|Preston North End 1 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 4th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Meet the new QPR, same as the old QPR? Preview
Tuesday, 26th Sep 2017 12:21 by Clive Whittingham
QPR go hunting for their first away win of the season, first since February in fact, on the archetypal cold Tuesday night in Barnsley tonight.
Barnsley (2-1-5, WDWLLL, 21st) v QPR (3-3-3, LLWDLD, 11th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Tuesday September 26, 2017 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Overcast, dry>>> Oakwell, Barnsley, South Yorkshire
It felt like a bit of a bold claim from manager Ian Holloway that his team felt like “the new QPR” after the recent Middlesbrough match. Twice going ahead only to bollocks it up in a mad five minutes of kamikaze defending and losing away from home again, stretching a winless run on the road to 11 games and seven months felt an awful lot like the ‘old QPR’ to me. As did the muddled team selection, below-par performance and poor result in a game they should be winning at home to Burton on Saturday.
That is harsh and simplistic, of course. The performance at Middlesbrough was a good one, the defeat a somewhat inevitable result of having all your defenders injured at the same time. The away record this season isn’t good, but in Sheff Wed, Middlesbrough, Norwich and Cardiff Rangers have faced four of the promotion favourites, all with better teams and bigger budgets than our own. The six changes at Boro, then five for Burton, and random selection of Yeni Ngabkoto from the start for the first time since April in the league, out of position in central midfield, did feel a lot like the nonsense that was going on at the end of last season when we lose seven of the final eight games. But Rangers do have an unenviable injury list at the moment, lost David Wheeler and Massimo Luongo to illness and Kazenga Lua Lua to disciplinary before the Burton game. I still don’t understand why you’d leave Manning out and pick Ngabkoto there mind.
And so the season continues to balance on something of a knife edge. Expectations are so low that many would probably consider the current place of eleventh to be a successful campaign if that’s where we finish come May. But, equally, it really wouldn’t take much for it to slide off the cliff edge again, particularly in a week of three matches in six days when you’ve already made a pig’s ear of the first, easiest of the three.
QPR cannot use the toughness of the opposition as an excuse if their winless run continues through the next three away matches. Sunderland are proving to be the basket case many of us expected and Bolton are fast approaching the point where I’m not sure they’re going to win a game at all this season. Barnsley are tougher, notoriously shrewd operators in the transfer market and a good young manager, but of the team that beat us 3-2 in this fixture a year ago nine have moved on to new clubs and the struggle to replace them all, all at once, is ongoing – Barnsley just outside the drop zone as it stands.
Points from those games, to go with an unbeaten home start, and a good showing and result against Fulham this Friday, and we’re still motoring. But Sunderland will view us as a must win at home, and Bolton picking up Karl Henry on a free transfer this week surely only increases the likelihood of them following in the footsteps of Swindon et al and getting off the mark with a nice home win against QPR next month. That, and defeat in the archetypal Tuesday night away to Barnsley fixture tonight, would be very old QPR indeed and a failure to beat Fulham alongside it would set us away on an altogether different path.
The recent programme notes from Barnsley owner Patrick Cryne about his ongoing and apparently doomed battle with cancer were very moving. He’s done a terrific job at Oakwell, one that I’d have liked to cover in an Opposition Profile this week had time allowed – we’ll come back to it later in the season. Barnsley produced a very attractive, bright, young team last season that was going great guns until the so-called bigger clubs, too lazy and arrogant to scout and take a chance on those players in the first place, came along and pillaged the place. They’re rebuilding again this season, though any model or philosophy, however sound, would find it difficult to replace nine of the starting 11 in two transfer windows.
Barnsley’s methods of signing lower league players, always 24 or under, from a computer and scouting system rated as one of the best outside the Premier League (and better than many in it) has brought them great rewards on the pitch and in the transfer market so far. It’s interesting that Moneyball’s Billy Beane, who has long said football could benefit from the thinking he pioneered in baseball but never personally got involved in the sport before, is part of the consortium looking to buy Barnsley from Cryne.
While it’s impossible to boil football down to one finite number or attribute, as Beane did at Oakland to begin with with the on-base percentage – and attempts to do so lead us down the ridiculous path we’ve gone down already where footballers have stats for things like “completed dribbles” – the more I watch of modern football the more I think he’s right. When you see clubs like Villa, QPR, Birmingham and other spend big and get nowhere while more progressive clubs like Swansea, Barnsley, Leicester, Bournemouth etc go past or match them while spending less you have to conclude that there is still a fundamental lack of understanding of where wins come from in football.
I was delighted when QPR signed David Wheeler from Exeter because until that point, for all the improvements in strategy and policy we’ve seen under Hoos and Ferdinand recently, we were still the club buying players from Blackpool and Barnsley who they’d bought from elsewhere. We could have had Josh Scowen or Matt Phillips from Wycombe, just up the road, for example. Wheeler is hopefully the next step on our road to being that club that’s unearthing them at source in League Two, rather than buying them at a mark up (Scowen was free fair enough) from the guy who does.
