Another terrible Premier League season for Queens Park Rangers has resulted in relegation from the top division. From the start of the season to the end, QPR never looked like they were going to have enough to stay up, despite having Charlie Austin, the striker who scored 18 of their 42 league goals. Having spent 28 of the 38 game weeks inside the relegation zone, it was confirmed within a few weeks of the season’s conclusion that they would be making an immediate return to the Championship. Much like the last time they were in the Premier League, their recruitment was all wrong.
QPR spent big money for Steven Caulker, who didn’t look good enough for the league, and £6million on Jordon Mutch, who they went on to sell for £4million in the January window just six months later. Redknapp’s signing of Sandro also proved to be unfortunate, with the holding midfielder spending more time in the treatment room than on the pitch and then the farce of his UK Visa running out meaning he wasn’t allowed to play in the last month of the season. Lastly was the loan signing of Mauricio Isla, with Redknapp’s intention to play three centre-backs along with wing-backs. Isla suited that role, but when it didn’t work immediately, Redknapp quickly changed the system and it made Isla’s signing almost useless.
Although they weren’t too bad at home, it was their away form that proved disastrous. They didn’t pick up a single away point until the 10th of February, a whole seven months into the season. This came just a week after Harry Redknapp’s farcical departure from the club, where he cited “dodgy knees” as the reason he couldn’t continue to manage the club, and not the fact that QPR brought no one in during the January window. Okay Harry, we all believe you. Chris Ramsey has shown some positive signs for the QPR fans. Giving some of the youth players a chance in the final months of the season shows he is looking to the future and that in a Championship campaign, they may get some considerable game time.
Key Player – Charlie Austin
I don’t think anyone else came into mind when choosing this accolade. The England forward has so famously built his way up from the non-leagues to an England call-up earlier this month. 18 goals in a side that finished bottom of the table shows the ability the 25-year-old possesses.
Austin directly contributed to more of his team’s goals than any other player in the league this season, amounting to 55% of QPR’s goals, and the fear for them and their fans is that he will be in hot demand this summer. It will undoubtedly be very difficult for the Hoops to keep hold of their man if a significant bid comes in. He’s not the paciest of forwards, but he was clinical with the shots he took, with 68% of 130 shots hitting the target, particularly at home where he scored the majority of his goals.
Most Improved Player – Matthew Phillips
The reason I’ve gone with Phillips for most improved is due to his form in 2015. Up until February, Phillips had the most assists in Europe in 2015, and ended up picking up eight in the final six months of the season.
Arguably scoring the goal of the season away at Crystal Palace in March, Phillips became one of very few players who offered any support to Austin throughout the whole season. Like Austin, I think the winger could have a number of suitors this summer, with the potential of a cut price deal for the Scottish international. From watching him as a youngster at Wycombe Wanderers to a Premier League regular and somewhat shining star, it’s been a major improvement from Phillips.
Fans’ View – Chris Mendes (Digital Producer for ITV and ¼ of The QPR Podcast)
For the second time in three years, QPR dropped into the Championship with players signed by a manager no longer in charge. Once again, we are faced with a summer of chaos and the inevitability of wholesale changes.
Considering the financial clout of chairman Tony Fernandes and the vast sums he forks out on wages, there should be no excuse for finishing bottom. He must shoulder a large chunk of the blame for Harry Redknapp’s disastrous moves in the transfer market. Redknapp signed Rio Ferdinand to play in a 3-5-2 formation that was abandoned after two weeks. Maurico Isla joined as a wing-back in the same system and proved to be unreliable at full back. Eduardo Vargas arrived on loan, but Redknapp insisted on using him out wide. He spent £6m on Jordon Mutch and sold the midfielder to Crystal Palace after six league appearances. Record signing Sandro, at £10m, completed just five matches because of injury and was later ruled out when his UK visa ran out.
Chris Ramsey had no chance of keeping QPR alive with the disjointed bunch of misfits his predecessor left behind following his farcical departure. Redknapp, clearly lacking the stomach for a fight, quit in January citing knee problems. Ramsey’s enthusiasm for the job since then has provided fans with a much needed breath of fresh air, even though results didn’t improve. He’s deserved the chance to prove himself next season.