|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 0 Sheffield Wednesday|
Tuesday, 23rd October 2018 Kick-off 19:45
If there's a game on a Tuesday but there's nobody around to hear it... Preview
Tuesday, 23rd Oct 2018 13:27 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, buoyed by a third away win of the season at the weekend, can close on the play-off places (really!) with a win at home to Sheff Wed on Tuesday night, but will anybody be around to see it?
QPR (5-2-6, LLLWDW, 16th) v Sheff Wed (5-4-4, LWDDWL, 11th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Tuesday October 23, 2018 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Dry but cool and breezy >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
And suddenly, just like that, Queens Park Rangers were better away from home than they were at Loftus Road. Three wins and ten points out of the 17 we have in total have come on the road this season, a sign of a coming apocalypse if ever there was one. The weak little boy who was scared to leave the house last season is now going out and mildly beating up other weak little boys having apparently grown marginally stronger by borrowing some weapons from the bigger kids.
If you want to be negative about it - and having sat through 90 minutes of somebody very loudly referring to Luke Freeman and Ebere Eze as “fucking shit” and suggesting very forcefully that Steve McClaren might like to substitute them both immediately during a comfortable 2-0 away win on Saturday I know you’re out there – then the fixture list has been kind over the past few weeks. Having laid eyes on Millwall, Bolton, Ipswich, Birmingham and Reading inside a month, and taken 13 points from 15 available, it’s pretty clear that they’re the dregs of this division along with Hull and a couple of other potential basket cases.
Don’t get me wrong, you need to beat these sides. This time a year ago we were only drawing with Burton, Bolton and Sunderland so it’s a real fillip to see us being all un-QPR like and dispatching these teams. And in a league as distinctly mediocre as the Lancashire and District Senior League the gap between the crap sides and the half decent ones is very thin indeed. But amongst that run we’ve played three slightly better sides, losing 3-0 and 1-0 without having a shot and drawing 1-1 with Frank Lampard’s Derby County. It’ll be interesting to see how we go this week against a Sheff Wed side that has started slightly better than I expected given their transfer embargo and ongoing injury problems, and Aston Villa who are underachieving for the talent they have at their disposal but have a new manager in place in time for the game.
While we wait, more exciting news from our old chum(p), Football League CEO Shaun Harvey. You may recall from previous columns that Harvey has somehow risen to lead the Football League despite taking Bradford City and Leeds United into administration while he was CEO there, and using Leeds’ in-house radio station to harass a former director in breach of Ofcom rules. While in charge he has allowed Coventry City, Blackpool and Hull City to be maliciously run into the ground by their owners, while trying to force financial prudency on QPR by fining us just shy of £20m.
His brilliant ideas to what I believe wankers call “build the brand” of his product have included playing all the long distance away matches on a Tuesday night, resulting in such nonsense as Plymouth at Carlisle and Grimsby at Colchester during a midweek forcing time off work, expensive midweek travel and hotel accommodation on skint clubs with working class fan bases. Brentford go to Preston tomorrow while we host Sheff Wed tonight, then next month we play Brentford at home on a Saturday – round of a-fucking-pplause lads. He also thought it would “give the League Cup maximum exposure in the UK (!!), China and the South East Asian market” by holding the draw for last year’s third round at 4am UK time in Beijing – with no television coverage of it in the UK, China or the South East Asian market. And he continues to double down on his spiffing idea of allowing the Premier League clubs to field their hoarded collections of never-to-be-seen again U23s, mixed with the likes of Charlie Adam, in the Football League Trophy, resulting in the total collapse of attendance and interest in the competition.
