QPR: Misfiring, Under-Performing & Harry Hasn't Got A Clue
Try a word association test on QPR supporters at the moment and “disappointment” would probably come top with “frustration” and even “anger” not so far behind.
The awful reality has finally dawned that the best funded and equipped outfit in the Championship with a roster of players that – on paper at least – should be worthy of a Premiership team, are very unlikely to win automatic promotion.
Even worse, form will have to improve to have a real chance of making it via the play-offs.
The low point for QPR fans came at Millwall last month.
Letting Millwall score the winning goal from a corner in injury time was a serious body blow to QPR’s promotion hopes – but such things happen in football and it is the very unpredictability of the never-ending soap opera that ultimately makes it interesting.
Much more telling, and unacceptable, was the fact that the multi-millionaire QPR line-up failed to register a single shot on target in the 90 minutes despite having around 66 per cent of the possession. As opponents might well sing- “Premier League? You’re having a laugh.”
Supporters of teams struggling to stay in the Football League at all, or trying to hang on to League One status, can be allowed a wry smile at the current angst of QPR fans wringing their hands at only being fourth in the Championship, while continuing to enjoy the support of billionaire owners.
But QPR is a misfiring, under-performing team with only one win in the last five games and it doesn’t help that manager Harry Redknapp looks more and more perplexed at what is going on.
Only crazy optimists believed the bookies that QPR was destined to runaway with the Championship. The warning signs were there almost from the outset. The wins were coming but nearly always by a single goal and most of them came from striker Charlie Austin with a bit of help from Matty Phillips.
QPR only managed to beat one of the top teams, Derby – once – and at a time when they were not yet in the top six.
Cynics note that when QPR were on top of the League Steve McLaren was deeply involved in coaching at QPR and then he went off to manage Derby.
Events took a further nose-dive when Austin and Phillips were injured, and could be out for the rest of the season and QPR has so far failed to win without them.
Top players being injured is unfortunate but also part of the game and it is difficult to understand why a team chock full of internationals is doing quite so badly, although the high average age may have something to do with it.
Fans also level a number of criticisms against ‘Arry even though his position is probably safe until the end of the season at least.
He has repeated the mistakes of the past by flooding the place with loan players, including no less than four strikers in the January transfer window, two of whom haven’t even managed to warm the bench yet.
Redknapp has also preferred loanees, many of them young, to QPR’s own home grown young players.
The obvious example is Tom Hitchcock who on his debut scored the winning goal against Ipswich in August. Someone to be treasured and nurtured? No. He was almost immediately shipped out on loan to first Crewe and then Rotherham.
Is there not a single player in the youth or academy squads good enough to play for a faltering first team?
Perhaps things will turn around in the coming weeks and Austin will recover from his shoulder injury in time to make an impact in the playoffs.
Failure to win promotion would have fundamental consequences – not least on the finances of a club that this week registered losses of £65.4 million last year and debts of no less than £177 million.
If QPR faces another year in the Championship with such a balance sheet, then under the Football League’s Financial Fair Play rules a transfer ban and a huge fine looks likely.
Choosing his words carefully QPR main shareholder Tony Fernandes says that: “The directors have a reasonable expectation that the company and the group have adequate resources to continue in existence for the foreseeable future.”
Continuing to exist is good but would not exactly match the expectations of the fans who turned up to watch QPR’s 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday August 3rd 2013.
Finances will improve not least because of sales of high profile players currently out on loan. Loïc Remy who cost around £8 million could raise double that from a major club and if Adel Taarabt continues to impress at AC Milan there will be a few million more for QPR. Luckily the costs of building a new stadium can be included in the Fair Play arithmetic.
But what of ‘Arry if QPR fails to go up.
He has earned the right to a degree of respect for what he has achieved over many years – warts and all.
The QPR manager should not be bundled out the door. But if he fails to take QPR to promotion this season given the resources he has had at his command, then it represents a failure.
Such an outcome should see Harry Redknapp spending more time at his home on millionaires row at Sandbanks in Dorset, enjoying a well-earned retirement.