Ephraim: QPR can’t just rely on Taarabt

Hogan Ephraim believes QPR must become ‘unpredictable’ if they are to survive in the Premier League next season – but insists the Rs are not over-reliant on Adel Taarabt.

Taarabt’s 19 goals and 16 assists last season earned him the Football League Player of the Year and has made the Moroccan the subject of one of the summer’s big transfer sagas, with his on-off move to Paris St Germain finally blocked by QPR owners Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore on Saturday.

Taarabt now seems likely to be present when Rangers kick off their campaign against Bolton on August 13. But midfielder Ephraim, who has been in impressive form himself during the Rs pre-season matches, insists that whether Taarabt is in the line-up or not, the Hoops will carry a threat next season.

“Adel’s a very good player, everyone knows that, but by no stretch of the imagination are we a one-man team,” said Ephraim, who scored four times in QPR’s 13-0 demolition of Tavistock last week. “We’ll be a good team regardless of who’s playing, we proved that last season.

“I think we’ve got to find ways of changing our game, we can’t be predictable every game. We need to be unpredictable, but I think we’re going to surprise a few teams.

“Newly-promoted teams normally come out of the blocks flying, and we hope to emulate that, but we hope to sustain it as well until the end of the season. We’ve got to get a good start in the opening few games and then build on that.”

QPR have been handed a kind start to their first season in the top flight for 15 years, with the home match against Bolton followed by trips to Everton and Wigan, before they entertain Newcastle.

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But they face a series of much harder matches in the run-up to Christmas, with journeys to Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal, as well as home clashes with Manchester City and champions Manchester United.

Those games could well define Rangers’ season, and Ephraim believes it is crucial that his side avoid the kind of mid-season slump which affects so many newly-promoted sides.

“I think maybe your adrenalin goes. First half of the season you’re on top of the world, especially if you’ve never been there before, but other teams start to gain respect for you with the results you get, and they find a way of playing against you, and when the better teams find a way of playing against you it’s very hard,” added Ephraim.

“When you go into the Premier League every game’s hard, I don’t think there’s any game you can pin-point and say ‘that’s a definite win’, you even see that with the top five struggling against the so-called lesser teams so it’s going to be a tough start.

“But we’ve got a home game, the fans are going to be buzzing, first home game in 15 years in the Premier League, so it’ll be a great atmosphere.”

Follow Ian Cooper on Twitter @QPRTimes