With the capture of Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero this afternoon, Mark Hughes has taken his tally of summer signings into double figures. Yet, despite building a squad that boasts four Champions League winners, Hughes still has the difficult task of moulding a team that can stave off the threat of relegation.
On paper, the challenge which Hughes faces appears straight forward, coerce a group of highly talented individuals to perform together week in, week out. However in reality Hughes’ task is not that simple.
The addition of Granero, a versatile attacking midfielder, to the squad will give Hughes a few more options as he aims to rebuild his midfield. Granero, nicknamed The Pirate, is likely to be asked to fill the role between the midfield and Rangers’ forwards – a similar role in which Adel Taarabt excelled in the Championship but has failed to live up to in the Premier League.
Despite Hughes spending heavily on attacking options, it has been defensive frailties have hampered QPR’s early season progress. In the 5-0 drubbing at home to Swansea, the back four of Ferdinand, Hill, Fabio and Onuoha looked on different planets, never mind different wavelengths.
Against Norwich similar questions of Rangers’ backline were asked. Clint Hill in particular has looked out of his depth in the Premier League this season. The centre back was left battered and bruised after a gruelling first half up against Grant Holt at Carrow Road last week, and was substituted at half time.
The introduction of Nedum Onuoha at the interval last Saturday gave Rangers a little more security at the back. However with Hughes casting his eye over Michael Dawson and Ricardo Carvalho, it is unlikely that Onuoha will be given the opportunity to foster much more of a defensive partnership with Anton Ferdinand.
A player of Carvalho’s quality will make a difference to QPR’s defence, however it remains to be seen what impact the introduction of so many new players in such a short space of time will have on the harmony in the dressing room.
New players need time to gel and get used to playing together. A team of new players, especially with ones signed at the end of the transfer window will still be finding their feet by the end of September.
This weekend QPR return to the Etihad Stadium, where their defence capitulated in the last three minutes, handing Manchester City their first Premier League title.
Whilst Rangers’ collapse in May came safe in the knowledge that they had secured top flight football for another season, this time they will want to put up more of a fight if they are to prove that they have what it takes to remain a Premier League club, otherwise QPR and their new pirate maybe plundering the depths of the Football League.