Late last week, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was named as QPR’s new Manager, making him the fifth permanent appointment in five years. With that in mind let’s look at five pressing issues that the Dutchman needs to deal with.
The P word. Chris Ramsey fell on his sword because he was failing to deliver results that indicated promotion was on the cards. Much has been made of Tony Fernandes’ tweet about going up, and Jimmy must be under no illusions that he will be expected to deliver promotion, by hook or by crook, this season. The fact that he achieved this at Burton Albion in his first season in charge bodes well, but the difference between League Two and Championship is vast.
Undoubtedly linked to promotion in the short-term, expectation at QPR in recent years has been unpredictable to say the least. The turnover of players, the money spent on players and the hunt for the dream manager has certainly had a detrimental effect on the board and the fans. And I do wonder if a lot of fans expect us to no longer be a standard Championship-sized club, which in the cold light if day is what we are. Right now a lot of people expect us to be challenging for the top spots in the Championship because we’ve got a lot of players that are apparently Premier League standard. Jimmy clearly has a tough job on his hands, but as long as he and the board are clear with each other and the fans, perhaps expectations can be slightly more realistic.
3. The Dutch Players
I’m going to go on the record and say that I’m not the biggest fan of either Tjaronn Chery or Leroy Fer. Fer has been quite a disappointment for me. Casual in possession and regularly on the sidelines through injury, he appears to move round the pitch lazily. I suspect he’s one of those players that might look good on a highlights reel, but isn’t a consistent performer. Following a bright start to the season, Chery has been reduced to substitute appearances as the goals have dried up. He looks a bit lightweight for the division and has faded in and out of games. I’m still unsure of his ideal position also. If Hasselbaink is to get the best out of his countrymen, he really needs to get them both firing on full cylinders, because despite my criticism I believe there are decent players in there.
4. Giving proper service to Charlie Austin
Charlie Austin is a natural goalscorer, no two ways about it. In his time at QPR he’s scored 46 in 86 games, a better than one in two ratio, yet I don’t think we’ve ever played completely to his strengths. Austin’s all-round game is his ability to link up and bring people into play, which has really improved since he came to Loftus Road. But what he is best at is dealing with the ball in and around the penalty area. Getting on to the end of moves, whipped in crosses, on the floor or on the air, Austin has that knack of getting there first. Unfortunately, during his spell at the club, we’ve not had a left winger that can get to the by-line and deliver a dangerous cross. Similarly, Matt Phillips has only really shown glimpses of what he can do in fits and starts. If Jimmy likes to play with two, in-form, dedicated wingers, Austin will score even more than he has done.
5. The club’s youth system
As with all QPR managerial announcements during the current owner’s reign, it’s hard to know what the long term plan is, however what is absolutely clear is that at some point or other a QPR manager needs to try and sort out the youth system. In the past 20 years the only youth players to ever amount to anything have been Kevin Gallen and Richard Langley. For a club with the ambitions, location and history of QPR, that’s embarrassing. In his first interview to QPR, Jimmy stated that this is something he hopes to address. I hope he is true to his word and that he is given enough time to try and do something about it.