|Fulham v Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 18th March 2017 Kick-off 15:00
QPR fearful of conforming to stereotype - Preview
Friday, 17th Mar 2017 23:20 by Clive Whittingham
In good form but facing the team bottom of the table with 18 defeats from 19 away matches this season, QPR will spend their Saturday trying not to repeat a mistake they've made dozens of times before.
QPR (13-8-16, WWLWWD, 15th) v Rotherham (4-5-28, LLLLLL, 24th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday March 18, 2017 >>> Kick off 15.00 !!! >>> Weather – Warm, cloudy, dry, like a shit cider >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
Ian Holloway keeps getting the year wrong. Twice, during the fans forum on Thursday night, he remarked that the infamous two defeats to Swindon Town stopped QPR’s school of 1992/93 finishing even higher than fifth in the first Premier League – Rangers were the top London club that year.
In fact, it was numerous other stupid defeats that stopped Gerry Francis’ side going above fifth that year, the Swindon nadir came the following season. The 1-0 loss at the County Ground, Swindon’s first Premier League win at the sixteenth time of asking, achieved despite having a man sent off in the first ten minutes, prevented QPR going second in the Premier League in 1993/94. By the end of the season we’d lost to them at home as well, only Swindon’s fifth win of the campaign, their only double and their only away win. A week later, in the final match, they lost 5-0 at home to Leeds.
But Holloway is right in what he says – “we don’t make very good favourites”. QPR are a little club, perpetual underdogs, forced to fight for whatever they can scrape together. On the rare occasions they’re expected to win, or have some money to splash out, it genuinely all goes to shit, because we’re not used to it, and it’s not who we are.
We said all this in December before we travelled to South Yorkshire to play Rotherham the first time. Then the Millers were on a run of 15 without a win and only won victory all season. These match previews – and, honestly, you try writing 50 of these things in nine months – are all about finding an angle and a trip to a team in such dire straits makes it easy because you can trot out all the Swindon, John Jensen, Lloyd Doyley stuff. Really, we’re hoping that by saying it it won’t come true, like some sort of reverse psychology against whoever’s in charge of making QPR’s best team of the modern era lose at Swindon, or Ian Holloway’s previous lovely team lose to Vauxhall Motors.
Since then the stats have only got more extreme. QPR have turned things around and are actually now the form team in the whole of the Championship with four wins and a draw from six matches – and it really should have been another victory to reward a fine performance at Leeds last week. Rotherham, meanwhile, will be relegated in defeat tomorrow if Blackburn and Forest also win and Burton get at least a point. Either way, it’s a matter of time for the rock bottom team that arrive on an 11 match run without a win, six straight defeats, and with an away record of lost 18 and drawn one from 19.
If QPR are to QPR this right up it’ll mean little for this season – Rangers will still finish midtable, Rotherham will still be relegated. But having spent so much time assessing last week’s decent showing at Elland Road in the context of next season, and drawn so many positives from it in terms of the steel and grit and quality of the team at a tough away ground, to then come home and lose to what is obviously the worst team in the league and show we do still have that soft QPR underbelly after all… well it’ll be pretty hard to stomach, if not altogether surprising.
Ian Holloway spoke at the fans forum about the importance of supporters not coming expecting to win, not sitting there on their hands and expecting it to happen, not getting on at the team if goals don’t happen immediately, and he’s right. But at the same time he talked about involving Ravel Morrison because he “hasn’t let us down for three or four days now” and while that’s very funny, and Morrison may well have a great game tomorrow, he and we can’t go into this game thinking it’s a chance to give fringe players a run, to try new things, to chop and change the team safe in the knowledge we’ll win the game.
In the short term it doesn’t matter if we win or we don’t really, the season is just about over for both these teams. But like last week in Leeds where they had something to play for and we didn’t and yet we were the better team and deserved to win at a tough ground, it would bode well for next season if we can not do the typical QPR thing, not give poor old Rotherham their Swindon-style double, not revert to type and so on.
It shouldn’t be too difficult, but at QPR nothing is ever easy.
Gareth Ainsworth heads Ian Holloway’s newly promoted QPR side in front against Rotherham in the opening match of their 2004/05 campaign back in the second tier. Paul Shaw later equalised for the visitors and the game finished 1-1.
Team News: Well what we managed to glean from the Fans Forum/Evening With Ian Holloway is that Ravel Morrison has managed, as a professional footballer on a colossal wage, to turn up on time and train in an adequate manner for “three or four days” which means he might get an outing this weekend. Lord give me strength. Jack Robinson still sounds miles off and Jordan Cousins has apparently now torn a muscle clean off the bone in his leg which doesn’t sound good at all. Kazenga Lua Lua on the other hand is due back next week having initially been ruled out for a month. It’s St Patrick’s Day, so God only knows where Steven Caulker might be and what he might be up to.
