Unbeaten in their first seven matches of the 2021/22 campaign, QPR have well and truly picked up where they left off last season.
Mark Warburton’s side boast an impressive 11 goals for and just five goals conceded as they sit third in the Championship table and just two points off top spot.
Since the turn of the calendar year, QPR are the most in form side in the Championship and two of the main catalysts for their resurgence were the loan signings of Stefan Johansen and Charlie Austin last season.
The pair added much needed experience to a youthful-looking QPR side with Austin’s eight goals helping the side finish ninth in the table – the club’s highest league finish since they were promoted via the Play-Offs in 2014.
Fans knew if the Hoops were to have a serious chance at promotion this season then retaining or replacing Austin and Johansen would be crucial.
And it is safe to say Warburton and the QPR Board quickly delivered, with Austin being announced as a permanent signing in June and Johansen following a month later.
Further arrivals Andre Dozzell from Ipswich and Moses Odubajo have shown cameos of promise while the deadline day loan signing of Andre Gray from Watford will add further pedigree to the squad.
Gray should fit nicely alongside the current front two of Austin and Lyndon Dykes and offers a different option with his blistering pace that should strike fear into most defenders in the league.
The impressive recruitment didn’t stop there with QPR also adding much needed depth as central defender Jimmy Dunne joined from Burnley for an undisclosed fee and former Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer arrived on a free from Middlesbrough.
It’s clearly a squad rebuild of sorts with the players arriving definitely an upgrade on those who left the club – all with a total expenditure of just over £1.5m.
QPR’s board and Warburton have once again proved their financial nous and so far it’s paying dividends – although there’s more to the side than just impressive recruitment.
The home draw against Barnsley in particular is symbolic of the side’s new-found team-spirit and mental toughness as they trailed by two goals at the break.
Warburton made sweeping changes at the break in an attempt to engineer a comeback with goals from Ilias Chair and Austin rescuing a point for the side and demonstrating a fight and desire that bodes well for a serious promotion push.
Whilst the new recruits have shone in their own way, some of the more familiar faces have really stepped up this season as well.
Last year’s Player of the Year Rob Dickie has been in inspired form, not only composed and authoritative at the back but already notching up four goals in all competitions as he appears more determined than ever to reinforce the notion he is one of the best defenders in the league.
What’s also worked so well for the Hoops this year is the fluidity of QPR’s attack, with the focal point of either Austin or Lyndon Dykes supported by either Chair and Chris Willock as advanced midfielders.
The almost telekinetic connection between Chair and Willock is fascinating with Chair looking to run in behind every time Willock collects the ball, and vice versa.
At times it looks like two kids causing havoc in cage football, then remembering that they’re doing this to Championship defences. If Chair plays a quick pass inside, he knows Willock will be looking for the killer ball.
Tough away trips to Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion and a Carabao Cup home clash against Everton this month will truly test their Premier League credentials but for now QPR can be more than pleased with their progress so far.