QPR must stay loyal to Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as rebuilding process continues
PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:29 01 July 2016
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Here the Times discusses what the Rs need to do this season to improve on last year's 12th-place finish.
QPR returned to Harlington for their first week of full pre-season training since their summer break, as they prepare for yet another gruelling season in England’s second tier.
The Rs have already made two additions in the transfer market with Legia Warsaw midfielder Ariel Borysiuk and Huddersfield defender Joel Lynch joining for a combined fee of close to £2million.
Director of football Les Ferdinand and manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink have already been busy this summer, as the Rs look to bolster their squad significantly, with the aim of pushing for the play-offs come next May. But this will not be an easy job by any stretch of the imagination.
IMPROVE THE SQUAD
The table didn’t lie at the end of the 2015-16 Championship season, with QPR finishing firmly wedged in mid-table – an accurate, and maybe a tad fortuitous, assessment from a very disappointing campaign on the whole.
There were rare shining lights, with the performances of Alex Smithies, Grant Hall and Tjaronn Chery the only things to really shout about.
With that in mind it is safe to say Hasselbaink will want to make some big improvements to his squad if they are to challenge at the business end of the table this season.
While they have strength in depth in goal with Smithies and Matt Ingram, they remain light on numbers in defence.
They must be careful with Jack Robinson, who not too long ago came back from a serious knee injury, so signing another left-back would be wise.
The Rs are edging closer to completing the signing of Brentford skipper Jake Bidwell, after the 23-year-old made it clear he would not be signing a new contract at Griffin Park.
You also don’t get the best out of James Perch or Nedum Onuoha at right-back, so signing someone in this position would also be sensible.
With Matty Phillips likely to leave the club this summer, the Rs will also need to sign another winger, and possibly another central midfielder.
Signing another striker is an absolute necessity, with Sebastian Polter, Conor Washington and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas the only recognised strikers on the club’s books at the moment, with Jamie Mackie more of an utility man.
Without a 20-goal striker, something Washington could well turn out to be, the Rs will have to settle for another season of mid-table obscurity.
OFFLOAD HIGH EARNERS
The Rs must cut costs again this summer if they are to make a serious challenge for promotion.
Rangers CEO Lee Hoos has admitted that Hasselbaink has a set budget, with any further funds for transfers needing to be raised by offloading the club’s highest earners.
The manager’s fellow Dutchman Leroy Fer is closing in on a move to Swansea, in a deal which could be worth up to £4.75m to the Rs.
Elsewhere, the Rs are still looking to offload the likes of Sandro and Emmanuel-Thomas, with the former recently failing a medical at Sporting Lisbon.
The Rs are also prepared to take a cut on Steven Caulker, despite Hasselbaink expressing a desire to keep the 24-year-old. Crystal Palace and West Brom are among the clubs who have expressed an interest in the former Tottenham defender, who cost the club £8m only two years ago.
KEEP THE FAITH IN JIMMY
Hasselbaink came into a tough job last December and was firmly placed between a rock and a hard place.
Many at the time wanted Neil Warnock to remain at the helm until at least the end of the season, after he led the Rs to two wins in four games during his interim spell in charge following Chris Ramsey’s dismissal.
The Rs opted for a young, ambitious manager, though, with Hasselbaink fitting the bill after steering Burton Albion to the summit of England’s third tier, following up from their League Two title triumph the previous season.
The 44-year-old has found life tough in W12 so far, but his no- nonsense and articulate nature means he has as good a chance as anyone of bringing success to the Loftus Road outfit.
One would fear a bad start to the season, or a similar run of form that sealed Ramsey’s fate in early November, could mean curtains for Hasselbaink, however supporters must accept that promotion is in no way a guaranteed banker this season.
They should improve on last year’s finish, but if they want to secure a play-off spot they’ll need to cut costs further and strengthen the squad in the process. Supporters must back Hasselbaink and co – especially the former who is a very capable and talented young manager.