Fancy keeping goal for Rotherham (82 goals conceded already)? Me neither. And nor, it seems, the people who are paid to do so. Lee Camp is a long term absentee, Richard O’Donnell is sitting in a quiet corner at home rocking backwards and forwards and that means Lewis Price is the lucky man holding the package in this particular game of pass the suicide bomb. Occasional striker, occasional illegal football agent, Dexter Blackstock has returned to fitness in time to visit his former club – script writers working frantically.
Elsewhere: Day 10,648 of our enforced confinement and even the guards are starting to go a little stir crazy. Reading and the Sheffield Owls, both vulnerable in the play off positions and playing each other, have a game on a Friday night (very convenient from Reading) but it’s not televised. The Wurzels, who couldn’t find their arse with both hands, against Borussia Huddersfield, which is not near Bristol, is on the TV and is therefore also on Friday night.
Then tomorrow our Sky overlords have once more ignored the fact Preston Knob End are quite good and neglected to show them for the third time this season despite a local derby wit the Mad Indian Chicken Farmers. Nor are they showing Derby Sheep, who’ve re-sacked Schteve McClaren for being just as much of an arse as he was last time they sacked him, in their local derby against the Nottingham Trees, who’ve just somehow tricked Mark Warburton into sipping from their poison bottle of bleach, in a big local derby. Derby Sheep (10th) are however enough of a draw to move their match with us (15th) to a Friday night after the international break. Scum. Sub human scum.
Seven other fixtures tomorrow then. It’s still Friday right? Fuck it’s been a long week. Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion against Brentford is this week’s game between two sides beginning with B. Champions Newcastle are having a bang on everybody’s favourite points machine Birmingham. Tarquin and Rupert welcome the Wolverhampton Wolves. Norwich wait in a pool of their own fear and loathing for a mixture of Alan Pardew as their new manager and a Barnsley side far better than their own assembled at a fraction of the cost. It’s Wigan Warriors, onto a ninth manager of the season, against Leddersford and in the evening the Champions of Europe travel down to Brighton.
Cardiff v Ipswich looks like a potential classic of our times as the Seventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour gathers serious momentum.
Referee: For those sad enough to notice these things, there seems to be a pattern developing where we get referees twice in very quick succession. Tony Harrington had us against Barnsley very soon after taking an away game at Blackburn and now here’s Andy Davies, three weeks after he had our 4-1 win at Birmingham and just a fortnight since he was in charge of Rotherham’s 4-2 loss at Brentford. Details here.
QPR: The draw at Leeds last week made it one defeat in six matches for QPR who nevertheless remain in fifteenth, but are a good deal closer to the sides above them now. The clean sheet was only the second time Rangers have stopped the opposition scoring in 25 games (Reading being the other) since the home win against Bristol City. Having only won four matches all season at Loftus Road prior to Wigam the R’s have now won three straight games at home. Those, and Olly’s other win on this ground in his second stint against Norwich, were all by the 2-1 scoreline – five of the last seven games QPR have been involved in have finished 2-1 one way or the other.
Rotherham: The poor Millers arrive into this game on a run of 11 matches without a win and six straight defeats. They’ve only won four league games all season, all at home by a single goal – Brentford 1-0, QPR 1-0, Wigan 3-2 and Norwich 2-1. They’ve lost 11 straight away games since a draw at Ipswich before Christmas, scoring four goals and conceding 28 in the process – a run that’s included a 3-0 loss at Leeds, 4-0 at Newcastle, 5-0 at Cardiff and 4-2 at Brentford. Overall this season they’ve drawn one and lost 18 of 19 away league games. They have 17 points from 37 played and are currently 21 points away from fourth bottom Bristol City. Their last away win was April 9 last year, a 4-0 success at MK Dons during the Neil Warnock revival – they’ve lost 20 and drawn one on the road since. If Rotherham do lose and results at Blackburn, Burton and Forest go a certain way they will be relegated this weekend.
Predictions: There’s a nagging doubt at the back of my mind, fostered by Ian Holloway’s comments after the Leeds game about the amount of players that he’s got in reserve waiting for a chance, that he’s going to do what we saw fail against Burton and almost fail against Cardiff and make too many changes, underestimating the opposition in, throwing in Ravel Morrison who’s unfit and Sean Goss who’s quite green and so on. That along with the ‘typical QPR’ factor of this game makes me nervous. But Holloway’s shown enough of late to be trusted and really, the way we’re playing, this should be three points.
LFW’s Prediction; QPR 2-0 Rotherham. Scorer – Matt Smith
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Pictures – Action Images
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