Opinion: What went wrong at QPR?

After being promoted to the Premier League at the end of the 2010/11 season, Queens Park Rangers have always been struggling in their battle to stay up in England’s top division.

After a promising start to the 2011/12 campaign, QPR seemed like they’d stay up comfortably. However, that wasn’t the case. What exactly went wrong at QPR?

QPR play their home games at Loftus Road Stadium. Photo: Tom Cuppens (via Flickr)

The Hoops seemed to hit the jackpot when they gained investment from Tony Fernandes – a Malaysian businessman and CEO of Air Asia. He instated himself as chairman in August 2011, and provided plenty of funds for the team to spend under then manager Neil Warnock.

They used this resource in abundance, spending over £20 million and signing 14 players over the two transfer windows in the 2011/12 campaign. However, these players weren’t unknown nobodies.

Names like ex-Liverpool striker Djibril Cisse, renowned hot head Joey Barton,= and England winger Shaun Wright-Phillips were all snapped up by the West London club. There was no question that this team had quality, but they were just not getting the results that would be expected from a squad of this calibre. So what was the problem?

Fernandes thought it was the manager. Since Fernandes took charge, Warnock was given less than 6 months to prove himself. He first became manager in March 2010 and, by January 2012, five months after Fernandes became chairman, Warnock was shown the door for poor results.

However, with 81 games in charge, Warnock lead the hoops to 33 wins, making a 40.74% overall success rate. Unfortunately, that wasn’t good enough for the hard-to-please Malaysian.

In the 20 games of the 2011/12 Premier League season when Warnock was in charge, QPR won just 4 games and drew 5, leaving them with 11 losses. That’s just a 20% success rate, which could be a reason for Warnock being forced out the door.

Up-stepped Mark Hughes to take over from Warnock. He took over when QPR were down in 17th place and already starting their scrap for survival. Hughes was given an 11 month spell at the club until his departure in November 2012.

However, in his time there, he managed to keep QPR in the Premier League, but it seems more from luck than good results. On the final day of the season, the Hoops lost 3-2 to Manchester City, but results from the teams around them meant that they stayed up and were in safety.

Hughes saw just how much trouble they were in and tried to act upon it accordingly by spending nearly £20m in the summer. These also were not unknown players, and featured stars such as Jose Bosingwa (former Chelsea right-back), Park Ji-Sung (Korean midfielder formerly of Manchester United) and long-standing Brazillian number one Julio Cesar. Surely these would have an impact on the quality of the squad?

Unfortunately not. Just before Hughes was sacked as manager, prior to their game against Manchester United, QPR had gained only four points from 12 matches, all of which came from draws. This left Hughes with a success rate of 0% for the 2012-13 season and, on November 23rd, Tony Fernandes called it time and sacked him as manager.

What else was it going to take? Two proven Premier League managers barely scraped through a season. Who else could they turn to? After England announced Roy Hodgson as the new manager, the bookies favourite Harry Redknapp was left with a lot of time on his hands after leaving Spurs in the summer, so Fernandes brought him in.

Redknapp’s first game in charge was a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United, so there was no surprise from anyone when they lost. However, in just five games in charge, Redknapp managed to do what Hughes couldn’t in 12, and earned a win against local rivals Fulham. Also in that spell, QPR managed to get three draws, taking their points tally under Redknapp to six from five games.

This looked promising for the Hoops but, unfortunately, it couldn’t sustain itself, with just six more points being won since, including a shock win away at Chelsea. This has left QPR rock bottom of the Premier league table, struggling with just 17 points.

Since the January transfer window, QPR have brought in French striker Loic Remy to add to their already seemingly impressive squad. It looks, however, that he has a lot of weight on his shoulders to help boost the team and get them in form.

Former Blackburn centre-half Chris Samba was also snapped up by the club on deadline day, with rumours saying he has broken the record for the highest earning player at the club. Not a tough feat considering he moved from the Russian league, where finances there are like Monopoly money to us.

The manager seems right. The quality of players is good. The financial capacity is there. So just what is causing the problem?

Personally, I think that the key to returning success to Loftus Road lies in consistency. Changing managers and players every season leaves no continuity and no structure to the club. I believe that Tony Fernandes needs to learn the art of patience more, and give his squad and the manager time to gel and form chemistry as a team.

In today’s society, we demand here and now, and it seems this is fuelled even more when you have a lot of money at your disposal and want success and glory right here, right now. However, given time, I think that QPR can return to their best, and bring some silverware back home.

2 Responses to Opinion: What went wrong at QPR?

  1. Chaz says:

    As a rangers fan, whilst I agree with you that buying a heap of new players is not/was not the answer, I strongly disagree about patience with managers and you labelling Tony Fernandes as impatient and hard to please. We brought in far too many players in the summer and could have done without Bosingwa and Park, who it seems was bought to improve us commercially in Asia. However Tony Fernandes was very very patient with Hughes and continually backed him for many many weeks before he was finally sacked. We look completely clueless under Hughes and looked like a team that would go the whole season without a win, 4 points from 13 games says it all, he was simply not producing the results, and the team was not playing for him. If we kept him, the team and manager would not have gelled we would just be in even more trouble than we are now, he was clueless, didn’t know how to manage and knew nothing about motivation. Whilst I agree that warnocks sacking was slightly more harsh, he too was on an awful run of form. The runs that warnock and hughes were on weren’t just small bad runs within a season, they were awful runs, and when those runs happen without a win in sight then the manager has to be changed, football is a results business. There are many many more surprising sackings in football, for example Nigel Adkins at Southampton. Tony Fernandes has done nothing but support his managers as best as he could, giving them money to spend, its just a shame when the manager is clueless as was the case with Mark Hughes. Tony listens to fans and is trying to build the club with a new training ground, improved youth academy and new stadium plans and is much much better than our previous owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone. If you think Tony sacks a lot of managers, just look at how many they sacked. Paulo Sousa, Jim Magilton, Paul Hart, to name just a few.

  2. Ben Gabor says:

    Whoa! I don’t think any of the managers, especially Hughes was clueless. The problem was player morale.

    This inevitably happens when you bring in a vast number of players. Current players who’d put their bodies on the line for the club feel they are going to be shown the door. The new players get a cold reception consequently and morale rot starts. The media doesn’t help with their constant speculation as to who is coming or going and their even wilder speculation as to how much each new signing is gonna earn – the figures get so inflated that its almost impossible for loyal players not to feel short-changed.

    That’s why experienced clubs like MU sign only a couple of new stars each time. Yet they are not immune from the occassional sulk from the established players whose star rating or position is threatened by the incoming player.

    Heck, come to think of it, with the amount QPR have spent, they could have afforded Van Persie!

    I think the answer for QPR if they survive the drop this season, is to bite the bullet once and for all – sell all their deadwood and sign one good striker (to partner Remy), a strong midfielder (to partner Tarrabt), a visionary center back to partner Samba and keep Julio Cesar. Not more not less and build from there with this core. Redknapp with his strong man-management skills should take QPR up to the top half the ladder and perhaps even higher, in a few short years.