The words “Queens Park Rangers” and “sacked” have become such staples in the English football lexicon that Steve McClaren’s departure surprised no one on April Fool’s Day, Florence Lloyd-Hughes writes.
McClaren, who had been in the job for less than 11 months, was relieved of his duties after just one win in 15 league games. The Englishman had overseen a spectacular capitulation in 2019, even by QPR and McClaren’s standards.
Flashback to Boxing Day, Rangers were at the dizzy heights of eighth place and two points off the playoffs. McClaren had just guided his side to a historic away win at Nottingham Forest and was preparing for a mini cup run.
McClaren had also bounced back from a woeful start to the season and that 7-1 lose to West Brom to take QPR on a brilliant run. Everyone was feeling rather festive and a bit smug.
However, the new year brought old problems. QPR went on a seven-game winless streak, earning an unwanted career record for McClaren.
After crashing out in the fifth round of the FA Cup to Watford there was really nothing to distract from McClaren’s growing problems.
The self-proclaimed ‘super coach’ was now failing to deploy simple tactics and QPR proceeded to drop points against some of the worst teams in the league.
As McClaren continued to fret and fiddle with his tie on the side lines, frustration turned to the bloated squad of expensive backroom staff that now occupied an additional bench at the back of the Loftus Road dugout. The list of coaches was so vast that Pep Gaurdiola would have thought it was a tad excessive.
For a club juggling Financial Fair Play and the end of parachute payments, this seemed dangerously flamboyant.
In the Championship, a chaotic and unforgiving competition, you can’t hide behind coaches, nutritionists and psychologists. McClaren was being found out.
The final nail in the coffin came on Saturday when McClaren had his very own Sarri moment during QPR’s defeat to lowly Bolton.
In an embarrassing set of circumstances, akin to the Chelsea manager’s famous incident at Wembley, McClaren seemed to renege on a second half substitution.
Trailing 1-0, the fourth official signalled for the departure of QPR’s Pawel Wszolek for human battering ram Matt Smith. The decision was met with vicious boos from the home crowd.
McClaren quickly turned to the official and furiously wagged his finger, acting as if there had been some great mistake. The mistake was McClaren’s and no one was convinced by his theatrics.
He had lost confidence in his own ability and the fans now had the power.
McClaren may be gone but the disarray at QPR continues. Money is tight, and an exodus of players is imminent. The hot seat will scold whoever ends up in Shepherds Bush.
Follow Florence on Twitter at @FloydTweet