Football

QPR safe in mid-table after fluctuating form

After winning their opening two fixtures without conceding, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and the QPR faithful would have wished that the season ended as soon as it began.

Unfortunately for Rangers, they still had another 44 league games to play. Their early table-topping status was abruptly abolished after back-to-back defeats, and such fluctuating patterns of form have reflected Queens Park Rangers’ season.

After a bright start, Hasselbank was sacked in November.

After under a year in charge, Hasselbaink was perhaps harshly sacked in November. In came Ian Holloway, with the sceptics’ curse of “never go back” upon Holloway’s shoulders.

Tjaronn Chery and Seb Polter’s early goals had dried up way before the managerial change, although Polter notched in Holloway’s first victory versus Norwich.

Despite this opening win, the curse of an old manager returning appeared to strike Holloway. Rangers went on a dismal run of six losses in a row, with just a single goal to show for themselves. But the R’s inexplicably responded with three wins on the bounce at the turn of the year, before their rollercoaster form took another dip as they went five without a win.

Sandwiched in between the league wins was an FA Cup defeat to Blackburn, which saw QPR tie the unwanted record of most third-round exits in the competition’s history.

The main struggle for QPR this year has been an alarming lack of goals. Rangers have never replaced talisman Charlie Austin, with Matt Smith having big boots to fill since joining from neighbours Fulham in January.

QPR have never replaced their talisman of Charlie Austin since his move away from Loftus Road.

Senegalese striker Idrissa Sylla has fired in eight in his debut season, but the return from his team-mates has been underwhelming. After Conor Washington’s six league goals, the next on the list are Chery and Polter with four apiece, who both left the country in January.

But the ever-present Alex Smithies has impressed in goal. Another to play almost every minute is defender Nedum Onuoha, whose three goals place him as joint-third highest league scorer of the players still left at Loftus Road.

A lack of stability cost QPR their Premier League place two years ago, and they’ve struggled to adapt their new squad into the Championship. But Rangers are now sitting comfortably in mid-table, after winning their last four fixtures as Loftus Road to hit the magic 50 points mark.

The jury’s still out on Holloway’s side, but R’s fans will be optimistic that their recent consistent home form will transmit into 2017/18.