QPR in 2014/15 – Stability needed for survival

Read Newcastle in 2014/15 – A new hope?

Read Southampton in 2014/15 – Saints are starting all over again

Harry Redknapp started last season with his now trademark deluge of new arrivals and departures, boosting his attack with the highly-rated Charlie Austin from Burnley for £4m who replaced the Newcastle-bound Loic Remy. The combination of Austin’s 19 league goals and Rangers having the fourth tightest defence in the league certainly helped QPR’s promotion charge, although it could be considered that the West London outfit underperformed by finishing outside the automatic promotion places.

Nevertheless, given the turmoil of the previous Premier League campaign, Redknapp would be just happy to have the chance to return. Their chance came at Wembley against a free-scoring, youthful and impressive Derby County side, but playoff veteran Bobby Zamora struck in the dying seconds to send R’s fans into raptures and seal a 1-0 victory at Steve McClaren’s expense.

Aims for the season ahead

Stabilty and survival. It is expected of most newly-promoted sides to bolster their squads with players capable of keeping them in the division, but for once, QPR may have to reverse their recent and outrageously high turnover in playing staff if there are to carry consistency and momentum over from last year’s promotion campaign. So far, Redknapp’s spending has been sensible and in moderation. A raid on relegated Cardiff City has yielded the signings of powerful duo Steven Caulker and Jordan Mutch, while Rio Ferdinand will bring vital leadership, experience and supervision to Rangers’ backline. For now, World Cup semi-finalist Julio Cesar has returned from a loan spell at Toronto FC while the versatile Mauricio Isla brings international and European experience from Chile and Juventus to the right hand side.

The four new signings are shrewd and Redknapp has not broken the bank while ensuring the core crop of players from last season (minus the obvious loan signings made last year) remain. Although I envisage more comings and goings, I feel lessons might well be learned from the last time they entered the top tier. With a couple of new faces, while offsetting the books with departures of superfluous high wage earners, QPR could well become a solid mid-table club. First and foremost however, Tony Fernandes will just want to ensure his side remain a Premier League club come August 2015.

Key summer signing so far

Steven Caulker. Despite being part of a relegated side which conceded 74 goals in the league, Caulker’s performance stats last year perhaps suggest his teammates weren’t quite meeting him halfway. Comparing his 2013/14 league performances with other standout English centre backs Phil Jagielka, Gary Cahill, Mike Williamson and Michael Dawson, Caulker came out overwhelmingly on top in the categories of clearances made, blocks made and aerial duels won. He played in all 38 league games, collected only one yellow card and made no defensive errors or errors leading to goals. He also performed well in the amount of tackles won and interceptions, and these statistics, alongside the tutelage of Premier League veteran Ferdinand, may see a less penetrable QPR this time around and form a strong basis on which to build their survival around.

Predicted finish: 12th

I can see QPR being somewhat of a surprise package this season, especially if they bring in a couple of new signings before the end of the transfer window. Redknapp has the experience in the Premier League to match the experience of his journeyman squad, and the emphasis will almost certainly be on creating a settled and cohesive unit with players in it for more than the just the wages. A much happier campaign ahead for Hoops fans.

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