When sides get relegated from the English Premier League, it usually is considered a backward step. The goal is to consolidate, regroup and then maybe in the second or third season, attempt to push yourself back into the Premier League. The financial hit that a team takes is significant but recently with the parachute payments given to such clubs, the strain on the bottom line is not as harsh. It also helps if you have a savvy manager and doesn’t hurt if he is backed by a billionaire owner and that is exactly what Queens Park Rangers have.
For the two seasons in the Premier League, the club, first under Neil Warnock and then Mark Hughes, invested heavily in big name, big money playing staff in the hopes the hoops would stay in with the elite. I thought initially that after a season we would soon see them head north in the league and maybe even be in contention for a European place within a year or two. The reality was that they struggled, spent too much on individual talent who didn’t really have their heart on playing for QPR.
When the side was relegated last season, the new manager Harry Redknapp looked to get the high earners off the books and bring in some players who, as he likes to say, ‘like hard graft’. Adel Taarabt is currently struggling at Fulham on loan and Loic Remy finds himself in decent form at Newcastle. Others have gone abroad with the ex Manchester United player Park Ji-Sung in Holland and Stephane Mbia at Sevilla. In has come the ex Manchester City captain Richard Dunne and the American Oguchi Onyewu and the result has been a more unified team, with some fight. For example, a relatively unknown 24-year-old Englishman is top scorer for QPR this season when the internationally experienced Remy or Taarabt couldn’t muster a similar amount between them.
Three games from the halfway point of the season and Harry Redknapps’ side find themselves two points clear at the top of the table and looking good. Things are looking good for QPR fans for the future and the 1967 League Cup winners may have a bright future ahead with the recent announcement of plans for a new 40,000-seat stadium. The stadium will be part of the regeneration project in the Old Oak area of London and more importantly only two and a half hours away from their current location at Loftus Road, which has been their home since 1917.
With a capacity of only 18,000, it is a much-needed move for the London club. If they want to be a regular Premiership side and with the ambition, drive and finances of Tony Fernandes and Harry Redknapp who would bet against my European prediction coming to fruition sooner rather than later.