Time to prove their worth

by Ryan Bailey

Djibril Cisse after scoring for QPR

They narrowly avoided relegation last year but Queens Park Rangers have been busy during the summer months in a bid to establish themselves as a top flight club. No fewer than nine new players have arrived at Loftus Road during the transfer window as Mark Hughes makes the most of owner Tony Fernandes’ considerable wealth and willingness to invest in the club.

The QPR fans have big hopes heading into the new campaign after the high-profile captures of Park Ji-Sung, Fabio and Junior Hoilett among others but a 5-0 hammering on the opening day of the season for the second year in a row has left the Loftus Road faithful licking their wounds.

The 48-year-old Malaysian business tycoon has a net worth of $700 million and unlike many other football club owners, he has not been shy to splash the cash and put his money where his mouth is.  Fernandes was unveiled as the majority shareholder of QPR in August 2011, having bought Bernie Ecclestone’s 66% share as well as becoming the club’s chairman.

His response to the drubbing by Swansea City is to throw more money at the problem as Michael Dawson looks set to arrive for a reported £7.5 million while Ricardo Carvalho could be on his way from Real Madrid on loan. However a massive question mark hangs over the West London club as they look to avoid the drop by attracting big name players with lucrative pay packages but were QPR to be relegated to the Championship, the consequences would be massive and undoubtedly would affect the club for years to come.

QPR are following a five year plan which was set out by the new owner when he took over twelve months ago and last season’s narrow avoidance of the drop was the spark for a spring clean at Loftus Road with fringe players released and the addition of proven and experienced Premier League footballers who know what it takes to be successful in this league.

There have been radical changes at Loftus Road with the majority of the playing staff who won the club promotion back in May 2011 now no longer at the club with the R’s recruiting a whole host of thirty something year olds in an attempt to consolidate their position in the Premier League.

Can spending big money, most of it on over the top wages, guarantee Premier League safety? Well the answer was yes last season but only just. None of the so-called high profile players made an impact last year as the West London club were dragged into a relegation dog fight which they only came out of thanks to other results going their way on a dramatic final day.

When questioned about the club’s transfer policy, manager Mark Hughes has inevitably defended it and claimed the quality of players in the squad will make the gelling process straight forward. The former City boss also admitted that the experience possessed by his new signings will prove crucial as the Hoops aim to become an established top flight club.

There is no doubt that he has bought some very talented footballers but many of whom are on their last substantial pay package and contract. It’s key that his new set of players can become a unit and pick up early points unlike last campaign.  It is too early to be speaking of QPR as relegation candidates, but it appears that despite signing a whole host of players during the summer, three of whom – Fábio da Silva, Park Ji-sung and José Bosingwa – are Premier League winners, this remains a side lacking in top-level nous and craft which was woefully exposed by a new look Swansea side on Saturday. A recruitment policy of rounding up the tried and trusted – five of the summer arrivals have already played for Hughes and a further three have represented his former clubs – is supposed to bring a guarantee of performance.

In fairness the Rangers boss, the side he put out was always likely to lack cohesion given that it contained four new faces with a fifth, Andy Johnson, coming on as a late substitute. Bosingwa was unavailable for selection but is likely to feature against Norwich on Saturday when, with a week’s reflection and further preparation behind them, QPR should perform better.

The addition of Turner and potentially Carvalho to the backline will add further quality and strength but it’s all very well getting excited about the prospects of their side on paper but it’s what they do come 3pm on a Saturday which counts and it’s high time that their overpaid so-called “stars” live up to expectation and prove their worth because early-season thrashings can be a wake-up call or an indication of problems ahead.

“Dare to dream,” wrote chairman Tony Fernandes in his programme notes. “We can build on last season and really look forward to a bright future.” The players should use the prospect of exciting times ahead as an incentive to be part of something good rather than see it as a burden.

With Manchester City, Chelsea and Tottenham among their next four opponents, Rangers risk an extended stay in the relegation zone. Saturday’s trip to Norwich City, the other 5-0 losers on the opening weekend, already looks a pivotal game for the West London big spenders.

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