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Faurlin in love again - preview
Friday, 21st Mar 2014 23:21 by Clive Whittingham

After the latest low in an up and down season at Sheffield Wednesday on Tuesday, and the weekly media incident around midfielder Ale Faurlin on Thursday, QPR head up to Middlesbrough tomorrow.

Middlesbrough (13th) v Queens Park Rangers (4th)

Old First Division, Old Old Second Division >>> Saturday March 21, 2014 >>> Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough , Up North >>> Kick Off 15.00

Not since that scumbag who decided to abuse diver Tom Daley over the death of his father for "letting his country down" at the Olympics and subsequently became embroiled in a Twitter argument with a parody account of Roy Cropper from Coronation Street has social media kicked up anything quite as bizarre as the sight of Ale Faurlin's mother getting stuck into QPR manager Harry Redknapp. But sure enough, with QPR at least two days from their previous crisis and therefore hungry for another, there it all was on Thursday.

The whole thing stemmed from an article in the rebranded Fulham Chronicle website that said Redknap doubted Faurlin's ability to come back from a second cruciate knee ligament rupture inside 18 months. It quoted Redknapp saying: " “That’s twice he’s had it now. Once you’ve had it…Is he in danger? I hope not, but look at the player at Bolton , Holden and he’s just come back after being out for nearly two years. Hopefully Ali will come back fine, but it’s difficult and we have to wait and see.”>West London Sport took the same quotes, with "he’s strong and a good lad with a good attitude" included, and twisted the story as Redknapp hoping the Argentinean could make it back, so it could simply be a case of a journalist putting a negative slant on the comments. Chairman Tony Fernandes, always wary of anything potentially damaging to the PR side of things and acutely aware of Faurlin's popularity among fans, was quick to tweet (it's how we communicate with each other at QPR these days) that his manager had been taken out of context.

Still, it prompted Faurlin to say: "This make me feel even more determined and motivated than ever. I will be back, I do still have plenty of years to play my football. My rehab it's been perfectly on course, as I had been expressing and updating on my Twitter and Instagram accounts."

Comments translated from Spanish and attributed to his mum described Harry Redknapp as "the most unprofessional man Ale has worked with in his entire career." She added that she was furious. Twice. Only at QPR.

Lo and behold, in what we're told we must call today's "pre match presser" Redknapp was quick to praise Faurlin's attitude and say that he and CEO Philip Beard are already working on a one year contract extension for the player to give him adequate chance to recover and comeback, without the pressure of wondering where he will be playing his football next season.

If that is the case, QPR need to get it signed and publicised very quickly or risk turning what should be a rare piece of good news about the club, and a sign of it acting correctly and doing the right thing, is going to turn into another PR gaffe because it will look like it was forced upon them by fan pressure over a series of cocks ups.

The crazy thing about the whole situation is Harry Redknapp is actually right. Having one cruciate knee ligament rupture makes you more prone to another. Manchester City's England youth international Paul Lake, and of course Paul Gascoigne, are probably the most famous examples and although medicine and surgical techniques have moved on we saw with a previous midfield hero, Martin Rowlands, how these things can reoccur and blight a career.

Faurlin may be a darling of the Loftus Road crowd, but his agent has never been shy of getting him a decent deal at Loftus Road, and using the media to pressure the club into that, so he'll be earning a tidy amount, based on his excellent form as Rangers went into the Premier League a couple of years ago. At a time when the club's finances are under a very bright spot light, with financial fair play rules apparently looming and swathing cuts to the wage bill necessary this summer if a Premier League return is not secured, who can blame the club for wanting to wait and see how Faurlin recovers before committing to paying him big bucks for another year?

Well, me actually, and plenty others besides, and here's why. Since Tony Fernandes' arrival at QPR the transfer policy the club has operated too has seemed geared more towards promoting his airline than building a successful team and club. Big names, names people have heard of all over the world, signed for big money, at the very last second of the transfer window, so it's all over Sky Sports. The club even had a "deadline day" scarf made up for the procession of newbies to hold above their heads as they paraded through the South Africa Road reception on the last day of January – only Kevin Doyle of the five new arrivals has been anything like a success, and even he is now injured.

The policy has left the club with a massive wage bill, and a squad almost entirely populated by old, injury prone players, who of course, 36 games into a 46 game season, are now mostly injured and unable to play. Today Redknapp again said that people "don't understand" how hard it is to have so many players out. Don't want it to happen? Be more careful about how you sign players.

It's also created a situation where people who really cared about playing for the club and ran through brick walls for it have, almost to a man, left. In coming, players who are only really here because QPR pay very well, rather than because they want to be. And of course all footballers will take the highest contract offer, and rarely does a club like QPR have a load of footballers playing for it who supported the club previously. Danny Simpson had no prior connection to QPR before he arrived in the summer, probably only moved here from Newcastle because Rangers made the best cash offer, and has been a terrific, committed addition to the starting 11. But, in general, this QPR team clocks off when the going gets tough, as we saw on Tuesday at Sheffield Wednesday. There just isn't that determination to much in that we saw during the 2010/11 promotion season, and throughout Ian Holloway's first four years at Loftus Road.

This has, in turn, driven a divide between the supporters and the team. Both reeked of apathy at Hillsborough on Tuesday. The players don't seem to like us, and we certainly don't very much care for some of them. It's killed the atmosphere stone dead.

What QPR need is to start recognising people who want to be here, people with the club at heart, and keep them here. It's a disgrace that Marc Bircham has left for Millwall frankly. Yes, he went to a first team job, but one should have been offered to him here. Ale Faurlin should be retained even if he can't play again, as a coach. Likewise Clint Hill, who is also out of contract and has also spoken of his love for the place and desire to work with the junior players at Loftus Road . Because it's people like this who enforce standards, who pull people up when they're taking the piss out of the club they care about. You need as many of these Hill, Faurlin, Jamie Mackie, Shaun Derry, Marc Bircham types around the place as you can. Ian Holloway deliberately went out of his way to sign people like Bircham, Kevin Gallen and Lee Cook who supported the club as boys. Since Tony Fernandes has come in, and particularly since Harry Redknapp arrived, it seems we're deliberately going out of our way to get rid of them.

Keeping Ale Faurlin on board helps for another reason as well. Wigan recently renewed Ben Watson's contract immediately after he'd suffered a double leg break. It shows that the club cares about its players, their futures and their wellbeing. It shows the club will stand loyally behind players, and that it's a good place to come and play your football. That in turn will drive more loyalty from players, and give them another reason to sign for the club in the first place other than money. Faurlin has done more than enough for this club over five tumultuous years to deserve that gesture and loyalty from the club.

Frankly, it should have been done the day after the Derby home match.

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Team News: The latest from Emergency Room Six is that Kevin Doyle's attempted return to training earlier this week was abandoned with his knee ligaments still playing him up after some brutal treatment from the Birmingham defence a fortnight ago. He's seeing a specialist today to assess that problem. The man he replaced, Charlie Austin, remains sidelined with his shoulder injury but Harry Redknapp did say that he expects the talismanic striker to return before the end of the season, which is a better prognosis than we originally got. Danny Simpson will be back on the bench for the first time in two months tomorrow and goalkeeper Robert Green should also return. Benoit Assou Ekotto is pencilled in for Tuesday's crunch home match with Wigan . Matt Phillips (ankle), Max Ehmer (shoulder) and obviously Ale Faurlin (knees) are all out long term. Richard Dunne serves a one match suspension for his red card at Hillsborough on Tuesday night. Andy Johnson (knee), Jermaine Jenas and Armand Traore (both hamstring) are also out. Karl Henry has the flu. Bring your boots and you might get a game.

Middlesbrough are without midfielder Grant Leadbitter and wide attacker Muzzy Carayol – the former suspended and the latter with knee ligament problems. That rules out two of the three top scorers in a team that has already been struggling for goals.

Elsewhere: Right I want everybody to put on a hard hat, go inside, close all the doors, and find a small room in their house with no window to the outside. Go in there, sit down, press a mattress against the door or something, and wait for the storm to end. Derby v Nottingham Trees starts at 12.15.

Everything else kicks off at 15.00, as God intended. Alphabet derbies this week between Barnsley and Bournemouth, and Wigan Globetrotters for Watford Udinese. An actual Debry between Doncaster and Sheffield Wednesday and a pwopah nawty tear up between Leeds and Millwall.

I’m tempted to start calling Leicester the champions elect but for now they shall remain plain old Leicester, and this weekend they go to Blackburn. The real champions elect, Bolton, are winning comfortably at Yeovil. Burnley, besieged by injuries to two key players (however will they cope?) go to Charlton.

Of the games not mentioned, because they involve irrelevant places that nobody cares about, Birmingham v Reading and Brighton v Ipswich have play-off connotations. Blackpool v Huddersfield is this week’s lame duck.

