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Watford in summary 23:15 - Jul 30 with 7613 viewsNeil_SI

I came away from that impressed and encouraged by what I saw. It only took me five-minutes to realise we’ve improved from last season in lots of different ways.

It’s pre-season though, so you can’t get carried away both good or bad results and performances. These matches can be hard because the environment and circumstances are not the same as a competitive match.

But here is what I took away that I thought was really good.

Jake Bidwell and Jordon Cousins have improved us and their athleticism and mobility have altered the dynamics of the team. While we all love Clint Hill and Alejandro Faurlin, I thought it was really obvious the team were able to move up and down the pitch and compress and press the play much more easily here.

In addition, there are other improvements these two bring. Not only was Cousins’ positioning excellent, he read the play well and made some excellent interceptions before making simple passes to players in better positions. That’s crucial, as it’s easy to do too much and this allowed us to make some rapid counter attacks. He was also very vocal and I’m impressed by his tactical awareness. He guided other players into better defensive positions and continuously checked on those around him to make sure they were where they needed to be.

For Bidwell, there was a moment in the first-half where Grant Hall was hurt in a challenge as Watford threatened to break through. Bidewell spotted the danger from the other side and the speed he came across to cover and help was first-class. It’s this difference in tactical awareness and mentality that bodes well for us. Bidwell also used the ball very well and made simple passes, and the timing and distance of some of his passes put us and himself in some better attacking positions. If he carries on in that vein all season, he will become a clear contender for a player of the season shout. I really liked how he never passed too soon, which is a mistake a lot of defenders can make who don't quite have the creative aptitude of those in front of them.

But what about the rest?

Sebastian Polter put in a performance here that was his best for the club. It might be a pre-season match, but he led the line terrifically well and was a handful for Watford. He looked fitter, sharper and more confident and I was impressed by how much improvement we saw with his basics like his first touch, his hold up play, his ability to bring others into play and the timing of his runs and body style to win headers and flick ons. But he also had that burst and thrust that he didn’t have last season. He hit the bar with a fantastic header, but the goal he scored was utterly superb. He was able to take the ball around the penalty box, turn and get the ball out of his feet in order to take the touch that allowed him to power past his marker and fire home. A great strikers goal. If he plays like that consistently in the Championship, he will be one of the most feared strikers in the division. He linked well with Tjarron Chery as well, who was also very lively and found space between the lines excellently.

There was a nice balance about us throughout the match, and we looked decent and assured both in defence and attack. I liked how Chery pressed the defensive midfielder of the other team from behind if they had possession of the ball and how he and Polter dropped deep to make a wall that was difficult for the opposition to penetrate when they had the ball.

I liked how the defence dealt with Deeney and Ighalo, who were a handful, but who we managed to snuff out with some assurance. The defence looked comfortable on the ball and confident about where to hold their line and knew they had the pace to recover from a higher line.

We seldom wasted the ball when in possession too. We were calm and made good use of it, and we didn’t go direct too soon, but we didn’t hang around and dally on it too long either, and that’s because the midfield was mobile and full of technical players who were able to pick passes, play triangles, switch play or recycle possession appropriately. It helped that Polter was really on his game too, because they were able to go direct occasionally and know that he was likely to win his dual if they put it in the right vicinity.

I was also impressed at how well we pressed the play. We seemed to know when to press collectively and when to hold collectively and that allowed us to remain solid when without the ball and dangerous when we won it and could hit on the counter.

We pinched the ball high up the pitch on a couple of occasions, but it was how well we dealt with the transitions and turnover of play that impressed me most. We were fast if we lost possession, but even better if we were countering ourselves. We moved the ball quickly and seemed to know where to put it, which led to plenty of decent attacking moves that led to chances on goal.

All in all, there were some positive building blocks there to work with. If I were JFH, I’d have been very happy with that ahead of the Leeds match.

