|Ipswich Town 0 v 2 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 20th October 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Ipswich, without a home win, face QPR… - Preview
Friday, 19th Oct 2018 18:48 by Clive Whittingham
Back from the international break, back on the train, back on the beers, it's Queens Park Rangers travelling to an Ipswich Town team that hasn’t won a home game all season long in a film you’ve almost certainly seen before.
Ipswich Town (1-6-5, 23rd) v QPR (4-2-6, WLLLWD, 18th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday October 20, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – It’s gonna be a bright, bright sunshiney day >>> Portman Road, Ipswich, Suffolk
This preview was originally going to begin and end simply with: “Something about John Jensen.” But then Ipswich bloody won last week didn’t they, for the first time this season at the eleventh attempt, 3-2 away to a team that had torn us a new arse the week before. So now, even allowing for the fact that Charity Park Rangers are the perfect house guests for a team that hasn’t won in six attempts at home so far this season, we’re probably going to have to write a proper one. Or, at least, as proper as we ever bother doing these days.
From a QPR perspective, Town are one of the more intriguing opponents we’ll face this season. Now, as we know, the Lancashire and District Senior League is a vast, beige, vacuum, utterly devoid of life, hope, joy and creativity, and praising a team within it as interesting just because it’s easy to write the match preview about them is damning them with fainter praise than telling somebody they’re the most attractive person in a Dunstable nightclub.
Does Dunstable have nightclubs? God bless you Google. Not only does it have nightclubs, apparently one of them is called Arousal. I love this job sometimes.
Anyway, sorry, what? Oh yeh, Ipswich.
You may recall last season that amidst growing pressure from a dwindling support base, the Mick Mac Paddy Sack was finally enacted. Or, rather, Big Mick was told his contract wouldn’t be renewed at the end of the season and so he hung around for a few long weeks until they finally cobbled together something resembling a 1-0 win against eventually relegated Barnsley allowing him to march defiantly out of his own accord saying he “started on a win and finished on a win”. Technically true, but Jesus. H. Christ.
This prompted football’s learned scholars, and Peter Beagrie, who’d seen the square root of fuck all of Ipswich all season, to start sucking their teeth and telling those people who had they should be very careful what they wished for. And now they all look like flipping geniuses don’t they, because having gone for the bright young thing from League One, and finally spent the sort of money they never gave McCarthy on the sort of excellent young boys from the divisions below he’d never have signed in a month of wet Sundays, Town have won only one of their first 12 games and sit second bottom of the table. Complaints about how bored you are at 16 straight seasons in the Championship start to look rather silly when you spend the seventeenth swapping it for midweek games at Rochdale.
We always use Rochdale for that example don’t we? Sorry Rochdale. Their nightclub is called Essence apparently. Essence Rochdale. Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, the Ko-Ko Kobana “Lounge”.
It, potentially, looks from the outside like McCarthy was indeed the glue holding a poor team together and keeping its head just above water despite limited resources. That Ipswich, all ungrateful like, have jumped overboard with a bell weight. That we live in a world where Steve Claridge is right. As if life wasn’t bleak enough already.
This is interesting from a QPR point of view (honestly, it is). Post-Ian Holloway if you’d said Rangers were going for Paul Hurst, fresh from a couple of miraculous performances in notoriously awkward jobs at Grimsby and Shrewsbury, and not only that but he was going to bring the cream of the lower league talent he’d spotted along the way - including League One’s outstanding talent last year Jon Nolan - with him… well some of us would have been quite excited by that. Waves.
Instead, we went for the Mick McCarthy-style bloke everybody has heard of – Steve McClaren. And he’s gone for the players everybody has heard of – Nahki Wells, Tomer Hemed, Geoff Cameron and Angel Rangel to Ipswich’s Nolan, Gwion Edwards (Peterborough), Ellis Harrison (Bristol Rovers) and Kayden Jackson (Accrington). And the team, after a dire start, is already into a safety-first ascent towards the 50-point mark, with four wins achieved so far to Ipswich’s one. And… well some of us have been quite bored by this. Waves.
