Shaun Wright-Phillips (along with the controversial Joey Barton) was one of Queens Park Rangers marquee signings when the club began opening its vast cheque book, in an attempt to show the football world that they meant business. He was one of a number of signings that surprised many, as QPR went absolutely mental on the last day of the summer transfer window, finalising their squad for an attack on the top flight of English football.
The signing of Ian Wright’s adopted son, in the last half hour of the 2011 deadline, looked like shrewd business for the ambitious west London club. The tiny dancer had scored 9 goals for Manchester City during the course of 53 games, as well as 6 goals in 36 games for his country. But more optimistically, it was thought that the confidence of being a guaranteed starter, along with arguably becoming the star player at a new club, would be the final making of the former England winger. To put it bluntly it wasn’t.
In the first season of his Hoops career Wright-Phillips made 34 appearances and chipped in with a magnanimous zero goals. He also only managed 4 assists, one of which came in the FA Cup. Statistics like this put Wright-Phillips in the ‘Stewart Downing’ category, in football terms that is embarrassing. This season has offered little reason for QPR fans to be encouraged. He is still to register a goal in the Premiership and hasn’t contributed a single assist in the 7 games he has played this campaign.
It would seem that manager Mark Hughes see’s something in those figures that nobody else does. In fact it almost appears that Wright-Phillips is being picked for his defensive qualities, which is frightening considering that wingers are better known for terrorising fullback’s, exciting fans, and creating chances, rather than jockeying their opposite number. Even a QPR fan site has scored Wright-Phillips average rating this season as a laughable 4.69, that it the lowest amongst the regular starters. If fans can see his limitations why can’t Hughes, surely there are more attractive alternatives?
The obvious replacements in QPR’s squad are Hoilett, Taarabt, and Mackie. David Hoilett joined QPR in the summer; in 7 games he has already outperformed Wright-Phillips entire ‘Super Hoops’ career. The Canadian has 2 goals to his name (one of which came in the ‘Capital Gold’ Cup) and generally looks a threat whenever on the pitch. He does things that Wright-Phillips seems to have lost the ability to do, i.e. beat players. Moroccan Adel Taarabt is a fans favourite at Loftus Road. Despite not reaching the heights of his hallucinogenic gifts displayed in the Championship, there are signs that he may finally be getting to grips with the Premiership standard. In fewer games Taarabt has bagged more goals and, ignoring the frustrations, he possesses an aura that something special is always around the corner. Put Jamie Mackie on the wing and he is capable of the defensive work put in by Wright-Phillips but, looks more potent going forward. Last season he notched up 7 goals.
QPR have a wealth of talent in midfield yet Hughes seems to select the wrong mixture, or the wrong positions. A case of too many square pegs trying to fit into not enough round holes if you will. Surely Hughes might see a more positive response from his team if he were to use a 4-3-2-1 formation. A talented trio of midfielders could be formed with Granero, Faurlin and Diakite, with width and attacking menace coming from Hoilett and Taarabt, working behind either Cisse or Zamora. Whatever the answer Hughes’ constant picking of Shaun Wright-Phillips doesn’t seem to be it?
What are your thoughts on Wright-Phillips or what’s going wrong at QPR?
image: © currybet