Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was one of the coaches alleged to have accepted payments from a fictitious far east firm to discuss player transfers, but last night’s 1-0 victory over Bristol City is proof that the QPR board made the right decision to back him.
There’s been a notable lack of stability at Queens Park Rangers since they won promotion to the Premier League in 2011, and the club have boasted five different full-time managers since Neil Warnock guided the Rs to that Championship title.
With that in mind, it would hardly have surprising if Tony Fernandes had dusted his hands of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink after allegations emerged similar to the kind that saw Sam Allardyce sacked as England manager. But Fernandes’ decision to stand by the Dutchman is evidence that he too is tired of the chopping and changing, and eager for stability at his club.
While the results have not always gone Hasselbaink’s way so far this season (not least the 6-0 home thrashing by Newcastle last month), there is a notable sense of togetherness amongst the QPR players. Over the last five years, QPR sides have often resembled a group of individuals, players content to pick up a high wage at a club where money was no issue, and then simply move on to the next stop when they went down.
However, under Hasselbaink, QPR are looking more like a team. The former Leeds and Chelsea striker has assembled a group of players full of energy and commitment, eager to prove their worth in what is an immensely tough division. Conor Washington epitomised this during the win over Bristol City last night, a constant thorn in the side of the Robins’ defenders, and he was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet.
Last night, QPR had real bite in their midfield, something that has been notably absent in the Rangers sides that have consistently struggled in the Premier League. The tireless Jordan Cousins and Ariel Borysiuk made life tough for the likes of Gary O’Neil, who struggled to influence the game against his former club.
Coming into the game, QPR had only won one of their six Championship home games, and this was something Hasselbaink was keen to address. In his pre-match programme notes, the dutchman emphasised how QPR’s “sole aim is to win the game”, highlighting his own frustration at his side’s inconsistency at home.
While the 1-0 scoreline suggests a tight game, the way in which the home side penned Bristol City in their own half for large periods of the game will give the supporters cause for optimism. There was no evidence of a ‘fear of losing’ from Jimmy Floyd’s men against a side who are exceeding all expectations this season. The Robins found themselves fifth in the table going into this one, and were joint second in the scoring charts.
One main reason for City’s early season success has been the form of striker Tammy Abraham, who is the division’s top scorer. However, Hasselbaink will take great delight in how quiet the QPR rearguard kept him, as the striker failed to trouble the experienced duo of Nedum Onouha and Steven Caulker. Indeed, if those two can find the level of performance they are capable of, then QPR will be a very tough team to beat this season.
QPR’s recent seasons have often been defined by ‘big-name players’ failing to perform, but under Hasselbaink there is no danger of that. There are no egos in this Rs side, only a shared enthusiasm and commitment to improve as players. Each year, we see the role team spirit plays in the success of Championship clubs. The likes of Bournemouth and Swansea have shown how a closely-knit group of hardworking, dedicated players can be the key to success in this league, rather than simply building a side of talented, but money-driven individuals.
That kind of team spirit is what Hasselbaink must strive to establish at QPR, and his animated touchline behaviour was evidence of a man desperate for success, eager to prove himself as a coach at the highest level. It’s clear that the dutchman has a lot of ambition for QPR, and with Tony Fernandes ready to back and support his manager, there’s no reason why they can’t mount a promotion push. If Hasselbaink can lead the club back to the promised land that is the Premier League, there is little doubt that they will be better equipped to survive than ever before.
On current form, that is a long way off for this Rs team, but if they can consistently replicate the kind of spirit and commitment they showed last night on a consistent basis, then the Loftus Road faithful may have a lot more to shout about before too long.