Amidst the euphoric delight of an immediate return to the highest tier of English football, Queens Park Rangers fans are aware that much must be done over the summer to ensure that a repeat of their last, disastrous period in the top flight is not repeated.
Their last spell in the Premier League ended in total farce, and has been blamed largely on a number of ‘big-time Charlies’ in the squad.
Whilst Harry Redknapp has done his best to remove such players from the side, the likes of Esteban Granero, Adel Taraabt and Loic Remy remain under contract. Players of their ability could prove crucial, but, as has been seen before, they can also pre-empt self-destruction.
Ensuring that the evidently strong team spirit remains whilst strengthening the side sufficiently is a task that must be handled significantly better than last time.
Maintaining a degree of stability is also necessary if QPR are to prevent the unwanted tag of yo-yo club. Alongside the aforementioned returning loanees, there are eight players - including Niko Kranjcar, Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Ravel Morrison - who have returned to their parent clubs.
With a further eight players also out of contract, this is a club that remains a long way short of the stability and balance that is required at a club for whom next year will likely be a struggle. This level of personnel change is symbolic of the chaos that has engulfed the London club, but significant additions will still be needed in the summer.
Whilst Redknapp has achieved the minimum aim of promotion, he has done so using an ageing group of players. The average age of the 15 players used in the play-off final was a worrying 29.5, and many - including the injury-ravaged goalscorer Bobby Zamora, Richard Dunne and Clint Hill - are unlikely to have another season of top-flight football in their battered bodies.
At 23 and 24 respectively, Junior Hoilett and Charlie Austin represent the youth of this team, and the latter particularly will require someone to take the burden from his shoulders in the Premier League.
His 20 goals of an injury-stricken campaign have been crucial, and it is no coincidence that results dipped whilst the former Burnley hitman was out of the team. With fellow strikers Modibo Maiga, Kevin Doyle and Will Keane - as well as six-goal Morrison - all ending their loan spells and veterans Zamora and Andy Johnson out of contract, this could quickly become an area of concern should suitable, affordable replacements not be found.
Despite their strong start to the season, QPR were largely underwhelming from Christmas onwards and Redknapp has done exceptionally well to deliver promotion. With a large number of problems needing to be resolved during what will be a busy summer period, keeping this team of ageing warriors and precocious magicians in the Premier League could prove to be Harry’s greatest trick to date.
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