Queens Park Rangers FanZoner Chris King feels that a lack of creativity is a worry as they attempt to bounce back from relegation this season.
How has your pre-season gone?
Almost unnoticed. Rather wisely, in view of last summer’s publicity-driven tour of Asia, which in hindsight was one of the club’s worst PR own goals in recent memory, a similar sojourn was cancelled in favour of less “high-profile” tests.
It is rather difficult to assess where the squad is at currently, as many supporters, presumably still too traumatised to watch their beloved team play, found little to no reason to engage with trips to Exeter City, Peterborough United and Southend United.
Indeed, the fact that the first two of these clashes ended in a draw and a defeat hardly bodes well for the brave new dawn in W12. Rather more encouraging was a 1-0 victory against Turkish side Besiktas during the somewhat more muted Austria tour.
However, as this was swiftly followed by a 2-1 loss against Italian outfit Udinese, it is difficult, if not impossible, to discern whether anything has changed. Given that there have been few personnel changes it is unlikely that any great revolution has occurred.
Happy with how things have shaped up in terms of transfers – both in and out?
Not at all. Rangers remain woefully short of creativity and firepower with just a few days to go until the season starts. The courting of Celtic striker Gary Hooper, who was always angling for a move to Norwich City, was nothing short of foolish.
Richard Dunne is a good signing only if he manages to stay fit, which has been a continual problem for the Republic of Ireland veteran, and concerns remain over the prospect of a languid, ancient defensive partnership between Dunne and Clint Hill.
While some were excited by the arrival of former Newcastle United right back Danny Simpson, it is concerning that a player whose wages would not have been appropriate in the Championship has been signed on a contract written for the Premier League.
On a brighter note, the departure of hate figure José Bosingwa, which was such a blessing that even owner Tony Fernandes took the time to celebrate it on Twitter, has begun the process of shifting out the mercenary dead wood, and not before time.
Is your current manager the right man for the job?
Concerns remain over whether Harry Redknapp, who joined QPR fully expecting to be managing the Rs in the top flight this season, is the right man for the job and actually wants to be sat in the dugout when Sheffield Wednesday visit on Saturday.
Redknapp has never been known for his commitment, as Southampton fans will attest to, and there is a possibility that, should the campaign start on a sour note, and players continue not to arrive, he may decide that the Championship is simply not for him.
Dare to dream – if everything clicked into place what’s the best you could hope for?
Those in blue and white are naturally pessimistic about Rangers’ chances, in light of recent events, but there is a slither of hope that the catastrophe that was the previous campaign can be erased from memory and a new, confident QPR forged.
Should this occur, and several experienced, Championship-suitable recruits be brought in before the transfer window closes, Rangers may be able to reach the play-offs, particularly if Alejandro Faurlin, Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson can shine.
Back to reality – what are your realistic expectations for the new campaign?
It will be a long, painful struggle. That is the reality, and until a few new faces are brought in, it is impossible to know whether the Superhoops will simply meander in mid-table or be similarly out of their depth to Blackburn Rovers this time last year.
Not only is it difficult to identify potential goalscorers, one of the other contributing factors to the Rs’ relegation from the Premier League was a woeful lack of creativity, which has not yet been addressed, and may prove fatal as the months roll by.
Who will visiting scouts be keeping an eye on this season?
For as long as he is held in West London, Loïc Remy is arguably the only player worth keeping an eye on at Loftus Road, otherwise a safe haven for the forgotten, past-it and injury-prone, a place where the salaries are generous and expectations low.
Remy aside, it looks increasingly likely that Adel Taarabt will be leaving QPR, but perhaps not for the big-name side he might expect. Other “saleable assets” include Júlio César, who will not be around for long, and want-away Esteban Granero.
If you had to pick one player who’d be fit for every minute of every game who would it be?
With Zamora, Johnson, Armand Traoré, Dunne, Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Jermaine Jenas and Samba Diakité, among others, ruled out immediately, the only candidates are Hill and Shaun Derry, simply out of commitment and stubbornness.
On the flip side (without being cruel!), who is the player with most to prove?
After proving absolutely nothing bar a collective incompetence last season, the entire squad has quite a bit to prove, including, but not limited to, footballing ability, respect for the fans and the manager, and a willingness to battle for every ball, every match.
In terms of specific players, Stéphane Mbia is almost certainly the individual with most to prove, having shown disdain for the club with a series of ill-advised tweets, and given away the free kick that essentially relegated the Rs against Wigan Athletic.
If you could sign any one player from any other side in the same division who would you plump for?
Jordan Rhodes. Blackburn were laughed at when they paid a reported fee of £8million to bring the young forward to Ewood Park last August, but in scoring 28 goals for a struggling side coping with managerial chaos, Rhodes proved every doubter wrong.
If you only win one game all season who would take three points from?
Leeds United, as Rangers have not beaten the West Yorkshiremen since September 1995, in which time they have inflicted a brutal 6-1 thrashing on the Rs, and tried to ruin a perfectly good title winner’s party by walking away 2-1 winners in May 2011.
Have your say | Tweet the author | @chriskking
Originally published on TEAMtalk on Wednesday July 31 2013.