Having been strongly tipped over the summer for a return to the Premier League for the first time since their relegation in 1996, it is perhaps no surprise that QPR currently top the Championship table with a 100% record. Maximum points from fixtures against Barnsley, Sheffield United and Scunthorpe, coupled with three clean sheets make for very happy reading for Rangers fans. We may not have entered September yet, but it would appear that the Loftus Road outfit are well placed to mount a serious promotion campaign. However, manager Neil Warnock has insisted that his side are not yet title winning material.
The appointment of Warnock in March was certainly a master stroke as the former Sheffield United boss steadied the ship in readiness for this campaign. With his experience it was no surprise that the bookmakers instilled the club as favourites to be top of the pile come May. However, with the eye-eatching transfers happening in the West following Bristol City’s acquisition of David James and more recently Craig Bellamy’s move to Cardiff, potentially the deal of the Summer went comparatively unnoticed in Shepherd’s Bush.
Having spent time on loan with Rangers last season, Adel Taarabt needed no introduction to the Rangers faithful. The Moroccan international provides the entertainment in the midfield, his skill and beautiful vision of the beautiful game make him a joy to watch. His control and composure on the ball mean in a sense he is wasted at Championship level, and will no doubt grace the higher echelons of the football world again soon. Some would say that he is not always as effective as his skill warrants he should be, but the entertainment he provides is indicative of the change in fortunes at Loftus Road, the signal bearer to those outside the club of the changes that are afoot.
The question that remains is whether the squad that Warnock has assembled is strong enough to remain at the top of the pile. As far as the defence goes, three clean sheets suggests that the problem may not lie at the back. The arrival of Paddy Kenny adds experience and a commanding figure between the sticks which can only spread confidence throughout the team. Add to the equation the likes of Fitz Hall, and we can see that Rangers have a well-equipped rearguard, although whether the necessary strength in depth is there remains to be seen. Judging by the rumour mill, it would seem to be the forward line where strengthening is required. The club have been linked with moves for the likes of Jason Roberts and Michael Chopra, suggesting that Warnock is seeking more fire power. The manager also refused to rule out a move for Marlon King, clearly indicative of his desire for more goals in his squad.
The goals may have flowed freely thus far but it would seem that Rangers are not yet the finished article in attacking senses. With no disrespect intended to the current crop of playing staff, there is no 20-goal-a-season striker currently in the ranks. Warnock has said so himself and whilst many may see this as mind games from the experienced boss, he may just be right in his assertion of his squad.