Four straight league wins was all it took for Steve Morgan to lift his self-imposed exile as Wolves chairman. The Liverpudlian property tycoon has yet to find a buyer for the Black Country outfit and returned to Molineux for the first time in four months last weekend. Predictably, the Old Gold suddenly lost their Midas touch and lost 3-1 to fellow play-off hopefuls Cardiff.
In truth, the earlier winning streak had been blessed with good fortune. Slender wins over Reading and Brighton were both achieved against the run of play, sandwiching a routine victory over Charlton that was simply a matter of catching the worst team in the division at a particularly low ebb. Only the 3-2 win over Fulham wasn’t asterisked with any sort of caveat.
So few fans are getting their hopes up that a genuine play-off challenge can be sustained, and the terrible news that young winger Jordan Graham (eight assists in his first 12 appearances) could be out for a year after doing his cruciate against the Bluebirds further dampens expectations in the wake of Benik Afobe’s £10m transfer to Bournemouth.
Polish winger Michal Zyro has operated as an auxillary striker in the past fortnight, scoring three times in his last two appearances, but he will miss the trip to Loftus Road with a calf injury, while the search for a long-term replacement for Afobe has so far proved fruitless, leaving Kenny Jackett short of options in various positions towards the top end of the pitch.
So Wanderers might struggle for the necessary guile to penetrate a QPR side that has prepared for Charlie Austin’s exit long before he finally sealed a £4m move to Southampton. A comfortable 3-0 victory at Rotherham last weekend was Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s first win - and clean sheet - in nine attempts but the Hoops have conceded fewer than four shots on target per game under the Dutchman.
Indeed, when you bolt those miserly performances onto the miserly results during the interim period under Neil Warnock, you end up with the division’s third lowest expected goals against figure over the past 16 matches, making it easy to buy into the argument that further clean sheets are long overdue. So take the 13/5 available on QPR to win to nil.
Despite early results, which amounted to nothing more sinister than five draws and two stoppage-time defeats against top-six opposition, Hasselbaink has made great strides in persuading the players to buy into his high-pressing philosophy and there are growing signs of his authority being stamped, whereby those not already on board with his methods risk being left behind.
The capture of Connor Washington in a £2.5m deal from Peterborough bolsters the attack where Junior Hoillett has emerged as a shining light in recent weeks and there’s enough to believe Rangers can win this one with something to spare, if they get their noses in front. Bet Victor offer 21/2 about the QPR 2-0 correct score and that’s also worth a nibble.
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