Something feels a little bit different for Queens Park Rangers this season. After several seasons of bottom-half Championship football, with few realistic hopes for promotion, suddenly it seems as though QPR are a side ready to compete at the upper end of the table, and their sturdy start to the 2021-22 campaign reflects that.
With two wins and two draws, it’s a good foundation on which to build, and there have been some hugely positive signs, namely the number of goals that have been flying in for the west London outfit. With Mark Warburton now entering his third season as manager, having signed a new contract during the summer, there is finally some stability at Loftus Road after some lacklustre managerial tenures since their relegation from the Premier League in 2015.
The new season began with a 1-1 home draw with Millwall, and although that was not a hugely encouraging result, QPR followed it up with away victories over Hull City and Middlesbrough, scoring three goals in both matches. A recent 2-2 result against Barnsley at Loftus Road saw them come from two goals behind to snatch a draw, and that will have boosted their confidence massively — along with their chances in the ELF Championship odds.
Those results have left them in fifth place in the league table, and although we are still very much in the early stages of the campaign, it’s a nice position to be in. The aim for Warburton and co. now will be to maintain that throughout the campaign, and ensure that they perform consistently enough to avoid dropping out of contention for the play-off spots. With so many big clubs in the Championship, it’s unlikely that QPR will be able to challenge for the title, but if they can build some momentum, they might well fancy their chances of winning promotion via the play-offs.
There is a good balance to the team this season, with a healthy blend of youth and experience. The return of Charlie Austin after a successful loan spell last season has brought plenty of smiles to the Loftus Road faithful, with the 32-year-old notching the vital late equaliser against Barnsley. The form of Lyndon Dykes continues to impress as well, and those two frontmen will have a huge part to play in any potential promotion challenge.
Last season’s ninth-place finish was QPR’s best result since they dropped down to the Championship from the Premier League, and it’s clear that Warburton is building a project at the club. There is plenty of talent within the squad, and with a passionate support ready to cheer them on in the atmospheric confines of Loftus Road, it could be a season to remember for the west London side.
Many QPR supporters will feel that the team did not do themselves justice during their last spell in the top flight, and with many squad overhauls having taken place in the time since, a new group of players will be highly motivated to establish QPR as a Premier League club.
Of course, there is a long way to go before that can happen, and QPR will need to discover a winning mentality if they are to truly challenge for promotion. Warburton is among the longest-serving managers in the Championship, and that constancy could well give QPR the extra edge they need in their promotion push.