He's an ideas man is Shaun, each one more catastrophically dim than the last, and his latest gem is to make all the midweek games he previously made un-attendable by having them at the other end of the country available to stream or watch on Sky’s red button service. So now, even if you were minded to go from Brentford to Preston or Sheffield to Shepherd’s Bush on a working Tuesday, you don’t have to, you can sit at home in the warm and watch it there. Tonight’s match can be bought from the QPR website, or watched on the red button. The Times reported at the weekend that this has already seen attendances at midweek Championship fixtures fall by 8.8% this season when compared to Saturday games – the usual drop off is closer to 4.5%. Harvey says it is “too early to tell” if it’s had an effect but will be “closely monitored”. Are you going to Rotherham next month? No, me neither.
He's an old fashioned moron this bloke.
Christ they even look alike.
Anyway, while Shaun is closely monitoring whether making clubs do 500 mile round trips on winter Tuesday nights and then making the matches widely available to stream or watch on TV has any negative affect on attendances, let’s consider here whether it actually matters? I mean, ticket money ceased being the most important thing to Premier League clubs a long time ago in the face of eye-watering rises in the broadcast rights, and this new Championship initiative comes as part of a new deal with Sky that will see income to the league’s members rise from £88m a season currently to £120m from next year. So what does it matter if we’re only taking 200 to Rotherham on a Tuesday instead of 600?
It's also worth saying that even the technologically limited are usually able to find streams of Championship games online anyway, with a minimum of fuss. Not that I’d condone that behaviour or ever engage in it myself, you understand. So they may as well get with the times and try and make a bit of legitimate money from the direction live sport is clearly heading in.
But you’d have to be a complete dunce, or Football League CEO, to believe this won’t have a serious effect on attendances, and while that may not matter financially when weighed against the broadcast deal that’s brought it in, it does devalue the product medium and long term. Croatia and England’s whispered 0-0 draw on Friday night a timely reminder of what football looks, sounds and feels like as a spectacle without a crowd there.
We are quickly moving from a country with highly competitive, professional leagues right down to the fifth and sixth tier, and two keenly fought over domestic cup competitions, with full stadiums and revered atmosphere, to one where league placings are dictated entirely by clubs’ financial income, the cup competitions are devalued to the point of being pointless, and there are thousands of empty seats.
Only a handful of clubs can ever win the Premier League and the rest don’t even try, but nor do they try for one of the cups less it jeopardise their chance of getting to or staying in the league they can’t possibly ever win. Throw in extortionate ticket prices that make it prohibitive to attend regularly, and blanket television coverage which means you don’t have to anyway, and you’re well on your way to achieving what Italy did in taking Serie A from the pinnacle of the sport in the mid-1990s to something that, outside the big five or six teams, is sub-standard football played in front of tiny crowds. Unless you want to fight, there’s really no point in going.
English football seems to have watched that happen, and thought it looks and sounds like a jolly good idea. Devalue the very product the TV companies were so desperate to get their hands on in the first place. It’s the most backwards forwards thinking I’ve ever heard of. But then it’s nothing that we haven’t come to expect from the people that run what used to be our game. See you tonight, unless you’re stopping at home to watch it.
Geoff Cameron Facts #8 – Geoff stood in for Human League bass and keyboard player Ian Burden at their January 1987 gig at the Hammersmith Odeon after Burden said he “couldn’t be arsed with it any more”. Burden left the band later that year.
Team News: Everybody appeared to come through Saturday’s win at Ipswich relatively unscathed although with three games in six days this week there is always the possibility of rotations – particularly up front where Nahki Wells and Tomer Hemed are currently job sharing the lone striker role. Grant Hall was back on the bench at Portman Road after more than 18 months out injured but is someway off a start. Darnell Furlong continued his comeback from knee surgery with another run for the U23s against Millwall at Harlington on Monday. Two places on the Conor Washington Finishing and Self Belief Half Term Soccer School are up for grabs for any sighting of Sean Goss.
Wednesday’s squad looked like Emergency Ward Six when they were soundly beaten here in April. Things have eased slightly on that front but Rangers will still be grateful to know that Fernando Forestieri remains sidelined and Marco Matias can’t get a babysitter for tonight so hasn’t travelled. Sam Winnall, who Ian Holloway was hoping to sign last summer, remains out long term with an exploded knee and associated hamstring problem – sounds like one of ours already.
