Queens Park Rangers began 2016 in comical fashion with a 2-1 defeat to Hull City that leaves them closer to the Championship relegation places than the top six, as acrimony begins to grow in the stands.
Some fans chanted Neil Warnock’s name as Hull substitute Adama Diomande benefited from a mix-up between goalkeeper Robert Green and defender Grant Hall in stoppage time.
This led to a sharp rebuke from other parts of the ground, but the fact remains that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is without a win as QPR manager since taking over on 4 December.
It is not difficult to see why: Rangers were lacklustre once again, in keeping with the poor quality of the game, and never really looked capable of winning.
Despite this, Hasselbaink saw enough to declare that there was “only one team in it” after Sebastian Polter headed home from a Matt Phillips cross to score his second goal in two games.
Polter had spent the majority of the match lumbering around to little effect, failing to win a single header or hold up the ball for his ambling teammates.
Supporters perhaps ought to get used to the sight of the gangly frontman, with the future of Charlie Austin still unclear and the club incentivised by his soon-to-be-expired contract to seek a January sale.
The atmosphere at Loftus Road is toxic and mutiny cannot be far away
Austin’s departure would place the Rs in real danger of getting sucked into the relegation battle; only eight teams have scored fewer goals, and the former Burnley striker has 10 of QPR’s 30 thus far.
Off the pitch, things are no better. Chris Ramsey, unceremoniously dismissed in November on the basis that he was not experienced enough to be the QPR manager, has been hired as technical director.
Fingers are beginning to be pointed, and Les Ferdinand appears to be the most obvious target. For all the criticism of Ramsey not being up to the job, many of Ferdinand’s decisions can be called into question.
It will not be lost on many people that Ramsey left with Rangers 13th in the table, on 19 points; in the 10 matches that have followed, the Rs have picked up 11 points, four of them under Hasselbaink.
The impulse to reach out for comfort and stability, which Warnock represents, in a crisis is understandable, but Hasselbaink must be given time to enact the sort of changes QPR desperately need.
Yet you would worry that he may not get this. The atmosphere at Loftus Road is toxic and mutiny cannot be far away. Results must improve, but the new manager has few reliable performers at his disposal.
One of those he can rely on, Grant Hall, has signed a two-year contract extension until the summer of 2019, while Ben Gladwin has been recalled from his loan spell at Swindon Town.
He will be thrown straight back into the fray against Nottingham Forest on Saturday in the FA Cup third round, according to Hasselbaink. But before the midfielder gets too excited, he should take a look at the head-to-head record.
The Rs have never won away to Forest, having played them 27 times on the road. Couple this with a shameful recent history in the competition, and it is fair to say that Rangers will be able to concentrate on the league again very soon.
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