|Preston North End 1 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 2nd December 2017 Kick-off 15:00
Holloway’s outburst ramps up pressure – Preview
Friday, 1st Dec 2017 19:17 by Clive Whittingham
Hunting a first away win at the seventeenth attempt at Preston on Saturday, and with only two wins anywhere in a dozen games, Ian Holloway will live to regret turning on his own fans on Monday, whether he was justified or not.
Preston (6-8-5, LLLDWD, 13th) v QPR (5-7-7, WWLLLD, 17th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday December 2, 2017 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Overcast, cold >>> Deepdale, Preston
I’d love to have been in the media briefing before Ian Holloway’s Tuesday apology video.
PR: “Listen Ol, completely get where you were coming from and why you said it, but it’s not playing well. A lot of people are upset, we’ve got people threatening to return season tickets, it’s the main debate on the Five Live morning phone in, and it’s only a couple of months until we send renewal forms out for next season. Do us a favour, just a minute on camera, say sorry, grovel a bit, bite your tongue.”
IH: “No problem lads, sorry I caused you any hassle.
PR: “Ok Ian, camera’s rolling, whenever you’re ready.”
IH: “I’M READY TO FIGHT.”
PR: “Fuck’s sake…”
I do think this is a bit of a storm in a teacup, and it’s a shame it has become the talking point from the Brentford game rather than what happened at the end – the second time this season QPR have fought back from two goals down to draw, the eighth point we’ve won with a goal or goals in the last 12 minutes of matches, the sixth and seventh goals we’ve scored in that time frame, the fourth time a substitute has scored for us this season. You certainly can’t accuse the team of giving up, nor the manager of not being proactive. With the Brentford fans busy running through abusive ditties on Ian Holloway for the offence of being Ian Holloway, Jake Bidwell for being sold by a selling club, chants about a cup victory against QPR reserves, chants about people leaving early and finally, hilariously, imitating the celebrations of the first goal, what happened late on Monday night was glorious, and should be remembered as such. The post-match waffling about how brilliantly the Bees had played (as if you get extra points for a moral victory) and how few QPR fans had been there to see the goals (as if they only count half if most of the crowd has left) only made it more laugh-snortingly brilliant.
Sadly, it’s Ian Holloway’s post match rant that has drawn the attention, and comment, and turned a positive salvaged from the jaws of a negative into a massive downer once more.
Football fans can be very precious. Happy to hand out abuse to footballers and managers, some of it utterly appalling and often very aggressive, but anybody turns around and gives a bit back and it’s apparently a bloody outrage. Arsenal fans sing about Emmanuel Adebayor’s dad washing elephants and his mum being a whore and that’s ok – Emmanuel Adebayor celebrates a goal in front of them and there’s nearly a riot.
I’m not advocating Eric Cantona’s approach to crowd management (worth mentioning the guy he attacked that night had run from the back of the stand to the front to scream in the Frenchman’s face as he walked off after a red card) but really if somebody makes a rude gesture, or shouts something back, or goes on the TV afterwards and has a dig is it really such a heinous crime when they’ve taken dog’s abuse all night? And believe me, from the side of the ground that Ian Holloway can hear, Ian Holloway gets pelters at home matches – “fuck off and take Ferdinand and Ramsey with you” probably my favourite of Monday night, as if Chris Ramsey had much to do with anything in that Brentford game.
When you look at the circumstances, what happened is neither surprising nor the problem it’s been blown up into. Us QPR fans are, in general, not very supportive of our own team at times. Chris Ramsey was absolutely pilloried during matches, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink had to plead with fans not to shout abuse at Mide Shodipo and the other youth team graduates when he gave them a chance in the first team (something many had long called for), and now Ian Holloway has pointed out that many people had given up on that Brentford match. Somebody Tweeted me this week saying, in all seriousness, that it’s a shame we’re not doing worse on the pitch so Holloway would get the sack – just think about how arse about face that sentiment is for a minute.
