QPR FanZoner Chris King outlines the five New Year’s resolutions the club should be setting themselves after starting 2015 with an FA Cup exit.
Queens Park Rangers dropped out of the FA Cup with a whimper on Sunday, losing 3-0 at home to Sheffield United, but remain in the thick of the Premier League survival battle.
The Rs slumped to defeat in yet another cup match after being comprehensively outplayed by the Blades, who are no strangers to upsetting supposed bigger teams.
Not only was the result, if not the final scoreline, grimly predictable, their performance did not suggest that Rangers are in the mood to scrap and battle, whatever the competition.
It is not all doom and gloom, however, as QPR sit outside the relegation zone and still boast an imperious home record in the league, despite dropping points against Swansea City.
With this in mind, here are five New Year’s resolutions for Harry Redknapp’s team, from the vital to the slightly indulgent, all of which will cheer Rs fans up no end as 2015 kicks off.
1. Get a new striker
The need for an extra forward was underlined last season when Charlie Austin injured his shoulder, depriving QPR of their main goal threat for some weeks.
A similar situation in January or February would more or less condemn Rangers to relegation, as it stands, and that is assuming Austin keeps scoring at his current rate, and does not suffer any sort of dip in form.
In an ideal world, Danny Ings would be the player arriving from Burnley to take the pressure off the club’s top scorer, but it is more likely to be an underwhelming loan signing, possibly with a connection to Tottenham Hotspur, Redknapp’s former club. Oh, and a last-gasp bid for Peter Crouch, just because he can.
2. Sort out away form
It goes without saying that nine successive away defeats is worrying, and not conducive to staying in the Premier League.
However, the sad fact is that the Rs cannot even blame luck, for their performances on the road are so woeful, limp, lacking in confidence and tactically all over the place almost without exception.
Watching QPR at home and away is rather like observing two separate teams, for the difference is so stark. This chasm must be closed sooner rather than later, or there might well come a time when the players are so accustomed to defeat on the road that they have lost before a ball is even kicked.
3. Win a cup match
The FA and League Cups may no longer cut the mustard for some supporters, or managers, who believe they are outdated relics that only matter to sentimental football fans in need of embracing the new reality of the game.
That was certainly Neil Warnock’s view, when he was in charge, but it has largely been the same story under every boss Rangers have had since the early 2000s.
Losing to Sheffield United, who are cup specialists and remarkably still in both competitions, was hardly the biggest upset, but it was very upsetting. With Rangers bowing out of the League Cup with an 1-0 loss to Burton Albion back in August, there is some time to wait before one of the worst cup records around can be put right.
4. Manage finances
When the Rs were halfway down the trapdoor in January 2013, Redknapp spent big on new signings in a bid to halt the irreversible slide into the Championship, blowing millions on wages for Christopher Samba, among others, who played a handful of matches before leaving for almost exactly the same fee it had taken to bring him to Loftus Road.
This time, and in what should become a more general common-sense rule, QPR must not throw money at the problem.
It goes without saying that better players will make the team better, in the right circumstances, but anyone willing to come to a side mired in a relegation dogfight perhaps might not have the best intentions.
Whether the Superhoops stay up, or go down, there needs to be a cap on wages and transfer fees, plus another clear-out of the remaining high earners.
5. Get best out of wasted wingers
Which leads neatly on to Shaun Wright-Phillips, perhaps the worst signing the club have ever made, although it is a very competitive field.
Along with Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips, he embodies little but frustration and missed opportunities. Yet while Wright-Phillips is a lost cause, his greed and laziness seemingly preventing him from taking a much-needed loan move and lowering his wage expectations, Hoilett and Phillips ignite eternal, and often misplaced, optimism among the Rangers faithful.
They should be better than this; both men ought to be able to cross a ball, beat a man, make a tackle, and terrorise the top flight’s average defenders, of whom there are many. Yet they rarely do.
If Redknapp can revive Hoilett’s career in particular, he deserves a statue outside the ground.
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Originally published on TEAMtalk on Tuesday January 6 2015.