Obviously you can’t always tell how things will pan out when the real thing kicks in, and whether we will be a counter attacking team or one that’s going to have to try and break the opposition down. Here we looked excellent on the counter at times, but still did well when we had decent bouts of possession and played some really good football in patches. So it will be interesting to see how we cope with those scenarios once the season is underway.

The squad may be a little bit thin in depth, but we look like we have a fairly strong first eleven, who if we can keep fit and fresh, have more than enough about them to do well.

I think the key positions for me from watching that would actually be left midfield and right back, which is we can make consistent improvements to the performance levels in those areas, then we’ll be a very decent team indeed.

I heard some people complaining at the match, even when we were playing well, and saying that we looked a bit short and thin for players, but there's still a month to go before the window shuts and we'll very likely add to the squad before it closes.

The main thing is not to panic, there's plenty of time, and if I were the club, given the market rates we should think about the loan market if we're being priced out. We also need to be aware that with all the money in the Premier League, there is still a chance we could lose some players that we don't want to. But I'm sure the club realise that and have a plan of action for some of those possibilities.

I for one am looking forward to the season. I think we've made some very decent progress, and have signed well this summer and improved the first-team and have plenty of players in the ranks who are now in their second season and ready to take the next step forward too. While I don't know where we'll end up, my current feeling is we will be better overall than last time around.

p.s. kit and crest look superb. So happy with them.
[Post edited 30 Jul 2016 23:25]
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Watford in summary on 23:35 - Jul 30 with 5634 viewsbosh67

Great report.

Never knowingly right.
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Watford in summary on 23:43 - Jul 30 with 5608 viewsJAPRANGERS

Brilliant stuff as usual Neil. Look forward to reading all your excellent analysis this season!

You RRRRRRRRSSSSSSS!!!!!!
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Watford in summary on 00:22 - Jul 31 with 5525 viewsPunteR

Cheers Neil. Valued insight once again.

Bake my chicken

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Watford in summary on 00:53 - Jul 31 with 5448 viewsqueensparker

Agree with all that. First time I've seen us looking like a team for some time, and Polter was outstanding.

Brief highlights here:

http://www.espnfc.com/video/highlights/114/video/2920422/highlights-qpr-2-0-watf
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Watford in summary on 02:24 - Jul 31 with 5361 viewsBoston

Very informative report, but I don't think you grasp the meaning of the word 'summary'.

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Watford in summary on 08:11 - Jul 31 with 5045 viewsWokingR

Watford in summary on 02:24 - Jul 31 by Boston

Very informative report, but I don't think you grasp the meaning of the word 'summary'.


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Watford in summary on 08:54 - Jul 31 with 4919 viewsBlue_Castello

Thanks Neil love the use of the word summary, keep those coming all season, even though I've got a season ticket and will be at the match I still enjoy your analysis post match.

Have to say I was starting to get in the camp of the glass half empty brigade but that summary has given me renewed hope for the season and am now looking forward to the Leeds game.

Cousins and Bidwell sound like two very smart signings now they are actually integrated into JFHs playing styleeee.

Would be interested to know what you thought of Luongo and Caulkers performances as that team is very close or is exactly the starting eleven for Leeds.
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Watford in summary on 09:11 - Jul 31 with 4851 viewsozranger

Watford in summary on 08:54 - Jul 31 by Blue_Castello

Thanks Neil love the use of the word summary, keep those coming all season, even though I've got a season ticket and will be at the match I still enjoy your analysis post match.

Have to say I was starting to get in the camp of the glass half empty brigade but that summary has given me renewed hope for the season and am now looking forward to the Leeds game.

Cousins and Bidwell sound like two very smart signings now they are actually integrated into JFHs playing styleeee.

Would be interested to know what you thought of Luongo and Caulkers performances as that team is very close or is exactly the starting eleven for Leeds.


