Gareth Ainsworth’s QPR have enough fight and spirit for Championship survival

3 min

Since being appointed QPR head coach back in February, Gareth Ainsworth hasn’t exactly turned heads at Loftus Road with this season’s start doing little to allay fears.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for the 50-year-old though, operating on a shoe-string budget and trying to rebuild a squad with a quality that matches his effervescent and open personality.

Retaining the services of the likes of Ilias Chair and Sam Field mixed with a plethora of shrewd free transfers over the summer have helped offset some of the damage caused by the departures of Seny Dieng, Stefan Johansen and Rob Dickie.

It has led the Hoops to claim two wins from their opening 10 games and although they currently sit in the bottom three, there are signs the side are ready and up for what will undoubtedly be the challenge of remaining in the Championship.

Other than the opening day drubbing at Watford and 3-1 defeats to last season’s Play-Off competitors Sunderland and Coventry, QPR have been competitive in every encounter.

Similarly, all their defeats have been to sides either at the top of the table or expected to be pushing for promotion with the Sunderland loss only coming after being reduced to 10-men.

Ainsworth will also be buoyed by his side’s resilience at Leeds as well as his team’s burgeoning ability to never give up, leading to late goals against Swansea (to earn a vital point) and Coventry.

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Yet while staying in games is something to build on, the lack of a clear attacking threat is an issue which is harder to resolve without spending money which the club clearly don’t have.

Ainsworth’s ‘hit-and-hope’ tactics also remain a cause for concern, despite there being times when the side look capable of producing some really intricate build-up play. 

However, these moments are far too fleeting, doing little to appease the Loftus Road faithful on Ainsworth’s overall managerial credentials in a role that is also the first line of attack for supporters generally disillusioned at the direction of the club.

Having been a popular QPR player, mixed with his ability to take responsibility for poor results (namely Watford) as well as evidence the players are playing for the badge, it is clear Ainsworth will be granted a lot of lee-way to get it right, or at least try to.

The boss would argue results will come once his style has been truly implemented and there is a mentality shift that has seen negativity seep into every facet of W12 over the last few years.

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The arrival of proven Premier League experience in the form of Jack Colback, Steve Cook and Asmir Begovic has been down to try to alleviate some of this, providing much-needed nous to an otherwise fragile dressing room.

For many fans though, appealing for patience is nevertheless difficult after suffering so many false dawns and seeing the side lose week in, week out.

No-one is under any illusion this season won’t be a struggle, but Ainsworth’s mantra on arriving at the club of just putting as many points on the board as quickly as possible may just be the simple approach the club needs right now.

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