Over the past few seasons Queens Park Rangers has become somewhat of a spectacle, drawing media attention mostly for the wrong reasons. But after a successful Championship run and a Cinderella-like playoff run that culminated in one of the most thrilling games played last season, QPR is finally on the right track to compete in the Premier League.
QPR hasn’t been as busy in the transfer window as the other promoted clubs, but the club has been smart. Many of the dead weight and high-wage earners have been moved on, namely Stephan M’Bia and Estaban Granero — who represented the last of the expensive flops bought by Mark Hughes in Rangers last disastrous Premier League campaign.
As expected, since the transfer window opened, QPR has been linked with every big name who’s been available, but owner Tony Fernandes adamantly stated he had learned from past mistakes and intended to only bring in players that were the right fit and desired to play for the club. Right away though it seemed QPR had returned to their bad habits. Thirty-five year old centerback Rio Ferdinand was brought to the club after being released by Manchester United and, at first glance, it seemed like the same old transfer policy of signing big names past their prime would continue. But with the addition of Steven Caulker from Cardiff City shortly thereafter on a four year deal, the acquisition of Ferdinand has turned into quite an intelligent move. Caulker is considered one of England’s brightest prospects and pairing him with a legend like Ferdinand at the back shows that Rangers is thinking of long term development as he will learn a great deal from the former England captain. Likewise, Jordon Mutch, Cardiff’s top scorer last season, was brought in to help strengthen the midfield and hopefully add some much needed firepower.
This pre-season has shown that Harry Redknapp is determined to line up in a 3-5-2 formation. Harry has been smart about acquiring the right pieces that will fit this new formation and found a way to use QPR’s current players more effectively within the system. Mauricio Isla was brought on loan from Juventus, whose wide role in the Chilean National team’s World Cup run was crucial, and Redknapp has found the perfect position for now veteran QPR wide man Armand Traore as a wingback. While Ranger’s pre-season tours in both Germany and Ireland have answered a few questions about how the team might fare this season, it has yet to put supporters in a position of complete comfort about their chances in the upcoming season. The biggest positives in these games have been the play of Charlie Austin and Junior Hoilett. While Austin has yet to prove himself at the Premier League level, he has been prolific at every other level of English football so far and has looked dangerous this pre-season having scored four times. Hoilett looks to have adapted to the new system especially well and may have revealed himself as the R’s true number ten, supplying three goals and finding himself in dangerous positions and at the heart of most plays. Likewise Joey Barton and Alejandro Faurlin look to be the best midfield pairing QPR has had since their return to the Premier League in 2011. Both are excellent passers of the ball and have looked solid together playing slightly deeper positions, and Barton’s newfound role of initiating attacks has seemed very Andrea Pirlo-esque.