Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was on a hiding to nothing at QPR - but he’ll be back
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
“It is what it is” - a phrase Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink regularly used during his time at QPR and effectively sums up the ongoing situation at Loftus Road. Yet again the club have done a lot of talking, but not a lot to back it up.
Granted, it hadn’t been great this season under Hasselbaink, but the club have been in far worse situations than they are now.
The focus at the start of the season was very much on stability in what was expected to be a season of transition. What has changed now?
Recently Les Ferdinand, the club’s director of football, said: “We are in a society where everybody wants everything overnight. Sometimes that doesn’t happen.”
And who could forget Tony Fernandes’ unwavering message of support to the Dutchman on social media after the 2-1 win at Fulham last month?
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“Loyalty is a strange word in football but we are family and we are QPR and we stand by our family,” he wrote.
That was of course referring to allegations of corruption directed at Hasselbaink by a national newspaper - and it must be said the club stood by their man every step of the way during that episode.
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But what exactly was the point of that support now that a couple of poor performances and results that have followed – combined with the disgruntlement of the supporters - have resulted in Hasselbaink being axed?
On paper the Dutchman’s record doesn’t read well, with a win ratio of just 28 per cent from his 11-month spell in charge, but it is a crying shame that it didn’t work out for him. No-one can doubt the Dutchman’s work ethic and commitment - he gave absolutely everything to be a success at QPR.
At the time it always looked a huge gamble going from a stable and settled club in Burton Albion, who were on course for promotion (and of course did go up) to a chaotic and unstable organisation like QPR - and so it has proved.
Yet for Hasselbaink taking the QPR job was a no-brainer. He had admired Rangers from afar for a number of the years and the opportunity to be closer to his family also played a big part in his thinking.
At Burton he had been embarking on five-hour round trips to St George’s Park every day from his Cobham home, while his commute to and from Harlington took just over an hour. With two young daughters, it was an important factor.
That said, Hasselbaink could easily have turned down the QPR job, and should have, having been fully aware of the recurring theme of short-termism at the club - but he didn’t.
He didn’t help himself with his tactics this season, though. Deploying Conor Washington in a wide position, and rarely starting with two up front, riled many QPR fans, who felt the football his side served up was unattractive and generally negative.
But he had quite a few injuries to contend with too. The club’s star signing Yeni Ngbakoto was expected to play a key part in his plans, but the tragic death of his father, as well as a niggling injury, meant he has hardly featured for the Rs.
One of the biggest mistakes of Hasselbaink’s reign was letting go of Clint Hill. Having someone of his ilk and experience is invaluable around the club, and the decision to let both Hill and Alejandro Faurlin go lost him support from many supporters before this season had even started.
The club also passed up the opportunity of signing Adam Le Fondre, who at this level is a very useful asset. With that said, there was the sense Hasselbaink didn’t get as much control as he initially thought he would, and certain players he wanted to sign never arrived.
The fact he couldn’t get a deal for someone like John Bostock over the line – a player who was very keen to join the Rs - spoke volumes and alarm bells started ringing even then.
Signing Bostock was an absolute no-brainer, and he would have offered the side something completely different to what they have now. He would walk into QPR’s team with his eyes closed and, unsurprisingly, he has been a revelation since joining Lens.
While Ferdinand clearly has the club’s best interests at heart, there probably aren’t many clubs where he would get the role he has landed at QPR.
He has undoubtedly done a lot of good things to date, and he takes a lot of unwarranted stick for a club legend – he should be shown more respect.
But it feels like he might have too much control, and the model of having a director of football and a manager is not always a recipe for success in this country.
During Hasselbaink’s reign there were signings which were obviously primarily his - such as Joel Lynch - but there were many that had Ferdinand’s fingerprints all over them.
It was evident Hasselbaink was becoming increasingly frustrated towards the end of his tenure, stating on a few occasions before he was axed that the club had signed a number of foreign players and they needed time to settle in - perhaps sensing he was edging closer to the exit door.
Credit must be given to the 44-year-old for giving the likes of Olamide Shodipo and Niko Hamalainen a chance in the first team - fans have campaigned for a manager to give youth a chance and Hasselbaink did that, with Shodipo providing a rare bright spark in a poor start to the season.
Hasselbaink will be back – you won’t keep a man like him down for long, and no doubt he will prove his doubters wrong. But where will QPR be in a year’s time? When will this short-sighted strategy at Loftus Road end?