QPR look for a winning start
After QPR signed Steven Caulker and Rio Ferdinand, manager Harry Redknapp said he wanted up to six more players. Given that only Jordan Mutch and Maurico Isla have since come in, Saturday's season-opener vs. Hull has come around a bit too soon to be too confident.
However, as the squad numbers have been announced and there is no No.10, Rs fans can expect a playmaker to come in before the window closes on Sept. 1, with Niko Kranjcar and Rafael van der Vaart two names that have been mentioned.
Loic Remy is still at the club and is in line to start against Hull. Given his record at Rangers and Newcastle, you would have to fancy him to score, too, but don't bank on him being at Loftus Road at the end of August, no matter how "decent" a bloke Redknapp says he is. Rangers obviously want to keep him but he wants to play in Europe and he has a buyout clause that most teams playing on the continent can easily afford.
Hopefully Glenn Hoddle's impact as first-team coach is immediate and we see the team playing good football. Last season's motto was "find a way" -- an ethos for getting out of the Championship by hook or by crook. Now the Rs are in the top flight, though they look pleasingly keen to stay there while playing a more attractive brand of football.
A lot has been made about how much influence Hoddle will have on the 3-5-2 formation Redknapp will use this season and how Ferdinand will play as a sweeper, but it will be fascinating to see what effect he also has on midfielders, Ale Faurlin and Joey Barton. Both are both technically gifted but the Championship is about guts more than guile and hopefully their talent will be nurtured by Hoddle and displayed more adroitly in the Premier League.
Free to play: ESPN FC Premier League fantasy
- Sign up for our new game and challenge your friends
- How to play the game -- fantasy rules in full
- FAQ: All your game questions answered
- Transfers: Check out the latest Premier League moves
- Fantasy HQ: Email us with your issues
Hull manager Steve Bruce was desperately unlucky to miss out on manager of the season awards back in May. His team switch between 3-5-2 and 4-3-3 formations very well and have a British core of proven Premier League players. Indeed, Richard Dunne said they are a team for QPR to aspire to emulate.
Luckily for Rangers, they won't be lining up against Shane Long, following his move to Southampton this week. The Irishman is a high-quality and underrated striker, the sort of player that QPR should have bought in recent years instead of the likes of Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson.
Rangers were hugely underwhelming in two recent preseason friendlies in Germany -- a narrow 1-0 win over minnows, Erfurt, and an uninspired 2-0 defeat to RB Leipzig -- and the reports from warm-up matches back in England have not been encouraging either. However, if they don't lose on Saturday then the whole of preseason will be forgotten and the proper football can start on a high with momentum potentially crucial to any hope of survival.
It will be interesting to see who leads the team out. Redknapp has confirmed Clint Hill will continue as club captain but that's a pretty empty title if he isn't starting every week. It looks like being a straight fight between Barton and Ferdinand for the armband and Barton deserves it after what he did last season.
Meanwhile, it will be harsh on Danny Simpson if Isla replaces him as the right wing-back as he was a pivotal figure in winning promotion last season once he got over a nasty back injury but, after the World Cup the Chilean enjoyed, it seems unlikely he will want to sit on a bench in west London.
On the other side of the five-man defence, the battle between Yun Suk Young and Armand Traore for the left wing-back slot is an exciting and even one. Traore is set to win it for this week but he'll be pushed all the way by the tenacious South Korean as the season goes on.
Rangers will want any improvement on their last Premier League curtain-raiser -- a 5-0 thrashing to Swansea in 2012 that set the tone for a miserable season -- and they'll be dreaming of a 3-0 win with a Remy hat trick which convinces the France international to stay!
However, looking at the two sides and their probable trepidation at the season ahead, a 1-1 looks the most likely result. Remy could well end up scoring, but it would only show Hoops fans what they could be missing when a rich club with European football to offer comes knocking for the former Marseille man at the end of the month.