Early Doors

Cesar would be a coup but QPR need a clear-out

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When Queens Park Rangers were thumped 5-0 by Swansea City on the opening day of the season, it's probably fair to say that most people unconnected to the west London club enjoyed seeing the scoreline.

Not only was it perpetrated by last season's biggest success story Swansea City, in their first match under the management of legendary Clasico-divide-crossing midfielder and Early Doors man-crush Michael Laudrup, but it was against a team who have made themselves difficult to love since returning to the top flight last season.

For a start, when they came up they brought Neil Warnock with them. Even when he was shunted out of the door for earning just 17 points in their first 20 games they replaced him with Mark Hughes, the man who walked out on Fulham the previous summer because he thought he was off to new horizons but ended up taking a job just down the road.

The Rs were a club willing to not just keep Joey Barton in gainful employment but even make him club captain. Ending the unedifying tyranny of Flavio Briatore was a step in the right direction but new owner Tony Fernandes, while seemingly a nice bloke, constantly skirts dangerously close to the low point set by the Mike Ashley of old with his 'I'm just a fan' schtick.

Since the Fernandes takeover last August, the perception of the club has gradually shifted from unlikeable to comical, thanks in the main to their almost maniacal obsession with buying players seemingly at random. Over the last 12 months 16 players have come in to Loftus Road - with only Fabio da Silva's arrival this summer not on a permanent basis - and the vast majority of them have varied in quality between average and ordinary. In that same period, 21 have either been sold for little or no money or have been released.

This summer they have again been linked with every available footballer in Britain except Robin van Persie and Luka Modric, but there has been a real upturn in the calibre of the signings.

Last summer it was the likes of Kieron Dyer, Luke Young and Shaun Wright-Phillips. This time around it's Park Ji-Sung, Jose Bosingwa and Junior Hoilett. The conversion of Samba Diakite's loan deal into a contract also looks to be a good move.

But now, it seems, they could be taking the calibre of their signings up another notch with the news that talks have been opened with former Internazionale goalkeeper Julio Cesar. The Brazilian was released by the Italian club where he won the treble this summer after he was replaced with Samir Handanovic, and he is a free agent.

The reasons why he has been cast aside may not yet be fully known, but for a 32-year-old who just a couple of years ago would have featured prominently in most conversations about the best goalkeeper in the world to be available at all is a surprising turn of events. For QPR to be the front-runners to get his signature just seems ridiculous.

At the end of last season, it was Paddy Kenny who was in between the sticks when Sergio Aguero scored his late winner to claim the title for Manchester City. On Saturday, just four competitive games later, they could potentially return to the Etihad Stadium with Julio Cesar as the first name on their teamsheet.

The man you have to feel for in all of this is, of course, Robert Green. If the deal goes through, the highlight of the former West Ham keeper's three-game stint as the club's No.1 would be last night's 3-0 win over Walsall in the Capital One Cup.

Speaking of the tournament which has been named after two brands of beer, a dairy product and a defunct electronics retailer in its illustrious history, QPR will have plenty of players available for that tournament alone between now and Christmas if they do not offload some of the players on their books.

The number of senior players at the club numbers somewhere in the mid-30s, and the likes of Young, DJ Campbell, Jay Bothroyd and Rob Hulse have not been given squad numbers this season.

This of course is the tactic they hope to employ to get rid of Barton following his violent outburst on the final day of last season which copped him a 12-match ban, but they cannot take such a hit on all of the dead wood in their squad.

QPR are now paying the price of hastily signing so many players with little or no resale value. Fernandes has barely recouped anything in the transfer market over the past year, nor is he likely to in the future, but right now that is something he will just have to stomach if he wants to give Hughes a sensibly-sized squad to work with.

Signing Cesar would be a coup for QPR, but if they want to make it something they can build upon then they need to start taking a more serious approach to their transfer policy.

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I have a big ego. When I left Spurs, I said to Andre that in one or two years he would be back to buy me again. 'Is that right, Seb?' he said. I told him yes - if he's still there." - Sebastien Bassong reveals his parting shot to Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas after he was sold to Norwich.

FOREIGN VIEW: "Ricardo is not part of our plans for the season. He has until the end of the transfer window (on Friday) to decide whether he wants to continue to play football or stay at Real Madrid, meeting his contractual obligations like the honourable person he is and basically end his sporting career. It's his decision and his alone." - Real Madrid head coach Jose Mourinho doesn't mince his words about Ricardo Carvalho's future at the Bernabeu.

COMING UP: Two slices of live action for you to enjoy this evening. Follow live coverage of Celtic v Helsingborgs (19:45) in their Champions League play-off before Real Madrid v Barcelona (21:30) in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup.