Queens Park Rangers have one of the largest and deepest squads in Europe. Yet they are not in a European competition of any kind and have one goal: to secure a quick return to the Premier League. Otherwise, they could potentially face financial armageddon.
Chairman Tony Fernandes has been more than generous in backing three successive managers in the transfer market, but this season after relegation to the Championship, the stakes are higher than ever for the side currently managed by Harry Redknapp.
This season QPR have signed Niko Kranjcar, Charlie Austin away from Burnley, Karl Henry away from Wolves, Richard Dunne away from Villa, Matty Phillips away from Blackpool, and got the “English Xavi” in Thomas Carroll, while signing Benoît Assou-Ekotto on loan from Spurs. They shed very few players from last year’s well paid Premier League squad, and yet as of today sit outside the automatic promotion places. The failure to permanently dump high-priced players like Loic Remy, Park Ji-Sung and Adel Taarabt, instead sending them out on loan, and the plight of Julio Cesar — the high priced, and one of the best paid keepers in English football who has not suited up for a match this season — demonstrate the delicateness of the task. Either secure a return to the Premier League or potentially go down the tubes as an English football club.
The West London’s outfit has a squad that is bigger than the vast majority the best of top-flight leagues in Europe, and their weekly wage bill is estimated to be as high as 50 times that of the smallest clubs in their division. Sometimes having too many players and too many options can kill a side. Or maybe given the length of the Championship season, this problem will become a blessing down the road?
QPR certainly have options, particularly in central midfield. The injury to Alejandro Faurlin this past week is of concern but with the likes of Karl Henry, Thomas Carroll and Jermaine Jenas, among others, who can play alongside Joey Barton, whose form has been outstanding this season, the future looks bright. The defense has been stout this season with the addition of Richard Dunne and the continued outstanding service of Clint Hill creating solidity at the back. Redknapp brought Benoît Assou-Ekotto in on loan from Spurs and recently signed free agent American international Oguchi Onyewu. The backline is not a problem but scoring goals has been an issue.
The signing of Austin should have solved Rangers goal scoring woes. But after a strong start, Austin has tailed off in recent weeks while his former club Burnley hasn’t missed a beat going forward. The often-injured Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora are players who can never be relied on though they are still both capable of the individual moments of brilliance that have characterized their careers and frustrated supporters who are left hoping for more.
QPR have the tools in place to return to the Premier League. For other clubs seeking promotion, it is a reward for a job well done. For QPR it might well be a necessity to keep the club from sliding down the divisions and becoming potentially insolvent. Tony Fernandes has been more than generous with his checkbook, but he lacks the financial means of many other big spending owners. And should the side not achieve promotion, he could be in for a world of hurt.