QPR Season Preview: Realistic Expectations for the Hoops

It’s that time of year again, as we gear up for the return of Championship football. There are plenty of familiar faces gracing the second tier this season, but also some less familiar ones. The addition of Leicester, Leeds, and Southampton will only make the division a tougher one to get promoted from, although safety might be the first port of call for Gareth Ainsworth’s Hoops.

One Eye on Promotion

Last season was one to forget for QPR fans as they sunk to a 20th place finish, their lowest since 2006. A couple of late wins secured their safety but there is no doubt relegation was on the cards. However, things are looking up at Loftus Road. The latest Championship winners odds have QPR at 80/1 – only Plymouth (100/1) and Rotherham (150/1) are at longer odds – but Ainsworth has had a positive summer window.

The Hoops managed to keep hold of top goalscorer Lyndon Dykes, as well as star players Chris Willock and Ilias Chair. On top of that, they have bolstered their midfield with the man once dubbed the ‘Ginger Pirlo’, also known as Jack Colback, as well as adding experienced Premier League goalkeeper Asmir Begovic to their ranks. Not to mention Championship stalwart Morgan Fox and 25-year-old winger Paul Smythe, who joined following a productive League Two campaign with Leyton Orient.

There is a lot to be positive about in West London. Ainsworth doesn’t exactly have a lot to live up to. The former Wycombe manager replaced Neil Critchley, the proud holder of the lowest win percentage of any permanent QPR manager. Ainsworth didn’t have a lot of time to work his eccentric magic toward the end of last season, but he managed the all-important feat of keeping QPR in the division.

Risk of Relegation

QPR are currently third favourites to slip into League One at 5/2, better off than only Rotherham (17/10) and Plymouth (5/2) once again. On the face of it, that seems a little harsh. They have brought in a forward-thinking manager and have improved the squad with both Premier League experience and emerging prospects.

While a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of League One Oxford doesn’t exactly seem the best preparation, a friendly is only a friendly after all. Ainsworth is no doubt still searching for his best eleven after making changes in the window.

It’s a tougher start to the campaign than the boss would have liked. QPR’s opening game is a trip to Vicarage Road to take on last season’s underperformers Watford. The Hornets will still be reeling after losing key players Ismaila Sarr and Joao Pedro, but it’s about as tough a game as you could ask for to kick things off.

Winning the league (80/1) is a distant dream and promotion (19/1) feels a long way away for the Hoops, but fans will be hoping to see some improvement. They should take confidence from the summer signings, with QPR looking good to stop the downward spiral and push on for a solid season.