If a week is a long time in politics, it’s proved a lifetime in the case of Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club.
I suspect Neil Warnock had any idea that he would be out of the door within a week of Norwich’s 2-1 success; nor that he would be clutching his P45 within 48-hours of appearing everywhere to bemoan Joey Barton’s red card appeal.
And, nor, in his wildest dreams did he expect to see his successor installed within another 72 hours as Mark Hughes was today duly confirmed at the new Rangers chief.
Given the fingers he was pointing in this direction – be it first against Bradley Johnson and then, inevitably, Grant Holt – what I’m about to say is probably going to make me wildly unpopular.
But I think Warnock’s been a little hard done by.
And I also think it proves again what mind-set exists within the boardrooms of most Premier League clubs. These people do not take prisoners. They scheme for Britain.
Look at Warnock’s lower league track record and it’s as good as any out there. And you don’t deliver promotion after promotion if the players don’t play for you. So they must see something that the rest of the fans don’t.
So given the number of times he’s been around – successfully – the Football League block, I’d kind of think that he was worth more than 20 games.
Results, of late, haven’t been brilliant. But nor, in fairness, has their luck.
But it wasn’t enough to keep his lords and masters happy; bang, he was out… in came Hughes with three full weeks of the transfer window left to try and make his mark on a, thus far, subdued market-place.
Is it good news for City? Yes, would be my answer.
Hughes is good; knows a player. But his exit at Fulham was odd; he’s now heading into a club where he knows how the owner/chairman/board work. He would be well-advised to keep one eye over his shoulder – which is one less eye to keep on the team and the dressing room.
Likewise, he might think it ‘politik’ to look twice at the board’s suggestions for new players; that was always the claim against the old regime at Loftus Road – that one or two players arrived at the board’s behest and not of the manager’s making.
It all sows doubt, indecision and unease into the pot – and all at a time where Rangers need unity, purpose and a togetherness still more than evident in both Norfolk and South Wales.
Paul Lambert continues to do little or nothing wrong; taking full advantage of Rangers’ lack of numbers was a huge result coming as it did on the turn of the year and the season. In 400-metres terms – beloved in these parts – Norwich are still kicking on again down the back straight.
They are in the top half of the table for a reason – just as they are now in the fourth round of the FA Cup for a reason.
They’re a decent side that continue to grow together; players have been granted the stage and the opportunity to blossom together – and they continue to take it.
Steve Morison and Holt could both end the campaign with 15-odd goals apiece. That’s a superb return at this level; that makes them prized possessions.
And there is, clearly, an element of internal competition within the squad that keeps players fighting for their place.
Daniel Ayala’s return – coupled to that of Zak Whitbread a few weeks earlier – has added extra edge to those centre-half slots. Russell Martin’s influence on events is still such that he demands a place, but where?
For now, Marc Tierney’s injury and Kyle Naughton’s cup loyalties to Spurs have eased the manager’s decision making process – but that won’t last. If Ayala continues in his current form, there will be three for two in the full-back positions.
It is a similar story further forward; clearly the race to be the club’s top scorer this season will drive at least two gentlemen of this parish on and one, while it is a weekly bun-fight to see who gets the nod in midfield.
I guess the big question for Lambert is whether or not he upsets such delicate chemistry with another big face transfer-wise – or whether he keeps his wages powder dry until the summer when the market tends to cool.
Perhaps head is ruling heart; if it ain’t bust, why try to fix it?
It is a real tricky one for the City chief; to keep the alchemy alive and yet to still find a couple more bodies in the mix. Just in case…
For now, however, all seems set very fair. If only the fourth round draw had conjured up something more imaginative than another trip to The Hawthorns…