Last season’s Queens Park Rangers deserved to get relegated from the Premier League. Aside from the occasional spark of life, the team was not good enough. There was no pace in the side, the attack plan was one dimensional, and the defense was diabolical. While the reasons for these shortcomings are many, overall it is clear the club were just unprepared.
After being relegated in 2013, QPR were lucky to get promoted straight back to the Premier League, only to throw it all away again just as quickly. For many QPR supporters, this is a bitter pill to swallow, but it is for the better that the club is in this current situation. They now have a chance to actually restart in a fiscally responsible manner as opposed to continuing on the same inefficient path they have followed. Had they stayed up, QPR could’ve been stuck with a wage bill inflated far beyond what was financially realistic and might have continued to spend money that wasn’t there. Eventually, this would’ve left the club much worse off when the bubble finally did burst. Ultimately, relegation might actually become a positive result for the long-term future of Queens Park Rangers, assuming the club handles things properly. Thus far, it appears that they have.
In the aftermath of relegation, QPR manager Chris Ramsey was given a three year deal as head coach and the chance to build his own team for the upcoming 2015-16 Championship campaign. The club has since released Joey Barton, Bobby Zamora, Richard Dunne, Rio Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips, and Adel Taarabt. Likewise, loan players Niko Krancjar, Eduardo Vargas, and Mauricio Isla have all returned to their parent clubs. A clear-out of this magnitude doesn’t just mean a squad overhaul; it means QPR have a chance to restructure their whole philosophy. Players like Barton, Wright-Phillips, Zamora, and Taarabt were regular faces signed on expensive long-term contracts, while Ferdinand and Dunne were both aging players brought in as a quick fix. Despite whether fans’ sentiments toward these players are positive or negative, each of them represent the poor business model the club had implemented over the past few years. Relegation has given QPR a new opportunity to create a culture of sustainable long-term stability, and with the help of new CEO Lee Hoos, who carries a reputation for financial responsibility, true stability appears to be a realistic target the club is aiming for.
To the pleasure and surprise of every Rs supporter, Ramsey began his transfer business early. The first new players brought in were Swindon Town’s midfield duo of Massimo Luongo and Ben Gladwin. Both are young and promising talents from League One. They wholly contrast the past signings made by the club under Harry Redknapp and Mark Hughes. Each one chose Queens Park Rangers over opportunities in the Premier League, with the promise of playing time and development cited as a massive draw. Soon after, striker Jay Emmanuel-Thomas was signed after his release from League One champions Bristol City. Immediately Ramsey and Les Ferdinand have shown their intent to get the club back on the right track with these first transfers. Young, hungry, and talented, these players represent the future of QPR in different ways. For any club the size of Queens Park Rangers that expects to have long term success and desires to become stable in the Premier League, two important things are necessary — an influx of young ambitious players, and the ability to develop the best of these players, sell them for a good fee, and then bring in new ambitious young talent. It’s a cycle. This is how QPR were so successful in the early 90s as players like Andy Sinton, Les Ferdinand, and Trevor Sinclair were all developed and sold off to bigger clubs; this is what will happen with Charlie Austin. A renewal of this policy will help Rangers lower their debt and work to achieve their goals. In addition to Luongo, Gladwin, and Emmanuel-Thomas, striker Sebastian Polter has recently been signed from Mainz in Germany and fan favorite Alejandro Faurlín has been given another chance after recovering from his third ACL injury, but by far the most meaningful transfer for QPR this summer has been the return of Jamie Mackie.
During his first stint with the club, Mackie provided supporters with some of their most memorable QPR moments over the past few years. While not the most technically gifted, Mackie is everything the club have been missing recently in terms of attitude and commitment. It doesn’t matter if he starts or comes off the bench, he truly has a passion for QPR, will be a role model for the younger players, and can show them what it means to give 100% day-in and day-out.
It is incredibly important for Queens Park Rangers in this upcoming season to have players, like Mackie, in a leadership role who understand QPR and are committed to fighting for the club; which is why it is just as important that Clint Hill has been given a new contract as well. Hill has been a stalwart leader, who has showed interest in making the transition into a coaching role for QPR. He’s been through all the ups and downs of the QPR rollercoaster, and would be a perfect addition to Ramsey’s coaching staff when not needed on the pitch. With the recent addition of Steve Gallen from the club’s youth academy as the new first team coach, Clint Hill would slot in perfectly alongside the two on the sidelines. While Chris Ramsey’s level of experience has been debated, having coaches that understand a league like the Championship is imperative despite who the manager is, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who understands the Championship and QPR more than Clint Hill. With these new signings, the return of Jamie Mackie and the re-signing of Hill and Faurlín, the squad have begun to resemble the one that got promoted back in 2011.
Of the remaining players in the team, it is almost certain Charlie Austin, Matt Phillips, Leroy Fer, and Sandro are destined to leave — Austin, especially, as he scored the fourth most goals in the Premier League last season, but the firm £15 million price-tag QPR have placed on him seems to be a sticking point for most of the interested parties. Make no mistake he will go, but it might not be until later in the transfer window once his suitors have either sold other players to buy him or have just been slowly worn down over time. There is a possibility of Matt Phillips staying with QPR, and if he did, it would be a significant coup for the club. Had he not found his form under Chris Ramsey, the club would’ve been relegated much sooner, but it is still more than likely he too will leave as multiple clubs have shown interest in him. Fer and Sandro both need to find new pastures as neither fancy playing in the Championship and they’re not compatible with the club’s new philosophy. Unfortunately, there appears to be little interest from other clubs for either, which should worry anyone connected to the club as both are likely on big wages, and will feel less than compelled to play in England’s second division.
Queens Park Rangers almost lost their identity trying to throw money at the Premier League, and went from being the type of club neutral fans enjoy to the type of club they hate. Rangers now have an opportunity to do things the right way, and if they can continue to follow this new philosophy and create some stability, they might be ready to push for promotion back to the Premier League within the next few years.
Everything depends on how well they perform in the Championship this season, which makes their upcoming preseason tour in Italy that much more important. If this newly assembled QPR squad can get fit in a proper preseason, and do well against the likes of AS Monaco, they might have a chance at a decent top half finish. While another relegation always looms large for any team that has just fallen through the trap door, mid-table seems the most likely scenario. Time will tell over the next few years whether the Rs have made the right decisions and if they truly are on track to becoming a respectable club again, but as of now it seems they will be ready for the fight come August.
The supporters deserve more than what they have been given over the past few season and should be rewarded for their undying loyalty to the Super Hoops. The progress made by the club so far is impressive considering how messy business has been in the past. Usually, it seems like a bad omen for a Rangers supporter to feel positive, but things are looking up.
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