After a summer which promised much, Queens Park Rangers’ season is quickly turning into a nightmare. Last night’s home defeat by London rivals West Ham ensured that the pressure mounted further on Mark Hughes, who is struggling to get the best out of his expensive and ageing squad.
Owner Tony Fernandes took to Twitter this morning to give Hughes the dreaded vote of confidence stating, “Keep calm. Six games does not make a season. I have learnt from many wise chairman.” But he must be concerned over QPR’s stuttering start, especially considering the money that has been spent.
Whilst he is right that the season is still young and that it is too early to reach for the panic button, QPR offered little last night to suggest that they have the capabilities to turn their faltering season around. It was a forgettable performance from the hosts, especially in the first half when they deservedly walked in two goals down against a vastly superior West Ham.
Despite an improvement after the break, and a goal from Adel Taarabt that halved the deficit, QPR were unable to muster an equaliser and remain marooned at the foot of the table and still winless. To top off a disastrous night, Samba Diakite was shown a red card, QPR’s tenth since their return to the Premier League last season.
The main problem Mark Hughes is facing is that, although he has assembled a squad full of experience and individual quality, his team are playing as just that, individuals. There is an unbalance throughout the squad, and you get the impression that some players have been signed based on their names and reputation, and less so on whether they can actually fit into the existing set up. In comparison, West Ham found the perfect balance between attack and defence last night and were worthy winners.
The first 11, and indeed those on the bench have vast experience, but it will be a major concern to Hughes that the squad is still not gelling as we now enter October. Questions over their commitment to the cause will no doubt grow louder as the poor streak of form continues. Another main focus point for improvement is at the back. QPR looked so exposed every time West Ham came forward last night, and that is something that needs rectifying if they are to have any hope of avoiding the drop once more.
After narrowly avoiding relegation on the final day of last season, it was widely expected that QPR would push on, but the opposite is happening, and with the vast resources that have been pumped into the playing squad, there is inevitably going to be pressure on Hughes to deliver the results sooner rather than later. The worry for QPR is that should they be relegated in May, another major squad overhaul would be required, and the players currently on the books have little selling on value due to their ageing years. From a financial point of view, this would be a disaster for QPR, so the clubs transfer policy needs to scrutinised, and they need to realise that spending big on players who are at the twilight of their careers isn’t the right formula for successful Premier League sustainability.
Hughes remains positive that he will be given the time to turn the clubs fortune around, saying, “We have had a big investment, and are looking to improve this year and we will. I’m calm and want to build stability which is what most fans want. There are many out there who are clueless.” But that elusive first win needs to come quickly, otherwise QPR could find themselves cut adrift and in major trouble.