Mutch more like it for Rangers
When you look at the players brought in by QPR to score goals in recent seasons you can't help but think Jordon Mutch is already on to a winner.
Federico Macheda, Jay Bothroyd, Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora arrived over the course of the 2011-12 season and Zamora's last-gasp Wembley winner in May has been his only memorable on-pitch contribution, while Bothroyd's tattoos and Cisse's wardrobe remain etched in my mind ahead of their work in front of goal.
Andy Johnson joined the virtually redundant "strike force" the following summer and Loic Remy pitched up in the January window. Johnson lost his battles with injury while Remy won his fight to force through a loan out to Newcastle the moment Rangers went down.
- Official: Mutch joins QPR
And most recently Modibo Maiga, Will Keane, Ravel Morrison and a Brazilian mystery man called Dellatorre came and went without scoring enough to earn their keep. Charlie Austin has been the first main man the Rs have been able to pin their hopes on since the prolific days of Adel Taarabt, Dexter Blackstock and the "legendary" Marc Nygaard.
But now it looks like they have a new face they can depend on. Second-striker Mutch isn't stepping down a league to raise his income, nor is he strolling in to a club happy to wave blank cheques. Like Steven Caulker, he is still hurting from relegation at Cardiff, he has experience of the Premier League and he joins on the back of an impressive campaign last season.
Mutch played in the hole in a Cardiff team that dedicated most of its time and effort towards defending; be it the goal or their eccentric owner. He looked good when most of those around him did not. Seven Premier League goals is no mean feat especially when considering he started nine matches on the bench and was withdrawn in seven of his 35 top-flight appearances.
I saw Mutch firsthand against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in October and although his side suffered a 4-1 defeat, he looked impressive. He certainly did more than designated striker Peter Odemwingie, especially when he scored his side's opener.
The goal wasn't particularly notable for Mutch's finish or guile, it was his relentless running and determination to chase down a solid-looking Chelsea defence. This was pre-World Cup so he couldn't have been certain David Luiz would produce another for the blooper reel and tee him up.
I still think Remy would prefer to play his football elsewhere -- the fact he hasn't pledged his future to the club, or even said how nice it is to be back in White City gives that away -- so Mutch will be vital for scoring goals for the club.
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Steven Gerrard scored 13 from midfield for Liverpool last season but 10 of those were penalties and due to Chelsea's formation I'm discounting Eden Hazard from the list of top-scoring midfielders. Yaya Toure is left streaks ahead, obviously, but Mutch is level with the likes of David Silva, Kevin Nolan and Samir Nasri -- and he finished with more than Ross Barkley, Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil.
He hadn't been prolific before the Bluebirds' relegation campaign last term -- five strikes for Watford during the 2010-11 season is his next-best league haul -- but you have to hope he has found his niche playing behind the front man with a player like Gary Medel sat behind allowing him the freedom to find space between the lines.
Mutch, with his hulking 6-foot-2 frame, is not comparable to the slight midfielders such as Akos Buzsaky or Martin Rowlands that QPR have had in the past. In October 2008, Mutch was ordered to take a period of complete rest by Birmingham because his rapid growth rate was causing him health problems.
If Rangers can follow Mutch's example and continue to build at this current sensible rate and not overextend themselves, then the Loft should have a new goal hero to help Austin.