The last newly promoted side to concede four goals at home on the opening day of a Premier League campaign was Crystal Palace back in 1994, and the Eagles’ fate that very season was falling back to the gruelling confounds of the Championship. It may seem premature to be casting assertions, but currently the Hoops fully justify their tag of relegation favourites, but conversely, what is required for them to remain in the top echelon?
Neil Warnock pulled on every strand of experience, accrued through three decades of management, to direct the Hoops towards the Championship title last season but he must locate another reserve if his side are to stay up. There was a naivety to their initial approach against the Trotters, and if at all possible, they appeared too fired up as attacking intent created exposure at the back. Owen Coyle expected an attacking flurry and subsequently soaked it up, and this was against a Bolton side who picked up 11 measly points from their away endeavours last season. However, the problem for the west Londoners surely runs deeper than that.
Allowing a Championship and a Premier League side the same degree of space will invariably have contrasting outcomes. Both Fabrice Muamba and Gary Cahill were allowed too much space in the lead up to their goals. Adel Taarabt is rightfully identified as Rangers’ best hope for survival but he must cull the use of incessant trickery, as against top quality defensive-minded players, it will inevitably be unrewarding. He showed quick, incisive balls to the front men are in his repertoire, and this is something he must favour over showboating, as it lost his side valuable possession.
The ownership issues clouding the club’s progression must also get resolved so as to give Warnock a fair crack, as surviving in this league on a shoestring budget is a mighty and unenviable task. If Press reports are to be believed then Malaysian entrepreneur Tony Fernandes will continue talks with majority stakeholder Bernie Ecclestone, concerning the latter selling the former his 62 per cent share in the club, representing a £100m exchange. Fernandes watched his potential investment stumble into their campaign, but it did confirm investment is a necessity. QPR have so far been limited to just a £1.2m outlay on DJ Campbell this transfer window, and although the club are not living beyond their means, the former Blackpool striker will need a healthier supply line.
When questioned in the aftermath of his side’s defeat to Bolton, Warnock candidly described this coming campaign as an exciting prospect, but he must be equally feeling the pressure as a manager’s shelf-life continues to diminish. As much as Warnock needs financial support from the board, his players must learn that a work ethic which prevailed in the second tier of English football, needs invigorating to survive the top tier.