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Rob Burnett: The case of Charlie Austin is the biggest mystery of the season

24 Sep | BY Betway | MIN READ TIME |
Rob Burnett: The case of Charlie Austin is the biggest mystery of the season

The QPR striker is a purveyor of football’s finest and most elusive commodity, yet he finds himself playing in the Championship

There is something a little odd about the list of last season’s top 10 Premier League goalscorers.

Sergio Aguero is top after another prolific season with Manchester City.

Harry Kane is second having grabbed 21 top-flight goals in a breakthrough year with Tottenham that saw him force his way into the senior England team, brought plaudits from every corner of football and even had him linked with a big-money move to Manchester United.

Diego Costa netted 20 times as Chelsea cruised to the title, while Alexis Sanchez was lauded as one of the signings of the year as he hit 16 for Arsenal.

Saido Berahino’s 14-goal haul led to a long pursuit of him by Spurs, which only ended when West Brom chairman Jeremy Peace dug his heels in to keep him at the Hawthorns.

Olivier Giroud also netted 14 times, as did Eden Hazard who picked up both the FWA Footballer of the Year and PFA Player of the Year gongs for his trouble.

Christian Benteke’s 13 strikes for Aston Villa earned him a £30m move to Liverpool, while Graziano Pelle, Wayne Rooney and David Silva all scored 12.

Did you spot who was missing from that illustrious run-down?

There is only one player who was in the top 10 last season who is no longer playing in the Premier League.

And, no, it is not because he was snapped up in a big-money transfer to one of Europe’s top clubs in La Liga or the Bundesliga.

Instead, Charlie Austin is leading the charge for Queens Park Rangers in the Championship.

9/1 – Charlie Austin to score first and QPR to beat Fulham

With 18 Premier League goals last term, he was outscored only by Aguero, Kane and Costa.

And yet not one top flight club thought him worth the £15m Rangers were asking for him.

In 2013, Hull City were poised to sign Austin from Burnley, but pulled out when he failed a medical.

How they must wish they had pressed on.

Given their goal difference, just one more win would have kept Hull up last season.

It is not unreasonable to suggest Austin’s goals might have given them those crucial extra points.

Similarly, Burnley would have survived with six extra points.

Had they still been able to count on Austin to lead their attack, he might well have scored the goals that could have turned one of the eight matches they lost by just one goal, or some of their 12 draws, into wins.

In the summer, Tottenham, Bournemouth, West Ham and Newcastle were keen on Austin, but all failed to sign him.

Steve McClaren’s Newcastle were thought to be the closest to taking him – that’s the same Newcastle who currently sit second bottom of the table without a league win this season.

Yes, there are concerns over Austin’s knee problems, but in his two seasons at QPR he played 37 and then 36 games.

So far this term he has played eight times, scoring six goals.

And QPR’s director of football Les Ferdinand doesn’t think it is a problem.

“His fitness has never been an issue for us and he has not missed a game for us over the last couple of years because of it,” he said.

“They said Demba Ba had a dodgy knee. West Ham signed him and he didn’t miss a game for them. Loic Remy apparently had dodgy knees and yet he hasn’t done too badly has he?”

Next season the bumper new TV deal kicks in for Premier League clubs. Even the team that finishes bottom in 2016/17 will receive £99million.

You wouldn’t want to be the CEO having to explain to your owner why you’ve just missed out on all that cash because your team didn’t score enough goals to stay up – goals Austin could be scoring right now.

Meanwhile, he will keep banging them in for QPR – whose fans will be hoping he can fire them straight back up to the big time.

Fulham – QPR betting

Championship betting