Only watched the first half so far - trouble with working most of the day. However, I too would like to hear Neil's comments on Luongo. Not specifically on his performance in this game but in the light of who he was playing with. With Henry and Ale he did not have a partner who would go box to box, something Luongo does for the Oz team. So, with Cousins, does this change the type of play Luongo can provide? That is, are we seeing the Luongo that we thought we bought last season but never really saw?
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Watford in summary on 09:13 - Jul 31 with 4840 viewsTacticalR

We played well and contained Watford, although at times I wondered if we were going to have enough quality to pick our way through Watford's defence (even after we scored) as we have sold off a lot of attacking players. That's where I thought that Chery really shone as he was skillful on the ball, played some great one-touch football, and was looking to pass or shoot round the edge of the box.

Great goal from Polter - he really hammered that one in. On the commentary they said that Polter was completely burnt out after an hour or so, although that wasn't obvious to me watching the stream.

There was one total lapse in concentration in the defence when Caulker and Hall split apart and Igalo ran between them and should have scored.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 9:17]

Air hostess clique

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Watford in summary on 09:50 - Jul 31 with 4703 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 02:24 - Jul 31 by Boston

Very informative report, but I don't think you grasp the meaning of the word 'summary'.


I did actually intend to write a short summary but once I started I remembered a lot of things that I was encouraged by as I typed.
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Watford in summary on 09:52 - Jul 31 with 4693 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 08:54 - Jul 31 by Blue_Castello

Thanks Neil love the use of the word summary, keep those coming all season, even though I've got a season ticket and will be at the match I still enjoy your analysis post match.

Have to say I was starting to get in the camp of the glass half empty brigade but that summary has given me renewed hope for the season and am now looking forward to the Leeds game.

Cousins and Bidwell sound like two very smart signings now they are actually integrated into JFHs playing styleeee.

Would be interested to know what you thought of Luongo and Caulkers performances as that team is very close or is exactly the starting eleven for Leeds.


Caulker played well and with focus, which is important. He needs to do that to get himself back on track, but I still suspect a Premier League club may come in for him and if we receive a reasonable offer, we should still consider it.

Luongo also played well and I've always been a fan. He looked comfortable playing alongside Cousins and did a bit of everything in the match. He got stuck in when he needed to, just like Cousins, went forward when he needed to and linked with the likes of Chery well and his distribution of the ball and decision making was sound.
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Watford in summary on 09:56 - Jul 31 with 4679 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 09:11 - Jul 31 by ozranger

Only watched the first half so far - trouble with working most of the day. However, I too would like to hear Neil's comments on Luongo. Not specifically on his performance in this game but in the light of who he was playing with. With Henry and Ale he did not have a partner who would go box to box, something Luongo does for the Oz team. So, with Cousins, does this change the type of play Luongo can provide? That is, are we seeing the Luongo that we thought we bought last season but never really saw?


I think he will excel with Cousins alongside him, because either of them can sit or bomb forward, and if Cousins maintains playing a simple passing game, it helps give us a lot of options on the counter attack. We won the ball a few times and Cousins' first pass was always the right one, and sometimes he had Luongo nearby but in a better position, so the pass to Luongo allowed Luongo to do the creative work (either hitting the ball forward or carrying it) and sometimes Cousins played that direct ball forward himself, allowing Luongo to drive forwards and join the attack.

The combination of Cousins, Luongo and Chery in the middle area was excellent, especially with Chery's clever movement in front of them. I think it allowed Chery to express himself a little more and made it less of a problem that we have a lack of wide players.

I'm not sure if it changes the way Luongo plays, but I certainly can see us putting him in a position that makes both he and we as a team more effective. I was pretty pleased with Luongo last season as well, for me, all he needs to do this season is add goals to his game.
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Watford in summary on 10:02 - Jul 31 with 4651 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 09:13 - Jul 31 by TacticalR

We played well and contained Watford, although at times I wondered if we were going to have enough quality to pick our way through Watford's defence (even after we scored) as we have sold off a lot of attacking players. That's where I thought that Chery really shone as he was skillful on the ball, played some great one-touch football, and was looking to pass or shoot round the edge of the box.

