Mackie on injuries, Holloway, and worrying too much about QPR – Interview
Tuesday, 28th Feb 2017 09:11 by Clive Whittingham
As part of the launch of a kit to mark 50 years since QPR won the League Cup, LFW caught up with popular member of the present day Rangers side Jamie Mackie to discuss his return to the side and playing under Ian Holloway.
Can you run us through exactly what your injury problems have been, because you disappeared for the best part of 18 months all told…
JM: When I first signed I missed a fair chunk of pre-season, which is always a problem, with not a bad injury, just a niggly groin injury. I always thought I’d be able to start the season, as I did. I then missed a few games with the same kind of injury and then as I got back into the team we played Fulham away, I came on at 3-0 down and ruptured my hamstring which is a major injury. It was completely out of the blue, very hard to say if it could have been prevented. Not a problem I’d had before. I’d obviously had a double leg break when I was here before but apart from that I’d never had a muscle problem in my life and I work extremely hard every day on injury prevention, being a good professional as I’ve always been. It came out of the blue. I rehabbed that, Jimmy was the manager, I came back in and around the team, started to pick up a little bit of form, but it’s really hard if you don’t get that full pre-season, trying to break into a new manager’s way is hard to do. I came in, started a few games, then had a nightmare and ruptured my hamstring again.
Was that trying to force it and come back too quickly?
JM: No there were no issues with that, I was fit. I got caught in a terrible position on the pitch. It wouldn’t have mattered who got caught in that position they would have suffered the same injury, it was a freak one. I was in a stretch position with all my body weight through it. The specialist had it on video and showed me it, he said if I’d had the strongest hamstrings ever I still would have been in big trouble. It was a freak. I had to deal with that and it took me out for the rest of last season. I thought in my mind, cool, fine, I’ll be in over the summer every day working hard and I’ll have a full pre-season ready to go this season. As I was coming back from that my ankle didn’t feel right and the specialist said the only thing we can do is have an operation. That was really hard to take. I’d fully rehabbed the hamstring, I was back to the running stage…
You don’t strike me as the sort of guy who enjoys watching, it must have been doing your head in at this stage.
JM: Yeh at this point I was gone. The second hamstring rupture was close to the end of the season, there were two months with no games, I didn’t mind that bit because I thought I was stealing a march on everybody by getting fit while they were away. I got to the running stage which people who’ve had an injury will know is the light at the end of the tunnel. But my ankle just wasn’t right. That was a tough day. That’s put me out until now. I feel great now, my body feels as good as it ever has done, my hunger and desire is as high as it ever has been, I’m ready to play now.
From all of that you then went to playing Wolves and Ipswich in the same weekend, that was really in at the deep end.
JM: I was confident I could start a game. There is a process you should go through but with the situation the club was in, I was ready to play, I got put in. We scraped through and got a massive win away at Wolves. There was no way I wanted to come out of the side after that. It was a really quick turnaround but I felt safe doing it and it was a calculated risk from the club. They said ‘do you think you’ll be alright or are you just saying you’ll be alright?’…
Were you just saying?
JM: It was hard to know. It was such a quick turnaround, it wasn’t long enough for me to feel the effect of the first game because it was only two days after. You usually feel things a couple of days after. Adrenalin can get you through things and I was desperate, after getting a win, to play. There was an element of risk because I’d been out that long but I got through it and felt great.
Where is the team now because we seem to play well against the better teams and not get the right result, then regress and play poorly against teams we should beat?
JM: Following the Huddersfield game I’ve been having that same mental battle. What’s really frustrating is teams that are down there are usually down there for a reason – they’re not good enough, they’re losing games consistently from the same thing. As a manager sometimes that can be easier because you work on one aspect – it might be giving away goals from the same area of the pitch, you might have to sacrifice scoring goals to defend a bit better. But we’ve actually been playing really well. At Blackburn, if you’d watched that you’d know we definitely should have won that game, I don’t like to keep harping back but that is a fact. Tactically and application wise there’s not a lot we could have done differently in that game, we were just unlucky not to win. I thought the same against Huddersfield: we competed, we were about it, they’re third in the division and you wouldn’t have thought that to watch the game. We applied ourselves at Newcastle and got a good point. We are playing well, we’re just not getting the results, and in a way that’s more frustrating. We need to stay on it, believe in the process and come out the other end winning games.
