It took Queens Park Rangers until the final day of last season to secure their Premier League status, but Mark Hughes is confident there will be no such struggle this term.
For the majority of the second half at the Etihad Stadium on 13 May, it looked as though Rangers would cause the upset of the year by denying Manchester City the league title whilst clinching their own survival. However, Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero scored two stoppage time goals to give Roberto Mancini’s side their first championship since 1968.
As it turned out, that 3-2 defeat had no bearing on the drop zone, as Bolton Wanderers occupied the final relegation place when they were held at Stoke City. After the match, a relieved Hughes insisted that as long as he was in charge at Loftus Road, there would be no repeat of the struggles which saw his team escape slipping into the Championship by one point.
Since that dramatic May afternoon in Manchester, QPR have added plenty of experience to their ranks: West Ham United goalkeeper Robert Green, Fulham forward Andy Johnson and former Blackburn Rovers and Tottenham Hotspur defender Ryan Nelsen have all arrived on free transfers. Ji-Sung Park, who won more in his seven-year stint at Manchester United than Rangers have in their history, was signed for an initial £2.5million, and Fabio da Silva has followed the South Korean from Old Trafford in a loan deal. Samba Diakite, who made nine appearances during a loan spell last season, has joined on a permanent basis from Nancy.
Hughes is sure to make more signings before he welcomes Swansea City on the opening day of the season. And when QPR end their campaign in the North West for the second successive year, this time at Liverpool, he is confident they will not be in a position where they are either needing to take maximum points or relying on other sides to ensure their survival in the top-flight.
“Now I have more time to prepare the side and get the quality players that were lacking before,” said Hughes, who replace the sacked Neil Warnock in January. “I can say that QPR has a great future and obviously we will do better than last season. We are confident that we won’t be struggling.”