EFL Market Movers: QPR making waves under Warburton

EFL Market Movers: QPR making waves under Warburton

In the summer, this looked a transitional season for Queens Park Rangers, who would be gravitating towards a new, possession-based style of play under Mark Warburton.

Many expected Autumn teething problems and the London club were as big as 9/4 for a top-half finish in some markets before a ball was kicked.

The Rs though, have in fact hit the ground running with 13 points from their first seven games, a start that has seen their price cut to 8/13 with SkyBet.

Why have they had such a great start? Gabriel Sutton (@_FootbalLab) discusses.

Hugill supported

Firstly, Warburton’s strategy seems to be maximizing the strengths of summer signing Jordan Hugill.

While at Middlesbrough, Hugill struggled in isolation but at QPR, he has attacking players operating much closer to him and that seems to give him more confidence.

At Boro, the game plan revolved around what would happen in two or three clear cut chances per game yet here, Hugill knows he will get a high-volume of opportunities and thus when he does miss one – like he did in the 3-1 win over Wigan – it does not affect him too much, which is why the West Ham loanee has bagged five times in seven games.

In fact, only Lyle Taylor, Borja Baston and Aleksandar Mitrovic have scored as many in the league as Hugill has so far this season and the 27-year-old is an intriguing 20/1 with SkyBet to finish top goalscorer.

Planning for Manning

There were question marks about where Ryan Manning, a raw, energetic midfielder, would fit into Warburton’s plans.

In fact,  as a left-back, where he deputized towards the end of last season, he provided the forward thrust; we saw evidence of this in the opener in Saturday’s 3-2 win at home to Luton, where he set up Eze for a terrific strike from outside the box.

Eze as you like

The latter was outstanding in that game, especially the first half-hour, during which QPR played the best football their fans have seen for a long time.

Eze is displaying excellent movement, close dribbling ability, unique creativity, an eye for goal and the ability to combine superbly with Ilias Chair, who looks revived this term.

Chair lifts QPR

Chair managed just eight league appearances for the Rs in his first two years at the club years but, stirred by a stunning stint at Stevenage, the Moroccan is now displaying wonderful attacking qualities that have very quickly made him a central figure.

The 21-year-old’s agility is unparalleled and thus, he can feint one way and very quickly change direction to bamboozle defenders, a skill even more impressive when we consider the accuracy of his end product.

Partner for Wells

QPR have been able to fit Eze and Chair in the same XI, whilst also incorporating two strikers.

We saw in the second half of last season that Nahki Wells can struggle if starting on his own up top – after the missed penalty in February’s 4-3 home loss to Birmingham, he struggled for confidence.

Playing alongside Hugill, however, Wells does not have to do as much of the hold-up work himself and is therefore freed up to make brave runs in behind, a bit like he did alongside James Hanson at Bradford five years ago, which clearly suits his strengths.

Players are inspired

And yet, Warburton’s work has also been about helping his players to find new strengths springing from perceived weaknesses.

Some might have said last season, for example, that Toni Leistner looked slightly limited in possession – yet on Saturday, he pinged a delightful ball over the top which Wells ran onto and finished.

That shows that Warburton is displaying the coaching ability to elevate an unextraordinary group of players to new heights.

The sense of inspiration around the newly named Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium may stem from the increased involvement of Mark Prince OBE.

The motivational speaker, who has had several traumatic experiences in his life, talked to the players in August about the importance of believing in one’s self, helping others and striving to be the best one can be.

It may not be the greatest coincidence that, with someone like that around the club, the players feel more confident – that is showing on the pitch.