Queens Park Rangers: Top "What If" Questions from QPR's Season
Ah, the "what if."
The phrase used by football managers to try to find some sort of positive to take from a game.
The phrase used by football fans to console themselves that their team might not have been so rubbish if someone had just done something differently.
And the phrase which will be on Mark Hughes' headstone regarding all the transfers he probably shouldn't have made.
The Queens Park Rangers have had a lot of "what ifs" this season. What if they hadn't signed Jose Bosingwa? What if they could play against teams from Wales? What if they didn't have a wage bill larger than the bar tab on their recent trip to Dubai?
All of these are strong questions, but they did not make it to the top seven.
Read on to find out what did.
All statistics taken from www.soccerbase.com
All match results and reports taken from www.bbc.co.uk
7. What If Clint Hill Had Started More Matches
Clint Hill only started five out of the first 12 matches of the Premier League season, in which QPR won zero.
Of course, the entire team's win percentage is not incredibly high, having secured a victory in just five league games all season. But all five of those saw Clint Hill starting in the match day squad, and subsequently taking the captain's armband (via Independent).
If Hill had started more matches, would QPR have managed more results earlier in the season? Would they have managed to keep out the single goals from matches against Arsenal, Everton, Reading and Stoke? I can't answer that, as that would be guessing. And guessing gets us nowhere, unless we are on Deal or no Deal.
But the facts don't lie.
With Clint Hill, QPR won 33 percent of their matches. Without Clint Hill, they won 0 percent.
6. What If Loic Remy Had Been Signed Instead of Andy Johnson
Unsurprisingly, Andy Johnson got himself injured fairly early on this season (via Daily Mail), so in terms of time on the pitch, he wasn't the most inspired signing—he only played 135 minutes all season.
It would therefore to be unfair to compare AJ to Loic Remy throughout the campaign.
However, the Frenchman scored six in 13 league matches, which at a rate of a goal every 2.1 games would have meant statistically Remy would have scored 18 goals in 2012/13 had he been purchased in the summer. Whereas Johnson has not scored more than that in one season since 2004/05 when he was at Crystal Palace.
Loic Remy 18. Andrew Johnson 0. Kind of.
5. What If QPR Could Take Penalties
Queens Park Rangers had four penalties awarded this season, and scored just one—Loic Remy against Newcastle (via transfermarkt.co.uk).
One miss was against Norwich in August, but Bobby Zamora followed up to tuck the rebound into the net.
One miss was against Fulham in the 3-2 loss, but Loic Remy scored shortly after to make amends.
And the third miss was the most crucial, the 0-0 draw at home to that pesky Norwich team again. Maybe the color yellow puts off players? But whatever the reason, Adel Taarabt's saved penalty cost the Rangers the win.
Had that match finished 1-0 instead of 0-0, it would have obviously been two extra points. But more importantly, it could have changed the attitude of the players and fans to one of hope, rather than disappointment, as Harry Redknapp told the BBC:
One we should have won, we missed a penalty. We score the penalty, we win the game. There's no doubt in my mind that if we had got our noses in front then I think we would have gone on and won.
4. What If Stephane Mbia Hadn't Pushed Shaun Maloney
Stephane Mbia's silly foul on the edge of the area against Wigan on April 7th was the one that will stand out as costing QPR their Premier League status (via The Times).
When you are 1-0 up with seconds to go on the game, you take the ball as far away from your own goal as possible and you don't make any silly tackles.
Stephane Mbia obviously didn't get that memo and thought pushing Shaun Maloney over was a good idea. It wasn't.
Had QPR won that match, perhaps they would have lead more of an assault on the survival challenge in the last few games. But they didn't. And they fizzled out to finish rock bottom.
At least Mbia hasn't enraged fans even more by tweeting about wanting to leave the club or anything, though.
3. What If Mark Hughes Had Been Sacked Earlier
Mark Hughes was finally sacked on November 23 (via BBC), one day before the R's squad traveled to play Manchester United. So that game didn't count for Harry Redknapp, as it was stand-in coach Mark Bowen whom took control of the team (via Sky Sports).
This meant that Redknapp's first three games were against fellow relegation battlers Sunderland, Aston Villa and Wigan Athletic. All of which resulted in a draw. The fourth match was that of the historical moment when the Rangers finally won their first game of the season against Fulham, and 'Arry had seemingly started to turn QPR's fortunes around with that result.
However, had Mark Hughes been sacked even just three games before that, this would have meant that Redknapp would have faced Reading, Stoke and Southampton.
Add those teams to the three mentioned previously, and there you have a batch of games in which there would have been the possibility to put together a little run of form.
What a difference three weeks could have made.
2. What If QPR Had Picked Up More Points Against the Bottom 5
Queens Park Rangers picked up just nine points against the bottom five (not including themselves of course) all season (via Daily Mail). Nine points from 10 games—against teams who were nearly as rubbish as themselves if the league table is a pointer—is not a great record.
But although Mark Hughes gets the blame for most things around Loftus Road right now, only the first game against Reading was under Mark Hughes' reign, which they drew. It is actually Harry Redknapp's form against those who finished in the five places above QPR which is pretty abysmal.
His record against Reading, Wigan, Sunderland, Newcastle and Aston Villa reads DDDLWLDDL.
That doesn't exactly look like relegation beating results, which is probably why relegation beat them instead.
Turn those draws into victories, and you have an additional 10 points to your name. And those additional 10 points, although they still wouldn't have saved QPR alone, would have gone a long way towards helping them put up a fight to stay in the EPL.
1. What If All Games Started 15 Minutes Later
The late goal is usually the cause of anguish for football fans, and although Queens Park Rangers have let in a few of those, it is the early goals which seemed to kill off the Rs this season.
In their 38 Premier League matches, 11 of those saw QPR concede inside the first 15 minutes.
Now, whether that is due to an improper warm up, the players still feeling half asleep, or complete lack of concentration from the kick off, only the team will know.
But if those goals were taken out of the equation? QPR would have beaten Norwich, Reading and Aston Villa, and drawn with West Ham, West Brom, Fulham and Arsenal. That's an additional 10 points right there.
Perhaps Tony Fernandes should have written to the FA regarding a rule change.
They would still have lost 7-1 on aggregate to Swansea, though.