I don’t want to go all Forrest Gump on you but…
One day back in November 2002 one word took precedence at school. I was only 6 at the time but that word was “Vauxhall Motors.” Why though? Were we just a group of 6 year old boys with a passion for cars? No. It was because Vauxhall Motors had just beaten Queens Park Rangers, who were then in League 1 or Division 2 as it was called then, in the FA Cup second round. I remember vividly have a great laugh at the expense of the QPR fans with the non QPR fans running around at ‘playtime’ and shouting “Vauxhall Motors” without any subtly. A lot has changed this then though; Firstly I’m now 15 and call ‘playtime’ breaktime but QPR have changed a lot with them now looking good in the Premier League sitting in 11th place (at the time of writing).
Winning the Championship last season was met with relief more than anything. The Alejandro Faurlin 3rd Party ownership case had hung over them through their end of season run in before having their promotion confirmed on the very last day of the season escaping a points deduction with an £875,000 fine. This made their title win a little anti climatic especially since they didn’t even have a victory parade after winning the Championship.
The Shepherd’s Bush based team who aren’t exactly blessed with space at their Loftus Road stadium, the legroom in the away end certainly doesn’t leave anything to be desired, have done relatively well so far in their first appearance in the Premier League for 15 years.
I say they have done relatively well, but they’ve only won four games so far so there is definitely improvement needed. Consistency is the watch word for most teams but QPR definitely have not been consistent. They’ve beaten fellow West Londoners Chelsea 1-0 in their solitary win at Loftus Road this season when they were admittedly outplayed by the Blues in the second half despite having two more men than Chelsea on the pitch after Bosingwa and Drogba’s saw red. On the other hand though QPR, lost 6-0 to the other West London team Fulham at Craven Cottage with the most memorable moment for QPR being Adel Taraabt taking the local bus home.
Signing Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Luke Young was very important for Rangers as many could tell from their first game against Bolton that they needed some good top-flight experience in the team and that is what they have added in the afore mentioned players. Shaun Wright-Phillips unbeknownst to many is 30 already so has plenty of knowledge of the Premier League and has clear quality and so does Luke Young who is 32 himself. Barton has added some leadership and creativity on the right but still hasn’t played up to his full potential at QPR yet. All these 3 have added important experience and quality that were desperately needed at the start of the season as when they entered the league the team clearly wasn’t going to be up to Premier League standards.
Despite their shopping spree late in the transfer window in my opinion QPR’s best player has been the Argentinian central midfielder Faurlin. He gets the team moving forward with his great range of passing while Shaun Derry does the more defensive duties. Against Chelsea, Faurlin was really the only player to try and pass forward and keep the ball rather than be negative and just get the ball as far away as possible as you normally can’t afford to do that against Chelsea for the whole of the second half, nine men or not. Heidar Helguson, who someone I know described as “the biggest donkey in football,” has actually looked very good with his deceptively good leap and header giving him plenty of goals. Newly bought strikers Jay Bothroyd and DJ Campbell have not made the impact they would have like to so far. Early in the season QPR’s performances, particularly at home, were epitomized by poor finishing from these two and now Helguson looks to have cemented his place in the team.
Rangers are now in a section of 7 teams from Everton in 8th to Swansea in 14th that are separated by just 3 points in a mid-table mini league that seems to be developing already but mid-table will be good for the Rs as they now need a sustained period of stability.
In August Rangers were taken over by Malaysian businessman took over ownership of the club along with the Mittal family to give the West London side some much needed financial sense and sensibilty. Previous owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone were despised by the fans as they hiked up ticket prices after the club’s promotion to the Premier League and were well known for their attitude of clearly not caring about the club which was emphasised by the fact that Ecclestone would only watch the first half of the game and would then go home. Already Fernandes has seemed to bring some stability to the club with the signings and lowering ticket prices and giving refunds to season ticket holders. It was fairly well documented mainly on football phone in 606 that QPR were at one point charging £73 for Man City fans in the away end which is just not acceptable but luckily Fernandes and Mittal have adressed this.
As well as some financial stability through the owners QPR also have the chance to establish themselves in the Premier League with Neil Warnock as manager. The club had 7 managers from 2007 to 2010 before Warnock took charge in a tumultuous period for Rangers but with Neil Warnock seemingly safely in charge he, although normally thought to be a manager to get teams out of the Championship, could well lead them into a period of stability in the middle of the Premier League.
They now have the infrastructure and resources to do so but this year is incredibly vital in their quest for a sustained period in the Premier League. If they stay in the division with the prospect of new signings in the summer the future looks a lot brighter for the club than it did after their infamous loss to Vauxhall motors in 2002.