Monday, 18 January 2010

Lone Rangers

What on earth is going on down at Loftus Road?

It is a question on the lips of most if not all Queens Park Rangers fans after yet another turbulent week in the soap opera that the Shepherd Bush club has become since the arrival of the mercurial Flavio Briatore and his billionaire henchman Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshi Mittal.

So the latest victim of the ruthless Briatore regime comes after just 28 days in the hot-seat and only five games played. Poor old Paul Hart must think his luck is well and truly out. After taking control of a seemingly doomed Pompey ship, he must have thought he had well and truly landed on his feet after taking the job at QPR only a matter of days after leaving the South Coast club rock-bottom of the Premier League. Little did Hart know that the home FA Cup defeat to Sheffield United would be his last as the Rangers boss.

The circumstances around Hart’s departure have become the subject of rumour amongst the nationals this week, some reporting that Hart walked away after being ‘very unhappy’ with certain matters at the club, others suggesting that player power within the dressing room had struck twice in two months, this time involving Spurs’ on-loan star Adel Tarabt after the sacking of previous boss Jim Magilton came about after a bust-up with Hungarian playmaker Akos Buzsacky.

The full story may never be known and once again QPR fans are left in the dark as to why their club has become the laughing stock of the Championship, if not the whole of English football. The recent drama along the Uxbridge Road has yet again fuelled the debate regards to the foreign fascination of English football and begs yet another question – are football clubs becoming the new fashion ‘must-have’ of the rich and famous?

It is easy to forget the recent scandal surrounding Briatore in amongst the recent managerial changes at Loftus Road – maybe a clever PR move to take the heat off the disgraced F1 boss? Maybe we should leave that one for the more skeptical among us.

Briatore, the former Renault principal, was handed a lifetime ban from Formula One after the FIA found him guilty of staging a deliberate crash during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, a ban that was last week overturned on appeal by a French court. The news will be mixed for many of the Ranger’s faithful with the FA’s ‘Fit and Proper Persons’ Test no longer being breached by Briatore’s antics in the F1 arena, and him being able to continue his reign at the West London club.

So what next for QPR? That is anyone’s guess. I can’t imagine the Alan Curbishley’s, Mark Hughes’ or Sven Goran Eriksson’s of this world are licking their lips at the prospect of becoming the next manager of the world’s richest football club. It is a job that will now be perceived as one that the chances of being given a chance are not very high, a job that could ruin a reputation that had taken years to build. Briatore’s swift and ruthless nature will scare off even the most desperate of those who have recently had their P45s sent in the post.

It still manages to confuse me however regards the whole issue of foreign ownership and what they believe is the recipe for success in the English game. Pumping in millions is one thing, but building a success story overnight is another. The exuberant riches of Manchester City have bought them a number of ‘box office’ signings since their takeover, a number of players seen as extravagant purchases aimed at showing off rather than silverware winning essentials – Robinho being case in point. But, despite over a 100 million being spent on the playing staff, they are still no Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester United, far from it.

I wonder if these foreign owners look towards a model or guide when considering their purchases. Manchester United and Arsenal are the most successful clubs of the Premier League era with managers who have reigned for over 30 years between them. Ferguson and Wenger have revolutionised football with their ‘bottom-up’ theories of control. Each have control of each and every element of the football club, from the youth team right up to exactly who is brought in and who is shown the door. Each of the success is no coincidence, believe me. So, if your currently window shopping, looking for next gem of English football or just seeking a new toy - you couldn't go far wrong from taking a leaf out of the lessons taught by Wenger and Ferguson.