As another transfer window draws to an end, clubs focus in on the remaining second half of the season – the ‘business end’ you might say. But business is something that QPR have alluded for a worrying, extending amount of time. After failing to spend a single penny over summer, QPR have done the same again in the January window just gone as they look to further reduce their once astronomical wage budget. Playing in The Sky Bet Championship, there is no such thing as ‘easy’ or ‘winnable’ fixtures, and QPR like every other team have a crucial month up ahead of them.
January held some tricky fixtures for QPR, playing 2 of the current top 4 in Cardiff and Bristol City. The month started with a great 2-1 win at home to Neil Warnock’s Cardiff and with the tempo set for the month, QPR came crashing out of the FA Cup in the third round at the hands of MK Dons – a bogey competition for The Hoops, who have made the fourth round just once in their previous 8 attempts. Holloway’s men bounced back the weekend after with a 3-1 win at strugglers Burton Albion, but faced a tricky finish to the month with losses to Middlesbrough and Bristol City – 3-0 and 2-0 respectively.
Two positive wins in January have given QPR some breathing space at the lower end of the table, now lying in 16th with 8 points separating them from the relegation zone. But after failing to sign anyone in the January transfer window, QPR may struggle to cope with the density of the fixture list with the increasingly light squad that they have. After the departures of Polish midfielder Ariel Borysiuk and forward Brandon Comley, and season-long injuries to David Wheeler, Jamie Mackie and striker Idrissa Sylla, QPR are somewhat ‘thin-on-the-ground’ regarding squad players.
But despite the lack of new-comers, there are welcomed returns back from injury for last year’s player of the season Grant Hall, as well returns for James Perch and Joel Lynch in defence. This month QPR will travel to table-toppers Wolves this month where they look to do the double over the runaway leaders, and also pay a visit to Sheffield United whilst hosting Barnsley, Bolton and Nottingham Forest. Sheffield United are finding their feet again after a bad spell saw them drop off in the race for promotion, but both United and Wolves have coming to a fortified Loftus Road this season and been beaten.
But victories over teams like Wolves, Sheffield United and Cardiff means nothing when you’re getting beaten by the teams in and around you. A 4-0 defeat away to Forest earlier in the season marred what had been a half-decent start to the campaign, and non-results at Bolton, Millwall and Barnsley have left fans with the bitter taste of frustration which is becoming ever-more common with Ian Holloway at the helm.
A mid-table finish is not beyond the realms of possibility for QPR, a finish that would be highly regarded as a success given the lack of players brought in. We have always had a capable squad, the team just needs the correct guidance to re-establish themselves as Championship contenders.