Much-needed win for Rangers

QPR FanZoner Chris King looks back on a much-needed win for his team as they came from behind to beat Doncaster on New Year’s Day.

Austin healing | QPR's in-form hitman Charlie scores in added time to sink Doncaster Rovers. (Image | BBC)
Austin healing | QPR’s in-form hitman Charlie scores in injury time to sink Doncaster Rovers. (Image | BBC)

Queens Park Rangers scored their first goal in four matches, and left it late to secure the Rs’ only victory in the same number of games, against Rovers.

But rather than the dominant, professional displays to which Rangers supporters became accustomed during the first few months of the season, this was scrappy and downright lucky.

Charlie Austin, whose absence from the squad against Nottingham Forest and Watford led manager Harry Redknapp to deploy a 4-6-0 formation, netted the winner in the last minute of the game.

The result sees QPR leapfrog Derby County into third, while adding to the pressure on Redknapp to sign a striker in the January transfer window that, unlike Javier Chevantón, will actually play.

Rangers remain effective rather than expansive, and are most likely destined for the play-offs barring a monumental collapse by Leicester City and Burnley, or a major squad revamp.

With a tricky trip to high-flying Everton awaiting Redknapp’s side, it looks likely that the Rs’ involvement in the FA Cup will once again be short-lived.

Not only has the former Tottenham Hotspur boss admitted that he will be making several changes, but the Superhoops have only beaten the Toffees five times in 23 games at Goodison Park.

Naturally, therefore, all eyes will be on the visit of Ipswich Town, in excellent form with just one defeat and five wins in their last ten matches, and a far-superior goalscoring record.

There can be no doubt that Redknapp has performed minor miracles in turning QPR into a team, rather than a collection of self-interested individuals, but Rangers have long been short up front.

A quick glance at the top scorers’ table shows the extent of the problem: Austin leads the way with 12 goals, compared to second-placed Matt Phillips’ three and two from Joey Barton.

Just 10 players have found the net for the Rs this season, and only five more than once, belying the squad’s Premier League pedigree and apparent firepower so often highlighted by the media.

Bobby Zamora, whose time at Loftus Road has been peppered with disappointment, is clearly not the solution to an Austin injury, but in the eyes of Redknapp, nor is Andrew Johnson.

Although plagued by injury, Johnson is a capable frontman and unquestionably Rangers’ best back-up forward. However, he was benched while Niko Kranjčar struggled as a lone “striker” last week.

Not averse to game-playing, Redknapp appeared to be making a point at Vicarage Road, along the lines of: “Look at what a great job I’m doing in these adverse circumstances.”

Trouble is, the problem is one of his own making, and only he has the power to solve it over the next few weeks. Financially speaking, the Rs cannot afford to miss out on promotion in May.

Nor can the Superhoops persist with such a disjointed, midfield-heavy squad, and continue to assume that scoring just over one goal a game is enough to secure a Premier League return.

Therefore investment must be made, not only for the sake of the playing staff but the fans, whose frustration was palpable before Austin’s late, late winner at Loftus Road.

QPR may have secured the Championship title in 2010-11 on the basis of a rock-solid defence, but it is worth noting that Rangers were still the seventh-highest scorers in the division.

This time around, by contrast, the Rs have been outscored by relegation-threatened Millwall, struggling Bolton Wanderers, and 13 other Championship outfits.

For all those of a blue and white persuasion, the arrival of a sharp-shooter is all that stands between the West Londoners and a return to the Promised Land. A late Christmas present, if you will.

Have your say | Tweet the author | @chriskking

Originally published on TEAMtalk on Saturday January 4 2014.


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