Beat around the Bush
RANGERS have hit the top once more – but is the standard of the league as much an explanation for their revival as the managerial set-up?
It seems that every time I write a piece regarding QPR there is a struggle to pick out criticism for what is the club’s greatest ever start to a season.
In recent years QPR would have faced that stellar side by this point, a side that stands out from the pack and shows themselves as the genuine contenders for the title.
Sunderland, Newcastle, Reading and West Bromwich Albion are just a few names that have cantered to promotion with a flock of talented players, meeting their relative expectations.
This season, however, the sides have proven mediocre at best, and leaving the ground thinking ‘last season, we’d have lost that’ says as much about the standard of the league as it does about QPR.
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There can be little question that there has been an improvement in the standard at Loftus Road both in terms of efficiency and application – the defence in particular has been highly impressive.
At times they make mistakes – no defence is infallible – but the quality in front of goal in the Championship has been lacking, and only Jay Bothroyd at Cardiff has truly hit that consistency
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Jamie Mackie and Adel Taarabt have had flourishes in the goalscoring chart, but what has become clear in recent games is that the consistency is somewhat lacking.
Goalless draws against Millwall and Norwich City highlighted a slight dip in form, but what has become more apparent this season is that lack of Premier League talent to really punish QPR.
Some have stated that the lack of quality adds a competitive edge to the division and that is certainly borne out this season, but can QPR step up to the level of a Sunderland or Newcastle?
My assertion would be that we are not near that standard – yet Neil Warnock is the first to admit that Rangers have improving to do and I, along with many other QPR supporters, tend to agree.
The squad depth is evidently lacking in some areas, but a positive to take from the recent punishing run is that those fringe players have really come to the fore.
Even Leon Clarke slotted nicely into the line-up and, despite not having the impact of a Tommy Smith or even a Lee Cook, he was a body that was able to fulfil his role for the team.
While the standard of the Championship isn’t at its peak by any means, that competitive edge will remain. Being in pole position is certainly the place to be from a QPR perspective.