Great goal from Polter - he really hammered that one in. On the commentary they said that Polter was completely burnt out after an hour or so, although that wasn't obvious to me watching the stream.

There was one total lapse in concentration in the defence when Caulker and Hall split apart and Igalo ran between them and should have scored.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 9:17]


Yeah that's why I said it would be interesting to see what type of team we will be when the season starts. Against Premier League opposition, you do expect them to be well marshalled and use the ball well, which Watford did so at times. But we made life very difficult for them and did well countering from all over the pitch, whether it was from deep, the middle of the park or pressing high up to pinch the ball.

We created a lot of chances from those moments, and could easily have scored a few goals in the first half. There was the moment when Ben Gladwin won the ball high and shot high and wide of the bar, which was a decent chance. We had Polter hit the bar from a cross from wide with a fantastic header, we had the opportunity on the break where Gladwin flashed a great shot across the goal that very nearly found the bottom corner, and then we had the times when Polter and Chery combined excellently, one where Polter crossed from wide and Chery really should have scored but fired wide, and then when Chery slipped the ball into Polter for his fantastic goal.

I think Polter and Chery are the best forward combination we have at the moment. They developed a decent partnership and understanding last season, but seem to have taken that a step forward from watching them here. Let's hope that's the case, because I see there's goals in that combination.

The question is how will other Championship teams see us? Will they drop off and sit deep behind the ball or will they come to play? I think any team that tries to fight fire with us risks being hit by our quality on the counter. It's less clear how we will do if we're the ones on the ball, but I was impressed with how well we used it against Watford, and I've seen enough different styles of chances we created here to know we can fashion out opportunities. But it's in those matches, where we are trying to pick a way through, that a wide man with necessary skills may become important.

It was obviously good that Conor Washington got his goal as well, and even more great to see how delighted Polter was and some of the rest of the players were about that. Polter had been subbed off but he came to the side of the pitch to celebrate and congratulate Washington. Nice to see.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 10:03]
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Watford in summary on 10:31 - Jul 31 with 4532 viewsRoller

Excellent summary Neil.

I was impressed by all of the new boys. Bidwell was constantly organising our defence, and timed his forays forwards well so as not to expose his defensive colleagues; I’d give him the captain’s armband now. While Hall and Caulker were solid, Lynch looked a cut above when he came on. If he is fit enough, I’d start him ahead of Caulker next weekend. He never looked remotely like losing a header or tackle.

Cousins was neat and tidy and looked like a perfect partner for the underrated Luongo. Both tackled well, played the right pass, continually made themselves available to receive the ball.

Biggest credit should probably go to the new fitness coach, I can't recall seeing our team look in such good condition.
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Watford in summary on 10:32 - Jul 31 with 4530 viewsGloucs_R

What about the wingers Neil? Good enough or need replacing?

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Watford in summary on 10:57 - Jul 31 with 4450 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 10:32 - Jul 31 by Gloucs_R

What about the wingers Neil? Good enough or need replacing?


I thought they did ok.

Shodipo impressed me by playing a lot of 'safe' backwards passes, so he realised he was up against quality players and didn't therefore try to do too much or take too many risks. Sometimes that's just as important for block building for young players and finding the adjustments that are needed to do well at senior level, but it's just too early to say whether he can offer much more than that at this point. Having Bidwell behind him however was very helpful. Shodipo also still needs to work on his defensive positioning and I'm sure, still needs time to find absorb and get used to the physicality at senior level, which could impact the intensity of his performances if he were asked to play every week.

I know a lot of people aren't keen on Gladwin, but I like him and see a lot of potential there, just in the same way last season that I felt Polter had lots to offer. Some players need more time than others, and Gladwin's problem is simply he lacks a bit of confidence about how the crowd perceive him rather than his ability. Those vibes are still there and we need to help him out. Unfortunately some people will focus on the little mistakes. He won the ball excellently high up the park, the first player able to pinch the ball off the defenders and then hit a wayward shot. Rather than applaud how well he timed and executed the challenge, against Premier League quality defenders, he took a load of abuse from some because of his poor shot.

