Well, what a season that was. For me, it started with being derided for suggesting QPR were in very poor shape despite their hype and big spending, and would again just about manage to stay up. It ended with me being derided by some for believing Rangers would stay up.
Yes, it turned out to be a worse season for the club than even I expected. And that’s saying something.
I don’t update this blog much these days – this is my first post of the year – but having started some end-of-season player ratings for West London Sport and then decided not to publish them after all, I thought I’d finish them off, add ratings for the managers, and publish them here instead.
So here you go. Feel free to tell me what complete sense I talk.
Speaking of which, thanks for the comments, good and bad, on Twitter and the like during the season. It’s appreciated.
Robert Green: 5
QPR’s long-standing ‘he’s played for such and such, so he must be good’ transfer policy was summed up by their signing of Green. He’s played for England, so he must be good, right? Wrong. There’s a reason Green has never been bought by a top club and has spent part of his career out of the Premier League. Many clubs have looked at him closely and decided that, actually, he’s not that good. He’s a decent shot stopper, but all professional keepers are. His all-round game, especially his footwork, leaves a lot to be desired and was evident right from the start at QPR, with mistakes in pre-season and when the campaign started disastrously against Swansea. Should be a decent enough keeper in the Championship though.
Julio Cesar: 5
Another CV-based signing. Cesar has played at the very highest level but is past his best. Loves a Hollywood save, so will always have days when things go his way and he has a blinder. He had a spell of such games in the middle of the season, which attracted some interest from Arsenal – hence the Gunners being linked with him more recently. Overall though, his performances have been poor and he shouldn’t have been signed. And an often-overlooked factor in QPR’s defensive woes has been poor communication from the keeper.
Jose Bosingwa: 4
Like Mark Hughes, Bosingwa is a convenient pantomime villain that detracts from the real reasons for Rangers’ decline – irresponsible ownership. He has been rightly criticised, but the bottom line is that if you’re daft enough sign Jose Bosingwa you end up with a defensive liability with a questionable attitude. It’s as simple as that.
Ryan Nelsen: 7
A signing for which the unpopular Hughes received little credit. Looked a spent force before joining Rangers and eyebrows were raised at the decision by Hughes, who managed him at Blackburn, to offer him a one-year deal. In the end, Nelsen’s consistency and professionalism meant his early departure for Toronto was a huge disappointment.
Clint Hill: 6
Out of his depth at times, but Hill’s obvious commitment and honesty meant he was rightly named player of the year. Formed an excellent partnership with Nelsen, although both players were able to look good because the rest of the team was set up to protect their lack of pace, which meant Rangers were ineffective at the other end of the pitch.
Anton Ferdinand: 4
Another player avoided by sensible clubs who knew his best attribute is his surname. Ferdinand’s performances have been as dismal as Neil Warnock’s excuses for signing him. Ferdinand could actually be a decent option next season though, because like many players hyped up by Rangers as top-class signings, he has long been nothing more than an average Championship-standard centre-back.
Nedum Onuoha: 6
Uncomfortable but committed at full-back, his performances as a central defender underline that his future lies in that position. Unfortunate for him and the club that personal issues have probably contributed to his QPR career not getting off the ground so far. He may well play a big role next season.
Chris Samba: 5
Half-fit and signed on the basis of his past reputation. Has ability, of that there is no doubt, and while not the signing he was cracked up to be, that he was so disappointing is a surprise. But, having found themselves bottom of the table with a group of overhyped players who were “here for the money” as angry fans pointed out, Rangers going back for a player who previously chose the money on offer in Russia says it all really.
Armand Traore: 5
Talented but brittle. Unlike most of Rangers’ signings, this one made sense – a couple of million to get him from Arsenal was potentially a decent deal. Has ability defensively and going forward, but it’s difficult to see how he can stand up to the slings and arrows of the Championship.
Yet another who isn’t as good as his name, club and billing suggest. In fairness he was very impressive in a run of games midway through the season, but overall his time on loan was unremarkable. Unlucky with injuries though.
