Queens Park Rangers: How QPR Should Use the Weekend off
Yes, things do look glum for Queens Park Rangers, don't they.
The expression on Harry Redknapp's face is one which can be seen from Westfield to White City. From the Crown and Sceptre to Loftus Road. And from Shepherds Bush to South Korea.
But good news Rs fans, you won't have to avoid Match of the Day this week, because QPR have a week off. Of course, that is in part due to their embarrassing defeat to MK Dons (via BBC), but a respite from the doom and gloom of the Premier League season may just be the tonic for a team that got hammered by Swansea City at the weekend (via Sky Sports).
But what exactly should a team, who are rock bottom of the Premier League with just two wins all season and slowly drifting away from the safety zone, do with a match-free weekend? Well, apart from jet off to Dubai (via Official QPR).
Here are five things Rangers need to work on over the next 10 days, whether it be in West London or in the Middle East.
Integrate Chris Samba into the Back Line
Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen had a good thing going on; having conceded just one league goal between them when paired together in 2013 (via BBC).
Chris Samba and Clint Hill conceded four last weekend.
The weekend break has potentially come at a great time for Harry Redknapp's men. Most importantly, it would offer time to try to build a partnership between Samba and Hill to enforce a rock solid back-line like the one created before Nelsen left for the dizzing heights of MLS management.
The center backs do need to "gel" (apologies for the Mark Hughes-esque terminology), and this week may be the perfect time to do so. They could even room together, if it would help.
Turn Up for Shooting Practice
The table doesn't lie: 19 goals in 26 games is not exactly a ratio that spells survival (via BBC).
QPR have a shot per game average of 12.7 (via WhoScored), which in turn works out as roughly a goal every 17 attempts. And for a team fighting for their lives that is something which needs to change, and fast.
Shooting practice needs to be high on the agenda for QPR this week. Although 0-0 draws are good results against Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester City, 0-0 draws will not be enough to save QPR in games against the likes of Southampton, Wigan and Reading.
If Harry Redknapp sets up a two-on-two game with Bobby Zamora and Jamie Mackie trying to break down Clint Hill and Chris Samba for the next week, that could kill two birds with one stone. The strikers may actually score, and the defenders can communicate with each other and learn how the other plays.
Get Julio Cesar Fit
Julio Cesar admitted he played with a groin injury against Swansea, and his poor performance in that game showed just how important he is to Queens Park Rangers when fully fit (via Daily Mail).
With no match in the next 10 days, it will be important for Harry Redknapp, and the team as a whole, for Cesar to recuperate.
Cesar on top form is irrepressible. His performances for QPR since the turn of the year and his recent call up for Brazil in the video above proves he can still replicate the heroics of his Inter days.
Rangers need their keeper in top form, which in turn, means at full fitness. And this week will be essential to bring Cesar back to his best.
Watch Themselves Play
It will do QPR players good to watch what QPR fans have to see week-in week-out.
These fans pay a large amount of money to watch players who are paid an even larger amount of money to kick a ball around on some grass. Of course, QPR may well watch their most recent game back to analyze what went wrong tactically. But do they ever simply sit and watch themselves get destroyed 4-1 by Swansea, or 3-0 by Liverpool?
If there is a VHS player in the hotel in Dubai (as self confessed technophobe, Harry Redknapp probably doesn't know what a DVD player is) then perhaps they should take a couple of the worst games in recent weeks, and sit there, for the full 90 minutes, and watch what those on the terraces watch.
No tactics boards, no notepads, no commentary. Just the video of Swansea City tearing through the defense as if Lionel Messi were playing my Mother on FIFA 13. Then perhaps the players will understand a little more the frustration and disappointment which QPR fans have seen all too often this year.
Don't Actually Take the Weekend off
Despite QPR's league position and recent woeful performance in Wales, Harry Redknapp is rewarding the squad with a jaunt over to Dubai (via The Sun). His reasoning? The lack of facilities in Harlington:
Our training ground is not the best. When it rains, it floods. When it snows we can’t get on it. We have no undersoil heating and no gymnasium. So we can at least train properly for a few days
Redknapp seems to suggest that they are flying to the UAE for entirely training purposes. And if that is true, then he must drill it into the players that they simply cannot afford to take the weekend off.
The training intensity must be raised, they must spend more time on a football pitch than a golf course, and if Stephane M'Bia tweets a single picture of Esteban Granero and Ji-Sung Park sitting by a pool, there will be hell to pay. Not only from the club's press team, but from the fans. And you wouldn't like them when they are angry.
Rangers may have been ceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup allowing them a game-free weekend, but this is no time to be taking a break. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. And QPR are as far off perfect as Piers Morgan is to winning over the population of America.