A look at Charlie Austin, Matt Phillips, Andy Johnson and a possible transfer to come.
Here are five conclusions following QPR's latest result...
Harry Redknapp still does not know his best formation
It may not be an entirely negative issue, but Redknapp is clearly still to decide which formation better suits his squad. Having begun the season playing 4-4-2, he abandoned that for 4-2-3-1 in order to get QPR playing more expansive football. It did not entirely work, with Rangers’ midfielders failing to provide striker Charlie Austin with regular service. In answer to that problem, Redknapp returned to 4-4-2 against Bournemouth, with Austin joined up top by Andy Johnson. The change paid dividends, with Johnson setting up Austin for the opener, and wingers Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips both getting on the scoresheet. Redknapp may now have the best of both worlds: two up front in home games, and the option of packing the midfield for tricky away matches.
QPR might not actually need Yossi Benayoun
At the time of writing, it seems that the former Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder is set to join QPR on an 18-month deal. But do they need him? Possibly, if Redknapp returns to 4-2-3-1, where Benayoun could operate between the lines and hopefully act as a creative link-up behind Austin. But not if Redknapp sticks with 4-4-2, in which case it would be hard to see where the Israeli fits in. Also, at 33 and a free agent Benayoun’s best years are far, far behind him. Experience aside, it is hard to know quite what he would bring to the Rangers team.
Andy Johnson must stay fit
Johnson’s fitness (or eternal lack of) has become something of a running joke among the QPR supporters. But the striker who seems to spend more time injured than on the pitch could yet prove a key player this season. Johnson and Austin have shown a real spark on the occasions they have played together so far, and Austin needs someone to lift the burden of goal-scoring responsibility. Whether Johnson will stick around in January remains to be seen – he clearly wanted a move to CrystalPalace in the summer – but when fit and happy, the striker is a big weapon for the Rs.
Matt Phillips gets better and better
The Scotland winger showed terrific strength and skill to turn two defenders and blast a shot past Lee Camp, and the manner in which he celebrated the goal with his team-mates suggests it is a weight off his back. After his early injury problems, Phillips has improved with virtually every display since he joined during the summer. More powerful than Junior Hoilett on the opposite wing, and with a sharper eye for goal, it would be a huge disappointment if he does not beat last season’s tally of five goals.
Tom Carroll needs games
Redknapp is a huge fan of the on loan 21-year-old midfielder, who rejoined the starting line-up after a spell out with injury. But Carroll has not quite found his rhythm at QPR since joining from Spurs, often hesitant on the ball and a little lightweight against some of the Championship’s more imposing midfielders. He will, of course, get better over time, and he has the potential to become a high-quality player. But for now, Carroll needs games, and at least under Redknapp he is likely to get plenty of them between now and the end of the season.
image: © p_a_h