Do QPR now represent a genuine threat?
Having secured their top flight existence on a dramatic final day, Queens Park Rangers have wasted no time in recruiting new players as they attempt to establish themselves in the Premier League.
With a wealth of new signings, an experienced manager and a group of owners who seem far more in tune with the club’s ambitions, the West London side’s future is looking as bright as it’s ever been but given the competitive nature of England’s top division and potentially limited financial resources, the Hoops may find it difficult to continue their meteoric rise. With that is mind, can QPR realistically challenge for Europe this season or should their expectations be more reserved?
It should be said that while QPR may not be Premier League powerhouses, any team can muster a decent season and the unpredictability of football means punching above one’s weight is certainly possible. It all boils down to how the side is put together and in Mark Hughes the club have a leader with a decent managerial pedigree who has brought in some experienced talent. The recent signings of Park Ji-Sung and Ryan Nelsen offer a wealth of knowledge to the squad and will help curb the over enthusiasm of young stars like Adel Taarabt and Armand Traore. Other aspiring quality, like Fabio Da Silva and Junior Hoilett, has also been brought in to complement the side and a quick look at the history books shows a rapid improvement in the current squad from the team that started last season’s 0-4 opening day humbling against Bolton Wanderers. With such vast improvements comes a renewed ambition, but Hughes must blend his various new arrivals into a cohesive unit if they are to continue their progression.
The club’s potential is certainly evident but there are other factors that may hinder their development. For starters, they are not the first team to make a host of new signings, but often too many fresh faces can struggle to work together effectively. The manner with which QPR start next season will illustrate how far they’ve come, but often sides that essentially try to buy an entirely new team find it takes time for players to build a strong understanding of each other’s games. The influence of senior figures like Nelsen and Park will be vital but the former Blackburn defender is nearing the end of his career while the South Korean is not exactly a vocal leader despite captaining his national side. With controversial characters such as Djibril Cisse and Joey Barton coupled with inconsistent talents like Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips, the club needs disciplined, controlling figures in charge to counter the other more difficult personalities. Certainly QPR now have a side that could beat anybody on their day but can they maintain a high level of performance over an entire season?
Given Newcastle United’s surprise heroics last season, QPR can take heart from the fact that so-called ‘lesser’ sides can still compete with the league’s top dogs. The difference in quality between the mid-table pack and the European challengers is clearly quite substantial on paper but there is evidence to suggest that such differences can be overcome by solid tactics and good team spirit. Newcastle have set a tough example to follow but it’s certainly an excellent incentive for teams looking to break the Premier League’s established mould. Considering Rangers have a good manager and a strong squad, it would appear the main stumbling block on their path to success will be financial implications and the issues connected with running a sustainable business model.
This may seem strange given the wealth possessed by the club’s owners but FIFA’s Financial Fair Play rules insist teams must be spend within their means and this leaves Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia in a bit of predicament. Loftus Road’s limited capacity of just 18,360 does not recoup enough income for a club looking to challenge the league’s top sides and regardless of however many sell-out crowds they attract, they will not earn enough money to continue spending the way they have been. The new regulations mean big money investments from billionaire owners cannot be relied upon in future, so the club will have to earn their own crust and will find their purse strings progressively stretched if they cannot find a bigger stadium and maximise their income.
Essentially QPR have taken a gamble and invested big on their current squad before the new rulings curb their spending power. If it pays off and they qualify for Europe then the risk will have been worthwhile, but it’s unclear how they can continue such a swift rise when the times comes that they are unable to invest in better players. They have a good setup at the club and their on-field matters are looking fairly rosy, but their impending financial concerns will be heightened if they cannot maintain their increasingly difficult standards, so the club must ensure they remain sustainable by staying in the Premier League and finding a new home. The current situation may be bright but it remains to be seen if their future will be quite so dazzling.
Can QPR qualify for Europe or are they just another big spending mid-table side? Will they be happy with a top ten finish or should they be aiming higher?
Let me know your views and opinions by following me on Twitter – Tweet me @Alex_Churcher