January 31, 2012
"Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging." - Samuel Johnson
Hovering dangerously close to relegation, Queens Park Rangers made a dramatic statement to their supporters in the January transfer window, securing a host of signings as they battle for Premier League survival.
In just three short weeks, the new manager and executive team moved quickly to secure a range of top quality players, overhauling key weaknesses and bringing new hope to Hoops fans who have been praying for action to keep the backsliding club from going over a cliff.
Headlined by Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse, the new arrivals to Loftus Road have fans buzzing despite the team's lowly position in the league. Hughes has added talent and experience with an emphasis on scoring goals and getting more physical players in. The reinforcements boost the struggling club's fortunes, delivering improvements throughout the starting eleven as the R's enter the most important part of their season. There will surely be bumps in the road to come, but the renewal gives the Hoops' faithful reason for optimism once again.
January 26, 2012
Mark Hughes has made an immediate impact on QPR - reversing their losing ways with an FA Cup victory and a comfortable thrashing of Wigan at home - but his window to sign needed reinforcements is rapidly closing.
Appointed on January 10th to replace Neil Warnock, Hughes set his sights high and wide, chasing quality targets like Chris Samba, Alex, Nikica Jelavic and Brazilian youngster Henrique. To date he has failed to bring any of them in, and despite the masterful stroke to capture out of favour AC Milan left back Taye Taiwo on loan, the squad remains largely the same as the one he assumed control of two weeks ago.
There have been positive developments in his short reign - particularly the re-emergence of Akos Buzsaky - and the team has lifted itself out of the relegation zone for the moment. But strengthening is still needed and without improvement, Queens Park Rangers are far from safe.
January 17, 2012
The magnitude of the challenge Mark Hughes faces was laid bare this weekend as Queens Park Rangers failed to translate a strong away performance into points, losing 1-0 to Newcastle.
With the transfer window rolling along and the roster in flux, Hughes has his work cut out for him if he hopes to fulfil his ambition to stave off relegation and turn the R's fortunes around this season. But there is reason for hope, as QPR have targeted Sao Paolo striker Henrique to fill the goal-scoring void.
Owner Tony Fernandes and the rest of the management team were keen to underline that the process of strengthening and building at QPR would not be an immediate overhaul, but they are laying the careful brickwork necessary to do more than just escape the drop in 2012. The lofty goals of creating a first class training ground, developing a modern stadium in West London and bringing in young talent to start a new movement are hopeful signs that the club is heading in a brighter direction.
January 12, 2012
Mark Hughes has his work cut out for him if he hopes to keep QPR in the Premier League next season.
His surprise arrival this week has put players on notice that change has come and the overhaul of the lineup is already underway. Reports of Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia handing him large pound sign marked satchels have sent the columnists scribbling, and the club has been linked with a dozen new names in the past twenty four hours.
"Sparky" has the backing of the ownership and some money to spend. With the transfer window clock ticking, there are some crucial holes to plug:
January 10, 2012
Manager Neil Warnock carved his name into Queens Park Rangers history with a thrilling Championship campaign last year, but his tenure is over after a difficult run in the Premier League left the club dangerously close to relegation.
New owner Tony Fernandes will now put his own choice in charge, bringing in former Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham boss Mark Hughes. QPR's survival in the league is very questionable at this stage, but this change signifies the owner's willingness to make the hard choices necessary to succeed.
No matter what happens with the remainder of the season, Warnock earned a fond place in the memories of the club's faithful, as the man who took them from the threat of relegation to League One back up to the Premier League for the first time in fifteen years. He deserved more resources and more time, but managing is a cruel mistress. Now his replacement faces a huge challenge in continuing the team's success and maintaining their place in the top flight.
January 8, 2012
Queens Park Rangers salvaged a late draw at Milton Keynes Dons in the FA Cup Saturday, continuing their ugly history in the competition with a dramatic last minute goal to earn a replay.
Calling this year's Cup "special," manager Neil Warnock vowed to reverse Queens Park Rangers decade-plus futility. His team selection backed up that claim, switching to an attacking deployment with new arrival Federico Macheda and DJ Campbell out front. Despite the absence of first team regulars Paddy Kenny, Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Philips among others, the R's looked poised to break their eleven year drought in the Cup.
Instead, the R's turned in a characteristically stale performance, providing uninspired football and inciting the Dons to give them a run for their money. They did just that and deserved a victory, nearly knocking off a Premier League side that looked outmatched and uninterested. The late equaliser gave the R's another chance to move forward, but they must improve if they hope to do so.
January 3, 2012
The Football Association rejected Queens Park Rangers appeal of the red card handed down to Joey Barton against Norwich City, choosing rigid defence of their referee over a fair evaluation of the facts at hand.
The spectacle that unfolded at Loftus Road Monday was an demonstration of the worst kind of refereeing imaginable - a combustible mix of wanton fouls ignored, slight touches chastised and an unseen event that was heavily lobbied to get a player sent off. There is a human element to officiating that has and will always be part of the game, but the after-action review by the FA and its decision to uphold a phantom foul is a poor reflection on the body's ability to objectively judge contentious events in the game.
January 1, 2012
2011 couldn't end soon enough for Queens Park Rangers as they dropped a tight contest at Arsenal, falling 1-0 as Robin Van Persie scored his league-leading 17th goal of the season.
Stronger play from the midfield and some creative moments gave QPR real chances against the Gunners, but it was not enough to overcome Arsenal's relentless attack, and the R's suspect defence once again threatened to turn a close match into a cringe worthy hiding. Misfires by RVP and two Theo Walcott blunders saved the Hoops greater damage to their horrific goal differential, but they now sit just two points above the drop as they enter the make-or-break period of their schedule.
The next two months will decide their fate in the Premier League, and with the transfer window open, the club's New Year's resolutions are clear: find someone who can score, and stop the other side from doing it so easily.