Mark Warburton believes QPR are capable of making a push for promotion next season if the board allow him to keep much of his young squad and bring in some new faces in the summer.
Rangers’ very slim hopes of a late push for the play-offs effectively ended on Easter Monday with a 3-1 defeat at Nottingham Forest – only the team’s fifth defeat in their past 18 games.
Warburton’s first two seasons at the helm have seen a huge turnover in players.#
Now wants to build on the progress shown by his team since the turn of the new year by keeping much of the current squad – and potentially loanees Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen – for the 2021/22 campaign.
“You can’t keep changing players every season,” Warburton said.
“The first year I was here we changed 15 players the second we changed 12. You can’t keep starting again.
“If we can use the budget we have wisely and continue to develop our own young players, and recruit as well as we possibly can and then keep building and keep our players, we will be in a good position.”
Warburton lost key performers in Ebere Eze and Ryan Manning for this season and Bright Osayi-Samuel exited midway through it.
Last year the club were also unable to match the financial packages on offer to successful former loanees Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill, who were both open to staying, by Bristol City and Norwich respectively.
But with young guns Seny Dieng, Rob Dickie, Ilias Chair, Chris Willock under contract for at least another three years, Warburton hopes the club can ward off any potential suitors.
“Last season we lost 55-odd goals from our team. But as Barnsley have shown this season, if you keep your team together and add one or two players you can be in a good position,” he said.
“We have a good core here and have some excellent senior professionals like Stefan Johansen, Charlie Austin, Albert Adomah, Lee Wallace, Geoff Cameron.
“They help and mentor the young players and are really important. If we can keep them together we will be in good shape.”
This summer the club sold Eze to Crystal Palace for an initial fee of £16m – 12 months after Luke Freeman and Darnell Furlong brought in almost £7m when they departed for Sheffield United and West Brom respectively.
Osayi-Samuel and Manning, who were coming to the end of their contracts, were offloaded for less than £1m.
Warburton is hoping for less upheaval this summer and any possible departures swiftly replaced, so as not to repeat a frantic January window that saw Johansen, Austin, Sam Field and Jordy de Wijs brought in to bolster a small, inexperienced squad.
“Any player in the world has a price,” Warburton said.
“I am not speaking for the board, but if someone comes in for one of our players and it is the right price and it is good value then hopefully we will have funds to reinvest.”
Despite the pressure of managing a club with an expectant fanbase following two promotions to the Premier League in the last 10 years, coupled with the added burden of social media criticism that follows any defeat, Warburton said he feels very fortunate to be employed by QPR.
“You look at the number of English managers out of work, it’s a privilege to be managing a senior club,” he said.
“You have to enjoy it, give it everything you have got and whatever happens happens.
“Every QPR supporter wants us to be pushing up. We all want to be pushing for the play-offs and the Premier League and if we stay together, recruit wisely, we have a chance to get out of the Championship.
“But if you look at this division, it is getting harder and harder. Watford and Norwich are at the top and they have Premiership money and that is a big advantage.”