Warburton not playing down QPR’s promotion hopes

QPR boss Mark Warburton

Mark Warburton is not seeking to play down QPR’s chances of challenging for promotion this season.

Optimism among fans is high after an impressive second half of last term and the signings of the likes of Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen.

And after a ninth-placed finish, Rangers manager Warburton, who this week signed a new contract, accepts that the next step must be a crack at going up.

He said: “I can’t sit here and say to the fan base ‘Let’s come 12th’ or ‘Let’s finish above halfway’, because last year we came ninth – two points off of seventh – and we’ve got to keep working.

“So obviously we want more points, more clean sheets, a better goal difference and a higher league position this season – that has to be our aim this season.

“I’d be foolish to say ‘Just do the same again’. We’ve got to keep moving forward. Let’s see where we are in May.

“I can’t just sit here and say ‘Top half of the table’ – far from it. We have to be better.

“We have to have more points than 68, finish higher than ninth, have more clean sheets – all of these data points we have to be better at. If we are, then we’re going to be in the mix.”

While Rangers are not among the bookmakers’ promotion favourites, Warburton believes their Championship rivals regard them as a force to be reckoned with.

He said: “Teams know we’re a good team. That’s not arrogant – teams know that if they let QPR play we can be a very, very good team.

“Teams will not let QPR play if they can help it. We have to find ways of imposing ourselves on games, to show our quality and be defensively resolute and show real bravery in both boxes.

“If we do that, we’re going to be all right. Simple as that.”