It took a mere two minutes on Sunday for Junior Hoilett, recalled to the Queen’s Park Rangers side for the first time in the league since Tottenham Hotspur away this time last month, to make his mark. In stark contrast to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who has been largely anonymous and bafflingly ever-present thus far, he attacks with purpose and more than makes up for a lack of defensive merit.
A recent parody saw a fake Facebook conversation between members of the first team posted online, in which the 30-year-old winger asks manager Mark Hughes if he’s playing. The gaffer replies: “Of course you can. I’ll move Adel to the bench.” While exaggerated, this reflects the impression given by the Rangers boss that Wright-Phillips has simply been allowed to walk into the first team in spite of his form and ability.
Sadly, the Welshman has hardly given the impression of being thoroughly in control of events at Loftus Road and elsewhere concerning the club. Injuries he could not have avoided decimated the team for weeks, but with players now returning, the same problems persist.
R’s supporters are certainly torn on their interpretation of QPR so far this season. The half-hearted booing at the end of the weekend’s game was indicative of the fans’ verdict that, while things are bad – really bad, in fact – getting rid of Hughes would probably not help matters a great deal. Managerial upheaval damaged the club so heavily in the years before Neil Warnock took over that a return to the days of trigger happy chopping and changing would surely result in the club’s relegation.
However, the same mistakes cannot keep being made. Another dose of poor defending saw Sylvain Distin head home an equaliser which deflected unfortunately off Julio Cesar. The side’s lack of drive was also on display in front of the television cameras after the Toffees were reduced to 10 men, with Steven Pienaar harshly given a second yellow card.
Other teams without a win to their name and under immense pressure from disgruntled supporters and pundits beginning to write them off would have initiated a veritable blitz on the opposition goal. Instead, Rangers tamely set about playing off a stalemate against a depleted Everton, probably quite content with a point after losing their South African playmaker.
There is not a shortage of talent at QPR. Admittedly there is a patent lack of a suitable left-back, with Fabio still absent, but even before this, when he was fully fit, many questioned whether further reinforcements were required.
Yet further up the pitch the options proliferate and ability increases. Between Esteban Granero, Alejandro Faurlin, Samba Dakite, Ji-sung Park, Hoilett and Taarabt, there is a good midfield four (or five) struggling to get out.
The summer recruitment paid for by Tony Fernandes should not be bearing such little fruit. The R’s should not be struggling, let alone bottom of the league and in danger of being cut adrift.
While it is easy to forget that the arrival of almost a whole new team in signings can create a disjointed, ill-acquainted rabble of disinterested millionaires, a good manager should be able to force these disparate figures together into a cohesive unit. Sadly for Hughes, he may not even get to see the moment when the players he brought in finally start to click. In reality, Rangers are unlikely to take points off Arsenal, Stoke City or Manchester United on the road.
Therefore, to all intents and purposes, the former Manchester City boss has two games – against Reading and Southampton – to save his job and keep the “QPR project” alive. I for one desperately hope he can do it. The dark old days are best not repeated.
(The above pic was taken by Martin Percival. All rights are reserved and his photos are used by the Independent R’s with his permission)