It looks like we’re, at best, contrary and, at worst and probably more likely, plain wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. Wouldn’t be the first time this week. You can point to any number of things: Hurst’s performance so far at Ipswich; the difference Nahki Wells has made to the way we look and feel as a team; how the defence has tightened up since Rangel replaced Osman Kakay at full back; Ben Gladwin, Nasser El Khayati, Ariel Borysiuk and Connor Washington; and so on and on and on. You can point to just how awful Peterborough (second in League One) and Bristol Rovers looked in the cup at Loftus Road this season and you can say that all this hippy crap about youth teamers and lower league prospects is all well and good but in a tough league like the Championship you need seasoned, hardened, grizzled Paul Robinson tribute acts managed by Big Mick or Tracksuit Tony or Uncle Neil, who are “football people” and understand things about football that us mere non “football people” could never possibly comprehend.
And, you know what, you’re probably right. Sad face.
But I’m doubling down. No, you put that drink down. Ipswich were right to ditch Mick. I don’t mind him as much as some, I find his interview schtick entertaining, he’s done some excellent jobs in his time including at Ipswich, he seems like a genuinely stand up, decent guy, he’s making for an erudite and knowledgeable TV pundit… but even he’d admit it had gone stale at Portman Road and his time there was up. Even if this goes massively wrong for them, even if they do go down, even if Hurst is a disaster, they were right to at least try. At one point last season, their sixteenth consecutive campaign at this level, they went through seven and a half hours of football at home without scoring a single goal. You can’t bore people like that and expect them to keep paying £30 and turning up, and even if you could why would you? What’s the point? This is supposed to be sport isn’t it? Clubs are usually way too quick to ditch managers, who are often just an easy scapegoat, but that's rarely the case at Ipswich and absolutely wasn't here. That will still be true, even if the change they chose doesn’t work.
And for QPR? Well that boredom factor is real. This is our fourth year back at this level and we could very easily become ‘the new Ipswich’, the perpetual Championship mainstay – eighteenth now, sixteenth last season, eighteenth the season before, twelfth the season before that. The support base is very understanding as to why, with the Financial Fair Play rules horribly distorting this level of our sport and making it increasingly difficult for clubs in QPR and Ipswich’s position, and the disgusting overspend of our recent past now hanging round us like a millstone. But attendances are down, apathy is high, optimism is non-existent. If you’re going to try and plod through this Godforsaken league with no chance of winning the thing, then you may as well do it taking a few punts on kids and lower league prospects than begging for one of the bigger boys to lend you some of his lunch money. Holloway would have killed for strikers of Hemed and Wells’ standard last season, and we won’t be able to afford players like them on loan in 12 months’ time with no parachute payments, and yet we’ve scored a Football League-low total of nine times this season with them and are in exactly the same league position we were without.
Conclusion? We’re both in a tight spot. I admire Ipswich for chucking some caution to the wind to try and get out of it, even though at the moment it looks like it’s going badly. I admired QPR’s attempt to do likewise last season more than I’m enjoying our attempt to finish in exactly the same position with players we never have any hope of owning. But I’m wrong, almost certainly. Nolan’s been Ipswich’s worst player. It’s all lies, but they’re entertaining lies, and in the end isn’t that the real truth? The answer, is no.
Geoff Cameron Facts #7 – Geoff once denounced Australian singer-songwriter Natalie Imbruglia as a “silly little girl” in the US edition of Vogue after she’d described the Large Hadron Collider operated by the European Organization for Nuclear Research as “boring and shit”.
Team News: Jake Bidwell did not fracture his collarbone against Derby as first feared and should be fit to retake his place at left back here. Just as well, because while long termer Darnell Furlong did return to action in the U23’s impressive win against West Ham last week, a first team return from the start would be a tall order following his summer knee injury. A Bidwell absence opens up all manner of unappetising prospects involving square pegs, round holes and Alex Baptiste. I’m of the growing opinion that there will be a manned mission to Mars before Grant Hall makes it through a senior game for QPR again, and we’re offering two tickets on that flight for any sighting of Sean Goss.
Now you know that hilarious thing we usually do here where we tell you the opposition players that are out and then make up weird and wonderful reasons why? Well, in a truth is stranger than fiction moment, quite a few of the Ipswich players have actually got the shits, which has rather stolen our thunder. Luke Chambers and Barry Cotter are among those competing in the 78th annual autumn Through The Eye of a Needle Championships. Tom Adeyemi is set for more surgery on an ankle damaged in pre-season, but Trevor Chalobah has recovered from the perpetual hickups that kept him out of England’s U20 games during the week. Jonas Knudsen was dropped at Swansea for being too good looking but may be recalled here after agreeing to let himself go a bit and start wearing some clobber from Marks and Spencer.
