Before the start of the Premier League season, things looked fairly promising for QPR. They were on the verge of getting a new owner, Neil Warnock had his list of players he was ready to buy, while their promotion brethren had barely spent at all. So why is it that QPR now sit in the relegation zone while Swansea and Norwich are comfortably in the middle of the table?
One of the big reasons for the terrible fortunes of QPR is the huge gambles that they’ve taken throughout the transfer windows. When Tony Fernandes finally took over the club in mid August, there wasn’t a lot of time left in the summer transfer window. So naturally QPR went on a spending spree in the last week and a half to try and reinforce their club. This is never a good idea for any squad (i.e. Arsenal), much less a team that has just been promoted to the Premier League. Warnock brought in Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Luke Young, Armand Traore, among others and revamped the squad to look, well, ordinary. None of the players that were brought in struck fear into the hearts of the other teams in the Premier League. Joey Barton had his bags packed for him at Newcastle, Wright-Phillips had been toiling away on the Manchester City bench, while Young and Traore were fringe defenders at best. One of the biggest mistakes that teams trying to stay in the Premier League make are signing players based on their “experience” in the league. Experienced Premier League players are fine for a team to have when they’re making a push up the league, but just because a guy has played in the league for several years doesn’t mean that he is going to lead your team to safety.
So after hastily bringing players into the squad the hopes for QPR were high, well maybe not high, but being safely away from the drop zone was thought to be realistic. But after a win against undermanned Chelsea (which QPR was outplayed, even against 9 men) and a litany of draws and losses, the Hoops found themselves closer to the relegation battle than they would have imagined going into the season. This is where QPR made their second big gamble when they fired Neil Warnock and brought in Mark Hughes. Over time it has been documented that teams get a new manager “bump” when they make a change mid season. Sparky comes in and starts to mold the team by doing the same thing that his predecessor did at the beginning of the season, spending heavily in the transfer window. Bobby Zamora, Djibril Cisse, Nedum Onuoha are bought on top of loans for Samba Diakite and Taye Taiwo. It’s like watching the beginning of the season on repeat, only worse. The team looks completely lost when they’re out on the pitch and the results have certainly shown that as QPR haven’t won since before the transfer deadline.
Now Rangers find themselves in a precarious situation if they do in fact fall back into The Championship. With all the heavy spending and a new larger wage budget, it doesn’t take a psychic to see that QPR has a bleak future. All those fancy new signings were brought in with the view of playing Premier League football. If the team were to go down, not many of them are going to want to stick around to help bring the team back up. Cisse, Zamora, Wright-Phillips and Barton would seem to be the first ones to be out the door if QPR does go down. Cisse and Zamora will want to play in the highest leagues to help keep their slim National Team hopes alive. Joey Barton has already played a year in The Championship with Newcastle and one couldn’t blame him for wanting to avoid that fate again (even if there isn’t a team in the Premier League who would want to put up with him). Then lest we forget that Adel Taarabt’s temper could force a move out of Loftus Road, with the moody Moroccan becoming disenchanted with life at Loftus Road. Then factor in the loan players moving back to their clubs, QPR isn’t left with much of a squad to even put up a fight in The Championship. The depreciated values of the players that were brought in being sold and the loss of the Premier League revenue could mean that the next batch of QPR players being brought in will have the “Free” tag attached to them. But it’s not only the players that QPR needs to worry about leaving. Mark Hughes left Fulham because he wanted to be a part of something bigger, a more posh club than the one that he was at. I don’t know where relegation falls into his plans but it’s safe to say that if QPR are relegated, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise to see Sparky racing out the door.
So what can be learned from QPR’s latest foray into the Premier League? Keep the gambles to a minimum. Like anyone who partakes in the world of gambling will tell you, the odds don’t always go your way. You’re not always going to get that shiny new manager “bump”, you’re not always going to stay up in the Premier League just because you have a squad full of players who’ve played in the league. Had QPR followed the blue print put forward by teams like Stoke, Swansea or Norwich, they may be sitting in a better position than what they are now. When you’re on a losing streak, it’s better to just walk away and live to fight another day. QPR may have another day, but that day looks like it could be a long way off if they get relegated this season.