If this was 2005 then Queens Park Rangers would have one of the best squads in the Premier League, and surely wouldn’t be bottom of it.
Cast your minds back to the middle part of the last decade, and Djibril Cisse had just recovered from the first of his broken legs to help Liverpool clinch Champions League glory in Istanbul by scoring a penalty in the shootout.
Park Ji-Sung’s livewire performances had helped steer PSV Eindhoven to the semi-finals of that competition and earned him a move to Manchester United in that same year, whilst Andy Johnson had just finished as the second top scorer in the Premier League and the top scoring Englishman thanks to 21 goals for Crystal Palace.
It was in the summer of 2005 that Shaun Wright-Phillips – that bright young hope of the England team – made his staggering £21million move to Chelsea, whilst in Italy the goalkeeper Julio Cesar transferred to Inter Milan and would go on to claim five Serie A titles and the 2009/10 Champions League.
Back in England, Kieron Dyer’s on field spat with Newcastle team-mate Lee Bowyer wasn’t keeping him out of the England squad, whilst Ryan Nelsen was just about to begin his seven-year stint of solidity at Blackburn Rovers and Bobby Zamora was scoring the goals which helped earn West Ham promotion from the Championship. In Portugal, Jose Bosingwa had established himself as Porto’s and eventually his country’s first choice right-back, with the thoughts which crossed his mind ones which would have been as far away from Loftus Road as possible. QPR fans might say they still are.
Mark Hughes – establishing himself as a solid, respected manager at Blackburn in 2005 – wouldn’t have been thinking about QPR too much back then either, with his managerial destiny no doubt better suited for one of his former clubs like Chelsea, Everton or even Manchester United. His early experiences as Wales boss had set him up for a shot at the big time at club level. It simply wasn’t supposed to be like this.
Yet laying all of QPR’s present problems – no wins from 12 league games, bottom of the table with the worst goal difference in the Premier League, a set of increasingly angry and disillusioned fans to name but three – at the door of the manager is simply wrong, with more than a few of 2005’s men needing to take a long hard look at themselves in 2012/13.
There’s no doubt Hughes will eventually be sacked if QPR’s form doesn’t improve dramatically and quickly – and an away game at Old Trafford this weekend following on from the miserable loss to Southampton last Saturday doesn’t suggest that that is coming soon – but whilst the Welshman has made mistakes during what is likely to be less than a full year in charge, he has been let down by his players too.
Admittedly signing men whose CV highlights all come a long way down the Employment History section wasn’t a wise move from Hughes and owner Tony Fernandes in the first place, but you’d have thought that these same players wouldn’t want ‘Premier League relegation’ listed on that same document. It seems some don’t care.
Others such as Adel Taarabt and Jamie Mackie – an Exeter City player in 2005 – still appear willing to give their skills and effort respectively to what is appearing to be an increasingly desperate cause, but QPR need everyone on board as they do exactly what Hughes said that they’d never need to do again after narrowly staying up last season, and battle relegation.
The club are undoubtedly in much better financial health than they were seven years ago when they were staving off demotion from the Championship, but ask a QPR fan if he preferred those days of watching the efforts of the likes of Marc Bircham, Kevin Gallen and Paul Furlong compared to today’s team and there is only likely to be one answer.
Those same fans would scarcely have believed that those star players of 2005 would one day represent their club.
They should have been careful what they wished for.
The guys over at To Know The Game have provided Yirma with their look at the Premier League season so far.
After a look at their top three summer signings on Friday, here’s their take on the season’s three biggest surprises.
3 BIG SURPRISES
QPR in last place: All those signings and bottom of the table! 2 points from a possible 21! A team comprising of Cesar (GK), Park Ji-Sung, Zamora, Anton Ferdinand, Granero, Nelson, Wright-Phillips, Faurlin, Fabio, Bosingwa, Hoillet, Cisse, Taarabt should do much better. They might have played Spurs, Chelsea and City in the first 7 games but they have also played West Ham, WBA, Swansea and Norwich. QPR fans should be worried as the next 6 fixtures see them play Arsenal, United and Everton.
Hopefully the team can gel together and climb to a mid-table position; such is the talent that is available to the club. However, Mark Hughes is the same manager who spent over £250 million at Man City without much success so let’s see how the next 3 months turn out for him.
Defensive issues in Manchester: United’s troubles were somewhat expected as Ferdinand and Vidic are worn down with age and injuries and Smalling and Jones are not yet ready. That being said, it’s not just the fault of the defenders; with a lack of a decent defensive minded midfield player and no first choice goal-keeper – Man U’s back line does not inspire much confidence. The attitude seems to be of the Brazilian teams of old: we’ll score more than you! Worked @Newcastle; not so vs Spurs.
Man City on the other hand had a rock solid defence… till last year. So far this year, Joe Hart is still amongst the best goalies in the league but just 1 clean sheet in 11 matches (EPL, UEFA CL and Capital One Cup) is a big issue. Their only clean sheet came last week at home to Sunderland; which hopefully will give them some confidence after the international break.
Criticized last year for being too defensive; Mancini seems to have become more attacking but at a cost. At the moment selling De Jong looks like a wrong decision but City fans are hopeful that Garcia, Rodwell, Toure and Barry will help shut out their opponents in future matches.
Role reversal on Merseyside: An 8 point gap in just 7 games. One club in 4th place the other in 14th – you could be forgiven for thinking that Liverpool are winning the race (they’re not) BUT with over seven months to go, is this the year Everton will cement their place over their Mersyside rivals or can Liverpool restore the status quo and finish ahead of Everton?
Liverpool are the club in transition with unproven players in the EPL (Borini, Sahin) and a host of youngsters coming through (Sterling, Suso, Shelvey) while Everton have a stable solid squad with a few minor tweaks (Mirallas, Naismith). The respective starts by both clubs seems to indicate that Everton will finish in front of Liverpool in consecutive seasons.