Victory for QPR against Newcastle can be stepping stone for 2015-16
At some stage next week, hopefully after a victory against Newcastle in the last match of the season at Loftus Road, Queens Park Rangers will formally announce that current boss Chris Ramsey is their long-term head coach.
After Paul Clement, Steve McClaren and Michael Laudrup ruled themselves out of the of the running when Harry Redknapp left in February and the club pulled out of their deal to appoint Tim Sherwood, Ramsey steered the sinking ship without much tangible success, but with dignity and honesty.
There have been few low points on the pitch under Ramsey's tenure, like the defeats at Crystal Palace and Manchester City, but the majority of the ignominy has, as usual, come off the pitch and outside of Ramsey's control: See Sandro's ban and the acquisition of several players before Ramsey joined who have been criticized since QPR's fate was sealed.
What QPR need now, with points of no value against the visitors this weekend, is an impressive performance from the players to show that they approve of Ramsey's hiring. The players constantly speak highly of him but they now need to back up their words with actions after the Etihad evisceration.
Sadly, because a number of players are in the last days of their loans or contracts, a large number of players available at the weekend might not care a jot how Ramsey fares in his last two remaining matches and that could seriously affect QPR's chances against a Newcastle side still fighting against the drop.
The club and manager are of course going to say everyone is playing for the shirt and their future, but we live in much more harsh world where people will, perhaps even subconsciously, be concerned with their next contract and preserving themselves to make any impending move go smoothly.
The ageing core of players that runs through of the spine of the side; from Rob Green in goal to Bobby Zamora in attack, with Clint Hill, Richard Dunne, Karl Henry and Joey Barton in between, has been typically reliable and resilient for most of the season, but let down by a group of fringe players christened "Bad Eggs" by Barton.
The Rangers' starting XI on Saturday should be made up of those stalwarts alongside the likes of those with contracts that go beyond this month, like Charlie Austin, Steven Caulker, Yun Suk-Young, Leroy Fer and Matt Phillips. The bench should be made up of youngsters who might be needed in the next two weeks or 12 months.
Now that the club's dirty laundry has once again been aired in public, there is no need for the likes of Adel Taarabt, Armand Traore, Mauro Zarate, Eduardo Vargas, Mauricio Isla or Niko Kranjcar to be token substitutes, whether they are injured or just plain unavailable for selection of their own accord.
The club cannot, by Premier League rules, and should not, for the sake of the mindset and future of the club's young players, suddenly hurl the likes of Reece Grego-Cox, Darnell Furlong, Brandon Comley and Aaron Mitchell the fold, but they should fill the bench with the aforementioned prospects.
That definitely does not mean this young crop of untested players should be charged with leading the club in the Championship next season -- far from it. And Ramsey has recently reiterated that he is on no crusade to blood youngsters to merely flex his muscles as a champion of youth and academy coaching. But it would mean the club could clear the decks in a very public fashion at home in front of their fans who are now desperate for a bit of transparency and a little less PR.
With the relegation and the manner in which it came, and the ongoing talks about a Financial Fair Play fine, QPR can't get much lower -- it seems incredible to be saying that again, they seem to specialise in nadirs -- but a cathartic Saturday without pressure could be a stepping stone toward a fresh start in the Championship.
It would also be a fine opportunity to give final thanks and well wishes to the likes of Green, who is reportedly nearing a move to Chelsea, and Austin, who deserves to remain in the Premier League, while welcoming some of the young talents who might be able to help the latest QPR rebuild next season.
Wally Downes Jr. is a reporter for Hayters sports agency in London and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @WallyDownes_Jr.