Mark Warburton became QPR’s seventh manager since their Premier League relegation in 2013 when he was appointed as Steve McClaren’s successor in May.
With little pre-season expectations on their shoulders, the Hoops went on to record their best start to a Championship campaign since their return, sitting fifth after eight games.
Renewed optimism continued to swirl around the Kiyan Prince Foundation stadium before the recent international break, as the side claimed their highest number of points and league position after 16 Championship games (tenth with 24 points) since their relegation six years ago.
Yet despite Warburton’s brilliant beginning, they are currently without a win in the last four ahead of their West London derby against Fulham this evening.
Although McClaren’s dreadful start last season was well-recorded, the current incumbent’s side is only a single point and league position better than McClaren’s at the same stage.
Speaking to Warburton after the 2-2 draw with Reading last month, having seen his side pegged back twice from winning positions, I questioned the team’s mentality.
In a fairly stern and dismissive response, he replied ‘Does fourth place look like a psychological problem?’
Yet since then, QPR’s form has become a cause for concern – particularly considering how over the past four years the Hoops have always had longer periods of winless runs than any unbeaten streak.
When confidence is high, there is a belief and in turn, positive results; the trouble appears to stem from the lack of belief when they are down.
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More than any personnel change or tactical tweak, the first challenge for the Warburton era has to be tackling this psychological stumbling block to find a will to win and ultimately maintain an unbeaten run.
Furthermore, looking at the last 10 matches of the past four seasons, the Hoops have won just 11 out of 40 games.
Warburton’s predecessor McClaren only won two last season but ironically that does not signal an anomaly – it’s a problem the club have continually had.
Since their Premier League relegation, QPR have finished no higher than 12th with their ultimate struggle often finding a manager that can inspire, motivate and achieve positive results for more than a few weeks at a time.
If Warburton is to succeed in getting the side back into the top-flight of English football, he will have to be aware of the pitfalls that have beset his predecessors which have left the club cursed with inconsistency and routine mid-table finishes.