QPR Season Preview
With Michael Hindmarsh, Chief Writer qprforum.co.uk
QPR embarked upon a pre-season tour of Asia, which, along with the purchase of Korean star, Park Ji Sung, boosted the club's profile in the region. We secured comfortable 5-0 victories over two Malaysian teams, Sabah and Kelantan, before travelling to Indonesia and beating Persebuya Surabaya 2-1. The team's ball retention was noticeably better and there was some impressive link-up play involving Adel Taarabt, Djibril Cisse and new signing Samba Diakite. However, I was slightly concerned by Robert Green's terrible error in the Persebuya match. In an incident reminiscent of his World Cup 2010 disaster, he dropped the ball from a cross, allowing the Indonesian striker to score.
What to look forward to from your club this season
Mark Hughes has added some exciting attacking talent to the squad. Junior Hoilett was really impressive at Blackburn in spite of Steve Kean's tactical incompetence and will offer a threat down the flanks with his pace and trickery. Park JiSung is an excellent signing - he's hard-working and capable of picking out that killer pass. The Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora striking partnership didn't really have the chance to gel last season due to the Frenchman's suspensions and I expect them to score a lot of goals in the forthcoming campaign. In central midfield, Samba Diakite is definitely one to watch - he reminds me of Patrick Vieira in the way that he moves with the ball and dominates the middle of the park. Overall, I think QPR will be far more dangerous in attack and capable of causing even the biggest Premiership teams a lot of problems defensively.
What to worry about
I'm a little bit concerned about the back four. Clint Hill was absolutely superb last season and deserved a contract extension, but I do wonder whether at 33 years of age we can rely on him tostart every game. New signing, Ryan Nelsen, is a solid, experienced Premiership defender, but like Hill he is in his mid-thirties and is prone to injury. Anton Ferdinand can be inconsistent, whilst Nedum Onuoha sometimes looks suspect when moved into a central role. In the full-back positions, Hughes will probablyplay Traore and Fabio, two players who are excellent going forward but have a tendency to move out of position, leaving gaps for the opposition to exploit. Most QPR fans would really like to see another centre-back brought in - hopefully it's Chris Samba, who has been repeatedly linked with the Super Hoops since Hughes' appointment.
Where are you going to finish?
I think the squad is more than capable of achieving a mid-table finish. I feel that it may take some time for the team to gel given the number of signings we've made and it's important that supporters don't get too carried away if we make a poor start to the campaign.
Most outrageous transfer rumour:
Would have to be a tabloid newspaper claiming that QPR were leading the chase for the French international forward Olivier Giroud, despite a number of Champions League clubs being interested. Of course, he eventually went to Arsenal.
Manager right man for the job?
I would say so, yes. He impressed me tactically last season, guiding us to some important victories over Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham. However, our away form was absolutely abysmal and Hughes will need to improve this dramatically if we are to avoid another relegation battle.
Player to look out for
I'm going to go with Adel Taarabt (above). He was appalling during the first half of the campaign, giving the ball away cheaply and failing to break down Premiership defences, but ended up playing a crucial part in our survival. Under Hughes, he seems to have become much more focussed and professional in his attitude. At his very best he has the ability to change the course of a match single-handedly.
Dead wood you would get rid of
I was surprised to see Kieron Dyer given a contract extension. He only lasted six minutes of our first match last season and I can't see him ever getting back to full fitness. Rob Hulse is a very poor striker at this level, but unfortunately was given a long contract by Neil Warnock and therefore it will be difficult to move him on. DJ Campbell, Jay Bothroyd and Tommy Smith are unlikely to feature much next season and Iexpect them to sign for new clubs before the end of the transfer window.
Game of the season
That would have to be the remarkable 3-2 win over Liverpool at Loftus Road. For 75 minutes of the match QPR werecompletely outclassed by Kenny Dalglish's men and when Dirk Kuyt scored the Reds' second goal of the evening, I believed that the game was over. Disjointed and clearly lacking in belief, Rangers looked certain for relegation. Suddenly, Shaun Derry headed into the net from a corner and that goal sparked an extraordinary comeback. Taye Taiwo's cross was headed in by Djibril Cisse, before Jamie Mackie capitalised on a defensive error to snatch a winner right at the death. The result marked a turning point in QPR's season - had Liverpool won the match then I very much doubt we would have stayed up.
Best away day?
There weren't many enjoyable away days last season - QPR seemed to transform into a Sunday League team on their travels. We did beat Everton at Goodison Park in August, a remarkable achievement given that Neil Warnock was forced to start Patrick Agyemang on his own up front - a player so out of his depth that opposition supporters were actually laughing at his ball control. Tommy Smith put the R's ahead early in the first half and somehow we managed to hold on.
'Taarabt's too good for you'.
How good are your pies?
Not bad, but overpriced.
Swansea, Norwich and Southampton to go down this season. Manchester City to win the title.