Tuesday 14 April ~
With Charlton contemplating fixtures at Exeter and Wycombe next season and Crystal Palace lurching, QPR are going to finish as the top London club in the Championship. If they put a spurt on, they might yet end up one place below the play-off places. Even if they remain in their current position of tenth, this would be the club's best season since 1996-97. But neither Rangers’ fans not their board are remotely satisfied. The board, headed by Grand Prix magnate Flavio Briatore, are angrily perplexed at the team's failure to win promotion, while the fans despair at the series of glaring blunders made by the fools on the board. No satire written on the recent adoption of football as a plaything by the international jetset could match what is happening for real at Loftus Road.
Rangers are now looking for their seventh manager since Briatore and his racing chum Bernie Ecclestone took over 18 months ago. The departure of the most recent incumbent, Paulo Sousa, was inevitable after he complained publicly that the board had sanctioned the loan of striker Dexter Blackstock to Forest without his knowledge. Previous managers were said to have received team selection advice, if not demands, from Briatore who is not known to have been a football fan prior to his fetching up in west London. He obviously thought that it was going to be easy, as he showed off his purchase to the succession of super-models who watched matches from the Rangers directors’ box alongside beaming board members in their pristine blue-and-white scarves.
Evidence suggests that, like many wealthy men dabbling in a new interest, Briatore doesn't seem to have been prepared to listen to expert advice – or else he didn't ask the right people. If the QPR chairman began with zero knowledge of football personnel and tactics 18 months ago, then it's reasonable to assume that what little he has picked up since has come from discussions with agents, whether they are lobbying for their players to be picked in the team each week or touting their clients as possible signings. And plenty of agents must have been getting their calls returned over the last two seasons, during which QPR have had two European managers and a plethora of players from overseas.
Then there is the question of what the QPR owners hope to achieve. Even if the club got promoted it's highly unlikely that they could become a significantly bigger outfit than they are currently. At a time when Chelsea and Fulham are enjoying the most successful periods in their history there is no new fanbase in west London, or further west of the capital, for QPR to tap into – and certainly no cause for them to think they would need a significantly bigger new stadium, as has been mooted.
The latest rumour is that Briatore wants Darren Ferguson to take over. But if Sir Alex's son continues on his upwards trajectory with Peterborough he will surely get much more enticing offers. In fact, for a manager to accept the QPR job at the moment would be a sign of a lack of ambition, of someone happy to turn up for a big pay packet for a year or so before being summarily dismissed by the Grand Prix pillocks.