QPR's short-term plan needs to end
It was July 9, 2012, and there was good news: QPR had signed a Manchester United star, a Champions League winner with World Cup appearances and global recognition. He wasn't young, but he was experienced. He was expensive, but he was expected to justify the cost. And Maroon 5 were at the top of the charts with smash hit "Payphone."
QPR had just pulled off a coup by signing Park Ji-sung; he was a signal of intent and a marquee signing, and he was made captain.
He became a 100,000-pounds-a-week disaster.
Fast-forward two turbulent years, one relegation, one promotion and a clear-out of ineffective players, and we seem to be back where we started: QPR have just signed another Manchester United castoff, Rio Ferdinand.
- Ferdinand: I had plenty of offers
The defender is 35 and has persistent back and hamstring problems that are unlikely to improve with age. And even when he was fit last season, manager David Moyes did not seem to trust him completely, as Ferdinand watched six Premier League matches from the bench.
When he hasn't been adding appearances to his glittering career, he's been adding strings to his bow as the years have advanced -- he's hosted "Rio's World Cup Wind-Ups," a practical-joke show, and presented on the BBC. He has an online magazine, a clothing line and record label, and has produced a film. He has a lot on his plate.
In recent years, Loftus Road has been a magnet to players reaching the end of their careers (Ji-Sung), keen to live in London (Jose Bosingwa) and after big money (Chris Samba). And they have not been successful.
The players who have done well are the ones who have an emotional bond with the club (Clint Hill), are young and hungry (Charlie Austin) or have a point to prove (Joey Barton).
If Rangers had a young and inexperienced squad, like Derby or Leicester, the idea of nabbing Ferdinand for a swan song to impart some wisdom might look half-alluring. But Richard Dunne, 34, and Hill, 35, each have another season at the club and fulfill those paternal duties with plenty to spare.
QPR lack pace at the heart of defence, and it's probably an attribute Ferdinand cannot bring at this stage of his career.
The Premier League sides that did well last season in similar situations -- stadium, budget, attendances -- like Crystal Palace, Hull and Stoke built their sides with players who were largely young, always hungry and predominantly British. Surely the club has learned from its mistakes?
Ferdinand has been one of the best defenders in the world for more than a decade and has been a leader in all the sides he has played for. But his future as a footballer is limited; he is a stopgap.
Short-term thinking is a perilous modus operandi for any business to employ, but in football, where players can lose form overnight or suffer injury in an instant, it is playing with fire.
There are plenty of exciting young defenders Rangers could look at. There's Jamaal Lascelles at Nottingham Forest; Cyrus Christie would have been an astute signing had Derby not lured him from Coventry last week; and it's only a matter of time before Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu is snapped up from Luton.
It appears Rangers have signed Ferdinand in an expensive, short-term gamble that is one back spasm from becoming a bust. There's a platform to build on now. They have a genuine chance of staying up even if they have a bad season, with Burnley, Leicester, Swansea and West Brom in the division.
But the signing of Ferdinand, the links with Frank Lampard and the general lack of business by mid-July mean this could be another reckless, white-knuckle ride.