Is it time for QPR boss Mark Warburton to revert to a Brentford blueprint for success?

4 min

QPR may have ended a run of four straight defeats in all competitions with a goalless draw at Swansea City but a lack of cutting edge remains a real cause for concern.

For the third successive game the Hoops were unable to get on the scoresheet with manager Mark Warburton continually bemoaning his side’s wastefulness in front of goal.

There’s no denying they are reeling from the January departure of top scorer Nahki Wells as his season-long loan deal from Burnley was cut short to enable the Clarets to sell the forward to promotion chasing Bristol City.

What is QPR’s loss is very much their rivals gain as the 29-year-old is a proven Championship goalscorer who had scored six goals in his last four games and 13 in total before his West London departure.

It has since meant more of an onus on Jordan Hugill, an already familiar name on the team sheet, to step-up and not only find the necessary goals but also provide opportunities with hold-up play for a three of Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair behind him.

However, even with the personnel tinkering with the introduction of Marc Pugh in place of Chair in South Wales, it is a formation and tactic that has failed to produce.

Therefore, it begs the question – is it perhaps time to revert to a tried and tested blueprint that Warburton is not only familiar with, but one that has brought success in the past?

Across West London, Brentford are experiencing their best season in the Championship since their debut campaign back in 2014, when Warburton guided them to a top six finish.

While at Griffin Park, Warburton adopted an attacking and fluid front three of Jota, Andre Gray and Stuart Dallas with Tottenham loanee Alex Pritchard adding to the firepower on a season-long loan deal.

READ MORE: How Brentford have built a squad capable of reaching the Premier League

So effective was the template, six years later the club have not strayed too far from it with current Brentford boss Thomas Frank readily admitting he and the rest of Warburton’s successors are ‘standing on his shoulders’ in creating an identity that continues to serve them so well.

And, speaking to London Football Scene, it appears to be a mantra that is not too far away from Warburton’s plans in W12.

“Supporters have to enjoy watching their team play,” Warburton said. “I know how I want the game played, I want players to express themselves, to enjoy playing, to take risks at the right time in the right areas of the pitch.

“Hopefully you saw that at Brentford – it’s being maintained and likewise here at QPR”.

So, with QPR currently blessed with a dynamic, energetic and ambitious handful of talented young prospects in Eze, Osayi-Samuel and Chair at his disposal, perhaps it’s time to adopt a similar attacking philosophy…

Push the trio further up the field and, like Thomas Frank has done with Ollie Watkins at Brentford, convert one of them into an out-an-out forward with a midfield three of Dominic Ball, Luke Amos and Geoff Cameron allowing them to express themselves further up the field.

With the most minutes played out of the three, Eze would be the most obvious choice to play the central role but either way with Osayi-Samuel, Chair and Tottenham-loanee Jack Clarke all available, there’s plenty of viable options which could prove highly rewarding.

Indeed, Warburton speaks highly of his youngsters, praising their quality and believing they all have the potential to play in the Premier League.

READ MORE: Why the Mark Warburton era is already facing it’s biggest QPR challenge

“They are all hungry and young players certainly feed off each other. There is a desire to produce collectively and perform individually as well,” Warburton told London Football Scene.

“It’s a tough world but they will be successful if they apply themselves well and I’ve no doubt the guys are in a position to move onto the highest level at the right time.”

Certainly a tactical and formation change in the middle of the season is a risk with Hugill, though unreliable, still appearing a safer option.

However, risk brings reward and this lack of invention may see a missed opportunity to excite a team which currently looks in desperate need to fill the void left by a certain Nahki Wells.

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