QPR: Five reasons why QPR can make the top 10 this season
The former Wales boss, who took over the R's in January, has added a number of new players to the squad from last season and expectations are running high at Loftus Road. So much so that one of our latest recruits, QPR fan John Jaycock, believes the R's could be heading for a top 10 finish this season.
Here are John's five reasons why he feels the R's will be riding high in 2012/13.
1. Tony Fernandes
August 18, 2011, is a date that will long be remembered with adulation by the vast majority of QPR fans. Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, by then reviled by the majority of fans at Loftus Road, completed their sale of the club to a Malaysian business by the name of Tony Fernandes, owner of Air Asia.
Fernandes started life at QPR by allowing Neil Warnock to bring in Anton Ferdinand, Joey Barton and Shaun Wright Phillips to Loftus Road in the final hours of the summer transfer window, players Rangers could only have dreamt of bringing to the club only a few weeks before under the previous regime. This theme of continual squad improvement has continued since, with Fernandes sanctioning the signings of numerous good quality players for a combined transfer expenditure in the region of £23 million, a large amount for a club still in its Premier League infancy.
With Fernandes seeing through on his promise of a new state of the art training ground expected to be completed within the next two years, and sites for a potential 45,000-seater stadium currently being looked at, QPR are building an infrastructure which should see them capable of competing with some of the finest teams in the country, both on and off the pitch, within the next five to six years. If Fernandes continues to furnish Hughes with substantial funds in the summer and January transfer windows, QPR will almost certainly build a team capable of a top 10 finish in the near future.
2. Mark Hughes
Opinion was split in January 2012 when Neil Warnock was removed from his position by Tony Fernandes and replaced by the stoic Welshman Mark Hughes. Many felt that Fernandes had not given Warnock enough time to adapt to the rigours of management in Premier League, whilst others felt that he never would be able to and that he had to be removed before it was too late.
The departure of Warnock and the subsequent appointment of Hughes was indeed a risky decision, but one which ultimately paid off.
With last season now a thing of the past, and with transfer money already being spent this summer, Hughes now has the opportunity to create a QPR squad in his own image, which he has started to accomplish by releasing 10 players from the Warnock regime, and bringing in six new faces (at the time of writing) to W12.
By finishing sixth in the league with Blackburn and eighth in the league with Fulham, Hughes marked himself out as a man capable of draining every last ounce of determination, quality and desire out of his teams.
There is no question that Hughes’s reputation and connections within the game will also allow him to attract a higher calibre of player to W12 than they have been used to in the past (Park Ji Sung being the most recent and obvious example of this) but it is his tactical acumen and man management ability that will be the most immediately noticeable facet of his management.
That should ensure that over the course of a full season Rangers will tighten up at the back whilst improving in front of goal.
3. Loftus Road
In the final two months of last season only the most optimistic of QPR fans would have been confident of surviving the drop. With daunting home fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Stoke City looming large, pundits and experts alike considered QPR favourites to be playing Championship football in 2012/13. At least they did until Jamie Mackie rolled the ball past Pepe Reina in stoppage time to ensure QPR’s sensational 3-2 comeback victory against Liverpool - Rangers scoring three times in 17 minutes.
A renewed sense of belief began to course through QPR fans and players alike, and with good reason. A 2-1 victory over Arsenal was quickly followed by home wins against Wigan, Tottenham and Stoke City, and survival, against all odds, was assured. Derided by the vast majority of away fans (and a number of home fans as well) for its dilapidated appearance, Loftus Road is that rare beast by Premier League standards – a sub 20,000-seater capacity ground, where the front row is only a few feet from the touchline and the natural acoustics of the ageing terraces mimic the sound of a stadium with twice the capacity.
The intimidating nature of Loftus Road should propel Rangers to more than their fair share of home victories this season and hopefully provide the platform for the R’s to improve on their dreadful away record. If they get it right more often than not this season at W12, QPR have a genuine chance of breaking into the top half.
4. The Return of Alejandro Faurlin
In hindsight, January 7, 2012, was effectively the day that cost Neil Warnock his job as QPR manager. In a third round FA Cup tie against MK Dons, for reasons only Neil Warnock would be able to justify, he decided to play Alejandro Faurlin, at that point QPR’s shoo-in for player of the season, alongside a team comprised mainly of players on the fringes of the first team.
As well as struggling to a draw against a team two divisions below them, the match would carry much greater significance in terms of Rangers' season. Following an innocuous challenge midway through the game, Faurlin suffered severe cruciate knee ligament damage, ruling him out for the next seven months. With Rangers best player now out of the side, a season of struggle was now all but inevitable.
If Adel Taarabt is QPR’s spirit, Faurlin is its heartbeat. Tough in the tackle, extremely comfortable in possession and blessed with a passing range that is nothing short of exceptional, Faurlin is without question one of the most underrated midfielders in the country.
Confirmation of his ability is evident in the knowledge that some of Europe’s elite clubs, including Arsenal and Napoli, both expressed an interest in securing the young Argentinian’s signature prior to his serious injury. To say his absence was felt by Rangers is an understatement – he is a vital cog in the QPR midfield and his return to first team action will greatly improve Rangers ability to both regain and retain the football.
5. The Cisse/Zamora partnership
Snapped up in the January transfer window, Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora were brought in with one aim – to score the goals that would keep QPR in the Premier League. The desired outcome, by hook or by crook, was achieved and the Rangers' Premier League revolution lived to fight another season.
Cisse and Zamora in tandem, although not appearing on the pitch together as much as would have been hoped for last season after Cisse’s two red cards, showed some promise for the future, with Zamora’s size and strength proving a more than useful foil for Cisse’s blistering pace.
In Cisse and Zamora, QPR have a strike partnership which arguably measures up against any leading line of any other club outside the top six or seven in the league. Although now entering the autumn of their careers (Cisse is 30, Zamora is 31) neither player is showing any sign of fading for another season at least. Indeed, the combined experience and quality they bring will be vital in a 2012/13 campaign in which marked improvement across the board will be demanded of the team by Hughes, Fernandes and the QPR fans.
There is no question that there are goals in both players, and if given time, and a prolonged run in the first team, the complementary attributes of Cisse and Zamora could well be the difference in a number of games for QPR this season.
Article by John Jaycock
Calling all QPR fans: Do you share John's optimism of the campaign ahead? Do you think a place in the top half of the table is realistic? Whatever your views, we'd love to hear from you.
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