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Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

Queens Park Rangers progress report under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

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While the dust has finally started to settle in the post-Chris Ramsey era, Queens Park Rangers continue to be a work in progress. If a metaphor can be worn out, then QPR have played the roller coaster metaphor a thousand times over, yet here we are again with no other real way to explain the infinite depth of the highs and lows presented by the club ,both on and off the field.

After somehow keeping our best players past the summer transfer window, the plan to consolidate, develop youth players and create a long term foundation for stability was completely thrown out by QPR’s board. Instead, the board adopted an ambitious push for an immediate return to the Premier League.

Keeping Premier League players meant paying Premier League wages, but so far that extra money has failed to make any significant difference. At best, Rangers have only had an outside chance of finishing in the bottom playoff spot, and when Ramsey couldn’t deliver, he got the axe.

A short four-game reunification with the ever adored Neil Warnock was followed by the controversial appointment of former Chelsea man Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. Many fans wanted to see Warnock finish out the remainder of the season, and Hasselbaink’s connection to the club’s most hated rival only served to fuel their disapproval of letting Warnock leave for a second time.

Hasselbaink was immediately coy when asked about his goals for QPR, stating he just wanted to focus on the games at hand. It was all too obvious that he sought to avoid any mention of England’s top-tier, as he seemed well aware the squad he inherited was mid-table quality, despite what the QPR board thought it was paying for.

It took nine games for the new manager to find a win, a stretch led to a slide down the table that left them momentarily closer in points to relegation the playoff. While there has never been a serious threat QPR would fall into the bottom three, it wouldn’t be the first time a team came in one end of the Championship and went out the other.

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Hasselbaink’s determination to get the squad in shape through a new fitness regime that includes extra training sessions has shown in all the wrong ways. Out of their last eight games, QPR have concede a goal after the 80th minute on five separate occasions, and many of the players have looked visibly exhausted by the final whistle. Clearly this a statement of long term intent from Hasselbaink, who seems to be already preparing for next season. Whether he makes it that far at a club with a hair trigger for firing managers will have to be seen.

News that Charlie Austin had finally received his move back to the Premier League came an hour before kickoff against an in form Rotherham. It only added to the pessimism building within the fans, but life after Austin started brightly. A rough first half should’ve seen Rotherham on top, but Rangers came out of halftime strong.

Junior Hoilett opened the scoring when he went stumbling with the ball into the box after being fouled, and somehow found the composure to slot the ball past former QPR keeper Lee Camp. Another goal quickly followed as Massimo Luongo, making his first start in months, lobbed a perfect pass behind the defense for Matt Phillips to successfully convert. The third came in the final seconds from Sebastian Polter, who made a screaming run down the middle of the box to connect with a pass from Leroy Fer.

It was a comprehensive first win that couldn’t have come at a better time. It showed that this team has the ability to score goals with or without Charlie Austin, who will forever be a fans favorite. There wasn’t a single QPR supporter who wasn’t ecstatic to see him score on his debut for Southampton against Manchester United, that is until we all remembered the meager £4 million that was paid for his services.

To much delight, though, Polter picked up exactly where he left off at Rotherham against Wolverhampton. He again saw the back of the net when he scored a powerful header after just two minutes.

While he has thrived under Hasselbaink, Polter’s had a rough start to his QPR career. Originally brought in from Mainz by Ramsey, he found his opportunities hard to come by as a move for Austin failed to materialize. Despite scoring a goal in the League Cup, the few late substitute appearances he made were not well received by fans, to put it politely.

His goal in the draw against Wolves made it four goals and an assist in seven games, and supporters have rightly begun to take to him. He is the ideal QPR player. He works hard, runs his ass off, and makes things happen not through any natural talent but shear force of will, all of which has affectionately earned him the nickname BFG (big effing German).

While the match against Wolves started brightly, Rangers faded in the second half and were unlucky to concede after James Henry’s shot ricocheted of Nedum Onuoha, Grant Hall, and then slowly made its way across the line after getting a small love tap from the leg of keeper Alex Smithies. Smithies single-handedly, pun intended, earned QPR a point after he palmed away a free header to keep the final score at a goal a piece between the two sides.

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The debut of new Peterborough United signing Conor Washington should’ve resulted in a well-worked assist for a game winning goal, had Tjaronn Chery’s shot not blasted off the post. Washington again showed positive signs when he was brought on as a sub against Nottingham Forest. His pace and ability to take on defenders are much needed in a squad that have looked almost timid in attacking areas at times. As Jimmy Floyd said, he’s not the finished article, but definitely one for the future.

The Hoops have never won at the City Ground and kept that record alive after Tuesday’s goalless draw, but there were still positives to be found. Despite twice being saved by the woodwork, QPR successfully played Massimo Luongo and Alejandro Faurlin together in the middle, saw greater possession and recorded another clean sheet. For the third game in a row didn’t concede a late goal.

It’s now four games unbeaten, and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink seems to be finding his footing as he grows more confident in his decisions to play a more attacking style football, but it’s still too early to tell if he’s been that much of an improvement over Ramsey. Ten points from 11 games and another pathetic cup exit doesn’t look good, yet the overall situation at the club is improving. Polter has found his form in the wake of Charlie Austin’s departure, Alex Smithies has successfully taken Rob Green’s starting spot to great effect, Junior Hoilett is playing like a new man and we’ve brought in two young, talented, and hungry upstarts in the form of Washington and keeper Matt Ingram from Wycombe Wanderers.

This all but confirms the club have decide to return to a long term approach toward stability. There is still plenty of work to do, but it seems the changes that should’ve happened in the summer to QPR’s squad are finally happening now. That should allow the club to finally, truly, hopefully, move into a new era.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. J

    January 30, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Good read.

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