Just when it seemed QPR’s final assault on the play-off places had ground to a halt, Luke Amos’s last-gasp goal against Derby on Monday breathed new life into their push for a long-awaited return to the Premier League.
The dramatic win not only condemned the Rams to League One next season but also ended a run of six games without a win for the R’s and leaves Mark Warburton’s side just outside the top-six with three games remaining.
Currently on 66 points, Rangers are only three behind Sheffield United in sixth place who, in what could be a huge clash in terms of the play-off places, they host at the Kiyan Prince Stadium on April 29th.
It’s been seven years since QPR graced the top-flight, but fans are not giving up hope that a return might be on the cards – not yet at least.
“I’ve always said, Rangers never do anything the easy way,” Ben from W12 Podcast tells FansBet.
“But while it’s possible then there’s hope, which is the worst kind, but you never know in this league.
“It helps that we play Sheffield United in one of those last three games, although given our recent form, us winning those next three is still hard to imagine.
“Stoke away on Saturday is an opportunity for the lads to put in a good performance and keep us in the mix – that is all we can do.
“Aside from that, ending the season in a good vein of form is just as important moving onto next season, as has been proven this year.”
It’s certainly been a turbulent season for the R’s, who looked nailed on for a top-six spot for much of the campaign and at one point were closing in on the automatic promotion places.
Two months ago to the day, Warburton’s side defeated Blackpool 2-1 to rise into third spot and close the gap on Bournemouth to two points.
However, following a dramatic downturn in form which saw them suffer seven defeats in nine Championship matches, it looked like the best they could hope for would be a mid-table finish.
Yet Rangers are right back in the play-off mix and now have a number of crucial games left of their season, with a trip to Stoke City next on the cards.
And a massive home game with fellow top-six contenders Sheffield United is then followed by a trip to Swansea City on the final day.
“It’s been like an a F1 race which we were doing well in, looking on course for a podium finish and then, out of nowhere, a few warning lights appeared, the foot came off the gas and we start coasting,” explains Ben.
“Injuries have been an issue too with Seny Dieng, Rob Dickie, Chris Willock, Lyndon Dykes, Lee Wallace and now Yoann Barbet all missing, some for most of the year.
“These are not just key players but leaders on and off the pitch, though Willock is the one that has hurt us the most, we didn’t realise how much until he was gone.
“Not signing a forward in January was questionable, too, and it was clear to all that the signing of Hendrick wasn’t what we needed; something which was proven when the goals from Dykes, Gray and Austin goals all but dried up.
“I think the uncertainty regarding the future of Warburton hasn’t helped the players or staff, with it being very much up in the air.”
Many fans were calling for Warburton’s head earlier in the month but the former Brentford and Rangers boss will hope the Easter Monday victory alleviates some of the pressure that has been building in recent weeks.
Warburton was appointed as manager in May 2019 and has guided the West Londoners to 13th and ninth-place finishes during his two previous campaigns.
But this is QPR’s seventh season in the Championship and their third under the current boss, meaning a promotion push was high on the supporters’ wish-list.
So what does Ben feel the future holds for the current R’s manager and what does he feel needs to change in the summer?
“A late playoff push could save him but unless we make it I think the damage has been done,” reveals Ben.
“Warburton still has a stern following who argue he is moving the club forward and use the old budget/spend argument.
“Although true, this means the club should never expect to push on from mid-table, which in itself gets ingrained into the culture of the club.
“You only have to look at what Millwall, Luton and Huddersfield are doing and it doesn’t totally ring true.
“There’s the other side that believe he can’t take us to the next level due to his inability to game manage and his one-dimensional way of playing, but my honest view is somewhere in the middle of both.
“I don’t think he will be here next season.
“Whoever is in charge, though, we will certainly need to ship some players out in the summer with a few contracts up as well as some loan deals coming to an end.
“We are also in need of some quality fullbacks, while the team lacks real pace in the final third.
“Andre Gray has shown that you can really hurt teams by getting in behind them and stretching the opposition.
“Saying that, keeping hold of Chris Willock, Ilias Chair, Jimmy Dunne, Luke Amos and Seny Dieng is just as important if Rangers are going to get promoted to the Premier League, either this season or in 12-months’ time.”
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