QPR Season Preview

qprThe Football Lab spoke to QPR fan @bexhoops ahead of the new season. Here, he discusses the importance of keeping striker Charlie Austin fit, the need for more creativity in midfield, and he argues that with referees, Joey Barton’s reputation counts against him.

Having had by far the biggest wage budget in the Championship last season, some will argue you should have gone up automatically. Is this fair?

Yes and no. A lot of the big earners, Remy, Granero, Cesar, Park, Taarabt went out on loan so a big chunk of our wage bill went with them. Saying that, the wage budget was high for a Championship side, but expectation was higher in the press than at Loftus Road.

You used 35 different players last season. Did Harry Redknapp struggle to give so many people game time?

Its fair to say Harry did mix and match players at the start and struggled to find a settled formation. Add to that panic buys in the transfer window, Will Keane, Aaron Hughes, Maiga, who played a handful of games between them meant harry had a lot of options. By the last ten games a settled starting 11 had been achieved.

Clint Hill, Richard Dunne, and new signing Rio Ferdinand are centre-backs options. Considering just 3 of your 17 clean sheets last season came from January onwards, could there again be a lack of energy in defence towards the end of the season, as older players tire?

With the addition of Steven Caulker and the return to fitness of Danny Simpson I think Harry has addressed the problem of an aging defence. Add to that Nedum Onuoha and I don’t think ageing centre-backs will be a problem.

Benoit Assou-Ekotto seemed to have a surprisingly poor season at Loftus Road. Would you want him to return, and what are your thoughts on the current options at left-back?

No, I along with every other Rangers fan was quite happy to see the end of Assou-Ekotto. Early indications are harry will play with a back three with two wing backs, a young South Korean Young Suk Yun has impressed and played in the world cup. Also, Armand Traore has signed a new deal so I feel the left back spot is covered.

Joey Barton was one of the best players in the Championship last season, but was booked 13 times. How will he fare in the Premier League?

Barton’s reputation will precede him so I expect him to miss a few games through suspension. It’s part of his game to be physical and get under the skin of the opposition. If you tried to stop him, he wouldn’t be the same player.

According to Who Scored, you had a higher possession rate than any other side (56.5%), but a poor return of goals. Was it a case of not showing enough attacking intent in midfield?

Definitely. Thats the danger when you play two defensively minded midfield players in Barton and Carroll. This is definitely a position Harry will be looking to strengthen in the transfer market.

Yossi Benayoun has joined Maccabi Haifa, while Ravel Morrison seems likely to stay at West Ham. Have you got enough flair going forward? {pre-Jordan Mutch signing}

Flair players is obviously an issue, but with the return of Ale Faurlin and Esteban Granero, I expect a more attacking approach this season. Last season was all about results above performance.

Charlie Austin scored 5 goals in his last 6. How important was his return from injury?

Unquestionably charlie was a big loss. Without him our attack was toothless and there was a fear we would miss out on a top six spot the longer he was out..a match winning double in the play off semi final against Wigan showed his value to the club.a priority for Harry is to get a striker to take some of the weight off his shoulders

Most bookmakers have you at around 2/1 for relegation. Where will you finish?

A priority for us is to stay up, so anywhere above the bottom three will be a good season. Personally I’m hoping, with a few good additions and Harry’s experiance, for an exciting season and a finish about sixteenth, and to cruise through our last few games.

TFL Verdict

With some good summer signings and a shrewd tactical shift, QPR should have enough nous to avoid trouble. 15th