Following a 6-0 thumping at Manchester City on Sunday, Queens Park Rangers’ relegation was rubber stamped. Sitting bottom of the league, Chris Ramsey’s men now have only pride to play for in their final two outings – and they only have themselves to blame, argues John Howell.
It’s an unwelcome case of déjà vu for the West London club, with this year’s campaign mirroring that of their previous top-flight relegation in 2013. Following a last-gasp survival act on the final day of the 2011-12 season, manager Mark Hughes stated that his side would learn from the harsh lessons of their debut season and be better equipped to tackle the Premier League’s demands in the coming year.
Finishing bottom of the league in May 2013, it seems that the warning signs were not heeded. Yet out of the mire came new boss Harry Redknapp, who stuck by his side and against many pundits’ predictions, lead them back into the top flight once more via the play-offs the following season.
Given the circumstance, even I predicted that the hardships endured by Rangers would help make them a better outfit for their next shot at Premier League football. Unfortunately, some things never change. Another ride on the managerial merry-go-round and another big influx of stars from home and abroad, was predictably followed by another instant return to Championship football.
The club’s fortunes have been examined in various post-mortems but it was former QPR midfielder Jermain Jenas who best summed up the situation after Sunday’s clash. He told the BBC: “During my time at QPR, it was not being run as a Premier League club. For too long, the thinking was just to chuck money at the team. There has been no organisation, no vision, and no discipline in the way things were done.”
Poor management aside, it is the players that are on the pitch and ultimately have the strongest influence on the result. Whilst the likes of 17-goal hitman Charlie Austin and loyal captain Clint Hill have performed to the best of their abilities, others have not shown the club or the badge the respect it deserves.
Adel Taarabt, Armand Traore, Mauro Zarate, Mauricio Isla and Eduardo Vargas were all named as “bad eggs” by boss Chris Ramsey this week and all will be enjoying a swift exit this summer if he is told he is to remain in charge next week. Adding insult to injury, winger Matt Phillips posed on Twitter in front of his brand new £100,000 Porsche just three days before his side suffered relegation. Bad timing doesn’t even cover it. In typical QPR fashion, dirty laundry has been aired and has served to help no one.
Whatever the reasons behind the relegation may be, it must be eradicated or else it will doom QPR and their loyal fans to Groundhog Day. A complete overhaul of both management – Ramsey aside – and playing staff must be undertaken. The wage bill must be addressed and a stricter transfer budget enforced.
The Championship has a reputation as one of the hardest leagues to escape from, and given the wealth of talent-laden teams that fail to gain promotion each year, perhaps it will finally be the long road back that is taken by QPR. Given that the R’s are bound to lose Austin to a top-flight team this summer, the task to bounce back becomes even harder.
Whilst the players have the option of going elsewhere, that is not an option for Rangers fans who will be left to rebuild what little faith they have left in the club and its long-term visions. It’s time that the club gives them something to cheer about for more than one season.
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