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Gelling process underway as new-look QPR draw at Aston Villa

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By Andrew Tuft

Thursday 02 February 2012

A lively transfer window for Queens Park Rangers came to a close on Tuesday with the purchases of Bobby Zamora from Fulham and Djibril Cisse from Lazio, after a month that saw the R’s also dispense with the services of Neil Warnock in favour of Mark Hughes. With a host of players added to the Rangers squad before deadline day, Hughes must hope he now has the tools to secure Premier League safety.

QPR’s post-transfer window survival bid got off to a good start with a point from Aston Villa on Wednesday. The 2-2 result saw Cisse net his first R’s goal, while defender Nedum Onuoha, another January signing making his debut, impressed observers. Hughes may have been disappointed to give up a two-goal lead, but Rangers away form has not been good this season - they had lost seven of their prior 11 trips before going to Villa Park, so a point represents a decent return. Together with the fine start of Cisse, the first fixture after the transfer window must be considered an overall success.

Hughes’ starting XI featured three January signings - goal scorer Cisse, former Manchester City defender Onuoha and full-back Taye Taiwo, signed from Milan - while a fourth, on-loan Manchester United striker Federico Macheda, signed by Hughes’ predecessor Neil Warnock, came off the bench. They joined Warnock’s summer signings Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips in a line-up greatly changed from the one which came up from the Championship last season. Including Zamora, ineligible after the late completion of his move from Fulham, and the injured Jay Bothroyd, Keiron Dyer and Danny Gabbidon, that makes for more than a full team (bar a goalkeeper) of new faces signed since the end of the previous campaign.

Ordinarily, such a great turnover of players would disrupt the camp but the presence of a new manager changes matters somewhat. Instead of a raft of new players having to adapt to a long-serving manager’s way of working amongst a group of new teammates all accustomed to the system, each player, whether they have been at QPR four weeks or four years is having to start over. There is still a bedding-in process underway but with each player participating, teamwork can be more easily engendered than if half a dozen newcomers were parachuted into a more settled club. Paradoxically, QPR’s upheaval, having taken place at every level of the playing staff, could potentially be of benefit.

That said, any benefit will only truly be felt if matches are won. For that, Zamora and Cisse will have to hit the ground running - although the Frenchman already has - while Young, Taiwo, Onuoha and Ferdinand, the quartet likely to be Hughes’ first-choice back four, will have to gel quickly. The trouble QPR had containing a resurgent Villa in the second-half will have been a steep learning curve, but, having come through with a point, Hughes and his players, both new and existing, have a base on which to build.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on QPR v Wolverhampton

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