What an exciting time it is to be a Queens Park Rangers fan with FIVE quality signings made in the past 5 days. Despite our Championshipleague title win last season, it’s been a time of alienation for Rangers fans over the summer with Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone raising ticket prices and giving Neil Warnock a shoe string of a budget to improve the squad for the Premier League challenge.
Despite the 4-0 drubbing by Bolton Wanderers on the opening day of the season, the takeover by Tony Fernandes has turned fortunes around putting smiles back on the faces of Rangers fans. Warnock was too smiling as he was given the green light by Fernandes to start bolstering the squad but I don’t think he or any R’s fans would’ve predicted the quality that would arrive at Loftus Road.
We may have been the best team in the Championship last season, but that was down to a tremendous team spirit and game plan which saw a very rigid defence mixed with the free role of the mercurial Adel Taarabt. However, in the Premier League the game plan needs to be changed and the squad has to rise to a higher level. We needed players with Premier League experience.
That is exactly what we have got. The signing of Joey Barton on a free transfer has to be one of the bargains of the Summer Transfer Window. Despite the controversy, Barton is an excellent Premier League midfielder and like Warnock said himself, I am surprised one of the ‘bigger’ clubs in the league did not come in for him.
Barton is exactly what we need this season, a player in the middle of the park who can lead by example, an excellent passer of the ball who also has that added aggression that can intimidate and disrupt the opposition. Whilst he may have his critics and his haters, I think Barton is entering the prime of his career and I can’t wait to see him make his debut in 10 days time against Newcastle United! (Live on SKY Sports, Monday 19th September).
My main concern about the squad this season is the defence. In the last campaign we were able to record an impressive record of clean sheets with goalkeeper Paddy Kenny being an integral part of that. However, the back four lacked Premier League experience as well as pace so the trio of defenders signed surpassed my transfer window expectations.
Whilst Luke Young is another player who failed to build on his impressive displays for Charlton Athletic which earned him several England caps, his experience will be vital for Rangers at right-back whilst the left-back area has been filled with the signing of Armand Traore.
My Arsenal supporting mates were thankful to see the back of him, he has his critics even more so since featuring in the Arsenal side that went down 8-2 at Old Trafford last weekend. However, Traore is still only 21 years old and has only made 30 odd appearances for Arsenal’s first team.
So I welcome him with open arms to a team that only had make shift left-backs in Clint Hill and Matt Connolly, Traore is bound to be a first team regular and hopefully he can use that to become a decent Premier League defender and prove critics wrong.
Finally, Shaun Wright-Phillips, another player with many doubters and critics but also a few fans and in particular Neil Warnock, who told TalkSport last night that SWP is the type of player he would pay to watch.
This is probably the best signing of the lot in my opinion for a player with 30-odd England caps and Champions League experience under his time at Chelsea. He may be at the age of 29, but SWP finally has a club and platform where he can play week-in and week-out, hopefully he can flourish.
Rumours of Craig Bellamy and Peter Crouch were rife and either player would’ve been the cherry on top to what might be a season of consolidation rather than relegation dog-fight. I know there are no guarantees in football, I do hold much more optimism and excitement that Q.P.R. will survive in the Premier League this season.
Once consolidation is achieved, who knows what ambitions Tony Fernandes holds for the club. There is a possibility of further investment but Neil Warnock his new look squad have a tough task on their hands first. Hopefully the team can gel as quickly as possible and we can start to get some points on the board.
Matt_G-Freebody writes regularly for FootballFanCast.com