QPR certainties for relegation unless they change their formation
Outdated 4-4-2 does not cater for their creative midfielders or protect vulnerable backline
QPR’s humbling defeat to West Ham should have alarm bells ringing at Loftus Road, as being outclassed on their own patch at the hands of newly-promoted opposition was not envisaged in the fans’ pre-season predictions.
The R’s are 2/1 to be relegated at the end of the campaign; a comprehensively deflated price compared to the 4/1 they began the season with when they were acquiring all sorts of unimagined talent.
It’s fair to say that Mark Hughes’ summer transfer policy would not have looked out of place on a game of Football Manager as opposed to one a real-life Premier League club should be employing and this could have played a key role in their underwhelming start.
The signing of Julio Cesar is the epitome of their ridiculous antics in the transfer market. It was a completely unnecessary capture given that Rob Green, a proven top-flight stopper and capable number one, had made the switch across London under the premise of being Hughes’ first-choice.
Green is now bench-warming, which he will continue to do throughout the season; something he will be disappointed with to say the least.
No good comes from the unhappiness of senior pros, as Andre Villas Boas found out to his cost at Chelsea, and rock-bottom morale is one of the key ingredients for disaster at any level of football, and those signs were evident as soon as Matt Jarvis silenced the home crowd with three minutes on the clock.
This poor showing can be viewed as the tip of an ugly iceberg; Swansea gave them the run-around of all run-arounds on day one and Norwich should have banged a hatful past them in a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road.
This would suggest Hughes’ problems are more blatant than low morale.
His insistence on sticking to a rigid and outdated 4-4-2 formation is causing all kinds of problems for his back four, who are offered minimal protection from Alejandro Faurlin and Esteban Granero in the middle of the park. Their games revolve around creative ability, not snuffing out attacks.
Their teams would be better suited to a 4-3-3, slotting an anchor man in between defence and midfield would provide their centre backs with some respite and stem the flow of threatening balls being played from the opposition’s midfield.
Creative players like Granero, who has struggled to make an impact in the hoops of QPR, would also benefit from playing in a 4-3-3 set up. He could focus more on picking passes to hurt opposition instead of altering his game to comply with the restrictions imposed upon him by their 4-4-2.
They have defensive midfield players at their disposal in Samba Diakite and Shaun Derry, so are capable of making the switch. They also have finances available to bring in better options should they be deemed substandard.
Going forward, Bobby Zamora is the perfect candidate to spearhead a three-pronged attack, while the likes of Junior Hoilett, Djibril Cisse, and Adel Taarabt have the ability to play the supporting roles out wide.
The latter in particular has the quality to change a game in an instant, as he proved with his scorcher against the Hammers, and is completely wasted playing a bit-part role from the bench.
His ball-control, football-brain and power make him a nightmare for defenders and, if allowed to play without the constraints of 4-4-2, can be as threatening as any recognised Premier League superstar in the final third.
If Hughes fails to make this essential tweak, his side will continue to disappoint and he is likely to find himself unemployed or, failing that, take the R’s down to the Championship in one of the biggest Premier League catastrophes to date.
All odds and markets accurate as publication’s time and date