Tal Ben Haim: 6
Not at home at full-back but gave it a go when he featured there. Wasn’t around long enough to disgrace himself.
Stephane Mbia: 5
Character-wise, is not actually as bad as the mindless ramblings which appeared on his Twitter feed late in the season suggested. Plays with enthusiasm and had the potential to be a gutsy, likeable crowd favourite in a team sorely lacking such players. But the way he was handled summed the club up. After missing out on a number of Hughes’ targets, Rangers brought in Mbia primarily as a centre-back – a position he is more than capable in. But he was always going to need time to adjust to the Premier League. Thrown straight into a struggling team, in the middle of a shambolic defence, playing in front of an uncertain keeper who was himself in a new league and country, Mbia inevitably didn’t hit the ground running. So, in true QPR fashion, he was very quickly switched. In midfield, he did well in a defensive role – he’s either a centre-back or sitting midfielder. But after being deployed as an all-round midfielder – a totally inappropriate role for him – he was woeful.
Shaun Derry: 6
Mostly did well when he featured, but many factors were in his favour. He’s rightly forgiven by the crowd for his shortcomings, which in any case have not been exposed often because of his limited involvement and because of his vast experience. He knows his role and plays it well.
Esteban Granero: 5
Another daft signing who should never have been brought in. He has enough ability and a good enough attitude to be of interest to other clubs, especially in Spain, and has a decent career ahead of him. Ridiculously overhyped in the way only QPR overhype players. A good player, yes. But not cut out for Rangers and was not a star of La Liga either. At 25 he was popular at Real Madrid but had never really established himself as a first-teamer. At best, Rangers were getting a Spanish version of Nicky Butt. And that’s maybe harsh on Butt, who in his time did establish himself at club and international level.
Samba Diakite: 5
Many of the players Rangers took a punt on after missing out on other targets weren’t worth the risk. Diakite was, but for various reasons it hasn’t worked out. It’s best for both parties that he returns to France. A real shame.
Alejandro Faurlin: 5
Rated much higher by fans than successive managers, Faurlin, who has made a good recovery from a knee injury, is effective if given time and space, especially in the final third. When he isn’t, he struggles. Other sides know this – and that he lets opposing players run off his shoulder time and time again. Harry Redknapp, having given him the benefit of the doubt after continually being told how good Faurlin apparently is, lost patience after the MK Dons cup debacle and packed him off to Italy on loan. Those hoping the popular Argentine will re-establish himself next season might well be disappointed. The amount of possession a dominant Rangers side had in the Championship and the space left by teams focused on Adel Taarabt suited Faurlin perfectly. I think it might be different next time around.
Jermaine Jenas: 6
Did okay. Scored a fine goal against Sunderland.
Ji-sung Park: 5
The big question with Park was always how much he had left in his legs. Pretty quickly it was clear that the answer was not a lot, so that was that.
Junior Hoilett: 5
Needless to say, not as good as Rangers made him out to be. But he’s definitely capable of much more than he’s shown. Hoilett is a good young player and was an understandable signing by Hughes. He’s been a major disappointment and looked out of shape before picking up a hamstring injury at Chelsea.
Shaun Wright-Phillips: 5
Another silly signing by Warnock. Past his best and was sussed out by defenders long ago. Was also passionate about playing for Manchester City – as Joey Barton was about Newcastle – and Rangers weren’t savvy enough to be wary of players for whom a move to small-but-rich QPR meant the fire was likely to go out. This failing has been a big factor in the club’s demise.
Andros Townsend: 8
Found wanting during a succession of loan spells below Premier League level, but did very well during his time at QPR, where he flourished under a manager who gave him confidence and knew how to get the best out of him. Quick, direct and always willing to shoot. Did much better than I expected.
Jamie Mackie: 6
Has his shortcomings but works tirelessly, has scored a respectable number of goals in the top flight and has troubled even the best defenders, albeit through sheer persistence alone – just ask the likes of Cole and Evra. That’s more than most QPR players have done. He’s also served the club very well previously. So, given the well documented lack of professionalism of other players, to insult someone like Mackie by even leaving him out of end-of-season games when relegation had already been confirmed sent out the wrong message. He struggled badly at times, especially when asked to play as a lone striker. Big deal.
