This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Mark Warburton has managed in a variety of environments but one of his greatest achievements is still his time in charge of Brentford.
He took the Bees up from League One after years of failing to achieve that goal, and then he made the Championship play-offs despite having the youngest squad in the division, with an average age of just 24.
In that year he got players like Andre Gray and Alex Pritchard performing to their highest standard, and so far at QPR he has shown glimpses that he could do the same with the current squad.
The R’s also have one of the youngest squads in the division, with only four clubs below their average of 25, which suggests that Warburton is performing well, and emulating his success with Brentford.
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QPR fans should enjoy the fact that youth players are becoming involved in first-team affairs, hence the average age, with Eberechi Eze and Ilias Chair amongst the top performers this year, as their assist record shows.
Warburton seems to have instilled a confidence in and around the dressing room – their average possession of 54% displays that – but handling individual temperament, especially when things aren’t going their way, will be crucial.
That is what is taking place now, with the R’s experiencing a winless run of four games. In such scenarios it is important that the senior players in the squad lead by example and display their manager’s instructions on the field.
However, against Middlesbrough the exact opposite happened. Lee Wallace and Nahki Wells each played a role in costing QPR the two goals they conceded, and now it is Warburton’s job to ensure lessons are learned and the squad isn’t too negatively affected.
He has shown previously at Brentford that he can manage the confidence and self-belief of a team, and if he does so this season he could finish in the top ten of the Championship once again.