Date:Thursday August 14 2008
David McIntyre is a journalist who has covered QPR for the local and national press since 1999. We asked him for his thoughts on the coming season.
Incidentally he gave his answers before rumours about Iain Dowie's position appeared in last Wednesday's papers.
Did QPR fare how you expected last term?
Yes, pretty much. Before the start of the season it seemed like the takeover and subsequent spending on new players would happen, either keeping Rangers away from a relegation scrap if it went through before the transfer window closed or helping to move away from trouble with some new players later on. I was surprised though at how quickly the new players gelled.
What is your opinion of the Dawn of a new era at Loftus Road?
I was in a tiny minority of people who didn`t think this regime would be at all good for the club and most things I`ve seen so far have reinforced that view. It`s similar to the Chris Wright era, when the writing was on the wall from the start but most people couldn`t see beyond the grand statements and money being spent on players. Once again QPR are cash-rich but remain poor in terms of sound leadership and management.
If you want to see money spent and loads of players signed, then the owners will deliver plenty of that. But anyone expecting it to buy long-term success will be disappointed and anyone keen for QPR to be run by people who care about the club and will act in its best interests will be even more disappointed.
I wince every time I read or hear about this bright future Rangers are supposedly facing. I fear there are actually some bad times ahead. At the moment though the interests of the owners and fans are linked because both want QPR to be in the Premier League, so the love-in with Briatore & co and the hot air coming out of the club will continue for a while yet.
What did you think of the job Luigi De Canio did at Rangers?
I liked him. He`s a top coach who could run rings around many Premier League managers and I could understand why many people were upset when he left. But he wasn`t right for Rangers and vice versa. It just wasn`t working out. The bottom line was he didn`t sign the players or even get to use his preferred formation. There were also communication problems. So what was the point?
What did you feel about the appointment of Iain Dowie?
I think those who turned their noses up at his appointment don`t appreciate the state the club has been in and the scale of the job facing any incoming manager. And a proper manager was what was needed - someone to come in and sort the place out. Just coaching the first team isn`t enough, so if Dowie is unable to branch out beyond that then he and the club have got no chance. He has to make some good judgement calls early on and hope this increases his leverage with the board as he looks to take on more responsibility. If they won`t let him do that, he`ll never succeed at QPR and more importantly, neither will they - no matter how much money they spend.
Dowie is intelligent, works hard, has good contacts and is a football man who knows what needs to be done. For QPR that is an immeasurable step forward at this point, despite what the hype surrounding the club since the takeover might have people believing. It`s a club where even some of the basics most lesser clubs take for granted haven`t been in place.
I`m also surprised when I hear people saying that Dowie will play the long ball and won`t accommodate players like Buzsaky, Ledesma and now Cook and Parejo. I don`t know how he got that reputation because he isn`t like that at all. He`s always played a passing game and you`d struggle to find a British manager so keen on flair players and attacking football.
So Dowie for me was a very important appointment. He`s got some battles ahead he`ll need to win though if he`s going to last longer than he did at Coventry or even Charlton. If he manages to do that, he can take QPR forward.
How do you think QPR have performed in the transfer market so far?
Poorly in January in terms of value for money, although Buzsaky was QPR`s best signing for over a decade and I like Connolly a lot. The soundbites about not overspending were ridiculous given the money spent just to turn Rangers from a bottom three side into a mid-table one. At that rate this lot were on course to make the Wright years look prudent.
To put things into perspective, Dowie`s record in the transfer market is patchy but at Coventry he signed Fox and Dann - two young players with serious Premiership potential - for significantly less than the kind of money QPR were throwing around.
Since then, Ramage is a good signing, as is Gorkss who more importantly cost what a good Championship player should cost, which after some of the January overspending was a welcome development. It also made sense to take Cook on an initial loan. It would be great if he gets back to his best. Obviously Parejo is an incredible signing and it`ll be interesting to see how Ledesma and the Italian boys do.
Overall, I`m encouraged having previously had a real downer on the club`s transfer dealings. Even as a critic of the club`s hierarchy I can`t argue with the signing of Parejo. That`s a stunning acquisition.
I still think the club is missing a trick though. Rangers are now in a position where they could pick off the Lescotts and Cahills, not to mention the Walcotts of the future without most other clubs being able to get near them. QPR could dominate that market. If the owners really were about building a solid base and doing things sensibly, they`d put the apparatus in place for this to happen. If Dowie gets off to a good start and can cement his position at the club, then he may be able to do this for them.
Who do you feel will be QPR`s most influential player this season?
I hope Parejo is a major success. It can be difficult for even the best overseas players to adapt here, but Parejo`s big advantage is that his strengths make him well suited to the Championship because the areas he gets into so well are a real weak spot for teams in that division. I don`t think there`s one Championship team that isn`t vulnerable to someone hitting that area between midfield and attack. He`ll be very difficult to pick up no matter how hard opposing teams try to kick him.
Having said that, I believe Buzsaky is still the jewel in the QPR crown and would grace the Premier League, so I hope his progress isn`t hampered by the new players. Gorkss is also a vital signing because he`s a quality addition to what has been the weakest area of the team for a long time.
Where do you expect QPR to finish come the end of the season?
The three recent signings have improved the squad dramatically and I do believe Rangers now have a side capable of challenging for the top two, so I wouldn`t write off their chances in the way I would have been prepared to do some weeks ago.
I still think though that other factors will hamper Rangers this season, so a top-six place would surprise me. Around eighth seems more likely to me, although if things click then with the resources QPR have they could win that division hands down.
A lot depends on Briatore and how he reacts when Rangers have a wobble, which all teams will. If he doesn`t react well, then promotion is impossible not just this season, but for as long as he and his friends own the club.
The problem is that the start could be the most difficult part of the season for Rangers, which given the owners` ambitions and some of the fans` feelings on the price hikes and Dowie`s appointment is not good news. There are new players, some settling in a foreign country and others who haven`t had a full pre-season. Rowlands will miss the start and of course Buzsaky and Vine will be out for even longer. It may take time for Rangers to get going and I can`t see the owners and supporters standing for that. But if they do get the chance to get build up a head of steam, Rangers will take some stopping in the second half of the season.
But even if Rangers are in contention when push comes to shove, the team that prevails won`t be the one with Briatore and Ecclestone in the dressing room and the likes of Naomi Campbell lording it in the directors` box. The club needs stability more than it needs money. Briatore must give Dowie not just the tools for the job, but also the right environment to work in. If the owners put football before showbiz then QPR have a real chance.
Who will be…
Champions: Derby County. They`ve been preparing for it since February and have bought well, partly because they knew who they wanted and everything has been in place there for a while.
Overachievers: I suppose Derby seeing as they`re not that highly-fancied. I think Swansea will do well too.
Underachievers: As much as I rate Gary Johnson, I think Bristol City might find the going tough this time around.
Young Player to Watch: Victor Moses at Palace. Forest`s Lewis McGugan is also very good.
Top Goalscorer: Nathan Ellington. Word is he`s focused again after losing his way a bit, and Paul Jewell gets the best out of him.
Vital QPR would like to thank David for his contribution
Previous Season Previews:
Ben Kosky - Kilburn Times .
Clive Whittingham - Loft For Words.
Simon Skinner - QPRnet.com.
Dave Barton - queensparkrangersfc.com.
Mike - QPR Report - Part I and Part II.
Rangers Draw Carlisle.
The Kit Of Choice - Poll Result .
Exclusive: Chris Day - Part II.
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Date:Thursday August 14 2008
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