Comment: Calls for Warburton’s exit are no longer in vain, the QPR job is a poisoned chalice

Mark Warburton’s relationship with QPR has been through some tough times, though no time has been tougher than this. He looks to be on the verge of losing his job despite delivering steady progress over the past three years, and it’s sprung up large-scale debate among the R’s faithful.

Warburton arrived for a mixed reception. He arrived as someone who had endured some difficult tenures with the likes of Nottingham Forest and Rangers, but a more profound spell in charge of rivals Brentford. Though the QPR board saw something in Warburton. They saw a manager with a long-term vision which aligned with theirs, with Warburton signing a three-year deal in 2019 which is set to expire this summer.

For many, the timing of Warburton’s contract expiry is perfect. Those who might believe in that sentiment would argue that Warburton has run his course in three seasons as QPR manager which, interestingly, would make him the club’s longest-serving manager since Ian Holloway’s first stint in charge of the club. The ‘Breadman’ has been no stranger to criticism throughout his QPR tenure and he’s also never been one to shy away from those.

Warburton has on numerous occasions disagreed with fans’ opinions. He is known to be active on social media and he confesses to reading fans’ comments after most every game. In the past, he’s stuck up for players who’ve gone through online torment, like Lyndon Dykes last season, who later repaid the faith shown by his manager. And Warburton has of course defended himself, though his unwavering honestly and somewhat brutality in hitting back at fans may not have done his cause any good.

QPR fans may be the first to admit that they’re fickle, as Warburton has on more than one occasion described them. The R’s faithful are passionate and they demand the return of more positive times to a club that was once hailed among the nation’s capital as one that endorsed and pioneered style on the pitch. But times change, and QPR’s fortunes are no longer as fruitful as they once were.

The club has endured hardship both on and off the pitch this Century. Names of the not-so-distant past landed QPR in murky financial waters which have since subjected the club to a prolonged stay in the English Football League which is becoming increasingly harder to break out of for many reasons. Just last season, QPR witness their west London neighbors Brentford earn promotion to the Premier League and they achieved so, not overnight, but over the course of a number of years of building, envisioning and preparation.

QPR right now are in the middle of that building phase. They are now in their seventh season back in the Championship following their 2015 relegation and most, whether they’re pro or anti-Warburton, will be expecting an eighth. Their leagues finishes read as 12th, 18th, 16th, 19th, 13th and 9th, with the club currently sat in 9th place of the Championship table which would hand Warburton a 13th place finish and two 9th place finishes in his three-year tenure at the club.

Calls for his resignation are born from the expectations of fans. Warburton, Les Ferdinand, Lee Hoos and co have previously tried to manage those expectations by reiterating the longevity of their Premier League project, but time and time again, many have berated Warburton and a select few of his players for poor performances – performances which have Now thrown the club out of top-six contention.

Undoubtedly, QPR might not be in the position they are in after their weekend defeat v Fulham if it weren’t for the injuries they’ve picked up this season. That, combined with a lack of investment in the previous summer transfer window and the growing hate being shown towards the manager and playing staff has made for a sour atmosphere, both in the ground and online which has again, undoubtedly, landed Warburton in the hot water that he now finds himself in.

It begs the question: ‘Do QPR fans have unrealistic expectations of their team? And has the vitriol towards Warburton put him in a position to be sacked before the end of the season?’

Perhaps, yes. Calls for Warburton’s exit are no longer in vain because it appears that Warburton is on the brink of said exit, despite delivering stability to a club that was in dire need of it – that, and many other off-field foundations like a new transfer philosophy , and playing philosophy. QPR fans will surely hail the newfound transfer ethos that the club has worked upon fine-tuning since Warburton’s arrival, in finding young talents and gently pushing them towards the first-team as to save money in the transfer market for more key arrivals.

QPR now have a set of players which many in the Championship would envy. Yes, there’s been some disappointing individual showings this season from players we may have expected to prevail, but the foundations continue to be laid and progression continues to be made, no matter the understandable disappointing of falling out of the top-six so close to the end of the campaign.

If QPR make up two points on Sheffield United in 8th then they achieve their best finish under Warburton and their best finish since returning to the Championship. The only reason why this season feels so underwhelming is because of what it could’ve held for QPR, if the club had more depth in the squad, a little more quality and more resources to better the team with in January.

The division among QPR fans online right now, and the hostility being show towards Warburton and the players which has become a distinct problem born in the past few years, is making the QPR job untenable. Warburton took on an already demanding job in 2019 and despite the progression he’s helped the club make, the chalice he holds has become a poisoned one. Should he depart, it’s hard to see a credible manager wanting the job. Expect the typical Mick McCarthy-like interest in the QPR job should it become available over the summer and then, only after ousting Warburton from the job, may some QPR fans may be left ruing.

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