The effort he flashed just wide that almost found the bottom corner, was an excellent strike. He did all the right things in that scenario, and was unlucky not to score. If one of those goes in for him in a proper game, it may elevate his confidence, and hopefully that will happen for him. I thought he played some nice touches and showed good movement in places and intelligent positioning – but once or twice he made some silly mistakes as well and that's all people seem to remember. He made more progressive use of the ball in wide areas than Shodipo did, for example, but Shodipo got more praise because he didn't appear to give the ball away as much, but at the same time, he took less risks in certain phases of play.

Gladwin is also being asked to play on the right, when really he's spent most of his career playing on the left, so it's another change that he has to adapt to. I wonder how well he'd do if he was switched left with the assistance of Bidwell. Onouha did his best in the right-back slot, but it's just not the same with him there. Onuoha's tactical understanding is limited and it impacts his decision making, pass selection, and so on. And when you are receiving the ball from him, it's not always when, where or how you want it.

I was also pleased with the exposure Gladwin had to deal with defensively. He was put in one-on-one scenarios a fair few times by Watford, so he had to track back and then be put under pressure and he won some and lost some, that's how it goes, but it's good practice for him either way and he took them as seriously as he could in those moments.

But we probably do need a genuine wide player who is capable of playing the wide role in a more classic and traditional sense. That is, someone who is willing to get their head down and run with the ball at their feet and take on their marker. If we can find someone like that, it will allow us to stretch the play in another way and add another dimension to our attack. Obviously you want them to be able to deliver quality balls into the box too, because with Polter in there, you've always a chance he will get on the end of them and with Phillips' departing, no matter how out of form he was, he was still capable of finding a ball out of nowhere that provided opportunities.

Anyway I think this will become more obvious if it's a genuine issue or not once the season is underway. Right now, in this match against Watford, I was pleasantly surprised at how it did not look like a real issue because of how well we played overall and as a team and how strong the spine of the side was. In some ways, I think we're better off playing through the spine and our best creative players as much as possible. Therefore, as long as the wide players or peripheral players do their jobs when asked or needed, then you don't always need other players who may end up upsetting the balance by wanting as much or more of the ball. The focal point of the side is already there with the quality we have in the spine.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 11:58]
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Watford in summary on 11:07 - Jul 31 with 4414 viewsonlyrinmoray

Great report Neil. How do you and Clive remember these things do you make notes during the game When I go I have forgotten lots of these points half an hour after the game, maybe its an age thing
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Watford in summary on 11:09 - Jul 31 with 4408 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 11:07 - Jul 31 by onlyrinmoray

Great report Neil. How do you and Clive remember these things do you make notes during the game When I go I have forgotten lots of these points half an hour after the game, maybe its an age thing


I used to make notes years ago, but I don't anymore. Believe me I am just as forgetful as the next person.

I don't always watch the match in the same way as others do either. In this one, I was paying particular attention to Bidwell and Cousins, because I was interested in what they would bring to the table. So often, and because it was a friendly, I paid attention to them even when they weren't on the ball or actively involved in play just because I was curious to see what they were doing in those moments.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 11:11]
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Watford in summary on 11:22 - Jul 31 with 4351 viewsRoller

Watford in summary on 11:09 - Jul 31 by Neil_SI

I used to make notes years ago, but I don't anymore. Believe me I am just as forgetful as the next person.

I don't always watch the match in the same way as others do either. In this one, I was paying particular attention to Bidwell and Cousins, because I was interested in what they would bring to the table. So often, and because it was a friendly, I paid attention to them even when they weren't on the ball or actively involved in play just because I was curious to see what they were doing in those moments.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 11:11]


You don't watch the match through your fingers then?
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Watford in summary on 11:50 - Jul 31 with 4290 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 11:22 - Jul 31 by Roller

You don't watch the match through your fingers then?


