What price Ainsworth now, as Boxing Day defeat turns up the heat on QPR boss
Mark Warburton’s future is on the agenda. That is the reality now after a run that has left QPR hovering dangerously close to the clump of sides likely to be involved in the relegation scrap.
A 2-0 Boxing Day home defeat to Swansea City made it eight games since their last victory – a 3-2 home win over Rotherham last month – and the alarm bells are undoubtedly ringing.
Given the cards the QPR boss was dealt on arrival - a new realism where reduced wages and marquee signings have been ditched in favour of pragmatism – it seems unseemly that it should be so.
He had no choice but to wave goodbye to two of last season’s leading lights in Eberechi Eze and Ryan Manning and Rangers are simply not in a position to replace them with comparable players.
But the twitching in the hierarchy has begun and eyes are being cast towards possible alternatives.
One of them is the oft-mentioned Gareth Ainsworth, who last season capped an unprecedented period of longevity for a modern football manager by guiding Wycombe Wanderers into the Championship for the first time in the club’s history.
The reality, however, is that we may finally be reaching the Wycombe end game for the boss with the rock star look – and outlook.
The man who had a band called Dog Chewed the Handle may finally feel his club has bitten off more than it can chew, as it were, in the tough Championship arena. They are showing plenty of grit and fight but it will be an almighty task to keep them up.
The Chairboys had been very good for him and he has been great for the Chairboys. But if a move back to west London is ever to materialise, this might well be the time.
The 47-year-old Lancastrian, who has been at Wycombe for eight years, cut his managerial teeth with spells as caretaker boss at QPR in 2008 and 2009 – having been extremely popular as a player for the club.
One of the matches in charge involved a League Cup tie at Old Trafford where his impressively-organised team was slightly unlucky to lose 1-0 to a late Carlos Tevez penalty.
Wycombe again showed plenty of the spirit he has instilled in their Boxing Day visit to Bristol City, but they fell to a late goal in a 2-1 defeat which leaves them rooted to the bottom of the table with only two wins.
Chris Ramsey might be offered another spell in charge if Rangers decide to cut their losses with Warburton, but change could be afoot, one way or another.
Rangers travel to high-flying Norwich City on Tuesday and next Saturday are at Luton Town. Then, after an FA Cup interlude against Fulham, the Hoops welcome Ainsworth’s Wycombe to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, the sides having recently drawn 1-1 at Adams Park.
Wycombe’s game in Bristol was a reminder of another west London connection. Bristol City have two Fulham defenders on loan for the season, but neither Alfie Mawson nor Steven Sessegnon were in action.
Mawson has made only six appearances and not been involved since a home game against Middlesbrough in late October, when he picked up a knee injury which required surgery.
Sessegnon has played only four times and also not been involved for two months since picking up a hamstring injury against Swansea, but is expected to return soon to first-team action.