Referee: Veteran Football league official Keith Hill is in charge of QPR for the first time since 2011 this weekend as the R's head up to Middlesbrough. The last time he took a QPR game was a 0-0 draw at Hull City in the promotion season – on best remembered for Adel Taarabt going on strike and scrapping with his team mates during the first half. Read more about how the referee dealt with that situation, and his full QPR case history, by clicking here.


Middlesbrough: Back in September when these sides last met Boro were a side that scored plenty – ten in the five games before they visited Loftus Road, 11 in the four that followed – but also let lots in. Now they do neither of those things – they’ve kept six clean sheets in the last nine games but won only one, drawing a further six.

Their top scorers are both pacy wide players – Albert Adomah, formerly with Harrow Borough, has nine and Mustapha Carayol has eight – so it's not hard to see where the threat comes when they do attack. For all their struggles and managerial upheaval this season they have only lost twice at home – to Leicester on day one and Brighton in December – which is the lowest amount outside the top six. They've drawn nine though – the most of anybody in the league along with Bolton.

QPR: Rangers have taken 11 points from their last ten matches – three wins, two draws, five defeats – and a similar run over the final ten will see them struggle to make the play offs at all. The eight consecutive clean sheets from earlier in the season are long forgotten now – the R's have just two shut outs in their last 14 outings – but Robert Green'#s 15 clean sheets in the league this season remains the Championship's best record. Since a 3-1 win at Ipswich in January the R's have lost four of five on the road, conceding seven in the process.

Betting; Professional odds compiler Owen Goulding tells us…

"Short and sweet from me this week. I'm getting so bored watching QPR this season, and just when you think it can't be anymore sleep inducing, we travel to a team who have failed to score in eight of their last ten games, with half of those ending in a 0-0 scoreline. I doth my cap to you hardy souls who are making the trip up north for this one, but I'm going to stay at home and pop to Ladbrokes to place a bet on no goalscorer at 7/1. I reckon my walk to the bookies will be more interesting than watching Harry, oblivious to what's going on in front if him, sitting aimlessly on the bench thinking about how he can help Rosie make the most of the new ISA regulations."

Recommended bet: Middlesbrough v QPR - recommended bet - No Goalscorer 7/1 (Ladbrokes)

"Elsewhere, stick with Krystian Pearce to score at anytime for Torquay who host a stuttering Newport County who have a massive defensive injury crisis - 16/1 available at Hills/Corals/PaddyPower."

Prediction: Tired and emotional reigning Prediction League champion Mase tells us…

"QPR thirtieth game this month is a trip to Teeside to face in Middlesbrough - a side similar on ability to Sheffield Wednesday and we all know how that panned out on Tuesday. Although there is a distinct lack of options for the starting XI (brought about by our longstanding policy of signing Dad's Army) we should still have enough, on paper, to get something from this game. We won't though. It's up north, the going is getting tough, we will fold. Again. How much more of this nonsense season is there?"

Mase's Prediciton: Middlesbrough 2-0 QPR. No Scorer.

LFW Prediction: Middlesbrough 0-0 QPR. No Scorer.

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Antti_Heinola added 00:04 - Mar 22
Excellent, Clive. Absolutely spot on.

MelakaRanger added 01:38 - Mar 22
If only Tony F bothered to read Clive's words, maybe then his eyes would open!?

HastingsRanger added 09:46 - Mar 22
Depressing all round. Thanks Clive for your commitment to what must be a sole destroying period of writing.

I think we are likely to finish outside the playoffs and then have to consider the way forward from there - another big clear out following last season's big clear out, including managers perhaps? But the problem is who would want to come? The debt is becoming a very serious issue - just how long can it be sustained?

TacticalR added 13:56 - Mar 22
Unfortunately, as our season has gone off the rails people are becoming hysterical about anything and everything. In the Ali Faurlin case the debate seems to have moved from whether Redknapp is the right manager to whether Redknapp is a bad person. My advice would be: never tangle with Mama Faurlin.

All good points about using the know-how from within the club to develop, because if there is one thing the board has shown it's that it's not able to make good footballing decisions. There is a lesson to be learned from the bloody civil war at Ajax, which ended in 2010 with ex-players led by Cruyff in a dominant position in the club.

Doughnut added 14:35 - Mar 22
Great new name for the new Old Oak ground, should it ever materialise...The A&E Stadium! How about it Tony?

Noelmc added 18:14 - Mar 22
Spot on about Ale, Clive. The club should have extended his contract the day after the Derby game. It would have sent out the right message about the type of club we are. Instead it may end up as too little too late and has obviously increased friction between Ale & Harry. Surely we should value out players who are the "right sort" instead of wasting money on players who don't give a toss about the club.

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