit must also go to Richard Dunne whose defending was magnificent. Nedum Onuoha and Robert Green were fantastic too.

"I feel for Steve McClaren and Derby though because they played really well."

A glowing review of Derby's performance from Redknapp was matched by McClaren, who felt proud and optimistic after seeing his young team dominate for long periods of the game, even if they fell short at the final hurdle of a gruelling 49-game campaign.

For the Rams manager, he's hoping to keep hold of his side over the summer. That might prove to be difficult with his 18-man squad for the Final including loanees George Thorne - a strong candidate for man of the match - Andre Wisdom and Patrick Bamford.

For Redknapp and Rangers, the re-building process for their immediate return to the top flight is yet to be discussed.

"I'm looking forward to being a Premier League manager again but I'm also looking forward to a break for a little while, maybe a week or so.

"I'm delighted for the chairman because he's a great bloke and it's a great day for the club, for the fans.

"I haven't thought about what next year brings. We haven't made many plans because we didn't know which league we would be in.

"Now we know we are in the Premier League we can start the search for people who we know can cut it at the top level."?

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