But, you know what QPR are like as a club, board and support base, it needs the results to keep ticking over on the pitch or there will be babies and bath water all over the place. A Tuesday night win at Barnsley really would be ‘new QPR’ and would ease us into the international break on a satisfactory start to the season.
Highlights from last season’s 2-1 win against Barnsley at Loftus Road, including that Idrissa Sylla goal which he scores accidentally after treading on the ball.
Team News: The sight of Joel Lynch and Steven Caulker back on the bench at the weekend suggests QPR’s woes at centre half may be easing. Grant Hall is back out on the grass this week but James Perch and Nedum Onuoha remain long term absentees. Jordan Cousins came through a successful run out for the U23s against Watford on Monday alongside Sean Goss, Paul Smyth and others. Kazenga Lua Lua was due to start at the weekend but was left out after turning up late to training on Friday, so presumably comes back into consideration with Yeni Ngbakoto’s performance in his place not a conspicuous success. Massimo Luongo should be fit again after missing the weekend ill.
Brad Potts left the weekend defeat at Wolves early with ankle knack but should be fit. Lloyd Isgrove has done his thigh in and won’t return until after the next crucial round of international friendly matches.
Elsewhere: All a bit Championship when today’s Tuesday and you’ve got a game on Friday and it’s not even your next fixture. Full round of games for you this midweek night, including a televised grudge match between the early pace setters with the Champions of Europe going to South Wales for their date on the Eighth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour – no love lost there of course.
After their gimme win at Relegated Bolton at the weekend it’ll be interesting to see whether the shackels have been lifted from Brentford sufficiently for them to get a proper victory over an actual football team when the Derby Sheep come to Middlesex on Tuesday. Bolton, meanwhile, continue their rapid acceleration towards League One with a defeat at Bristol City in this week’s game between two teams beginning with B.
I was rather hoping Steve Barnes might get shoved towards the exit door by Big Racist John and the Boys losing to Nottingham Trees on Saturday night but alas they scraped a win. Departure would certainly be hastened by the standard Championship chastening at Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion. The Trees, meanwhile, look to recover from a sudden run of defeats at home to out of sorts Tarquin and Rupert – worries over inheritance tax perhaps?
What else do I have for you here? Well the Ipswich Blue Sox playing at home to Sunderland at the same time as Middlesbrough hosting Borussia Norwich sound like exactly the sort of completely non-sensical, fucked up Tuesday night planning the EFL likes to pride itself on. Millwall Scholars v Reading makes more sense. Allam Tigers v Preston Knob End of interest to somebody somewhere presumably (nobody’s noticed Preston playing their way into the promotion picture. Again.).
Sheffield Owls and Sheffield Red Strips get an extra day of rest after knocking seven shades of shit out of each other on Sunday – they are away to the Birmingham Bad Knees and at home to Sporting Wolverhampton respectively.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham, and increasingly regular presence at QPR games of late, s the man in the middle for this one. His last Rangers appointment was the 1-0 loss at Derby last season but he has already refereed Barnsley once this term. Full details here.
Barnsley: Barnsley won this fixture 3-2 just over a year ago, but nine of the starting 11 from that night are no longer with the club. The class of 2017 has started slowly, with two wins from eight league games so far (Forest H 2-1, Sunderland H 3-0) and two in the League Cup (Morecambe H 4-3, Derby H 3-2). They come into this game on the back of three straight defeats in all comps but are scoring goals – 13 in six league and cup home games at Oakwell this season already.
QPR: Rangers are unbeaten at home in the league this season, but are yet to win away with a draw at Sheff Wed (1-1) followed by three straight losses at Norwich (2-0), Cardiff (2-1) and Middlesbrough (3-2) coming into this one. If you bring in last season it’s now 11 away matches since the last league win on the road, of which nine have ended in defeat. The last win away from Loftus Road was the 4-1 triumph at Birmingham at the height of Gianfranco Zola meltdown in February. Rangers have scored just seven goals in those 11 games and drawn blanks on five occasions. It’s also 16 league games since QPR scored more than twice in a game, dating back to the 5-1 home win against hapless Rotherham in March.
Prediction: Having tipped goals at the weekend, you can blame us for the outcome. If you think you can do better you’re in with a chance of winning prizes from the sponsor of this year’s Prediction League, The Art of Football. We’ll be handing out prizes from their QPR Collection at the end of October, January and to the overall winner. Last year’s winner Southend_Rss tells us…
"Saturday was a true grind. We were so out of sorts and it felt like an end of season dead rubber. I'm usually always upbeat, however it was a very frustrating game to watch and I can imagine a Tuesday night trip to Barnsley could be equally the same for all the die-hard fans making the journey. We are still to win away in the league. It will come sooner or later and no doubt against a team we wouldn't expect, such is the sod’s law of the Championship rule book. I still think we will be waiting for that away win after this match has ended. I do believe either Sylla or Smith will start this game, in place of Washington or Mackie. They'll have to if we are going to have a chance here I reckon. A point is not a bad result and that's what I'm going for.”
Craig’s Prediction: Barnsley 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Matt Smith
LFW’s Prediction: Barnsley 2-1 QPR. Scorer – Idrissa Sylla
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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