Queens Park Rangers
Last season: 1st in Championship
FA Cup: Third round
Carling Cup: First round
Opening three fixtures: Bolton (h), Everton (a), Wigan (a)
Transfers in: Danny Gabbidon, Kieron Dyer (both West Ham, free), DJ Campbell (Blackpool, £1.25m), Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff, free)
Transfers out: Maz Ehmer (Yeovil, loan)
Key man: Adel Taarabt
Odds for relegation: 3/2
As with any newly promoted team, QPR are odds-on to go straight back down. Although they have held on to star man and captain Adel Taarabt, a frustrating summer has seen the club spend just £1.25 million – all on striker DJ Campbell. A lack of funds has left the R’s restricted to free transfers, with injury-plagued midfielder Kieron Dyer and defender Danny Gabbidon both brought in from West Ham, along with striker Jay Bothroyd from Cardiff.
The threat of relegation appears high unless boss Neil Warnock adds a few quality players, especially a defender, to a squad that easily won the Championship title last season. Rangers do not face a top-six side until late October, so a chance to get points on the board early will be available.
Odds to finish bottom of the league: 11/2
A slow start could see QPR under real pressure, leaving too much work to do later on. The squad contains players who have experienced the misery of relegation from the top flight – as has Warnock himself, with Sheffield United – and this could reflect in their performances. The Hoops have a good goalscorer in summer signing Campbell, but goals could be scarce from their other unproven top-flight forwards – Rob Hulse, Tommy Smith and Heidar Helguson. Even Taarabt will find the step up difficult, with doubts lingering over his happiness in west London. Don’t be surprised if the defence leak a few goals.
An extremely tough test awaits the R’s this campaign as they return to the top flight for the first time in 15 years. The board may pull the trigger if Warnock’s men fail to impress in the opening couple of months. A squad containing a mixture of seasoned Championship professionals and Premier League cast-offs will have to perform consistently well if QPR are to survive. The Hoops will battle relegation bravely; but ultimately, their lack of quality may cost them.
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