Queens Park Rangers have pursued a scattergun approach to player transfers that should provide enough quality to keep them out of trouble. However, Mark Hughes and chairman Tony Fernandes need to learn sooner rather than later that quantity isn’t always the answer, and success comes in building a settled side rather than throwing money at assembling a squad.
A quick glance at their heavily financed predecessors, Chelsea and Man City, should give QPR an indication of the rights and wrongs of football investment. Chelsea bought seventeen players in Roman Abramovich’s first transfer window, but only seven of those signings had a notable involvement in Jose Mourinho’s title-winning side the following season and four of the others were sold within a year. In the first two seasons under the ownership of the Abu Dhabi Group, Man City signed twenty-two new players of which only eight are involved in the first team squad three years on. Ultimately both Chelsea and Man City have achieved great success since receiving the investment, but both clubs suffered huge losses on several players that found themselves surplus to requirements in a short space of time. QPR may not have spent nearly as much as either Chelsea or City, but in buying fifteen players in less than twelve months Tony Fernandes will have dramatically increased the club’s wage bill and has overloaded the squad in much the same way.
Creating a team out of this influx of new arrivals will be no easy task, but there appears to be a good balance to QPR’s signings. Last season Hughes opted for either a 4-3-3 or a 4-4-2 depending on the opposition, and with wingers Junior Hoilett and Park Ji-Sung joining the likes of Adel Taarabt, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jamie Mackie he should have the personnel to seamlessly switch between the two systems relatively easily. Up front the club boasts a trio of experienced Premier League strikers in Bobby Zamora, Djibril Cisse and Andy Johnson to score enough goals, whilst at the back Hughes has again opted for experience in Robert Green and Ryan Nelson. Starting from a lower base than both Chelsea and City has allowed QPR to target established Premier League players rather than gambling on foreign stars.
With all nouveau riche clubs the challenges are twofold. Firstly, how long will the wealthy owner remain interested considering the huge imbalance of the club’s new finances? Secondly, how will the team evolve as it improves? Will players simply be discarded when an upgrade is available, or will QPR look to build a squad that can progress with occasional additions? Considering the average age of QPR’s new signings has been over 28 expect a few more seasons of upheaval ahead. Hughes may have assembled a squad to keep the club out of trouble but it may be a few years before he builds a team that can make progress further up the league.