CHRIS ETCHINGHAM soon realised that it’s the hope that kills you, when a highly-regarded Spanish midfielder swapped the Bernabeu for Loftus Road.
As a supporter of QPR, I have had to get used to my fair share of transfer disappointments. Talentless journeymen signed for far too much money on unsustainable wages have bled the club to the point of financial oblivion in recent years. There have, though, been a few successes and cult figures. Jamie Mackie (now in his second spell with the club) tries his heart out and Adel Taarabt in the season when QPR were promoted from the Championship in 2010/11 was sublime in the way he played and was the key man scoring 19 goals that season. Charlie Austin too; last season he was a class above any other player at the club, with the possible exception of Rob Green.
However, for every one of these who are loved for their contribution there is a Mike Sheron, or worse, a Jose Bosingwa. Sheron gave his reasons for joining QPR away when he said that it was every players dream to be involved in a multi million pound move upon arrival at the club.
My own choice, however, for the worst signing in the history of QPR is also the one who was the most frustrating. Step forward and take a bow Esteban Granero. Signed from Real Madrid for £9million, Granero had represented Spain at every level up to the under 21’s and it was considered quite a coup to sign a player of that quality who had such a distinct style of play. This was no thirty something journeyman. Personally I was very excited to have my small West London club sign a player of his stature, more so having had to watch the Russian neighbours down the road become flushed with success in the preceding decade.
Granero joined the club in late August 2012 with the club having secured their top flight status at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium the previous May as Sergio Aguero and Martin Tyler met their date with destiny. He joined the club as it seemed like its transfer policy was one long game of Football Manager by owner Tony Fernandes, 11 players had come in with 14 leaving (not including loans which would be even more complicated) and Granero being the most expensive of all the new arrivals. There was a general acceptance by those who know these things that QPR had bought a whole host of journeymen and over the hill players who had joined the club for purely financial reasons, I thought differently though. Yes, there had been some questionable acquisitions (the aforementioned Bosingwa and Andy Johnson being two of them) but there were also a few promising ones too – Granero, Stephane M’bia and Junior Hoillett, along with a few proven experienced players such as Ryan Nelson and goalkeeper Julio Cesar. In fact the most negative thing I seem to remember about that transfer window was losing loveable favourites such as Akos Buzsaky and Rowan Vine.
I was quite optimistic about the prospects for our forthcoming season and after the close call with relegation the previous season, I was hoping for some non-dramatic mid-table respectability, an unbeaten pre-season added to that air of hope too. The optimism lasted all of eight minutes into the new season as Michu opened the scoring for Swansea in a 5-0 rout at Loftus Road. In fact it took until 15th December for QPR to register their first league win, a 2-1 home victory against Fulham. This was as good as the season got for QPR; they were relegated after an insipid 0-0 draw against Reading with four games of the season left to play.
Granero, though he only scored one goal in 27 appearances in all competitions was by no means the baddest apple in the bunch – there were rumours that Bosingwa was seen to be laughing at the final whistle in the Reading match which confirmed QPR’s fate. He was though, by far and away the player with the finest pedigree. Shaun Derry and Clint Hill were nowhere near Granero ability wise but they contributed so much more to the campaign in terms of effort and commitment.
For me the one word which sums up my feelings on Granero’s time at QPR is “cheated”. I feel cheated that he took the place in the team who had less talent but meant more to me as QPR players, such as Alejandro Faurlin and the aforementioned Buzsaky. I also feel cheated that we didn’t see the best of Granero at the club too. If he had been bothered we could have seen his cultured play and maybe struck up a midfield partnership with someone which could have been key to QPR possibly staying up that season.
As it was he is nothing more than a mere footnote in possibly one of the worst seasons in the club’s history.