The story surrounding QPR so far this season is how their first game should be treated like a mulligan. The story goes that since the ownership change and subsequent decisions by the brass to, you know, actually spend money, QPR now has a solid, bona fide squad.
Which they do. But the fact that what we may see on Sunday is somehow completely and utterly different from their squad on Opening Day is just false.
Here was the lineup in their 4-0 demolition by Bolton:
And here was their lineup from last week’s 1-1 draw with Aston Villa:
Bothroyd (Campbell, DJ)
By my count, that’s only 5 different players in last week’s match from Opening Day. May seem like a lot but in comparison we started 6 different players last week from our Opening Day lineup. Manchester United had the same difference too.
These changes may stem from injuries to our squad, and the additions to QPR’s squad. But QPR’s horrible, no good, very bad, squad from Opening Day managed to beat Everton 1-0 the very next week. All told four changes were made to the starting lineup, but one was due to Dyer’s injury. The next week they would lose to Wigan 2-0, but only one change was made to the starting lineup: Bradley Orr hurt his knee and was replaced by Bruno Perone.
And all this happened before the transfer deadline.
For me, the big difference in QPR’s fortunes is twofold: new ownership and change in tactics.
In QPR’s first three games, Neil Warnock employed a 4-2-3-1. They won 1, lost 2; 1GF, 6GA. Since switching to a 4-4-1-1 they’ve won one, drawn 2; 4GF 1GA. There probably is a correlation between the players that became available and the formations used, but Neil knew what wasn’t working and promptly changed it.
Secondly, the change in ownership lifted a suffocating malaise around the club (much like it had for Liverpool last season). All summer Bernie Ecclestone was acting more like a baseball owner from the early 20th Century than a chairman of a football club in the early 21st. He was an extremely wealthy owner that flat out refused to spend any money on the newly promoted team. Then, on August 18, Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes bought out Bernie’s 66% stake in the club. Perceived–sometimes more important than actual–fortunes began to turn around.
So, sure, Joey Barton and Shuan Wright-Phillips weren’t at QPR on Opening Day. But Paddy Kenny, Adel Taarabt, Fitz Hall, Shaun Derry, Alejandro Faurlin, and Jay Bothroyd were.
And let’s give them some respect, please.