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Dave McIntyre/West London Sport - Talk is cheap but Fernandes is delivering on promises
It was another orgy of hype and self-congratulation, only this time it wasn’t entirely unjustified.
The glitzy QPR press conference is nothing new these days. Neither is the choice of a central London landmark as a venue, although Monday’s unveiling of Park Ji-sung on the 29th floor of Millbank Tower was certainly original.
It was also quite apt, given its association with spin.
And Alastair Campbell, who famously operated from there in the 1990s, would have approved of Tony Fernandes’ typically polished performance.
In the years before Fernandes took over as chairman, QPR’s grand – often bordering on ridiculous – press conferences reminded me of a Bond-film villain, Elliot Carver, in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Carver, a dictatorial, self-assured middle-aged media magnate with grey hair and dodgy glasses, is not a pleasant character.
At one stage, he chillingly declares: “Let the mayhem begin,” which again made a comparison with Rangers seem very appropriate at the time.
The style is different these days, but it’s substance that matters.
What became immediately clear with the previous regime – and what made the initial adulation surrounding them so sickening to witness – was that there was always going to be a huge difference between words and actions.
There was talk of building an infrastructure and not simply spending loads of money.
But from the start it was spend, spend, spend while not investing – and even cutting back – in areas in which Rangers were already lagging behind even third-tier clubs.
There often remains a big difference between what is being said by QPR and what is happening or looking likely to happen.
There is still talk of building sensibly while a staggering amount is splashed out, mainly on players with no potential sell-on value, as the club repeatedly signs half a team during every transfer window as if it’s a perfectly natural and sensible thing to do.
But, unlike his predecessors, Fernandes can claim to be delivering on his rhetoric.
The new training ground at Warren Farm will become a reality, even if not as soon as was hoped.
A radical overhaul of the club’s previously neglected youth system isn’t just being talked about. It’s happening.
The appointment of Mike Rigg as technical director was also a very significant step and a real statement of intent.
And with the signing of Park, Fernandes is also delivering on a pledge to only sign Asian players for football reasons, with the obvious spin-offs and personal satisfaction for him merely huge bonuses.
Buying players to indulge the chairman’s ideal vision would be stupid. But so too would passing up the chance to sign a Champions League and Premier League-winning cross between Manny Pacquiao and Gareth Ainsworth.
Park is such a good signing for Rangers and ticks so many boxes it’s hard to know where to start.
He will of course help establish QPR in a large part of the world, making the deal a commercial dream for the likes of Fernandes.
But he is also, by coincidence, exactly what Rangers need on the pitch.
He’s a talented, versatile and jaw-droppingly tireless player. He’s hugely experienced, a proven winner and, crucially, is known as a model professional – and that’s important at a club that has for too long had so much more money than sense.
In the dressing room, and to young players coming through, he will be seen as someone who does the right things and sets the right example.
He’s not your typical modern-day footballler. Rangers have spent too much money on too many typical modern-day footballers in recent years.
Also, a lack of ‘legs’ throughout the side, especially in midfield, was a major problem for much of last season and has been emphatically addressed with the purchases of Park and Samba Diakite.
Those signings should also help improve QPR’s away form this season, which Mark Hughes knows is vital to their prospects.
Contrast that with the arrival of Italian players and Italian methods simply to satisfy the owner’s agenda.
It’s a level above, and this was acknowledged by Hughes, who spoke at the press conference on that key issue of actions speaking louder than words when he thanked Fernandes and co for delivering on promises to him.
A manager happy because he’s spending big and signing who he wants isn’t necessarily a good sign, I’d argue.
But it is noticeable that Hughes is not alone in crediting Fernandes with delivering on his rhetoric.
Rigg, youth development manager Steve Gallen and other key figures inside the club also privately say similar things. That tells us a lot.
There are challenges ahead, the biggest of which – one that will truly define Fernandes as chairman, and when his cards will well and truly be laid on the table – is the proposed move to a 45,000-capacity stadium in which current QPR fans may be almost outnumbered.
Those who believe Rangers wouldn’t fill such a venue should imagine not the Ricoh Arena, but a larger version of Simon Barker’s testimonial.
That vision of the future might not please everyone. For now though, Fernandes can do no wrong. West London Sport