This is part of a general trend in the game that has come with rocketing ticket prices and player wages whereby home crowds all over the country abuse their own team more than the opposition now. With the ticket prices and the wages has come a “right, entertain me” attitude and teams that can’t match the inflated expectations get abused by their own fans.
Throw in Ian Holloway’s playing career and previous managerial stint here, which rightly or wrongly he probably feels is worthy of some respect, and the stick he gets from his own supporters, all of which he can hear in our unique little ground, and that’s tough for an emotional guy to bite his tongue through. Then there’s the pressure caused by a three-match losing run, the pressure of a local derby against a team that’s regularly turned us over and revelled in it lately, the Sky cameras, the Brentford fans’ vomit-inducing smugness and chants about Holloway getting sacked, then the amazing outpouring of relief he’ll have felt when the game ended in such an extraordinary way and that’s quite a potent concoction to be taking with you into a live television broadcast 30 seconds later.
But there are ways of doing things. By going in so hard, so angry, so heavy, staring down the camera lens, actually telling people not to come back… heat of the moment or not, you don’t do that.
Firstly, it achieves nothing positive – only negatives. People already against him now hate him even more, people who might have come back on board because of the comeback are pushed back over the side, people who were sympathetic before will be less so now. Every poor performance, every poor result to come, will now be met with “was it ok to leave early today?” and other, more aggressive, similar sentiments. This will increase the abuse he gets during matches, not decrease it. It will decrease the number of people inclined to come and support the team, not increase it. It will increase the pressure on the team to perform, not decrease it. It will increase the pressure on Holloway’s position, particularly when you have a board that pays such close attention to the rabid, often hysterical, world of social media. Whether you think he was right or not, whether you think football fans are a bit sanctimonious or not, Holloway shouldn’t have done what he did for his own good.
Especially because those that were there on Monday night are your hardcore QPR fans. This isn’t like five years ago, when Loftus Road was full of soppy South Koreans trying to get a picture of Ji-Sung, or Arsenal fans who’ve always considered QPR their “second team”, or tourists who got their tickets from a booth in Leicester Square and wanted to come because we’re playing Liverpool. The tourists, the foreigners, the wankers and the hangers on have gone. We are back down to the bare, died in-the-wool, third and fourth generation QPR fans who are so hopelessly hooked they’d go and watch Rangers play Chesham United on the Wormwood Scrubs if that’s what it came to. These people have put tens of thousands of their hard earned pounds into the club, and at the moment they’re getting little reward. Whether you accept it because you think it’s a necessary process the club has to go through, or you hate it and think the club and team is being mismanaged, there are very few wins to enjoy at the moment. Those people that are sticking with it and still paying some of the league’s highest ticket prices to get in – particularly on a cold Monday night for a game they could watch on television, probably with work or kids to take to school early doors the following day, probably with awkward journeys home late at night – deserve a lot better than to be told not to come again simply because they didn’t fancy sitting right to the end of what was, in all likelihood, going to be a Brentford procession and Smugfest 2017 down at the School End.
These are also your people who go to the away games. Journeying all the way up to Preston tomorrow for example, at extortionate expense, to see a team that hasn’t won away from home in 16 attempts since February. When QPR’s parachute payments end completely at the end of next year it’s this hardcore and their season ticket revenue that will become the biggest income – an income that already doesn’t cover the costs of running the club before a wage is paid. Not only do they not deserve to be turned on, not only can they leave when the bloody well want, but it’s absolutely crucial the club keeps them onside and keeps them spending.
You don’t put the genie back in the bottle with apologies either, though it’s right that he came out and said something. Credit burnt, ice even thinner than it was before, the only way you get out of this is with results. Win at Preston tomorrow, it’s all yesterday’s chip paper. Lose, again, and make it 17 on the road without a win, and don’t expect people to be in conciliatory mood afterwards.