Not since George Santos, Ademole Bankole and Matthew Rose.
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Watford in summary on 12:13 - Jul 31 with 4215 viewsrbsranger

I think I speak for many (especially those of us living abroad) when I say that posts like this are why Loft For Words is hands down the best Rangers site. During the season I will basically never bother with the match report from the Official Site (I think the reasons are obvious) and any Rangers reports in the national newspapers generally have some sort of "agenda" and aren't worth it either. So I always look forward to Clive's match report, Antti's knee jerks and then the (too) rare occasions where we get some insight from Neil - it is such a joy to be able to read intelligent words about the club we all love written by real fans who have the club's best interests at heart without feeling the need to wear rose-tinted spectacles on the one hand or feeling the need to criticize everything the club does on the other.
So before we start the long 46 game slog, a shout out and thank you to all the contributors on this site - here's to 9 months of hopefully more highs than lows.... Come on your Rs!
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Watford in summary on 12:39 - Jul 31 with 4103 viewsisawqpratwcity

Much appreciated great report, thanks, Neil.

You touched on a sad point with Hill and Faurlin but at least it seems to have had definite positive results.

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Watford in summary on 13:22 - Jul 31 with 3994 viewsDiscodroids

Thank you for the post Niel, missed the game yesterday so your summary is the next best thing .

'Dance At My Party'.

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Watford in summary on 13:43 - Jul 31 with 3928 viewsNeil_SI

Watford in summary on 12:13 - Jul 31 by rbsranger

I think I speak for many (especially those of us living abroad) when I say that posts like this are why Loft For Words is hands down the best Rangers site. During the season I will basically never bother with the match report from the Official Site (I think the reasons are obvious) and any Rangers reports in the national newspapers generally have some sort of "agenda" and aren't worth it either. So I always look forward to Clive's match report, Antti's knee jerks and then the (too) rare occasions where we get some insight from Neil - it is such a joy to be able to read intelligent words about the club we all love written by real fans who have the club's best interests at heart without feeling the need to wear rose-tinted spectacles on the one hand or feeling the need to criticize everything the club does on the other.
So before we start the long 46 game slog, a shout out and thank you to all the contributors on this site - here's to 9 months of hopefully more highs than lows.... Come on your Rs!


That's very kind, and appreciated, as well as all of the nice comments. Thank you.

I think you make a very good and important point about the "long 46 game slog". It's certainly that and we need to be prepared for it.

I think it's crucial we try to enter the season as united as a club and fan base as we can. It does not matter much what has happened in the past, or which players we have or haven't signed or sold yet.

What's important is there here and now and supporting what we have and what we know, no matter what we think about the quality of certain players. It's a hard season, and we can do our part to help our club and players by contributing to a supportive environment that helps them perform.

There are still plenty of people worrying about what Armand Traore is doing or talking about Chris Ramsey for example, but it's time to move on from all of that. That's in the past now and is done and dusted, what matters is we put that behind us and support the circumstance as it is now.
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Watford in summary on 14:54 - Jul 31 with 3792 viewsBerkoRanger

I can certainly agree with the positive posters on this thread - I watched yesterday on my PC.
I was particularly impressed with the togetherness of the defensive unit. Indeed, Watford ended up shooting from distance because they couldn't get through. I also liked the look of Shodipo (spelling?) - his cross for the Polt was sublime. Indeed, I think we could easily have scored 4 or 5 yesterday.
I don't want to get carried away because we all know that the forward positions need strengthening but I think we can all have glasses half full for this season!
Incidentally, Chris Ramsey is a real gent. I met him a few weeks ago and he was more than happy talking to me about all things QPR.
Well done also to JFH and Les for the acquisitions so far.
[Post edited 31 Jul 2016 14:57]
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