QPR: Taarabt the creative key for Hughes
With only a few weeks to go until the start of the new Premier League season it is reasonable to suggest that it is shaping up to be an exciting 10 months in the history of Queens Park Rangers Football Club – imperative to this is the form of QPR’s midfield maestro Adel Taarabt.
Taarabt arrived at the top table of English football last season amidst much hyperbole from team-mates and then manager Neil Warnock, after providing 19 goals and as many assists in a season that saw QPR crowned champions of the second tier of English football for only the second time in their history. It therefore came as something of a surprise to many QPR fans that, with all eyes (and expectations) on him, Taarabt was unable to consistently replicate his sparkling Championship form in the Premier League. He only managed flashes of the brilliance in the final few months of the season (most notably his superbly taken goal in the 2-1 victory against Arsenal) demonstrating the ability that was consistently evident the season before.
With QPR avoiding relegation on the final day, Taarabt now has an opportunity to put last season behind him, and fully showcase the talents that had Loftus Road reverberating with the chants of “Taarabt’s too good for you” on such a regular basis in 2010/2011.
This season also represents an important one for Taarabt in an historic respect, as he will follow in the footsteps of other R’s Legends such as Stan Bowles and Rodney Marsh by wearing the coveted number 10 shirt. This brings its own pressures (at least in the eyes of the QPR faithful), but it is also a testament to the faith that both Hughes and Fernandes have in Taarabt that he has been handed this honour. The boy who arrived at W12 in 2009 is becoming a young man capable of handling the pressures of top flight football, and bestowing him with such a revered squad number is clearly evidence of that.
Taarabt displayed during the tail end of last season that he is beginning to display the work rate and team ethic that is a hallmark of any team managed by Mark Hughes. By constantly improving on this defensive work rate, combining it with his natural attacking flair, and playing with better defensive players around him (the industrious Ji Sung Park was brought in from Manchester United and the rampaging Samba Diakite from Nancy), Taarabt will be crucial in linking the play between midfield and attack.
Mark Hughes therefore has to make the tough decision this season of either building a team around the gifted Moroccan (in the same way that Neil Warnock managed with such success), or attempting to suppress Taarabt’s maverick attacking instincts by making QPR more of a cohesive unit, in the mould of Stoke City or Norwich City.
Hughes has long been associated with teams that are difficult to break down and QPR will be no different this season. To fully exploit the pace and technique of Taarabt, it would seem likely that Hughes will implement a philosophy of counter attacking at QPR, especially away from home. Indeed, this style of play reaped its rewards handsomely for 92 minutes at the City of Manchester Stadium in May, when Cisse and Mackie stunned the champions elect with two brilliant goals on the counter attack – this style of football would play to the strengths of Taarabt, who is brilliant running with the ball at his feet, but is also capable of slick one touch passing that can slice open an opposition defence in a heartbeat.
Only time will tell how Hughes organises his team for the season ahead, but one thing is certain –Adel Taarabt in any role will prove crucial to the fortunes of QPR.
Article by John Jaycock
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