Warburton determined to build on impressive year for QPR

Mark Warburton says QPR’s magnificent run of results in 2021 will mean nothing unless the team maintain that form until the end of this season.

Rangers ended the year sitting one point outside the top six, with two games in hand, after securing their 26th Championship win in 47 games at Bristol City, and have picked up 85 points in the process.

Warburton’s side open 2022 with a trip to St Andrew’s to face a Birmingham City side that have picked up just one win from their past seven matches.

Despite sitting in 17th position in the table, Warburton said last year’s 2-1 defeat to a Blues side who were in a similar position last season after scoring twice in the final six minutes is still fresh in his memory.

“It was certainly the most frustrating away game of the season and we know they are a good team with some quality up top like Scott Hogan and Troy Deeney and Ryan Woods in midfield,” Warburton said.

“There are a lot of teams in this division with talented squads that have had a tough start to the season, and you only have to look at where we were this time last season to know how things can change.

“We will go there confident but know they will pose a big threat with their physicality and have to meet it head on.”

Questions were being raised about Warburton’s future this time 12 months ago, with Rangers sitting in 19th position in the table before embarking on a brilliant second half of the season to finish ninth.

In a combined Premier League and EFL table of results from across 2021, QPR were ranked eighth out of 92 – the highest of any club in the Championship – but Warburton insists it means nothing unless they finish in the top six.

“The players deserve a lot of the credit,” he said.

“They had a great second half to last season and a good start to this season and that was important because we had to continue that form.

“There’s no good saying ‘We were great last season, finished two points off seventh, but we’ll take 14th this year’.

“Fans have to see that their club is moving forward and progress is being made. I hope very much they are seeing that.

“But we are only halfway through and we have to keep building on this.

“Our aims are clear; we need to keep pushing on and pushing forward and be considered a tough, tough team to play against.

“But we have to keep pushing now. It’s not enough to say at the halfway stage we are good.

“We have to make sure come May people are saying the same things to us.”

Yoann Barbet’s injury-time winner at Bristol City was the fourth time this season Rangers have scored in injury time to win or draw a game, and Warburton said that character and resilience shows the importance of a harmonious playing group – something that will be taken into account before any signings are made in January.

“It is a good group and I don’t say that lightly,” he said.

“There are no bad eggs in the group. They work hard together and demand a lot from each other.

“I think we need one or two to come in and give us a bit more because players are getting injured, but they have to be the right players.

“I don’t just want numbers. They need to offer value in terms of quality to the squad and fit into the dressing room, but also the financial landscape.

“There have been figures that have come out from Bristol City this week where the losses have been staggering, so it’s just a reminder that we need to continue to be financially prudent.”