Why Queens Park Rangers re-appointed Ian Holloway, and what awaits him back at Loftus Road

Holloway has been around English football since leaving in 2006 but hs ability to get teams promoted from the Championship has swung him the job at Loftus Road 

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The Independent Football

When Ian Holloway last left the Queens Park Rangers job, almost 11 years ago, they were 15th in the Championship, more worried about the bottom end of the table than the top. This weekend he is back at Loftus Road with the club slightly worse off, in 17th.

But while the club’s position, and their ground itself, remain stubbornly the same, that does not mean that nothing has happened in the last 10 years just off the Uxbridge Road. It has been a tumultuous time, in the boardroom, the dug-out and on the pitch. Gianni Paladini gave way to Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, who were replaced by Lakshmi Mittal and Tony Fernandes. There have been 14 managers between the two Holloway spells, including two spells each for Neil Warnock, Mick Harford and Gareth Ainsworth.

And of course, in the recent past, there have been two promotions to the Premier League and two relegations back down, the yo-yo spell for which the club is still paying a price.

What Holloway inherits, then, is a club which has come down from its era of excessive spending but now finds that too many other teams in the Championship are doing exactly that. Just as QPR rediscover financial sanity, the Championship is more financially overheated than it has ever been.

This is a league now scattered with £10million players and £50,000 per week salaries. Newcastle United, Norwich City and Brighton pay Premier League money in their desperation to get there. The only two QPR players still earning that much, Steven Caulker and Sandro, are there because the club could not move them.  QPR’s new wage ceiling, of £20,000 per week, is very prudent. But prudence does not win you promotion.

This is a club, ultimately, with no margin for error any more. QPR are now run on such a tight budget that they are only minor players in the modern Championship. Their signings have to be either unknown bargains from abroad or picks they trust from the lower leagues. The club worked so hard this summer to bring in players who would improve them while improving themselves, but have been hit by awful luck. The two most promising of them, Yeni Ngbakoto and Ariel Borysiuk, have started just 10 Championship games between them this season, because of a combination of injuries and bereavement.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink worked the players hard but they could never put a run together. The only time they won two straight this season was their first and second matches, back in early August. There is some potential in this squad, but for them to put a run together into the play-offs, which is what they hope for, they need a spark.

Which is why the club have turned to Holloway, an expert in getting Championship teams to punch above their weight. He took Blackpool into the Premier League in 2010 and Crystal Palace in 2013, both via the play-offs, after finishing sixth with Blackpool and fifth with Palace. Sixth is a long way away from where Rangers are now but it only takes a good run, some energy and confidence to get up into the play-offs.

Of course, Holloway lasted just less than a year at Palace, and just more than a year in his last job, at Millwall. Building a side, as he did in his first spell at Loftus Road, is so difficult now in the frantic panicky gamblers’ Championship. But Rangers need something different again if they are to leapfrog bigger spending sides and get back into the Premier League. It is unlikely, at best, but for Holloway the challenge has always been part of the fun.

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