Meddling millionaires pose greatest threat to Rangers' continued rise

Warnock's bread-and-butter approach may be at risk, says Glenn Moore

When the millionaires arrived at Loftus Road in 2007 the expectation was that Bernie Ecclestone, Flavio Briatore and Lakshmi Mittal would fund a Roman Abramovich-style spending spree to return QPR to the Premier League. With the list of likely recruits headed by such luminaries as Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo, Rangers fans dreamed of challenging their moneyed west London rivals instead of flirting with bankruptcy.

It did not quite work out like that. There were some exotic imports, but no one of the first rank. More significantly the club was ridden with instability as managers were hired, fired, or quit. Briatore, the F1 and clothing magnate, was strongly suspected of, at best, being behind the managerial carousel, at worst of trying to pick the team. Cash had been spent on bringing the corporate facilities upmarket, but at a price, with some sizeable ticket-price increases. The dream was, for QPR fans, turning sour.

Then in March 2010, with the Indian influence at the club growing, QPR hired Neil Warnock whose promotion bid at Crystal Palace had been derailed by administration. Warnock was the club's seventh manager in less than three years (not including five caretakers). Warnock inherited a squad drifting into relegation trouble and so heavily staffed with loanees the club would have been fined for fielding too many in his first game had not one of them, Marcus Bent, pointed this out to Warnock when the team-sheet went up. By the end of the season 37 players had been used in 46 league games.

Warnock steered QPR to mid-table safety then rebuilt the squad. All the loanees were sent back except Adel Taarabt, who was signed for £1.5m from Tottenham. Eight further players were signed including Tommy Smith and Rob Hulse for £1m fees. In addition Heidar Helguson returned from a loan at Watford and Kyle Walker was borrowed from Spurs. The total outlay was about £5m, akin to Middlesbrough's.

This XI has formed the bulk of Warnock's promotion-winning team. Hulse, restricted by injury, has begun only 12 matches but the rest have all started at least 20. Indeed, of 14 players who have started at least 20 matches, only three were not signed by Warnock.

The trio who have spent most time on the park are the men who best represent the manager on the pitch: Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry. All had played under Warnock before, Kenny at Sheffield United, Hill at Crystal Palace, Derry at both. They are what Warnock calls his "bread-and-butter players" and their hard-nosed experience has provided Rangers with a spine that had been absent. They provide the platform for Taarabt, the division's most talented player, to shine. Alejandro Faurlin, who came to wider notice when the club was charged with transfer irregularities, has also made a significant impact playing alongside Derry in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Rangers have spent the entire season in the promotion places. Beginning the campaign with three straight victories in which they scored nine goals without reply, they were unbeaten until their 20th match. Having been briefly headed by Cardiff City in late autumn, they gradually pulled clear. Neither the loss of Jamie Mackie, whose early burst of goals had won him a Scotland cap, to a bad leg break in January, nor Walker's return to the top flight, discomfited them. Warnock loaned Wayne Routledge from Newcastle, who had bought him from Loftus Road a year earlier, and the winger provided timely impetus, linking well with Taarabt and scoring important goals.

Rangers hope to make Routledge's move permanent in what is likely to be the first of a raft of signings, assuming they are ultimately promoted. Warnock is likely to replace most of a back four which lacks pace, and is likely to be in the market for a new central striker as neither Helguson, 33, nor Hulse, 31, are likely to be able to do the front-running and goalscoring required in the top flight.

The summer's big issue will be what sort of players are signed. Warnock has mellowed enough to incorporate players like Taarabt, whose sloth would have seen him omitted in Warnock's younger days, but he generally prefers experienced British players who put in a shift.

Success appears to have rekindled Briatore's enthusiasm and there are signs he wishes to become more hands-on again (though no longer a shareholder, he is influential on football matters). That may well mean a desire for marquee signings, even a more famous manager – Briatore was quoted earlier this season saying he'd like to appoint Marcello Lippi.

It has not escaped the notice of QPR fans that success and stability have come with Briatore in the background. Their fate next season may depend on how the uncertainty about the club's ownership – Ecclestone has hinted at selling his 62 per cent stake – is resolved.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game