Thursday, 9 June 2011

After promotion comes reality - Survival seems a million miles away for the half-finished project that is QPR

The past few weeks have very much been a hangover for Queens Park Rangers, with fans quickly forgetting the club’s first promotion since 2004 in the face of astronomical season and match ticket price rises. Despite being arguably the least equipped of all the promoted sides joining the Premier League next season – as stated, this is very much open to debate – the board at Loftus Road have seen fit to institute charges of more than £750 to keep a cramped, uncomfortable, plastic seat warm in W12 for a year in which the R’s will probably be relegated without a whimper. Those who see this as fair are almost certainly in a minority, given all the suffering the truly loyal Rangers supporters have had inflicted upon them in the past decade and a half.

There haven’t even been wallet-bursting transfers to lift the malaise over Shepherds Bush, yet this hasn’t stopped the typical lazy media coverage – Craig Mackail-Smith for instance had better decide where he is going before he is actually linked to every Premier League club in the bottom half of the table – which has naturally resulted in no concrete information whatsoever. The rumours have been enjoyable, however, particularly those prophesising the imminent arrival of Premier League stalwarts Robbie Keane and Jermaine Jenas, who may look average in their respective Tottenham Hotspur shirts, but would surely be a cut above Rangers currently paltry array of talent.

Assuming the more volatile and less football-savvy members of the Loftus Road board can see past their own noses, Neil Warnock should at least be staying with QPR, that is, until the first mini-blip provides Ecclestone and Briatore with a chance to use their recently rested trigger fingers. Indeed, his continuation in the W12 hot-seat could be, at least for a few weeks, the best signing the R’s make. To sack the sometimes hot-headed Yorkshireman now would be, quite honestly, nothing short of madness and likely followed by the footballing equivalent of a nuclear winter; that is, where self-belief and a tremendous team spirit evaporates amidst board interference, a succession of lacklustre replacements, and a club ruled by Formula One dictators more suited to race-fixing and pointing international motor-racing unflinchingly in the direction of money, at the cost of the sport’s integrity.

As for the fixtures, most Rangers fans will rightly be salivating at the prospect of an opening day trip to Anfield, Old Trafford or St. James Park, cathedrals of modern football where QPR were once regular visitors. Here’s hoping that by the time they are announced, R’s supporters will have more of an idea as to their side’s probable chances against England’s footballing elite. Safe to say that whatever slightly weaker areas identified last year have become even more pressing concerns, and unless some sort of transfer movement takes place soon, there will be a few concerned as to the direction the board wishes to take the club, after an already turbulent post-title-winning month.

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