Being a QPR fan is anything but dull. A second relegation from the Premier League in the past three years suggests that the club should be on course for another season threatening the top-six of the Championship. However, this time around it feels like things might be different.
In 2010-2011, Neil Warnock won the league by marrying a spine of seasoned players like Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill, Shaun Derry and Heidar Helguson with the frustratingly talented Moroccan playmaker Adel Taarabt.
Last season, Harry Redknapp played surprisingly drab football, relying on a solid defence and the goalscoring instincts of Charlie Austin to propel the club towards a very unlikely win in the play-off final against Derby. This year QPR arguably don’t even have a manager, let alone one as experienced as Redknapp or Warnock taking charge.
Head Coach, Chris Ramsey, remains in charge of first-team matters. He has never managed in the Championship, a division that is notoriously difficult to survive in. Personally, he seems like a very likeable, smart, football man. The majority of the R’s faithful also still seem to be on his side with very few laying any blame of the club’s relegation at his door. The departures of Alex McCarthy and Steven Caulker are undoubtedly a blow, and it’s only a matter of time before Leroy Fer, Matt Phillips and Charlie Austin follow suit, but Ramsey, along with Director of Football Operations, Les Ferdinand, seem to be preparing for a future without them. Or at least I hope they are. QPR cannot afford a repeat of last season where Loic Remy’s last minute departure left Rangers with effectively two strikers – Bobby Zamora was never fit.
The club’s summer signings, overseen by ‘Sir Les’, suggests the board is trying to return to the club’s older ways, buying players from the lower tiers of English football and abroad. In fact, Ferdinand himself was bought by QPR whilst he was at non-league Hayes. To date, the club has spent less than £8m in fees with £2.25m of that money being spent on attacking midfielder Tjaronn Chery. Rangers apparently fought off competition from several Premier League clubs for his signature, and judging by some of his videos on YouTube, he could be a key player for the R’s this season.
Other big signings this summer include Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo. Both Luongo and Gladwin have impressed in pre-season and will surely be starting most weeks. Also, the return of forward Jamie Mackie, a player who should never been let go by Harry Redknapp in the first place, and Wigan defender James Perch both add some nous and experience to a squad that will no doubt be filled with players from QPR’s EDS squad. Whilst decent work in the transfer market has been done so far, Ferdinand’s work is far from over, as the club are in dire need of more defensive options and another striker.
What has also been interesting to see is that under Ramsey, the team seem to be trying to play a different style of football, playing the ball on the floor and attacking the opposition with pace. Speaking for myself, I’ve been dying to see some more attractive football, but the problems with that are; can you do that in the Championship, and will the current squad be up to it? Many of QPR’s recent signings seem to have something to prove and by playing for the Hoops in the Championship, many will also be stepping up a level. You could argue that this season will be a similar challenge for their coach.