Queen's Park Rangers began their long road back to the Premier League on Monday with chairman Tony Fernandes confirming that Harry Redknapp would still be in charge next year, but castigating his players for their lack of commitment this season, saying they looked unaffected by defeat.
Rangers were relegated on Sunday and Fernandes spent yesterday in talks with Redknapp and other club officials at the training ground about the future. He spoke last night of the need for a summer of changes, as Rangers try to build a squad to compete in the Championship.
The current situation clearly will not do. It is not financially sustainable, with so many players so overpaid, but the current Rangers would probably also struggle in the Championship, which is such a test of unity, spirit and cohesion – the qualities that Rangers have so obviously lacked this season.
Fernandes admitted that he was hurt by seeing the lack of effort and desire from some of his overpaid players this season.
"We want players that want to play for us, players that want to win," he said last night. "Players who get disappointed like I do when we lose. I haven't said it because it wasn't right, but it hurt me when I saw some of the players who didn't feel the way I felt. And in fact, in their case, it should be worse because this is their job, it's their life. It wasn't a good feeling. It was probably the low point for me when I saw the reaction of some of the players.
"It has shocked me because it is something that is alien to me. Whatever I have done as a job, for whoever has hired me, I put in 150 per cent. It's in my character. If I am taking someone else's money, then I am going to work bloody hard for that person. It wasn't right to say anything during the season, but I noticed everything and I am a little bit wiser for it now."
The problem, though, is how to clear these overpaid players out. "You can't shift people when they've got two- or three-year contracts on good money," said Redknapp on Sunday night, but that is precisely what Rangers have to try to do.
Some will be easy to move on. Loïc Rémy, Rangers' best player, is thought to have an £8m release clause. He has done more than enough since joining from Marseille to prove his worth, and one of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur is likely to trigger that clause this summer. Fernandes said: "Harry will not be forced to sell any players he wants to keep" but it is hard to see Rémy playing in the Championship.
The problem is beneath them. Julio Cesar, Junior Hoilett and Esteban Granero all have three years left of highly paid contracts and might not be overwhelmed by summer suitors. They will surely not be offered as much money anywhere else. Jose Bosingwa, who refused to sit on the bench earlier in the season and was seen laughing after relegation was confirmed on Sunday, has two years left on his contract. The current Rangers squad is a mess. Redknapp has admitted there are "splits in the camp" to do with money. But somehow he will have to weed out the unhelpful ones and build a squad ready to fight again.
"We're going to give it a real good go next season though and hopefully get this club back to where it belongs," Redknapp said. "We've got to re-build and get a team together that can be really competitive in the Championship."