Queens Park Rangers: Do QPR Have Any Chance of Staying Up, or Is It Too Late?
And the question of 2013 (for fans of this club anyway) is: Can Queens Park Rangers beat the odds, the unwanted record breaking start and the Mark Hughes calamity and actually stay up?
It is a question which will grow increasingly louder over the next few months, and the answers will become increasingly more clear. But at this present moment? It is still incredibly hard to call.
Bottom of the table, with the other relegation candidates stepping up their audition to remain in the Premier League by actually winning games, Rangers on the other hand have won just two since the start of the season (via BBC). From both a logical and realistic view point, QPR are dead and buried.
However there are three major factors to take into consideration.
The first, is the belief of the players. President Theodore Roosevelt (or Teddy, to his friends) once said "believe you can and you're halfway there". And this mantra needs to be etched across the dressing room doors, the training ground, the tunnel at Loftus Road, the canteen wall and perhaps even in the bathrooms at the ground.
Self-confidence is key in all walks of life, and football is no exception. If Rangers feel as though they can stay up, then it is a darn sight more likely they will. Or at least, will give it a go.
But that self-belief was lacking throughout much of 2012, and only recently have the players started to show it on the pitch, with some positive results at last (via BBC). Six months of disappointment can have a negative impact on the team, as can not winning games, and both are interlinked so intrinsically that QPR need to start believing they can win, in order for them to actually do so.
But with only two wins so far, and roughly seven required in 12 games, they may have left themselves too much to do.
Having come away with five points against Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City in January (via BBC), these could be so crucial come the end of May. Points the manager may not have necessarily factored into their survival tally, but also points which will mean nothing if Rangers don't take advantage of their upcoming fixtures.
QPR play matches against Southampton (A), Sunderland (H), Aston Villa (H), Fulham (A) and Wigan (H) in the next two months (via Soccerbase). All of which Rangers will be looking to take three points from, with possibly the exception of Fulham at Craven Cottage
Having played the majority of the so-called "big teams" already this season, the fixture list looks a little favorably on Harry's side. But 0-0 draws will not be enough anymore. And all of the teams the Rangers will be looking to take three points off, will be thinking the exact same thing for their own points tally against QPR.
And the last factor, is probably the most important, and comes in the shape of a popular manager from Poplar. A t'riffic bloke to have in charge of your club if you are stuck in a certain creek, and especially if your last manager threw away the paddle. Harry Redknapp could well be the deciding component of Rangers' survival.
As has been mentioned time-and-time again, he has done it before, but he has also not managed it once as well (via ESPN). A fact which is sometimes swept under the carpet as fans and pundits try to see a more positive outcome for the troubled team from West London after their tumultuous season. However Redknapp is a man nicknamed Harry Houdini, for good reason.
But after sticking by Mark Hughes time and time again, did Tony Fernandes leave it too late to make that change from Sparky to 'Arry (via Daily Telegraph)?
Had Redknapp been installed just three weeks earlier at the beginning of the month, he would have had a chance to pick a side for the games against Reading, Stoke and Southampton (via BBC). Three games in which QPR only managed to collect one point, when there could just have easily been six, or even seven.
He then would have been prepared for the match against Manchester United, but more importantly, for games against Sunderland, Aston Villa and Wigan. Three games where only three points were earned due to Redknapp not having much time with his new squad (via BBC).
With three crucial games in the month prior to Harry's arrival, and three crucial games after it, Redknapp only really had a chance to try and influence the latter of those match-ups, against Aston Villa and Wigan.
You can understand Fernandes' decision to try and see if this run of "easier" opponents would turn Rangers' fortune around. However from watching the players and the performances, it was clear to see that Hughes was having a negative impact on the club (via talkSPORT). And his successor should have been brought in sooner.
That month could well make all the difference.
Have QPR left it too late?
Is relegation a certainty? Of course not. Is it a probability? Yes. But hindsight is a powerful tool, and Tony Fernandes' loyalty to Redknapp's predecessor although can be questioned, cannot be blamed. The only people able to get out of this mess will be those who got themselves in it in the first place. The players.
It is highly likely it will be too late for Queens Park Rangers to avoid the drop. But then again, there is still a small part of me that still has hope for a great escape.
Where is Steve McQueen when you need him.
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