As we enter the final week of the summer transfer window and as managers look to put the finishing touches to their squad before the window – *creaks/slams/quietly shuts (*insert as appropriate) on Friday night – it looks as if it will be a busy week at Loftus Road for Mark Hughes and QPR. Hughes has been playing the transfer market in the same way as a teenager plays Football Manager, albeit, an out of date one – snapping up as many players as is possible. Is QPR’s slapdash approach to the transfer market sensible?
QPR survived the drop by the skin of their teeth last season, on the final day of the season, despite losing 3-2 to Manchester City, results elsewhere meant that Hughes’ side survived leading the former Fulham and Wales coach to proclaim: “We will never be in their situation against while I am manager.” Much to his dismay, after a busy summer, QPR were humbled 5-0 by Swansea on the opening day of the season. Just two players – Clint Hill and Adel Taarabt – remained from the squad that was beat 4-0 on the opening day of last season by Bolton.
Since that opening day, and since Tony Fernandes took over the club as chairman, 15 new players have arrived – last season: Joey Barton, Luke Young, Armand Traore, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand, Nedum Onuoha, Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora. This season: Ryan Nelsen, Andy Johnson, Robert Green, Samba Diakite, Park Ji-Sung, Junior Holliett and Jose Bosingwa. As Jamie Jackson wrote last week, just six of those signings could “be expected to have a significant sell-on value or have their best years ahead of them.”
Loftus Road has almost become the home of the over 30’s. According to transfermarkt, QPR have the oldest squad in the Premier League at an average age of 29.4, ahead of Stoke City at 29.1. While, a couple of those could be leaving during this week, namely, Rob Hulse, Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell and Tommy Smith. Joey Barton seem ever the more likely to be given a free transfer this week, also as he wishes to move to France to join Marseille. Hughes, however, continues to be linked with players that are over 30 – Real Madrid defender Ricardo Carvalho, Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe and Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar have all been touted with a move to Loftus Road.
Hughes and Fernandes have brought in a wide range of Premier League experience this summer, but one can’t help but feel that the slapdash approach to bringing in players is not entirely sensible and could come back to bite them in the future. If reports are to be believed, while QPR may not be bringing in players for large transfer fees, there have been murmurs about the type of wages that the club is paying those players that have joined. Both Norwich and Swansea have gone about their business pragmatically and logically, unlike QPR.
As much as, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one bad result doesn’t make a season, as QPR drew their second game of the season on Saturday, 1-1 against Norwich – but September brings three of the Premier League’s big guns, Manchester City (A), Chelsea (H) and Tottenham (A) before the visit of newly promoted West Ham at the end of the month. QPR were tipped by many to achieve mid-table safety, despite their outlay this summer, second-season syndrome can always be lurking in the shadows.