Elsewhere: The return of the Lancashire and District Senior League after a two week absence has me like a kid at Christmas time – only in one of those weird families that only puts fruit and stuff made out of wood in their stockings because that’s how it was during the war.
To satisfy the cravings ahead of Saturday, the thin nourishing gruel of Sheffield Owls against that bastard Middlesbrough team of Tony Pulis' is on Sky Sports Leeds tonight. Then on Sky Sports Leeds tomorrow, Leeds (against somebody else, irrelevant, name escapes me, up north somewhere I think).
Brave new era at Aston Villa, who are one more missed promotion away from a Financial Fair Play nightmare deeper and darker than the folds in Chris Martin’s back fat. They’ve gone for Dean Smith, a Villa fan and manager of Brentford who are the best team Villa have played for several years, with John Terry lurking within stabbing distance behind him as “assistant”. This after it was finally determined that Steve Bruce probably should have been able to pull the odd win or two out of a squad containing Tammy Abraham, Jack Grealish, Albert Adomah, Yannick Bolasie, Jonathan Kodija, Scott Hogan, Conor Hourihane and Henri Lansbury and sent him packing back to the allotment with a cabbage and carriage clock for his service. They’re at home to Swansea on Saturday, who make Labour’s position on Brexit look consistent.
Brentford have looked within for Smith’s replacement, going for Dane Thomas Frank who has been an integral part of the set up there for a couple of years now and was assisting Smith prior to his departure. They will almost certainly still be the best team Bristol City have played this season, in this week’s exciting encounter between two teams beginning with B. Nottingham Trees v Borussia Norwich is that all too rare match between two teams beginning with N. Wigan v West Brom is… I’M SO BORED. SOMEBODY HELP ME.
Reading v Millwall. Rotherham v Bolton. I mean good God help us all. Can there really even be a God when stuff like that is being allowed to take place? At the bottom, Hull are at home to Preston. The horror. The horror. Stoke and Birmmingham. Think I forgot that one. You probably should as well.
And we round it all off with Frank Lampard’s Derby County at home to the Sheffield Red Stripes on the tellybox on Saturday night. Good news is, we’re only three days away from another round of it, and a matter of weeks away from this year’s ‘Poppy-gate’ scandal.
Referee: Geoff Eltringham sent off Nedum Onuoha in our 4-0 loss at Hull City towards the end of last season, so hopefully no repeat of those shenanigans tomorrow. Case file.
Ipswich: Town finally put a first win of the season on the board at the eleventh time of asking away at Swansea (3-2) prior to the international break, just a week after the Swans had run the rounds of the kitchen through QPR in a 3-0 win which doesn’t bode well. They are, obviously, still searching for a first home win of the season so far with draws here against Blackburn (2-2), Villa, Norwich, Brentford (all 1-1) and Bolton (0-0) and a 2-0 televised loss against Middlesbrough. Seven of Town’s 13 games in all comps this season have finished level.
QPR: Goals are proving to be a problem for QPR despite spending money to loan Nahki Wells and Tomer Hemed in from the Premier League. They’ve only got one goal between them in 16 combined appearances and Rangers have only scored twice in their last five games, once each against Derby and Reading. Nine goals is the joint lowest total in the three Football League divisions this season along with Rotherham, Cheltenham and Grimsby – Preston, third bottom of the Championship, have scored twice as many. It has been enough for four wins however, two of those away from home (Reading, Bolton) after winning just three on the road in the whole of last season.
Prediction: Both spot on with a 1-1 call v Derby (not the hardest thing to predict in the world) prior to the international break as the quest for goodies from our sponsor Art of Football continues. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’sQPR collection. Reigning champ Elliott Cooke tells us…
“Back from a two week break which almost felt like rehab. Fingers crossed we’ve managed to survive the international break injury free. That being said, surely Hall and Furlong can’t be far away from featuring? Always tough to call a game after an international break so with it being away, I’ll sit on the fence here…”
Elliott’s Prediction: Ipswich 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Nahki Wells
LFW’s Prediction: Ipswich 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Jon Nolan
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Pictures – Action Images
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