Queens Park Rangers have been an intriguing side over the past three seasons, with the sum of their individual parts consistently appearing greater than on-pitch results.
Some of the issue undoubtedly lies with a recruitment strategy that would appear based on past reputation, while the club's managers, including Harry Redknapp, have hardly been faultless. QPR need characters who can be relied upon to give their all and, at least, this time around they have several such figures.
Having started the season poorly, QPR have improved of late and, despite results not going their way against big sides, they have performed well. At the heart of it all sits an unlikely midfield combination of Karl Henry and Sandro.
Iain Macintosh @iainmacintosh
QPR were defiantly not crap throughout and could have taken something from this. A third decent enough performance on the bounce for them.2014-11-1 16:51:39
QPR have moved in the way of central solidity, with Richard Dunne and Steven Caulker a particularly slow central defensive partnership. On the flanks, the pace of Mauricio Isla and Yun Suk-Young has added a different dimension to the side.
With Charlie Austin and Eduardo Vargas in the side, there will always be goals. The key for Rangers, then, has been preventing goals at the other end. Now they are beginning to look capable of that and Brazilian midfielder Sandro is at the heart of that change.
Now 25, it would have been inconceivable to suggest even two years ago that the former Internacional and Tottenham midfielder would have joined QPR or any other club in a similar position.
Indeed, such was his reputation before a major injury late in the 2012-13 season that Tottenham was seen to be simply a stepping stone club. Spurs' season collapsed following his injury and Andre Villas-Boas' career at the club never recovered.
Sandro, though, also failed to recover. Tottenham have a wealth of midfield options—although few appear to be hitting their potential—and Sandro was unable to recover a regular berth in the side. When given a chance, he failed to hit required levels.
For the Brazilian, QPR now offers a chance of resurrection. He will be a guaranteed starter so long as he stays fit and has already begun to show signs of finding form. Technically gifted, powerful and intelligent, his potential is enormous.
For Rangers to survive this season, they need Sandro to continue demonstrating his recent form. The Rs have troubled Chelsea and Liverpool, while also claiming three points against Aston Villa. While Manchester City are next up, they must draw confidence from what they're doing and use that to claim points against "lesser" sides.
Given his reputation as one of the stronger characters in a dressing room, Sandro will be important to ensuring they keep their heads up in spite of defeat. He must lead by example in midfield and enthuse some of the more temperamental characters in his team.
Despite a slow start, all is not yet lost for Queens Park Rangers this season. However, it is now when they need their so-called big-name players to stand up and be counted.
There are signs it is coming together, with a solid axis to the side finally forming. The key, then, is retaining that new found belief through this tough run of fixtures until calmer waters appear. That is no easy task, but it is players like Sandro, Dunne and Austin who must guide their teammates through.