By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Despite lots of fighting talk and a cheque book that’s the envy of most clubs in the division, QPR slid tamely down to the Championship last season with the lowest goals scored tally of a relegated team since Middlesbrough in 2009.
With their arsenal of talent and cash, a quick return to the Premier League is possible, but pre-season plans have taken a minor blow with the news that manager, Harry Redknapp, has undergone knee surgery and will be hobbling around on crutches for the next six weeks – eight if he wants to string it out for a couple more weeks just for more sympathy and grapes. Luckily, he has a capable deputy who is well able to take training:
With odds seemingly priced up by someone who didn’t watch much of them last season, QPR are 5/1 favourites to win the Championship. They’re also the favourites to get one of the three promotion spots and go up without the hassle of actually winning anything. Odds of 17/10 for promotion are pretty encouraging, even in a famously competitive division where any team is capable of harassing their way to victory on any given day.
So far, they’ve kept the bulk of the squad. Although admittedly, that may not be a good thing. After several attempts, Adel Taarabt looks to have finally hissy-fitted his way out of the club after being sent home for the club’s pre-season training camp. Christopher Samba has completed the return leg of his money spinning tour money-bags clubs, but more terrifyingly, Julio Cesar is joining up with Rafa Benitez at Napoli for the season meaning Robert Green is once again the club’s first choice keeper. *SHUDDER* Not so hopelessly optimistic about the new season now, are ya? At least Jose Bosingwa is pissing off, so it’s not all bad news.
Not only do they look set to hold on to the bulk of the disinterested pay cheque collectors responsible for last season’s calamity, but they are also looking to strengthen. Bravely ignoring the ‘know when to cut your losses on a bad investment’ adage, Tony Fernandes looks set to sink more of his enormous piggy bank into the club.
Rather than trimming the staff, the club look to be on a recruitment drive. Gary Hooper has been banging in the goals for Celtic and although he will no longer get to face the ‘Kilt and Thistle Pub XI’ in the SPL week in, week out, you’d still think he’ll have plenty of goalscoring success south of the border if the Rs can stump up the £5 million (that’s about £80 million in SPL terms) for his services.
In other shameless tittle-tattle that would make sense if it actually happened, Ireland international, Richard Dunne and Argentine striker, Javier Saviola are reportedly being lined up to add experience and their gradually declining quality to the squad.
Getting out of the Championship is rarely that simple. It’s a genuinely tough and fascinating division and that’s not just Sky Sports trying to convince us of that fact because they’ve shelled out loads for the TV rights. QPR will need to work hard to get promoted, but they retain a good squad and after a season of doom and gloom, things could be on the up.