QPR Season Preview 2015/16: An important rebuilding campaign ahead for Rangers
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Football is back… thank goodness for that! QPR begin their Championship campaign at Charlton on Saturday... but how will the Rs fare this season?
QPR’s second relegation in three years ensured a swift return to the Championship, with Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey now overseeing a rebuild of the club.
To date the R’s have made 10 summer signings, and below I take you through them all and what they will bring to the team.
Massimo Luongo - A creative player with excellent technique, the former Tottenham youngster is a quality ball-playing midfielder who has a good scoring record at both club and international level.
Ben Gladwin - Just two years ago the versatile midfielder was playing for Marlow in non-league, capping off an impressive season in League One last term by joining the Championship side this summer. He can play on the left wing (which he has done on occasions in pre-season), as well as through the middle.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas - The former Arsenal youngster has bags of ability, with a silky touch that belies his bulky frame. Can play in a number of positions across the front line, as well as a No 10.
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Jamie Mackie - A huge fans favourite due to his incredible work rate and passion for the club. Enjoyed good success in his first spell for Rangers, scoring some key goals along the way. Not a 20-goal a year man, but will get you into double figures. Can play out wide, but is more suited to playing upfront.
Sebastian Polter - Signed to fill the void of Bobby Zamora, the German forward relishes the physical side of the game and is also an effective target man. Could prove to be a surprise package for QPR this season.
Tjaronn Chery - Rangers beat off competition from Aston Villa to land the Dutch playmaker. A potential match-winner whose pace and skill, as well as set-piece specialty, has already shone through in pre-season. Best position is as a No 10.
James Perch - Versatile player who can play in a host of positions across the backline and also in midfield. Plenty of experience at Championship level having impressed during spells with Wigan and Newcastle. An excellent addition to the QPR team.
Paul Konchesky - What you see is what you get with Konchesky. The 34-year-old has plenty of experience at the highest level and is a decent short-term signing.
Oscar Gobern - The former Huddersfield midfielder impressed in pre-season during a trial period, subsequently earning himself a one-year deal. Will be primarily used as a back-up player. Has some good attributes and with the right guidance could be a success for Rangers.
Grant Hall - The former Tottenham defender has Championship experience having played for both Blackpool and Birmingham in separate spells. A tidy defender whose career has hit the rocks over the last couple of years, but Ramsey sees potential in him.
For the first time in what seems an eternity I’m starting to feel quite positive about QPR’s future.
That might seem strange to some following the club’s relegation from the Premier League last season, compounded with on-going financial issues, but I genuinely think the club are beginning to turn the corner.
Long gone are the days when players sign for Rangers for their last pay day, with a philosophy now beginning to be set in stone at the club to nurture younger talent with the aim of bringing them through to the first team, while making affordable and sensible additions in the transfer market.
The signings of Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo - stand-out players in League One for Swindon last term - typify that and both have been well received by QPR fans.
Acquiring former Arsenal youngster Jay Emmanuel-Thomas on a free transfer was another bit of shrewd business, while re-signing Jamie Mackie – a player that never should have left in the first place – was a no brainer. Having people like him who can resonate with the fans and knows what it means to play for a club like QPR can only be a good thing.
James Perch was another very good addition to the squad, with Sebastian Polter, Tjaronn Chery, Paul Konchesky, Oscar Gobern and Grant Hall also signing on at W12.
At QPR now you have two people in Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey who genuinely care and will do their utmost to get this club back to where it belongs, sooner rather than later.
A lot of question marks were raised when Ramsey was handed the reins at Loftus Road this summer, but for me it was a sensible decision, which had the club’s long-term future in mind.
Some say he’s only got the job because of Ferdinand and so forth, but I’m sure that’s something he finds quite insulting when he hears it, and to add to that his CV is hardly one that lacks experience.
Ramsey spent 10 years at Tottenham establishing himself as a first-team coach, and has also had various spells working with a number of England’s youth groups.
The relationship the pair have is of course a huge plus, but ultimately football is a financial institution and big businesses like QPR will not put themselves in jeopardy to appoint someone who they think isn’t going to produce the goods.
Especially with the club in their position they are in, now. This upcoming season, for me, is one of the biggest in their recent history. It’s do or die.
We’ve seen bigger clubs than QPR - Wolves and Southampton being notable examples - drop all the way from the Premier League to the third tier of English football, and yes both are now well on the up, but for some like Coventry it doesn’t always pan out that way.
So the fans must get behind Ramsey fully as the club look to consolidate in the Championship. Rangers’ track record with appointing big-name managers has been overwhelmingly poor on the whole, so now’s the time for a lesser name to be given a fair crack of the whip.
What some people fail to remember is that Ramsey was handed a sinking ship when Harry Redknapp resigned back in February – I personally couldn’t see Rangers staying up even with the latter at the helm.
You’ve then got to deal with certain individuals feigning injury and/or refusing to be selected, which is quite frankly in any walk of life a recipe for disaster.
Ramsey has got a clean slate now as he operates in a head coach role at Rangers, with his main responsibility coming from the training ground.
His primary roles will be looking at getting the team to play better and more attractive football, while attempting to get positive results on the pitch at the same time. He’ll also be working closely with players on the training ground to improve their individual game.
Ferdinand oversees footballing matters off the field, playing an integral role in finalising transfers in particular, but he has also assisted with matters on it, most recently doing some one-tone-training with the club’s strikers on the recent tour of Italy.
QPR fans certainly won’t have to worry about their side going on the defensive this season. The football on offer at Rangers over the last few years has been hardly eye-catching to say the least, but Ramsey’s philosophy is very much focused on free-flowing attacking football with the aim of entertaining the crowd.
He insists on his players, particularly from the academy, to add fluency to their game so they can adapt to play in a host of different positions on the field.
One of the younger players I really feel can make a big impression this season is Michael Doughty.
He’s been around for a well now, but after impressing on loan spells in the lower leagues, he seems to have added a real sense of maturity and assurance to his game.
The 22-year-old, who has been at the club for eight years, was handed his Premier League debut as a substitute late on in the 2-0 win at Sunderland in February, before going on to make two further appearances before the end of the season.
I thought Doughty done particularly well in his 20-minute cameo against Aston Villa, imposing himself on the game at every given opportunity and showing what a useful ball-playing midfielder he is.
He himself has gone on record saying he wants to make at least 30 appearances for the R’s this season, which will be tough owing to the competition the R’s have in midfield, but he’s got more than enough about him to feature regularly and be a success at this level.
Cole Kpekawa and Reece Grego-Cox are two of the academy prospects who could well play a part for the R’s this season, too.
So things are certainly looking up for Rangers, but they do need to ensure they get their other targets in as soon as possible in order to embed them into the group ahead of a gruelling season in the Championship.
I’d expect the club to be bringing in at least another five players before the end of the window, but there could well be more than that.
I think Rangers need a couple of defenders at least, and they’ll need an out-and-out goalscorer to replace Charlie Austin - who is all but certain to leave the club by the end of the transfer window.
A No 2 goalkeeper is also a priority, with the club expected to put in a third and final offer for the highly-rated Southend stopper Dan Bentley.
With all this in mind I’d expect Rangers to be pushing for at least a top-half finish, which would be a good return all things considered.
Consolidation is the main aim for the club this season - both Ramsey and Ferdinand know that – fans must realise there will be no quick fix like the last time the club were in the Championship.
There’s a long road ahead, but at least there are people in charge now who have the club’s best interests at heart.