Five minutes before he took his first training session at Queens Park Rangers' Harlington training ground on Sunday morning, Harry Redknapp conducted a live BBC radio interview.
That kind of accessibility sets Redknapp apart from most of his contemporaries: the affability and the easy, sure sense of his own convictions, the willingness to engage. He is a riveting presence, since teams tend to respond to Redknapp's management and he has a rough and ready charm that seems to resonate with the game's working class roots. Yet, still Redknapp divides opinions. Even guiding a third Barclays Premier League side to safety after taking over while the team is in the relegation zone would not banish the doubters.
Redknapp himself recoils from aspects of the caricature, and once angrily rebuked a television reporter for describing him as a wheeler-dealer in the transfer market. The depiction might sting, since the worth of much of his work has been undermined by hints of financial opportunism that were eventually quashed when he was found not guilty of tax evasion last February. Even so, the image of him succeeding by generating flux in a dressing room, of changing a team's outlook with a series of shrewd sales and signings, is emphasised when he becomes so central a figure in the transfer window.
No other manager spends as much time reacting to rumours – fuelling and disabusing them – as Redknapp does. His interviews have become a motif for the whole theatre of it all. His use of the transfer market is vital to his success, since it is based on his contacts, his understanding of how individuals fit into a team structure, and the instincts of a salesman. Redknapp understands the worth of footballers, but also how a team can be rejuvenated by a turnover of players. But he needs to be checked.
Allowed a free rein, Redknapp becomes self-indulgent. Only strong individuals can manage him, which is an irony since his best work is based on his own man-management of players, and the likes of Daniel Levy and Milan Mandaric could tell bruising tales of dealing with Redknapp. The likelihood at Loftus Road is that the team will be revived, and there is every chance that QPR will rise up the table despite having endured the club's worst start to a season in its 126-year history. The power structure at the club is complex, though, with Tony Fernandes having wanted to keep faith with Mark Hughes only for the other directors, led by his co-owner Kamarudin Bin Meranum, to force the change in manager.
Redknapp said in his weekend interview that he only expects to make "one or two loan signings" after the transfer budget was exhausted last summer when QPR signed 12 players. That influx was at the heart of the club's problems, since the new players – mostly high-profile, all earning high wages – caused disaffection among the players who were already at the club. They felt supplanted, and the squad was immediately fractured. Hughes and his coaching staff were said to be surprised when one new signing came to them recently and laid bare just how riven the dressing room is with hostility and resentment.
This will be appealing to Redknapp, because his strength is in motivating players, and there are several quality ones to hand. Spurs were bottom of the league when he moved to White Hart Lane in October 2008, and within two years they were beating both Milan sides in the Champions League. Redknapp took charge of the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, and immediately restored their sense of faith. He will do the same at QPR, where the most damning indictment the directors could make to Hughes was that he wasn't getting the most out of his players.
There will be work carried out in January, and Redknapp is expected to pursue Michael Dawson, the Tottenham defender who almost joined QPR last summer. He will also seek a striker, but will have to raise any money he spends by selling players. Three months short of his 66th birthday, Redknapp should have no need to enhance his reputation.
Bruising will remain from the way he lost out to Roy Hodgson for the England job, though, and the survivor in Redknapp will continue to feel the urge to flourish. He is likely to be joined by Kevin Bond, his assistant at Tottenham, while Joe Jordan could take the role of coach, with Redknapp willing to let him leave should he be offered the Scotland job.
Redknapp is a short-term manager, at his best operating in narrow time frames when a burst of achievement seems most flattering. He will raise the mood of the QPR dressing room, improve the team, gather some results, and look again as though he enjoys the touch of a gifted maverick.
He is of a different generation to the likes of Andre Villas Boas, managers who compile statistics and strategies through theorising. Redknapp works on the basis of instinct, but it is also trite to dismiss Redknapp's tactical skills, since he deploys players smartly and effectively.
The truth of Redknapp is that he is a capable manager, and one who succeeds when the circumstances fit his particular style. This looks like one of those times at QPR: a club needing revived, players needing appreciated, and short-term success within reach.