I laughed at a text from a friend on Saturday night saying he’d just seen the most positive Sunday-paper match report I’ve done on Rangers for about five years. But on reflection, he wasn’t far wrong.
The last time QPR looked this strong was during a spell last season under Jim Magilton, when they were giving opposing teams a good hiding.
The problem then was, as so often, things were not right off the pitch and when that’s the case it’s only a matter of time before things go wrong on it.
There was also the issue of what happened when opposing teams stood up to Rangers, who for some time have had the ability to take any Championship side to the cleaners on their day.
That question mark is still there, although Neil Warnock seems prepared in a way I never sensed Magilton’s side was.
Warnock knows there will be days Adel Taarabt doesn’t shine and opposing teams will play better – and have better luck – than recently. There are reasons to think Rangers are more equipped to come through that test than they were a year ago.
Another difference is that Warnock is mainly looking to improve in areas he actually needs to, whereas last season yet more daft signings – Ben Watson and Steven Reid especially – broke up Rangers’ momentum.
Warnock needs to get a striker or two, and then QPR need to put the chequebook away and finally end the ridiculous, constant influx of players that has been relentless in recent years.
Yes, they could do with (yet) another forward, although teams have finished above them in recent years, and in some cases won promotion, with lesser squads on paper.
I still think they have a fair chance of signing Jason Roberts on a permanent basis, but that one was never going to be done quickly.
It’s an area Warnock’s right to look at. But I was as surprised he thought Jon Walters would be a worthwhile signing as I was by Rangers believing they had all but signed him last week, when Stoke always seemed his most likely destination.
Another player Warnock definitely likes is Martin Rowlands.
I did fall for it in Saturday’s post-match press conference when he said he was close to getting a top midfielder, for a second I did think: “news to me, who the hell’s he on about?”
He went on to explain that it was Rowlands, who is expected be back in action soon.
Warnock has been talking Rowlands up for some time, and suggested recently that he’s the only player not in or very close to his first team who is capable of forcing his way into it (which shows how relatively weak the squad is).
When Warnock took over at QPR one of my first thoughts was that, if he can stay fit, Rowlands should do very well because he has one big thing in his favour: Warnock’s teams tend to be strong through the middle, with midfielders who sit and others who push forward, and Rowlands is fairly unique in that he can play in either role. Plus, he doesn’t like playing wide.
He’s also a strong character, the type of which Rangers lacked without him before signing the likes of Shaun Derry, Bradley Orr and Clint Hill.
Orr’s also handy in that he’s a good talker, as he proved after the game on Saturday.
I’ve lined him up as Damien Delaney’s long-term replacement as man who can be counted on to talk after a game, especially a bad defeat. Assuming Rangers still do defeats now.