Warburton plays down chances of QPR promotion challenge next season

Mark Warburton has played down QPR’s chances of pushing for promotion next season.

But the Rangers boss believes Barnsley have shown that challenging for the play-offs is possible for clubs with smaller budgets if they manage to keep their best players.

Eight wins from their past 12 matches and the development of several of their players have raised hopes that Rangers might be contenders next term.

Their four January loan signings have all impressed, with Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen particularly instrumental in the upturn in results.

A top-half finish this season would leave many fans optimistic ahead of next term.

But Warburton said: “I think we need a sense of reality.

“When you look at some of the budgets that exist in this division – teams that come down from the Premier League – they’re multiples (of QPR’s budget).

“At the end of the day it’s the budget you have, the financial muscle, the type of player you can secure, that all makes such a big difference.

“I’m told we’re in the bottom quarter budget-wise. So if people say QPR deserve to be pushing, what do Nottingham Forest say? Derby or Sheffield Wednesday? Or Huddersfield?

“All these teams would say exactly the same and that’s without mentioning the likes of Watford, Norwich and Bournemouth. These are teams with huge budgets in comparison.

“It’s about reality but also never showing a lack of ambition and desire to push as high as we possibly can.

“Can we maintain the squad? Can we have a good summer window? Can we add one or two and retain one or two?

“If we can do that then we’ll give it our best shot for sure.”

Warburton acknowledges that other clubs – including Brentford when he was their manager – have shown it is possible to build a promotion-challenging team on a limited budget.

“Absolutely. Of course you can,” he said.

“We’ve seen it with Sheffield United, saw it with Brentford and seen it with Barnsley this year.

“Barnsley kept (Cauley) Woodrow, (Conor) Chaplin and (Alex) Mowatt and these type of players and added one or two quality names.

“Don’t forget last season Barnsley were one point away from relegation. They kept the squad together, built on that, and the unity and desire can take you a long way, it really can.

“Barnsley are in the top six and pushing. So can you beat the (financial) equation? No doubt you can.

“But in general, when you look at some of the financial muscle these big teams have, it does make it a very tough task.”