In the after-match hysteria that followed Manchester City’s dramatic last-minute, last-day Premier League title victory, what could have become of Queens Park Rangers was quickly forgotten.
That dramatic Sergio Aguero goal could have had huge repercussions for Rangers, but Bolton’s inability to beat Stoke relegated Wanderers instead of QPR and after the match, Mark Hughes gave a defiant rallying cry to the club’s supporters.
“As long as I am at the club,” the Welshman said, “we will never be in this position again, I guarantee that.”
Almost within moments of uttering those words, Hughes seems to have gone about ensuring his boldness won’t come back to haunt him.
Rangers have hit 12 goals in three pre-season games so far this summer and it would be no surprise to see them among the goals again tonight.
Because since the transfer window opened, Hughes has been the busiest Premier League manager in the market and as QPR prepare for their second year back in the big time, the difference between last summer and this couldn’t be larger.
With a largely Championship-level squad and a Championship-level manager in Neil Warnock, QPR looked ill-equipped for a tilt at the Premier League, but 12 months on, aided by new owner Tony Fernandes’ millions, things appear very different.
Hughes has brought in a number of players with top-flight experience (Park Ji-Sung, Robert Green, Andy Johnson, Ryan Nelsen) and a couple of exciting younger players (Junior Hoilett, Fabio da Silva) and the squad heads to the 2012/13 season looking like Premier League quality and the Loftus Road side should avoid another struggle under Hughes, who has a decent (if slightly overrated) managerial record.
After a successful tour of Asia, Rangers are back home, with a trip to Wycombe their next pre-season fixture. The Hoops are 2/5 to come away from Adams Park with a win, with the home team 21/4 and the draw quoted at 13/4.
The two clubs are connected via Wycombe’s management team. Both boss Gary Waddock and first-team coach Gareth Ainsworth played for, coached and managed Rangers and both men are fondly remembered by the fans at Loftus Road.
Both are popular at Adams Park, too, despite Wycombe’s relegation from League One last term and another go at promotion for a club that has recently lived a yo-yo existence between the bottom two divisions in recent years is the expectation as he new League Two season approaches.
The Chairboys were unbeaten in five pre-season friendlies against non-league opposition before a 3-0 defeat to Hughes’ old club Fulham on Saturday and that gap in quality is likely to be just as great when QPR visit on Tuesday.
With all 2,000 away tickets sold (due to the Olympic Games, this is as close to a home match QPR are allowed to have this summer), it is impossible to see beyond an away win.
That is too short at 2/5, but with the firepower Hughes as at his disposal, there could be a few goals and the 29/20 on there being over 3.5 is the way to go here.
Punters registering with bwin can claim a free £20 bet and placing this on four or more goals to be scored in Wycombe v QPR would return if successful.
After all, Rangers have hit 12 goals in three pre-season games so far this summer and it would be no surprise to see them among the goals again tonight.
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