So is it a relegation battle? Worth saying QPR have won two out of three games since this interview…
JM: We’re under no illusions where we are in the league. For me being a senior professional you have to look and take stock of where you are, you can’t brush it under the carpet. Games are tough at the bottom and we are down there and close to the relegation zone. The aim for me with 15 games to go is get points on the board and see how high we can finish to set ourselves up for a really good season next year. That’s the aim. You shouldn’t not embrace where you are in the league, we have to realise where we are and get results.
No panic though...
JM: No if you panic and start doing things that are unnatural then you won’t win games and you will be down there so you have to do the right thing. There’s no panic, we believe we’re good players and we’ve got a good manager who we believe in. We’ve got all the right tools to get wins, and wins will come. But at the same time we haven’t got the luxury of sitting in midtable thinking we can do this and that and it doesn’t matter. There are no games for free.
How has the change of manager worked out for you? You strike me as an Ian Holloway-type player.
JM: It’s worked for me, I was injured when he came and he’s put me back in. We get on really well, we share the same enthusiasm for football which you don’t always find these days and is refreshing and good for me. The manager has got loads of really good ideas and it’s just getting those across. Like we’re chatting now he’ll chat the same way, we just need to find a way of winning and then we can evolve once the wins are on the board and take the club to where we want to be with the right players and the right attitude and commitment towards the club. First and foremost we need to get the wins on the board.
High player turnover is nothing new to QPR in a transfer window but how does that effect a group – friends leaving, new faces coming in all the time?
JM: I’m used to a high player turn over so it’s not a massive change for me, I’m cool with that. You’ve got to help the new players coming in and tell them what standards we expect of them and if they don’t buy into that then even if they’re new players they won’t play. I think it’s great to get new players, they come into the club fresh and they’ve got no hang ups about where we are in the league, what we’ve done before, what we haven’t done before, they’re coming in to make a point. It does take a bit of time to bed new players in and we haven’t got loads of time so they’ve got to do that quickly and find a way of getting those few wins which will make it easier for the new boys.
We’re here today to launch the new commemorative kit for the Cardiff game. That League Cup and the players involved in it are part of the fabric of our club. You’ve been here for two spells, won a promotion, do you feel you’re part of that fabric as well?
JM: Yeh, I definitely have that affiliation with the club. I worry and think about the club, arguably too much some people say. I find it very hard to switch off from the club and us getting results. I make sure I’m the best I can be every day because that’s all I can effect but it does mean a lot to me, I love it here, that’s why I came back.
In terms of feeling like I’m part of the fabric here I’ll leave that for others to decide whether I’ll be remembered when I finish playing. Hopefully I will. If I’m not remembered I’ll still always love the club and think what I think of the club, that’s unwavering. It’s got a special place in my heart and I love it here. I’ve had success which was amazing, it’s not easy to get success in football there are a lot more lows than highs, but I do believe if we can get through this patch I can see with the players we’ve got we can build something again and be decent and be up there.
Why did you leave in the first place? I remember Harry Redknapp saying good things about you in press conferences but then bombed you out at the end of the season.
JM: It was never a bad departure or a massive falling out. He said he had other players in mind after relegation which often happens. I obviously wanted to carry on playing, I thought at the time the changing room wasn’t a great place but they were trying to shift players. I didn’t know how easily they’d be able to do that, in the end they managed to and they went up which was amazing. I was still friends with a lot of the guys and supporting them from afar. It was just an opportunity for the manager at the time to get his own players in and an opportunity for me to try something different.
