Jermaine Jenas became the 50th player to appear in the Premier League for Queens Park Rangers when he came on for Stephane Mbia against Norwich in February.
That stat tells the story of Queens Park Rangers' crazy foray into the Premier League, and transfer market since Tony Fernandes took over at the club.
Of course, as chairmen go, Fernandes is one of the more approachable and honest you will find, especially on Twitter. And after he saved QPR from the clutches of the evil car people, Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, Queens Park Rangers fans try not to criticize Fernandes. They have seen much worse, after all.
But there is one aspect of the club that all fans will agree needs to be changed. An issue more concerning than only having two, sorry, three wins in the league. More depressing than the fact that ticket prices are now higher than a mortgage on a two-bed-semi in Croydon. And more worrying than the fact the box office is more difficult to get hold of than a straight answer from a politician.
And this aspect, is the club's transfer policy.
Rangers haven't even spent two full seasons in the top flight yet, and to have fielded 50 different players is a huge turnover. Of course, there will be an argument that loan spells and youth players have a lot of part to play in this figure. But since QPR's promotion in 2011, only five of those 50 were loan signings, and only three considered "youth" products: Michael Harriman, Bruno Perone and Bruno Andrade.
So where have the other 42 players come from? Not to mention those that were in the squad and simply didn't play. The answer, of course, is the transfer market, and the ever-revolving front door that is the Queens Park Rangers dressing room.
Since the beginning of this season there have been 15 incoming players into the QPR squad, and 13 more the season before—excluding loans and youth players. No wonder the team needed "time to gel."
Twenty-eight new players is more than an entire squad. And it is little surprise there has been a lack of team spirit at the club in past months, when each week a new face comes in, and an old nose is put out of joint. But the number of players is just the first spoke in the Rangers wheel.
The second is the amount of money that has been spent on transfer fees, agents fees and wage bills, prompting similarities to be drawn between QPR and Portsmouth should the West London side become relegated.
There was £120 million spent in the Premier League in January alone, and QPR, Liverpool and Newcastle were the three teams who accounted for 50 percent of that fee, according to Deloitte. Rangers sat in a precarious position seem to have attempted to spend their way out of trouble.
But it was their spending in 2012 which left them in this mess in the first place, and it was that spending which ultimately could cost them.
As mentioned there have been 50 players in QPR's EPL story so far, and Shaun Derry has been one of the more consistent of those. Speaking to ESPN, he believes Rangers' transfer policy is a shambles, and the spending spree last year may well be the catalyst for the end of Fernandes' Premier League dream:
"I hope we can get out of the problems we're in at the minute. I can only speak from a personal opinion - things should have been done a bit slower really. I suppose when you get the opportunity to bring in these guys who are at the top of the profession - Mark Hughes, who was our manager in the close season, thought we should be bringing in a number of players to enhance our chances of progressing. It just didn't work out that way. It takes time to mould a team, it really does. My own opinion is things were done just too quickly."
A concise and honest opinion, but nobody seemed likely to stop self-acclaimed dreamer Tony Fernandes from trying to turn QPR into a global phenomenon just 12 months into their Premier League era. And if fans are being honest with themselves, they will on the most part accept that they were excited to hear the big names being brought into the club in the summer of 2012.
But were the signings Mark Hughes made really "big-name"? Their subsequent performances would suggest no. And perhaps a look at their more recent performances prior to signing would have been able to tell Hughes more than simply admiring their trophy cabinets, which were starting to gather dust.
Jose Bosingwa only started 13 of the last 30 matches for Chelsea. Ji-Sung Park started even fewer for Manchester United—nine. Both players at top clubs, both players who used to be at the top of their game but both players who seemed to be fading.
Fulham's Andy Johnson had an even worse start ratio, just five in 2012 for the club. And he was released at the end of the season only to move down the road to Rangers. Injury-prone and aging, Johnson lived up to his history, tearing his ACL in September.
So far, none of these players have made the desired impact.
Of course, some signings were seemingly inspired; Ryan Nelsen and Julio Cesar, for example. But then again, when you sign so many players, a couple are bound to work out.
But it was the Cesar transfer which was one of the most ridiculous in Premier League history—excluding Peter Odemwingie's jaunt to London in January. Weeks after signing Rob Green as the No. 1 keeper, after a couple of mistakes, rather than working with the ex-England international and giving him time, Hughes brought in a Brazilian legend.
The signing of Julio Cesar is not going to be bemoaned by QPR fans, as he has been one of the better players throughout the season. But it was the way the club seemed to go about trying to change its fortunes that epitomises the R's current transfer policy.
At Queens Park Rangers it seems to not be a case of "if it's broke, fix it", but more "if it's broke, throw money at it and buy players whom were in their heyday pre-2010." Of course, that saying is unlikely to catch on. But if Queens Park Rangers stay up this season, the fans will be pleading with their manager and board not to revamp the squad yet again.
Nobody wants another season like this one.
All match statistics taken from Soccerbase.com.
All transfer details taken from TransferMarkt.co.uk.
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