Elsewhere: Amidst all the felating of Marcelo Bielsa and celebrations of another league title won in August and viral YouTube clips of goals scored on the end of a bazillion passes… nobody seems to have quite noticed that the Champions of Europe have only won two of their last nine games, and were beaten again at the weekend at Blackburn. Still, best not crow too much, Ipswich Blue Sox at home for them tomorrow night and judging by Saturday’s performance I’d back myself to pick a team from our message board to give them a game. Almost certainly a big fat home win.
Another cert on tonight’s coupon comes at the Riverside where you’d have to fancy Middlesbrough, with just seven goals conceded from 13 games so far and eight clean sheets already, to win to nil against Rotherham, who’ve scored the joint fewest goals in the Football League.
Couple of form teams hosting a couple of sides underperforming – Sheffield Red Stripes at home to Stoke and their increasingly bitchy and whiny manager Gary Rowett, Borussia Norwich host Big Racists John and the Boys where Dean Smith is just getting his feet under the table. Tricky games to Call at Swansea v in form Blackburn and struggling Millwall at home to high flying Wigan. Pray for all souls on board Birmingham v Reading.
Four games unmentioned so far on the Wednesday, including Preston hosting Brentford who will almost certainly be the best side they’ve played so far this season. Rock bottom Allam Tigers at Bristol City looks a lost cause and Frank Lampard’s Derby County at West Brom is undoubtedly the game of the week. Nottingham Trees go to Bolton.
Good news, there’s more of this rubbish on Friday! Bad news, it’s us.
Referee: It’s newbie for both teams tonight as John Brooks from Leicester takes charge of both QPR and Sheff Wed for the first time. Stats from his two and a bit seasons on the Football Legaue list available here.
QPR: Having only won three away games all last season, QPR have now won three of seven in the league this season. Saturday’s 2-0 at Ipswich was also the fifth clean sheet kept in 2018/19 so far, compared to seven in the whole of 2017/18. However, the home form isn’t quite as hot – Rangers are seventh in the Championship for away results with ten points from seven games (only Leeds, Boro, Sheff Utd, Norwich, Bristol City and Blackburn are better) but they’re twentieth on home form above only Bolton, Reading, Hull and Ipswich with seven points from six. Last season they won 12, drew five and lost six at home which was the same as sixth-placed Derby. This year Sheff Utd (1-2), Bristol City (0-3) and Norwich (0-1) have already won here while Frank Lampard’s Derby County (1-1) have drawn. The two goals scored in the first half at Ipswich was as many as the R’s had managed in their previous five matches. The Portman Road win continued a run of holding onto leads – QPR have won 22 and drawn seven of the last 29 games in which they’ve taken the lead. They also remain one of three teams in the league not to have conceded from a corner.
Sheff Wed: The Owls arrive at Loftus Road on a fairly indifferent run of three wins, three draws and three defeats from their last nine games in all comps. The three wins, however, have all come away from home at Reading, Villa and Bristol City (all 2-1) with a 2-1 loss at Nottingham Trees mixed in there to spoil the run. The 2-1 loss at home to Middlesbrough on Sky on Friday night meant Jos Luhukay’s side is still searching for its first clean sheet of the season after 13 games. Seven of their games have finished 2-1 one way or the other already.
Prediction: Both of us hopelessly overestimated Ipswich at the weekend with our 1-1 predictions, and reigning champ Elliott is unavailable this week so you’re stuck with me to try and call this one with Sheff Wed. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’sQPR collection.
Wednesday are quite like ourselves last season, in that they don’t keep clean sheets but rarely score more than two goals of their own – naturally this results on a lot of 2-1s either way. With QPR not scoring more than twice in a game all season I’m certainly not going to stray too far from that tonight and I think/hope the availability of Hemed and Wells versus the unavailability of Forestieri might swing it in our favour. LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Sheff Wed. Scorer – Ebere Eze
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