As the new football season approaches, we at Football Fans Online will be writing a series of previews giving our take on what to expect in the next 12 months. The 2011-12 season looks set to be one of the most intriguing for years, and we can’t wait for the action to get started.
Over the coming days, as the first of many 2011-12 previews, we will be taking a look at what to expect from the 3 newly promoted clubs to the Barclays Premier League. The financial rewards that come along with being a Premier League team are well documented, and owners face many difficult choices. Ultimately, this resembles a tough hand at the blackjack table. Stick or Twist?
Do you risk the financial future of the club chasing premier league stability? Signing players you otherwise couldn’t normally afford on wages that blow apart the structure employed in the championship? Many would say that it is a gamble worth taking. However, we have seen many clubs spend beyond their means and suffer for many years to come after relegation (Leeds, Charlton,and Hull City are recent examples). The football league is littered with previously well established premier league clubs. A cautionary tale to all.
So what for the Npower Championship winners 2011, Queens Park Rangers? This time last year, hardly any pundits were tipping the R’s for promotion, highlighting the competitive nature of the football league. The team came out of the traps flying, winning 9 of their first 11 games to claim 1st place, scoring a hatful of goals in the process. After this point, they were never out of the automatic promotion places. Only for two weeks of the season did they lose top spot. They finished on a total of 88 points, 8 points above 3rd placed Cardiff City.
Matters on the field went just about as well as they could, with highly experienced manager Neil Warnock turning the team into a well oiled machine, packed with attacking flair but equally as strong at the back. The team lost only 6 games all season.
Off the field however, problems surrounding the signing of Alejandro Faurlin threatened to blow their season apart. A points deduction was a real possibility, and only on the final weekend of the season was their promotion confirmed. The club were fined £875,000 and warned as to their future conduct after being found guilty of two of the seven charges they faced over the transfer.
Rangers star man last season was without doubt, Moroccan international Adel Tarrabt. Tarrabt, 22, who first came to English football as a teenager at Tottenham Hotspur had a simply sensational season. He was the club’s top scorer in the league with 19 goals, and his all round skill proving a class above in the Championship. Some of his highlights can be seen here – Adel Tarrabt in action
Other notable signings in the summer of 2010 were vital in helping Rangers secure promotion. Warnock recruited goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, Crystal Palace pair Shaun Derry and Clint Hill all of whom were almost ever present throughout the season. The loan market was also well utilised, as the club brought in highly rated fullback Kyle Walker from Tottenham, and Newcastle winger Wayne Routledge.
So what can QPR fans expect in the coming season? For any club coming into the league, the target for the first season will be simply to survive. Anything higher than a 17th placed finish should be viewed as a bonus. QPR would do well to take inspiration from West Bromich Albion, who came up to the premier league a year ago on a limited budget and finished in 11th place.
Yesterday, Rangers fans received possibly the best bit of news they will hear all summer as majority shareholders Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore announced categorically that star man Tarrabt will not be sold under any circumstances.
‘We are pleased to confirm that Adel Taarabt will be staying at QPR this summer. Despite receiving a substantial bid for our Moroccan international, we rebuffed all approaches and indeed, we are keen to build for the future in the Barclays Premier League, and not sell one of our prized assets.”
While this is great news for the club, it’s clear that new faces are needed to add some much needed premier league experience to the ranks.
The club has already made some moves in the transfer market by adding West Ham flop Kieron Dyer, and Cardiff forward Jay Bothroyd to the squad. Both have unquestionable ability, but there are question marks over their fitness and temperament respectively. They also have Welsh international defender Danny Gabbidon on trial, after his contract at West Ham expired and are looking to tie up a deal in the next week or so. The owners have also promised to that more signings will be made before the end of the transfer window.
Whatever happens between now and May, it’s safe to say that all R’s fans will enjoy the ride. The premier league can be brutal at times, and there may be some dark days but I feel the club has a good chance of survival. With Neil Warnock at the helm, you know that his team will certainly match up to the physical requirements that the league demands. They need to make Loftus road a difficult place for teams to come and play, by closing down quickly and not allowing opposition players too much time on the ball.
If they can make themselves hard to beat, you feel that with a player such as Adel Tarrabt in the team, they will certainly create chances. As we know in the premier league, it’s taking those chances that really matters and looking at the squad you feel that a new striker with premier league experience is a must. If they can do that, then I think come August 2012 – QPR will still be a Premier League team.