Exasperation and disbelief have long been core components of QPR fandom. From the inconceivably disastrous days of Gerry Francis’ second managerial spell at the club, to the jaw-droppingly ludicrous procession of misguided hirings and firings during the 2009/2010 season, there’s nearly always a dark cloud above Loftus Road. The opening of the summer transfer window yesterday will do little to lift the gloom, either, as Rangers supporters watch their closest rivals for Premier League safety, Norwich City and Swansea City, take intelligent, measured steps in the transfer market. The Canaries’ signings of Bradley Johnson from Leeds United and Millwall’s Steve Morison should see them well-placed to mount a survival bid, especially if the irrepressibly brilliant Paul Lambert remains at the helm.
So what of QPR, the Championship’s best team last season and deserved winners of their first title since 1983? Well, as frustrated R’s fans will tell you, besides the niggling rumours surrounding Neil Warnock’s future at the club, and the constant Adel Taarabt transfer-merry-go-round, it’s all quiet on the Western Avenue. Those who crave behind-the-scenes drama and the sort of Goodfellas’-style scenario we had a few years ago – with the ‘Guns in the Boardroom’ saga – would probably love to hear of an epic power-struggle going on between QPR’s two ownership ‘blocs’. However, there is no evidence to point to this. Indeed it appears very much that the Cowboys, namely ‘Tango’ and ‘Cash’ – Messrs’ Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone – have irrevocably claimed the upper hand over the Indians – the ‘steelionaire’ Mittals.
Perhaps it’s best to ask Gianni Paladini, the man with seemingly no appreciation of when it’s right to cut your losses and leave.
Yes, there have been rumours, none of them pleasant, mind you. The prospect of our ‘big signings’ to keep us in what is unarguably one of the toughest leagues in the world being Fulham’s Andy Johnson and Hull City’s Jimmy Bullard is hardly appealing. Jay Bothroyd’s astronomical wage demands of allegedly £50,000 per week have, fortunately, priced him out of a move to West London, so what sort of new arrivals can we expect? Well, perhaps it’s best to ask Mr. Gianni Paladini, the man with seemingly no appreciation of when it’s right to cut your losses and leave. He is, without a doubt, past his sell-by date, an awkward amalgamation of a Godfather-type figure mixed with an East-End used car dealer who has long ceased to be of any benefit to proceedings at Loftus Road. His ‘limited’ evidence to the Tribunal over QPR’s signing of Alejandro Faurlin – a wonderful Argentine midfielder whose popularity knows no bounds amongst R’s supporters – shows him up as the morally dubious and inherently damaging and shady figure fans have long believed him to be.
The returns from their respective loan spells of Italian flops Matteo Alberti and Alessandro Pellicori, unless greeted with their imminent departures, might just sum up the current malaise. The only players we are able to obtain are those others don’t want; the board are unwilling to bid for potential signings whom other teams are interested in (see Craig Mackail-Smith for details); and the club is still controlled by men who would be more suited to running an illicit gambling den in London’s seedy backstreets. One thing is certain; over the past few years Paladini has acquired a reputation as a man willing to turn Loftus Road into a ‘rest home’ for footballers who are either on their way out or chronically injury prone (Fitz Hall and Dean Sturridge come to mind). If this summer is characterised by more of the same, don’t be surprised to see Sir Neil Warnock cut his losses and leave this over-priced, farce of a football club behind. He and QPR fans fundamentally deserve better.