Why Alex Baptiste's Reunion With Former Boss Will Benefit QPR as They Increase Defensive Options
Queens Park Rangers' defensive record throughout the 2016/17 Championship season was nothing to boast about. 66 goals shipped meant the R's finished the campaign with the fourth worst record throughout the league, leaving much food for thought over the summer period.
Boss Ian Holloway has faced a grumble of discontent amongst the QPR faithful, narrowly avoiding relegation last term and a lack of transfer activity this have added to his concerns. A fine opening day victory over Reading on Saturday certainly boosted morale around west London and the clean sheet was very welcome.
Two days later the Hoops completed the signing of Middlesbrough defender Alex Baptiste after the 31-year-old had his contract terminated at the Riverside. The former Blackburn and Blackpool man will be aiming to cement a place in the starting XI after a successful loan spell with Preston North End last season.
Admittedly, the signing of Baptiste isn't one that's going to set the pulses raising around W12 but with over 400 EFL appearances to his name, it's one that should breed confidence at least. It's a small coup for Rangers who desperately needed to add new faces to their defensive ranks.
The Hoops' current crop tend to be too inconsistent and the arrival of Baptiste will add the experience necessary to endure the rigours of the Championship campaign. After a run of games under his belt, the former Mansfield graduate will hopefully replicate the form needed to sustain a first-team spot.
Baptiste is predominantly a right-back but is comfortable playing anywhere across the back four. A trait which could prove imperative to QPR. The 6'1" man will likely be utilised more in his strongest position but it won't be a surprise to see him fill in where necessary.
Holloway looks to have pulled off an enviable capture, especially amongst the Championship sides who were also eyeing Baptiste. Nonetheless, if a series of injuries and/or suspensions crops up, the R's gaffer will be confident he can rely on the full-back.
3. Holloway love
Baptiste won promotion to the Premier League with Blackpool in 2010 whilst playing under Holloway, this is what the 54-year-old said about him during that campaign:
"Baps has played at left-back, right-back and centre-back and he has been different class. I believe he can play in the Premiership and I have told him that. I am working on the areas that he needs working on, but as a defender I don't think I have had a better one and I am delighted he has signed".
The new addition to Loftus Road has also admitted his most favoured manager was none other than...Holloway. Rangers fans will be hopeful to see the 'love affair' rekindle.