After trudging off the pitch after yet another Premier League defeat, and having failed to find the back of the home net for the fourth consecutive game, Harry Redknapp used his post-match analysis to share QPR’s game plan for the rest of the season. His target is twenty points, twenty points from the remaining 11 games that should be enough for him and Rangers team to complete mission impossible. And taking a look at the club’s next five fixtures, there’s an argument to suggest that given the teams Rangers face in that run, a bulk of those points are not out of the R’s reach - even considering the routine victory Manchester United had enjoyed at Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon.
What is possibly more concerning (and it’s hard to get more concerned in W12 right now) is Redknapp’s view on how Rangers will go about amassing these points. Of course there’s no secret to what’s been their Achilles heel this season, and that’s failing to score enough goals. The R’s have scored just 19 goals this season, a total Robin van Persie alone has already bettered, and four of those were netted by someone who’s no longer even at the club. Part of the reason behind such a paltry total is the lack of regular and top quality hit-man at Loftus Road. Andrew Johnson has spent the season on the side-lines, Djibril Cisse cut an uninterested and lonely figure before his loan to Qatar, and for everything else he adds to the team Jamie Mackie will never be good enough to lead the line in the top flight. That’s without mentioning the DJ Campbell’s and Jay Bothroyd’s that Redknapp has rightly or wrongly deemed not good enough for the battle.
However according to the QPR manager, the answer to Rangers pathetic goals tally in what’s been a pretty pathetic season, lies with two more strikers the R’s are desperate to have fit and firing - Bobby Zamora and January signing Loic Remy. Both, on their day provide enough to trouble even the best of Premier League defences, but keeping the both injury-free between now and the end of the season seems like an unlikely scenario. Like setting off on a drive from London to Liverpool with two front tyres ready to burst at any minute.
Zamora was given the nod today, making his first start since October at the point of Rangers attack. It gave QPR something they’ve been severely lacking in recent months, a focal point, and someone to hold-up the ball to try and bring the likes of Adel Taarabt and the impressive Andros Townsend into play. However, years of putting his body on the line have clearly taken their toll on Zamora, and his brittle bones can barely last sixty minutes. Maybe a pro-longed rest in the summer will help him get over the niggles, most notably to his troublesome hip, but that’s no good to Rangers cause right now. His four goals make him the clubs joint top-scorer, and Rangers look such a better side with their number 25 leading the line.
Bobby’s potential partner in crime, Loic Remy also returned to the Rangers side today, actually replacing Zamora for a half-hour cameo as he battles back from his groin injury. The £8m winter window purchase notched on his debut for the club, but has since found himself on the treatment table next to his strike partner - a familiar trend that looking at his club career appears more often than not. On Saturday he forced David De Gea into his only meaningful save of the game, proving that if he can stay fit the money invested in him in January may actually be worth the outlay.
So you can see where Harry’s coming from. On paper Zamora and Remy offer goals, and would seemingly work as a partnership if indeed he’s hinting of playing the pair together. Zamora holding-up the ball for the Frenchman who loves to play off the shoulder has the makings of an excellent and balanced front two, but it’s keeping them on the pitch which is the difficult thing. They’ve become about as reliable as an Oscar Pistorius defence statement.
It’s not just their injury records either, pairing them together creates an additional problem of QPR as a team and the system they’d play. True, it seems that both Mark Hughes and Redknapp have failed to find both a consistent eleven and formation to work for Rangers this season, but the one thing that both have been unsuccessful on is using two strikers. The last time Harry tried, Liverpool tore an over-exposed Rangers to shreds in front of the Sky cameras. Trying it now then would look like a massive gamble as the club head into a run of games they have to pick-up points in to have any chance of avoiding the drop. Then there’s the question of service to the front two, against United, the R’s were once again pretty toothless in attack, so if they switch to 4-4-2 to accommodate the new strike-force, much will rely on a settled midfield who can create enough to feed Zamora and Remy.
This writer always felt that Zamora and Cisse were never given the chance to form what could have been a fruitful paring. Indeed when speaking to Cisse himself last year, he said himself how well they complemented each other’s playing styles. In Remy, QPR have someone very much in the mould of his fellow Frenchman, only younger and arguably less temperamental, so the potential is there. But the question will remain if both can stay clear of injury long enough to build up an understanding that will not only get the goals Rangers so severely crave, but get the goals that will ultimately save their horrendous season - and quickly.