Back in May Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes promised supporters that “we’ll never be in this position again” after the club finished just above the bottom three and avoided relegation to the Championship.
Besides providing a potentially infamous soundbite that may soon be included in the “football’s greatest quotes” books often bought as stocking fillers around Christmas time, Hughes was rather tempting fate.
At the halfway point of the campaign his words appear to have been proven right, as Rangers are on course to exit the Premier League with a whimper.
Bottom of the table having failed to win away from home in 13 months and had more red cards than victories, the Rs are paying the price for what has been, from the moment it began, an expensive folly.
Throughout the summer supporters were bombarded with marquee signings and more baseless promises of success as the decision makers at the club mistakenly allowed themselves to develop ideas above their station.
Suddenly the Superhoops were meant to be transformed from a side that steered clear of the drop by a single point into a team destined for greater things and beyond the ignominy of a relegation battle.
They were to be led in this noble quest by a host of players that would cast off the shackles of inadequacy and be the bastions of the new order: Esteban Granero, José Bosingwa, Júlio César and Ji-sung Park, among others.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes the loyal footsoldiers were mercilessly removed from contention and cast aside despite the role they had played in bringing Premier League football back to Loftus Road, and guaranteeing it for another season.
Heidar Helguson, scorer of eight league goals during the previous campaign, was shipped out to Cardiff City without so much as a “thank you”, while Jamie Mackie, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry were quickly discarded.
Since the Icelandic striker departed Rangers have managed a paltry 16 league goals, and remain inadequately staffed up front, with Britain’s laziest footballer Djibril Cissé flattering to deceive week after week.
Naïve owner Tony Fernandes trusted Hughes to make good on his investment, but in doing so had his “pants pulled down” by agents, mercenaries and individuals looking to make a few quid off a businessman that frankly did not know what he was doing.
Bosingwa refusing to sit on the bench against Fulham was perhaps the saddest indictment of the “new era” at QPR and a summer that promised so much but delivered so little.
Having been palmed off by Chelsea as a worthless has-been, the Portuguese was given a second chance in W12, rather like a stray dog being taken in by the RSPCA, and proceeded to show wafer thin loyalty to the club in return.
What makes the pre-season errors so unforgiveable is that, unlike the transfer deadline day madness last year that lumbered the Rs with Shaun Wright-Phillips and Anton Ferdinand, these were not decisions made in the heat of the moment.
Hughes, his advisers, Fernandes and the rest of the board had months to consider the signings of Park, Granero, César and Bosingwa but still decided to plough ahead regardless, making a series of grievous errors in the process.
None of these men came cheap and it came as no surprise to learn that Bosingwa, who has been mediocre at best over the past few months, was handed a £65,000-a-week contract by the Shepherd’s Bush Dogs Home. Perhaps it was to do with his “pedigree”.
It remains to be seen which path Harry Redknapp will choose in January, but he would be mindful to adhere to the wisdom he espoused following the defeat to Newcastle United.
The former Tottenham Hotspur manager said: “There are a lot of players here who earn far too much money for their ability and what they give to the club.”
With the transfer window a notoriously dangerous period in which to go about making new signings, and the owner desperate to avoid relegation at almost any cost, the potential for repeating past mistakes is enormous.
This cannot happen. Redknapp and Fernandes must approach the situation in a level headed manner, discuss how likely it is that the Superhoops will be able to avoid the drop for the second year in a row, and recruit accordingly.
All those who peddled the angle that the 2012/13 season would genuinely herald the dawn of a revolution at Rangers should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves. Supporters who, however briefly, dared to believe this fallacy would do well to be more mindful in future.
There should only be one New Year’s resolution at QPR: to start afresh with a new approach, drop the pursuit of instant gratification and begin to turn this shambles of a football club back into something that all those in blue and white can be proud of.
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Originally published on Loft For Words on Tuesday January 1 2013.