Highlights from QPR’s 1-1 draw on this ground in 1972, secured with a late John O’Rourke goal just days after the sale of Rodney Marsh to Man City.
Team News: Bizarre week for Kazenga LuaLua who Holloway said wasn’t doing enough to be selected, then selected, then sent on for another poor substitute outing, and has now sent back to Brighton following the mutual termination of his loan deal. Another nonsensical episode. So he’s not available this Saturday, and nor is Luke Freeman who serves a one match ban for picking up a fifth yellow card of the season against Brentford on Monday. James Perch (knee knack), Nedum Onuoha (paddywhack), Joel Lynch (foot shmut), Grant Hall (black death) and Darnell Furlong (lost in the woods) are all missing from the defence and Alex Baptiste is apparently “being assessed”, presumably to see if he’s a defender in which case he shall immediately be killed to death. Maybe they’ll let Jack Robinson have a gun.
Preston have midfielder Ben Pearson back from one match on the naughty step.
Elsewhere: Two games tonight to get us started, with Borussia Norwich heading to South Wales for their date on the Eighth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour, and your Sky subscription/Leeds United season ticket giving you the chance to take in the Champions of Europe v Big Racist John and the Boys. Sky have then kindly shifted Middlesbrough’s long trek down to Bristol City to Saturday evening for their own sick perversion tomorrow.
Eight games at 15.00 on Saturday including this week’s thrilling match between two teams beginning with B – Barnsley v Relegated Bolton. Brentford have a chance to top up their 18 points lost from winning positions this season with another West London derby at home to Tarquin and Rupert while there’s a Nigel Clough derby between the Derby Sheep and Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion at Pride Park.
With the early pacesetters Sporting Wolverhampton travelling to Birmingham on Monday there’s a chance for the chasing pack to close ground in the meantime – Sheffield Red Stripes are at Millwall Scholars. The other Sheffield have Allam Tigers, on the verge of another managerial change, at home.
Sunderland v Reading looks like something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Ipswich Blue Sox v Nottingham Trees is also taking place.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson for this one. Bit hot on the cards. Last refereed QPR in a 2-1 loss at Bristol City last Easter. Details of that and full stats available here.
Preston: PNE have won three, drawn four and lost two at Deepdale this season. Those three wins came in the first four home games of the season though, against Sheff Wed, Reading and Cardiff, meaning they come into this without a home victory in five. Bolton, Millwall and Sunderland all drew here recently while Brentford and Villa won. Alex Neil’s side have only won one of the last nine games overall.
QPR: The draw with Brentford snapped a three game losing run for QPR, but the R’s have only won two of the last 13 in the Championship and currently sit seventeenth. They’re severely hampered by an away record of four draws and five defeats from nine matches on the road this season – a winless run that goes back 16 games to Birmingham in February. With the St Andrew’s trip next up on the road after this one perhaps we’ll have to wait for then and the nice symmetry of breaking the duck on the same ground.
Prediction: We’re on fire even if the team isn’t – another correct call, with the right first scorer, for Brentford. The winner of this year’s Prediction League will be furnished with goodies from The Art of Football, but if you don’t fancy your chances then you can browse their QPR Collection here and purchase something instead. Reigning champion Southend Rsss tells us…
“A draw from a game that we looked like having absolutely no chance of getting anything from materialised and at least somewhat saved the abuse from the away following come the final whistle. Clive getting the prediction spot on in the process too. I actually couldn’t make the game due to work commitments again. Sky and these weeknight games are killing me this season. Preston will be a tough test, like pretty much most teams in this division and the only predictable thing is that with our away record, we shouldn’t win. But surely we are going to get this away win sooner rather than later. We just have to!! So I’m going for it and hoping this will be another correct outcome for either me or Clive…”
Craig’s Prediction: Preston 1-2 QPR. Scorer – Conor Washington
LFW’s Prediction: Preston 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Matt Smith
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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