Old Friends The Name Of The Game For Hughes
Similar to that of his predecessor, Mark Hughes has reacquainted himself with familiar faces as his summer shopping spree gets underway. The Welshman has turned to old pals Andrew Johnson and Ryan Nelsen, who played under Hughes at Fulham and Blackburn respectively, as he looks to bolster a squad that only survived relegation by the skin of their teeth last season. The similarities are uncanny to that of Warnock and his captures of Clint Hill and Shaun Derry in 2010, as both signings have been largely seen as uninspiring and unadventurous.
Fast forward two years and we see Hill as the worthy holder of both Players` and Supporters` Player of the Year awards, while Shaun Derry is still more than an integral squad member - should we be concerned or reassured at Hughes`s appreciation of experienced heads?
We were oh so kindly treated to the astounding and at times exasperating spate of dross leaving nearly every players` mouth at the back end of last season, indulging us in their words of wisdom about 'how every game was a cup final` and 'how they`d be giving their all`. This summer it appears QPR`s 'ambition` and 'exciting times at the club` will be the name of the game, as each new signing pampers the fans with the same old twaddle that, quite frankly, isn`t fooling anybody. For me, 34 and 31-year-old footballers can hardly be that enthused at joining a club that appears to be going places, as they look to milk as much money out of the game as possible before hanging up their boots - something I`m sure QPR are providing with exquisite service.
Age appears to be the big issue with these two latest signings. Much was made of the squad`s average age last season and the acquisitions of Johnson and Nelsen have hardly made concerted efforts at reducing this. Do I expect them to be in the starting 11 week in week out? No. Will they provide sufficient depth and experience to the squad? Yes.
It is for these reasons as to why we must look at these two signings as potentially shrewd acquisitions. It looks likely any new striker will be playing back up to Cisse and Zamora, and rather than turning round and sighing every time Hughes sees Bothroyd and Hulse, it would make sense to look to someone with added experience and attacking and game changing abilities. One of the main reasons Clint Hill managed to cement his place in the starting 11 during the last few months of the season was his clear and infectious leadership qualities. Ferdinand and Onuoha`s heavy reliance on somebody else guiding them through games probably prompted to Hughes to go out and secure another 'leader`. It would therefore make sense for Hughes to go and sign players he knows will play these roles effectively - hence the signings of Nelsen and Johnson.
If you were one of the fans considerably underwhelmed by these two signings, don`t expect to be blown away this summer. Bar the inevitable signing of Diakite and potentially one other, I don`t see another Cisse or Barton making their way down to Loftus Road. Two main reasons as to why we only survived relegation by the skin of our teeth was the arrivals of Cisse, Onuoha, Diakite et al halfway through the season and our alarmingly dreadful away form. Sort out the latter and I believe we have a seriously threatening starting Premiership 11. Mark Hughes clearly knows this, and will be doing all he can to ensure we add to the squad as opposed to barging around the transfer market buying every player that has a whiff of availability to his name.
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