Image by Matthew Gidley
While Chelsea fans may regard an FA-Cup winning season as a disappointment, QPR fans have had nothing like the success promised to them. Upon Roman Abramovich's purchase of Chelsea in July 2003, it took the Blues less than two years to win the Premier League crown. This August will mark the two-year anniversary of QPR's buyout by a group including Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore (later joined by Lakshmi Mittal), which at the time made the club the richest in the world. Yet that wealth hasn't yet been displayed in the transfer market, and such frugality, combined with a haphazard approach to the club's coaching structure — including caretaker managers, the club has chopped through eight bosses in the past three years — has resulted in two seasons of mid-table obsolescence in the Championship.
Comparisons with Chelsea's success may be widely off the mark, yet in the 1990s Fulham were the subject of a similar buyout from a foreign personality. Muhammad al-Fayad bought the club in 1997, and by the close of the 2000-2001 season his team had clawed their way from the old Second Division (the third tier of English football) into the Premier League, amassing points records and plaudits along the way. Yet that achievement took a lot of money, alongside the tactical wizardry of one Kevin Keegan (don't laugh — he got the England job based on his work at Craven Cottage). As discussed, the group propping up QPR's coffers seem ill-disposed to shovelling cash into the club, and Jim Magilton's managerial record thus far leaves little to be excited about. Chairman Briatore's description of the former Northern Ireland international as the "stand-out candidate" reflects the paucity of qualified candidates willing to get involved with a parsimonious club that so readily defenestrates failing managers.
Magilton's task is tough: take the Hoops back to the Premier League for the first time since 1996, in a season when the Championship will be dominated by three relegated clubs eager and capable to jump back up at the first opportunity. A difficult job that will only be made easier with funds to invest in a weak squad. That Magilton has been appointed at the start of summer, with three months of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market to go, augers well for the club's long-suffering fans.