Date:Monday December 17 2012
ADEL Taarabt is back on the map after a scintillating weekend display, will he be the jewel in the crown if QPR are to remain in the Premier League?
The Moroccan without question contributed heavily to the weekend effort, and helped inspire Queens Park Rangers to a long-overdue first win against neighbours Fulham. His second goal in particular helped round off an excellent individual and team display.
Cast your mind back to March 2009 and Taarabt's first loan spell with the club - a maverick that entertained and helped light up an otherwise dull Paulo Sousa side with his individual emphasis on attack helping to belie a strictly reserved set-up.
A succession of managers came and went with Adel ostensibly the focal point of the attack, but in truth he truly came to life when Neil Warnock was able to embed the enigmatic soloist into a side focused on team ethics and hard work.
With that in mind, Adel starting cutting out some unnecessary aspects to his game - albeit with the odd temper tantrum for instance up at Hull City - and became a mature footballer that was now able to carry QPR when necessary to edge important wins.
These victories ultimately helped Rangers to promotion, but after nurturing Taarabt so ably, Warnock seemed to leave him in the shadows - dropping him to the bench or even out of the squad where he didn't feel his attitude was sufficient.
From enduring a lively and unpredictable personality it seemed that Warnock had now put Adel to one side for the greater good - to my mind something that eventually saw Rangers as too rigid and lacking that unpredictable edge that got them to the top flight.
Many suggested that Norwich City and Swansea City were built around a team ethic, albeit with their own individual kingmakers, a top half Championship team was made champions by virtue of Taarabt's abilities - out of the team, Rangers had reverted somewhat.
When Mark Hughes reintroduced Taarabt and beyond the excitement of safety in the 2011-12 campaign, the Moroccan again appeared more mature than ever, and despite some poor displays leading to winless records being shattered, Taarabt was looking useful.
He chased, he defended and he even win headers - Taarabt's invigoration was admirable cast against the backdrop of some of his colleagues and the situation at large. While Hughes rightfully went, his contribution to Taarabt should not go unnoticed.
Since Harry Redknapp took over, it seems at times that Taarabt was slowly reverting to type, taking one too many touches, appearing exasperated with every misplaced pass and ultimately seeing his performances suffer.
One might suggest there was an air of resignation about his performances given in the first couple of weeks under the boss that sold him at Tottenham and continued to belittle his achievements. Redknapp however is an excellent man-manager and this was borne out this weekend.
Taarabt has always been discouraged from certain aspects of the game - one of Warnock's two golden rules - 'do not pass to Adel Taarabt in your own half' he even suggested fines would be applicable for those that do. The other for your interest was that Paddy Kenny is not allowed to go to Halifax.
Hughes meanwhile curbed Taarabt's instinct a tad by making him think about his through balls and snuffing out that instinct that makes Adel the enigmatic individual that ultimately saw Rangers to promotion and safety.
Taarabt was at his best when the whole team worked around him and allowed him the space to work his magic - epitomised by the promotion winning team. In the victory over Fulham, QPR gave Taarabt that license once more, underpinned by a sold, hard-working back-bone.
Harry still thinks Taarabt is the 'fruitcake' he once described the midfield talisman - but here's to hoping he is the cherry on top of a monumental push for safety under Harry Houdini and his hard-working set-up.
Date:Monday December 17 2012
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Stats: Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland (Saturday August 30 2014)
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