The Disastrous Unravelling of Queens Park Rangers and What Went Wrong
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After all, it would have been a depressing affair, full of morose players, frustrated fans and a palpable sense of resentment.
There is very little for QPR to celebrate this season, having endured an utterly wretched campaign before surrendering to relegation last week with three games still remaining.
Where did it all go wrong? At the start of the season QPR appeared to have both an ambitious owner and manager and a collection of players capable of not only surviving, but even prospering in the Premier League.
It was at the end of last season that QPR’s then-manager Mark Hughes made his solemn promise that, “as far as I'm concerned, we will never be in this situation again while I am manager.”
But it was a promise he failed to keep, and after 12 games QPR were bottom of the table and had failed to win a single game.
The signs were obviously there on the opening day of the season when QPR were thrashed 5-0 at home by Swansea.
That day, they looked like a disjointed and unmotivated group of players, vulnerable at the back and lacking any real edge up front, and over the next 35 games that never really changed.
Hughes had done a lot of business in the summer, bringing in a whole team of eleven new players, but though many had undoubted pedigree, were they the right players to keep QPR in the Premier League?
As the former Welsh international Robbie Savage has said in The Mirror, “When I look at the players Hughes signed, I struggle to reconcile some of them with the manager I knew at Blackburn. Some of them simply didn’t match Sparky’s photofit in terms of passion, commitment and work ethic.”
Ji-Sung Park was signed from Manchester United, Esteban Garenero arrived from Real Madrid and Jose Bosingwa was lured from the Champions League winners Chelsea, but none of these players lived up to the reputations they had earned at these clubs.
These were never players suited to a relegation fight. It was always going to be an alien concept.
By the end of November, it was clear Hughes had run out of ideas, and so it appeared QPR had pulled off a coup by replacing him with Harry Redknapp, who six months earlier had finished in the top four and seemed destined to be the next England manager.
But the most attractive achievement on Redknapp’s CV to the QPR board was his work with smaller teams, particularly narrowly keeping Portsmouth in the Premier League in 2006.
But surprisingly, Redknapp has made little impact at Loftus Road. QPR were five points adrift from safety when he arrived, and with two games to go, that gap has increased to thirteen.
In the January transfer window Redknapp was given huge funds to arrest the club’s decline, and he brought in Christopher Samba for £12 million and Loic Remy for £8 million, but rather than help, their arrival seemed to exacerbate problems within the squad.
Rifts caused by simple jealousy over the gulf in wages earned by these new signings in January and last summer compared to the old guard became too great to overcome.
A manager will always deny any internal problems during the season, but now with typical frankness, Redknapp has admitted his players were never a united unit.
“I would be lying if I said there were not splits in the camp here,” Redknapp said recently in The Mirror. “That has been obvious for everyone to see all year.”
“It is hard to know who speaks to who; I just take them out on the training ground. I haven’t had this too much anywhere else, but when we came it was obvious there was a problem.
“It is difficult with players earning differently.”
“It is not a problem if you are playing with Robin van Persie or Steven Gerrard and they are getting 130 or 140 grand a week while someone else is getting 50 because you don’t mind if they’re worth it and so good.
“So that’s a problem if players look at others and thinks ‘he isn’t that good’. That’s when you get problems. People don’t mind others getting good money if they earn it.”
A lack of goals was QPR’s most obvious problem on the pitch. They have only managed 29 goals from 36 games so far this season.
“Robin van Persie has scored about as many goals as us this season. I think that says it all really,” the QPR goalkeeper Rob Green has said to West London Sport.
It makes the decision to dispense with last season’s leading goal scorer Heider Helguson even more baffling. In the first half of the season, QPR missed him as they struggled for goals.
Andy Johnson’s injury ruled him out for the season, but there wasn’t the backup in the squad to compensate for his absence.
Loic Remy, who only signed in January this year, will finish the season as their leading scorer with just five goals.
Will Queens Park Ranger be promoted straight back to the Premier League next season?
Now saddled with so many underperforming players on big wages, there are concerns QPR will struggle to make quick return to the Premier League.
However, Harry Redknapp is staying at Loftus Road, and with a proper close season ahead of him, he should now be able to mould a more united and committed group of players.
As Redknapp told the London Evening Standard, "We're going to give it a real good go next season though and hopefully get this club back to where it belongs."
A year after it appeared as though Redknapp would be leading England in to a World Cup finals, he now has the more mundane, but just as demanding task of getting QPR out of the Championship.
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