Adel Taarabt: 6
Seems to have been written off by many fans as prematurely as he was dubbed a future club legend in the mould of Marsh or Bowles. His attitude has always been woeful – he helped destroy QPR’s season prior to their promotion – and his game was lacking the fundamentals of a Premier League player. But Taarabt has done reasonably well in the top flight, all things considered. The role he played in keeping Rangers up seems to have been forgotten, and even last season at times he performed to a level way above most of his team-mates, although that’s not saying much. Warnock talked a lot about improving Taarabt. Hughes actually did so. It’s ironic that so often in the past R’s fans have worried that a club would come in for Taarabt when there was little chance of that happening. Now, it seems most don’t think he could get a move. Don’t bet on it.
Andrew Johnson: 6
Looked lively before suffering cruciate damage. The injury was a real shame, but Johnson has a history of knee trouble, making the decision to sign him a questionable one.
Bobby Zamora: 5
Another player whose declining fitness and form meant he lost favour at Fulham, who saw Rangers coming prior to Johnson going on a Bosman free transfer and Zamora leaving for a hefty transfer fee.
Jay Bothroyd: 5
Failed to make the most of what will surely be his final chance to make it in the top division. Has good attributes and was an understandable free-transfer signing by Warnock, but he hasn’t delivered.
Djibril Cisse: 5
Wanted out as early as last summer and it showed in his subsequent performances. His goals the previous year kept Rangers up, so on balance he has to be regarded as a worthwhile signing by Hughes.
Loic Remy: 7
A short-term signing to try to keep Rangers up on the understanding a move from Marseille would put Remy in the shop window following doubts about his fitness and ability at the top level. Did more than enough to suggest he is worth a go somewhere else in the Premier League.
Mark Hughes: 4
Inherited a difficult situation from his predecessor, whose short-term personal ambitions (which matched the club’s perfectly when he was appointed) and diabolical signings meant Rangers were on very shaky foundations despite promotion and having money to burn. But Warnock is also a shrewd man-manager who created a team spirit and a sense of togetherness the fans could buy into, and in these areas Hughes was an unmitigated disaster. Much of the criticism he receives over his signings is wide of the mark and underestimates the effect of the transfer policy set by the owners and the difficulty in attracting the right players to a relatively small club hell-bent on spending big and grabbing the headlines. He was also unfortunate that Johnson and Zamora, who were heading to QPR even before he was appointed, were crocked.
But, having lost control under Manchester City’s ambitious owners, Hughes claimed he had learned lessons and would be stronger in his next job. Instead, he floundered again and was a sitting duck for criticism when an ongoing off-the-pitch shambles inevitably manifested itself in a shambles on the pitch. Mike Rigg, the technical director Hughes brought to Loftus Road, was also a major disappointment whose uncompromising style did not go down well with some. The club became an unhappy and divided place and Hughes was unable to take control of the situation, continuing to put faith in his “meticulous preparation” when a much less scientific approach was needed. And while Hughes is not an arrogant, unpleasant character, his aloof persona makes him seem that way – and the last few decades show that managers in that mould fail at Rangers, whatever their merits. For that reason alone, Hughes should never have been appointed. Ultimately though, he was a big name brought to QPR to spend big on high-profile players from around the world. He did so. With inevitable consequences.
Harry Redknapp: 5
Contended with similar issues to Hughes and was unable to get Rangers out of the mire. Was unfortunate to be without the injured Loic Remy for crucial, winnable games. Overall, however, appointing a high-profile manager and spending £20m on two players was yet another example of Rangers doing pretty much the exact opposite of what they ought to. Redknapp is an outstanding manager – he should arguably be the England manager – but he wasn’t the right man for the situation Rangers were in, and he’s certainly not the right man for the situation they’re going to be in.