Let’s not dwell for too long on QPR’s final home game of the season against Bristol City. A drab match decided by a great goal from an unexpected source – Karl Henry. Three points lifted QPR in to the top-half of the table, seeing the Rs finish 12th.
Instead, let’s focus on the squad and look at where manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink needs to strengthen over the summer.
One of the few areas with very little work needed. I’m not sure if Alex Smithies has been out injured in the past few weeks, but he surely has to be given the number one shirt, when Robert Green’s contract comes to end. Since coming to the team before Christmas; Smithies has been excellent, showing confidence, shot-stopping and a monstrous kick.
He’s also a great penalty saving keeper. Matt Ingram, who has deputised in recent weeks, also looks like a man that the Rs could certainly rely on, but Smithies has to be top dog.
Some serious work needed here. Grant Hall has firmly established himself as the first choice centre-half. Apart from the past month or so, he has been great this season. Other than Hall though, central defence really needs some fresh blood.
Gabrielle Angella has been good in patches, but not good enough to warrant making his loan a permanent signing. Nedum Onuoha, a player I’ve never been hugely keen on, has played every minute of league action for the Hoops this year and is a reasonable centre-half at this level.
Although, personally I don’t think he’s worth the significant wages he is probably on. Clint Hill, a fantastic servant for the club, cannot be relied up on as much as he has, especially as he will be 38 during the season.
Full-back positions sees us with some promising left-backs, Cole Kpekawa and Jack Robinson, who both look like they will be fine at this level, the former in particular. However, the club don’t have a dedicated right-back. Whilst Darnell Furlong will be returning to the club, the jury is still out for me and utility man James Perch has looked better at left-back.
With several notable players; including Alejandro Faurlin and Karl Henry, both out of contract this summer, Hasselbaink also has a lot to consider here. With regards to Faurlin, the fact the man has completed a whole season unscathed is testament to his strength of character. Has he done enough to warrant a one-year contract extension? Yes. Will he get one? I’m not sure.
A divisive figure amongst fans, Henry is a good operator at this level and if he doesn’t stay at Loftus Road, he will find offers in the Championship. Not hugely popular; but I’d keep him, just, but only if he’s cheap enough.
Of the newer signings, I hope next season we will see more from Massimo Luongo, what is crucial however is the need to sign a leader, someone to grab the team by the scruff of its neck, for lack of better words, a Joey Barton type.
Barton, another player I wasn’t hugely keen on, did provide the steel in midfield that current squad lack. And anyone that’s seen QPR play will know that neither Sandro nor Leroy Fer are the solution. We need to ship those two on immediately!
The front line has been led by Sebastian Polter, a wrecking ball of a centre forward, but not a natural goalscorer. The lack of game time for his main rival, Conor Washington has been puzzling, and it’s still hard to know how good he is. Other than those two, if the club are aiming for a top six tilt, they need to buy a proven 20-goal a season Championship striker. Whether they will or not, in this new streamlined, cost-cutting version of QPR remains to be seen.
Out on the flanks; Matt Phillips and Junior Hoilett are two players who can get out of W12 as fast possible. Phillips has frankly given the impression that he has stopped caring and Hoilett, whilst improving in the past six months, was so poor for the previous couple of seasons that he doesn’t deserve to stay, that’s if he would even want to re-sign on significantly reduced wages.
Tjaronn Chery, is certainly someone that we would do well to keep hold of and could well be the key to our attacking play next season. It would also be nice to see Nasser El Khayati improve on his cameo performances and Michael Petrasso get a few more games under his belt, just so we can see if he’s up to it.
As is often the case with QPR, the season has not been without event, but the rather tame end to the season could be exactly what the club need and I think boss Hasselbaink has to an extent steadied the ship. I’m interested to see what he can do with a pre-season and more of his own signings.
That said, the club find themselves in a position they are all too familiar with – another massive clear out needed, which needs to be dealt with swiftly. With the unveiling of the new club crest, all involved with the club are hoping for a new dawn, let’s hope our summer transfer activity also shows signs of a fresh start.