Date: 6th June 2016 at 1:02pm
Written by:

AUGUST >

For any fans that were expecting for an immediate return to the Premier League this season, a reality check was delivered on the opening day of the campaign, as Charlton welcomed the club back to the Championship by inflicting a 2-0 defeat on a side that featured seven debutants over the course of the game at the Valley, in which Rob Green provided an insight into what to expect from him between the sticks in the coming months.

Despite last season`s haul of 18 top-flight goals, followed by a call up to the England national side, Charlie Austin surprisingly remained a QPR player for the time being at least, with his departure expected prior to the closure of the summer transfer window, and despite his presence in attack, the season got off to a poor start for Chris Ramsey, installed as permanent manager having been handed a three-year deal following relegation.

Having controlled the majority of the opening half, without ever really testing the hosts` goalkeeper other than the odd routine save, second-half goals from Tony Watt and Morgan Fox condemned Rangers to defeat, extending the abysmal recent record in London derby matches to 12 games without a win, with 10 losses and two draws, with the last victory coming over two years prior in a narrow 1-0 win at home to the Addicks.

Up next for the R`s was a potential banana skin in the Capital One Cup with a trip to League Two side Yeovil Town three days later, in which Ramsey named a much-changed side, and a professional performance from the R`s saw them run out 3-0 victors, with summer recruits Sebastian Polter and Jay Emmanuel-Thomas opening their accounts for the club, before skipper Nedum Onuoha rounded off an impressive evening`s work.

Following defeat to the Addicks, a positive response was required with Cardiff up next at Loftus Road, and Ramsey brought in Ben Gladwin to replace the injured Jamie Mackie in the only change to the side that featured in the opener, and thee points looked to have been all but secured, after Clint Hill`s first-half header and an Austin tap-in 10 minutes after the break, both coming from corners, gave Rangers a 2-0 lead.

Two goals from the Bluebirds in the last half hour, the first from Sean Morrison, and the second a stunning strike from Scott Malone with 90 minutes on the clock, ensured Russell Slade`s men returned home with a share of the spoils, ahead of a tricky midweek trip to Molineux to face Wolves, who had picked up four points from their first two games, and in Benik Afobe, possessed one of the deadliest marksmen in the division.

In came defender Grant Hall for his first start league start for the club, but he was unable to prevent Afobe from giving the home side the lead from close range on 17 minutes, before Kevin McDonald doubled their advantage midway through the first-half, the third successive game Rangers had conceded two goals, but Austin provided a lifeline seven minutes before the break as he rose highest to head in a Matt Phillips cross.

Shortly after the restart, Rangers found themselves level, as Phillips` tame left-foot strike from the right-hand side of the box made its way through a number of bodies to nestle in the bottom corner, which he followed up minutes later with the winner, finding space 25 yards out, before hitting a shot that should have resulted in a routine stop for the home goalkeeper, but instead gave Rangers their first win of the season as it ended 3-2.

A great opportunity then presented itself to claim back-to-back wins, which the club had failed to achieve in the previous season, as relegation-favourites Rotherham United visited, and with both sides creating chances to take the lead, it looked to be heading for a stalemate at the break, before Tjaronn Chery broke the deadlock with his first goal for the R`s, finishing off some nice build-up play with a curling shot from the edge of the box.

The Dutchman then doubled the lead as he slid in to turn home a James Perch cross, before some neat footwork from Austin was finished off by a weak shot towards the Millers` keeper, who allowed it to go under his body to give Rangers a comfortable 3-0 lead with less than half an hour of the match still to play.

As had been the case in the first three league matches, the Rangers defence again conceded two goals, as Johnson Clarke-Harris and Tom Thorpe set up a nervy finish, but any hopes of an impressive comeback for the Millers were quashed in the dying moments of the game, as Polter was adjudged to have been fouled in the box, and up stepped Austin to calmly slot home the penalty infront of the Loft to round off a 4-2 victory.

With games coming thick and fast, the side was back at Loftus Road three days later as they faced another League Two side in the second round of the Capital One Cup, this time Carlisle United, prompting Ramsey to make wholesale changes, and it was an all too familiar feeling for Rangers fans well used to being dumped out by sides from lower leagues, as the Cumbrians took the lead on 37 minutes through striker Derek Asamoah.

Emmanuel-Thomas` long-distance strike and second goal for the club restored parity for Rangers, but as has come to be the norm for the R`s in cup competitions, they were dumped out 10 minutes from time as Jason Kennedy condemned the club to a 2-1 defeat, as Carlisle joined the likes of Burton Albion, Swindon Town, Rochdale and Port Vale in the last five years to have progressed in the competition at QPR`s
expense.

The final game of the month saw Rangers travel to Huddersfield, who were without a win in their first four league matches, and with Michael Doughty coming in to make his first Championship start of the campaign, the R`s managed to record a much needed first clean sheet of the season, as a solitary Chery goal six minutes from time enabled Rangers to record a third successive league win, a feat they last achieved in January 2014.

That run saw Rangers occupy fourth spot after five games, three points behind leaders Brighton, topping the goalscoring charts with 10 goals, but also worryingly having conceded eight, and with the transfer window set to close three days after the win over the Terriers, attentions inevitably turned to the futures of Austin, Phillips, Leroy Fer and Sandro, the latter two having not featured owing to injury and visa issues respectively.

With the club going into the season expecting that all four players would likely be on their way, with the exception maybe of Phillips, the aim for the campaign was for stability and a possible play-off challenge, but as soon as the transfer window closed, and none of the players having been moved on, the goalposts were moved by the club`s hierarchy, increasing the pressure on Ramsey by publicly talking about promotion.

From that moment on, it was effectively the beginning of the end for the QPR boss.

League position: 4th (P5, W3, D1, L1)