It was a relatively underwhelming 2018/19 season for Queens Park Rangers, who finished the Sky Bet Championship in 19th place.
The appointment of ex-Middlesbrough and England manager Steve McClaren at the end of the previous campaign gave Hoops supporters reason to be optimistic. Here was a manager with experience of coaching at the top level and working with some of the best players in Europe.
He arrived at Loftus Road to replace the outgoing Ian Holloway, who had overseen two lower-mid-table finishes in his two years with Rangers.
But, with a limited transfer budget, it was always going to be tough for the west London outfit to compete with the division’s bigger spenders. Toni Leistner and Àngel Rangel arrived on free transfers from Union Berlin and Swansea City, respectively, while McClaren brought in Tomer Hemed, Geoff Cameron and Nahki Wells on loan to bolster his squad.
QPR suffered a baptism of fire in the opening few weeks of the season, falling to narrow defeats against Preston North End and Sheffield United, before a 7-1 drubbing at West Bromwich Albion left them rock bottom of the Championship.
A positive run of results followed in September as Rangers picked up crucial wins against teams who would be near the foot of the table come May. Bolton Wanderers and Millwall were dispatched, as were Reading and Ipswich Town before McClaren’s side beat Aston Villa to move up to 10th, two points outside the top six.
The Hoops continued to pick up points over the winter months, with Middlesbrough the latest promotion-chasing team to come unstuck at Loftus Road before the west Londoners held Villa to a 2-2 draw in the Midlands on New Year’s Day.
Rangers were sat comfortably in ninth place, primed for an assault on the play-off spots should they continue their upward trajectory and surely safe from the perils of a relegation scrap, with 17 points separating themselves and the bottom three.
However, a 1-0 defeat at Sheffield United sparked a steady decline and QPR were suddenly slipping down the table. Wells’ injury time penalty miss in a 4-3 defeat to Birmingham City did little to restore confidence, while dramatic late winners for Bristol City and West Brom further compounded the misery.
They did manage to stop the rot, briefly, with a shock 1-0 win against high-flying Leeds United, but another five games without a win – which culminated with a 2-1 loss at home to struggling Bolton – saw McClaren exit Loftus Road to be replaced by John Eustace as caretaker.
There was still breathing space between Rangers and the drop zone, with eight points separating themselves and Rotherham United in 22nd. A 4-0 victory against Swansea City more or less assured safety and their place in the Championship for at least another season, before rounding off the term with a 2-1 triumph at Hillsborough.
QPR will go into the new campaign with Mark Warburton at the helm. The former Brentford manager guided the Bees to automatic promotion from League One in 2014 before reaching the Championship play-offs a year later, only to fall at the semi-final stage to Middlesbrough.
Loftus Road has also been renamed as the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, in memory of the former Hoops academy player who was tragically stabbed to death at the age of 15. The foundation was set up to educate young people about the consequences of knife crime.
With just one win in our last 10 meetings, Barnsley’s recent record against the Hoops doesn’t make particularly pleasant reading – especially given that eight of those games ended in defeat.
The Reds’ solitary win in that period was in August 2016 as (now QPR midfielder) Josh Scowen’s late strike saw off Rangers at Oakwell.