If you don’t do that you don’t know what you had before and it was a situation like that where… I’ve got nothing against Forest, they’re a massive club with a big fan base in their own right, great history behind them, but it just works for you at certain places and you don’t always know that until you’ve gone. Luckily I had great relationships with people here and they wanted me to come back and I jumped at the chance.
It wasn’t a massive, negative thing at the time, I wasn’t happy about going necessarily but sometimes it evolves like that when a new manager comes in and a team gets relegated. You take the emotions out of it at the time and think ‘if I’m not going to play and people are playing in front of me, if I’m not going to be respected in terms of playing time, then I’ll go’. I was just lucky enough to be able to come back.
Do you think you’re unfairly pigeon-holed as somebody who just runs about a lot?
JM: Anyone who pays money to watch football, you’ve worked extremely hard to earn every penny, you’re allowed an opinion and I respect your opinion, particularly if you’re a QPR fan coming to watch us play you’re allowed to have an opinion about us as players – I’ve got opinions about players that other people don’t agree with.
People can think what they want of me. I go out every game to be the best I can be, and what I would say is pretty much every manager I’ve ever played for has picked me. I’m 31 years old, I’ve never really had a spell where I wasn’t picked. I’ve always taken confidence and comfort from that. As far as my game goes if it was as simple as just running around and giving my all I wouldn’t have had the career I’ve had in the game. I know I’ve got qualities. I don’t care if they’re overlooked by people, I’m just happy to have a career doing something I absolutely loved, always loved when I was a kid, I feel very, very lucky and fortunate. There’s a hell of a lot of hard work gone into that from when I was a kid and I maintain those levels now.
My game is based around hard work, that’s a fact. If I didn’t work hard on the pitch and play with the energy I do I wouldn’t be at the level I’m at now. I do understand what kind of player I am, I’m not going to change but I can be adaptable. You either pick me or you don’t, people know what they’re going to get from me.
What do you put the problems at Loftus Road this season down to? It used to be a real weapon for us this place…
JM: I’ve spoken to everybody about this, if I knew the answer or the manager knew the answer we’d win every game. I personally love coming here and playing, we’ve beaten big teams here. The ground and the way it is is an advantage which is why we have beaten teams here. Why we’re not this season I don’t know. I know there are some games coming up this season where we’re going to have to turn that around and we’ll have some big results come the end of season.
You mention beating big teams here, there was that goal against Liverpool that I don’t know how you celebrated so calmly. Is there a goal that stands out from your time here, the Aguero game maybe?
JM: Those two goals are very special. The Liverpool goal was big because we stayed up that season and the three points were far bigger than a personal accolade of scoring the goal – it was a winner, big three points, big turn around, gave us the impetus to beat other teams and stay up that season. The Aguero one, the magnitude of the game, it was very surreal the whole day. We stayed up which was amazing, to stay in the Premier League was a big achievement for any side getting promoted. In the season we won the league I scored against Derby which showed we were the real deal that season.
If we’d lost at Derby it would have been a different season right?
JM: We were terrible. It’s hard to say but it gave us a big, big lift that game and we believed we were onto something. It’s the best team I’ve ever played in, the best group of lads I’ve ever played with, best squad, best season. From there I’ve always been chasing that season again and it’s very difficult to get that feeling back. As I’ve got older I’ve realised that I’m lucky I’ve had that season and I’ll keep it in isolation and not try to chase it too much because you won’t ever replicate a season after another season, that’s the nature of football. I’m very lucky I was part of that squad, because it was a special place then.
LFW spoke to Jamie at the launch of a special all-white kit which will be worn by the first team against Cardiff this Saturday to mark the 50th anniversary of the cup win. A limited run of the shirts, which have faded hoops containing the names of the players and key figures from the 1966/67 side, will be available for purchase from the club shop, without sponsor logos, in special presentation boxes for £66.67 with a portion of the funds going to the Forever R's group. Thanks to Ian Taylor, Paul Morrissey and QPR for setting the interview up.
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