Mark Hughes's first full transfer window as QPR boss has seen some pretty impressive buys, none more so than Park Ji-Sung, who remains the ultimate triumph of effort over skill. You wouldn't back Park to complete ten keepie-uppies in his back garden, but the South Korean is one of the most decorated players in the Premier League, and his big-game nous will help QPR in the crunch battles to come.
Rob Green has plenty of critics, but he's definitely an upgrade on Paddy Kenny, while Ryan Nelsen and Andy Johnson bring bags of Premier League experience. The signing of Junior Hoilett on a free from Blackburn could prove the bargain of the summer, if the Canadian winger can reproduce the form he showed at Ewood Park.
QPR's tour of the Far East may have done wonders for replica shirt sales, but it did little to sharpen the team's competitive reflexes ahead of the new season. After easing past three weak opponents, the Rs have played three further friendlies in Europe, without suffering a defeat. However Hughes is far too shrewd and gnarled to set much store by these sun-drenched kickabouts - the real business starts now.
Reasons why they'll be successful
After eight months in charge, Hughes is starting to forge a team in his own granite-hewn image. Samba Diakate is fast becoming the on-pitch embodiment of his manager's combative style, a pit bull sent out by his manager to unleash hell on opponents. Having joined on loan in January, Diakate has now made his move from French club Nancy permanent, and if he can muzzle his reckless tackling, the Mali enforcer could be key to QPR's season.
Rangers struggled for goals last season, but in Hoilett, Shaun Wright-Phillips and the beguilingly capricious pair of Djibril Cisse and Adel Taarabt, Hughes knows he can always nick a goal if the defenders can keep things tight.
Reasons why not
Watching Sean Derry chasing after opponents is a bit like watching a pensioner chasing after a bus - his ageing legs simply aren't up to the Premier League these days, for all his dedication, and QPR fans will hope he is used as sparingly as possible. QPR's squad contains a number of injury-prone players, meaning that a fitness crisis is inevitable at some stage.
Twenty years ago, QPR finished the inaugural Premier League as the highest-placed London club. At the time, this achievement provoked mild surprise among British football supporters; were they to repeat it this season, the reaction would be one of total incredulity. Rangers may breathe the same Premier League oxygen as local rivals Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs, but their expectations are totally different.
If you offered Hughes a lower mid-table finish now, he'd probably bite your hand off - or get Diakate to do it for him. Rangers fans may dream of Europe, but finishing just shy of half-way would be an excellent achievement - and Hughes has the managerial guile to deliver.
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