Q.P.R. were one of the most exciting teams this summer in the transfer window, linked with almost every player out there and in the end, were the most active team in the Premier League, strengthening their squad with multiple players from big clubs - with marquee signings like Esteban Granero from Real Madrid and Stephane M'Bia from Marseille - lots was expected from them, but little was delivered. Without a win in their opening twelve games, the pressure is mounting on boss Mark Hughes, and it seems Tony Fernandes may be supporting him in public, but, after a summer of heavy investment he may expect more, meaning Mark Hughes could ‘win’ the Premier League sack race, which leaves Q.P.R.s 'project' back at square one. So, what next? Where do they turn from here, if they want to live up to the long-term vision of owner, Tony Fernandes?
Many looked at Q.P.R. with huge amounts of optimism, saying they could be an outsider for a European spot, with an extremely strong side on paper.
They possibly have one of the most talented midifelds in the league, with the pace and skill of Junior Hoilett, flair of Adel Taarabt, quality of Esteban Granero and work-rate of Park Ji-Sung - it really takes some beating - but it's not enough, their squad is extremely unbalanced. If you look at most of the best teams in Europe, they're extremely balanced and work well as a unit, whereas Q.P.R. are basically a make-shift side of the best players they could throw together over a short space of time, think of Dortmund. They're an extremely strong unit and a very balanced squad, not one player or area of the Dortmund team is head and shoulders above another, it's a recipe for success. I think the main weakpoint for this Q.P.R. team is upfront.
Their defence isn't amazing, but it's definitely good enough for a top half finish. Julio Cesar, despite making a mistake or two this season is an international experienced 'keeper, and a real coup for Q.P.R., then with two of M'Bia, Ryan Nelsen and Anton Ferdinand infront of him - it's not enough to send shivers down attackers spines in fairness - but it is a relatively solid defence, with Armand Traore and Jose Bosingwa each side, who are both capable in attack and defence. However, what about up front? They only have Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse. They're both good players, but not prolific goal-scorers, and I think they need this, a club in their position needs a striker or two they can rely on to be clinical, incase they're back against the wall a game and only get a chance or two.A team you could compare them to is West Brom, as on paper they're about the same, but one outperformed the other last season, and has started this season even better. West Brom are all about being an organized unit, with a bit of flair here and there, whilst having two good goalscorers in Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long, which has seen them propel to fourth place, taking an incredible twenty-three points from twelve games. The main difference between the two is the fact that West Brom is a solid unit, with all-round players who have been methodically bought, rather than Q.P.R. who seemed to have just bought the best players available, and West Brom have a mix of experience, and younger players who want to prove themselves on a bigger stage.
The problem Q.P.R. have when buying unwanted players from big clubs, particularly aging ones, is that they've already proven themselves, so they might not be as committed to the cause, because they don't need to prove anything to anyone, they could be happy just going through the motions and getting their money at the end of the month.
So, who do Q.P.R. turn to now, to re-ignite and kick-start this project?
The favorites have been Harry Redknapp and Alan Curbishley - however, I'm not sure about this. I think it's the same situation as the players, especially the former. They've been there, if they get relegated, not a lot will probably be said. I'd prefer them to take a gamble, a young manager who shares the same vision as Tony Fernandes, and preferably an advocate for good football, to get the most out of the technically gifted players they have, whilst having the chance to make one or two additions of their own in January. However, it's a tough choice, especially as other clubs won't want to lose their managers part way through a season.
Rafa Benitez is a good shout for an outsider; however, would he want to join a relegation threatened club? Yes, it could be a good long-term project, but a manager who has won La Liga and the Champions League may be looking for a club in a bit of a better situation. Although I can't see it happening, I would quite like to see Roberto Martinez there. He won't, as he apparently turned down Liverpool in the summer, but with limited resources he's built a good footballing side at Wigan, so would be a good figurehead for the Q.P.R. project.
Or, maybe they should give someone from the Championship a chance? The first person that springs to mind personally is Gus Poyet. He's done a great job at Brighton, and maybe he's ready for a step-up, and again could be a good young mind to lead for Q.P.R.s long term vision.
These are just a couple of examples, my knowledge of managers, particularly young-ones, is extremely limited, but I think you know what kind of mould I mean.I don't see why you would have a long-term project, without having a manager who wants to be there for the long-term, with a vision in mind, rather than a short-term fix, which will leave you with the same problems as now in about two years.
So, what is next for Q.P.R.? I do think Q.P.R. should sack Mark Hughes, and go for a new approach before it’s too late and Tony Fernandes will definitely give his backing, both financially and personally, however, the new manager won't want to go through wholesale changes in January, as they've had enough chopping and changing in the last eighteen months, they need some stability and one or two quality players. It is a tough decision for Q.P.R., and they should be interesting to see how events unfold - again after their eventful summer - and this has made the 'project' even more interesting.