|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Brentford|
Saturday, 10th November 2018 Kick-off 15:00
When curses collide - Preview
Friday, 9th Nov 2018 20:21 by Clive Whittingham
In advance of Saturday's visit from the best team we'll have played all season, Steve McClaren has been presented with the richly deserved/much loathed manager of the month award.
QPR (7-2-7, WDWWWL, 11th) v Brentford (5-6-5, DDLLLW, 13th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday November 10, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Damp, breezy >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
You just knew that Grenfell bonfire story would come back to us didn’t you? Yeh it was in South Norwood; yeh it was perpetuated by the sort of ruddy-faced, brown-toothed, unthinking, foreigner-hating, little Englander scum we’ve come to associate with our neighbours down the road; yeh QPR has done more than most to help the victims of that dire event and anybody with even a passing connection to our club should have known far, far better… but you just knew didn’t you? If it’s kicking off on the front page of the gutter press of this country, we’ll be involved somewhere along the line.
Get a season ticket holder on Strictly Come Dancing? Oooh, whoops, he’s copped off with his married partner. Soz. Invite the Chinese youth team over for a friendly match as part of their UK tour? Aaaah shit, it’s broken out into a mass brawl and turned into a diplomatic incident. Our bad. Couple of players with a dicky tummy at the training ground? Wouldn’t worry about it. Oh no, wait, it’s a meningitis outbreak. Accidentally stumble across an incredibly gifted, bi-lingual, humble, family-loving, drop-dead-gorgeous, future Argentinean international midfielder in the backend of beyond and give him his big chance in Europe? Good for you. Turns out the transfer broke every rule in the book, and your dangerously incompetent sporting director is trying to weasel out of his dodgy deal by producing a letter from his desk drawer in suspiciously familiar handwriting which he says he had all along but forgot to show anybody, including the club’s secretary and lawyers. Whole Championship promotion race and play-offs potentially thrown into a chaos of red tape and legal challenges. Sooooo-rrrreeeeeeeee. Escape from that? Ah well, never mind, now his knee has exploded anyway. Three times.
Fifty eight…. Vauxhall Motors…. Will play….. Number 32…. Queens Park Rangers.
Even the good news, like the long-awaited approval of the Warren Farm Training Ground development received this week, can soon turn on you. The wildlife study has already been done and passed, so if you’re out there tonight drawing fancy lipstick patterns on the back of fire-breathing newts and releasing them into the derelict, Asbestos-riddled changing rooms you’re too late. But a second part of the archaeological study comes next, and you just know there’s a fully formed pterodactyl skeleton under there. Or a Roman burial ground so unique it changes all global teachings on the way they lived and demands a historic preservation order and museum be placed there instead. Or it turns out to be more sinister still, and the merest attempt to level the land and put a football pitch on it plunges all our children into something resembling the third season of Stranger Things from which only Winona Ryder can rescue us. It would be just like QPR to open the gates to the hellmouth while trying to build a training ground. Just. Bloody. Typical.
Like I say, Grenfell bonfire, you just knew, and there it was, hanging in the back of their car, ready and waiting for The S**… a pair of novelty QPR boxing gloves. Fuck my life. A barrage of requests for statements later and the club, which has been unfailingly brilliant ever since that tragedy, is forced to put out a statement denouncing the perpetrators and making it clear they’re no longer welcome at Loftus Road. Being the head of communications at Queens Park Rangers must be like sitting on an electric shock pad to which every three-year-old in the country has a trigger. How would you ever sleep? Every noise in the night you’d shit the bed. What is it this time? Ahhh man, the coroner, I’m so sick of that guy.
Whether horrific bad taste and being a fat, ugly, pig-headed scumbag in the confines of your own back garden is a crime is another matter entirely. It’s very Britain 2018 that the only people arrested in connection with the 72 deaths in those flats is a group of moronic thundercunts who burnt a cardboard box in their back garden. Not like the decimated numbers of police in South London have got anything better to do with their time at the moment is it? How about the odd trip or two to Paddington Police Station for the people who thought it appropriate to house several hundred people in a Roman candle in the first place?
But then, that’s us getting political, which we don’t do, lest we provoke the social media goblins still further. Brexit? Were you saying boooo, or booo-urns?
Anyway, as we knew already, the curse is strong in this one. Every club reckons referees are against them, the FA is against them, life is terrible, they’re cursed, but I’d challenge anybody to go up against our LinkedIn profile. There’s no breaking it. You could collect every fluid ounce of piss Barry Fry has ever henced forth and pour it into every nook, cranny and corner of Loftus Road you could find and it would make no difference. Unpleasant, but certainly a preferable use of your time than sitting through 20 minutes of Good Morning Britain. You just have to work around it, as Uncle Neil did so deftly when it came in the night for lovely, beautiful Ale Faurlin. God I miss Faurlin. Sometimes I just hold onto that photograph of him looking afraid of me at Darlington train station and weep. Play well sweet prince, too good for this cursed place.
Steve ‘Schteve’ McClaren possibly underestimated the curse when he arrived for a second stint here in the summer. Things had gone quite well during his brief first spell with us, but then £100m for players and wages can paper over a lot of curse and he didn’t stay long enough for it to subsequently cost us the biggest fine ever levied against a club, team or organisation in the history of professional sports around the world. Whoops again. An August of four defeats and 13 goals conceded, including the club’s worst defeat since Princess Diana and Kevin Keegan had the same haircut, brought it home loud and clear, and he’s coped with it well. Very well.
But now, just as the QPR press boys thought they’d popped their pills and rocked backwards and forwards and hidden under their desks in the dark just long enough to get to the end of the week, there’s a new problem.
Steve ‘Schteve’ McClaren is the Championship manager of the month for October.
I just… I mean… I’m starting to think Glenn Hoddle might have been onto something. We must have been bloody horrible in a previous life.
Manager of the month is a curse that envelops even the normal. Even those wanker clubs that happily plod along keeping their house in order, managing their finances, making steady progress through divisions and cup competitions, scouting signings and youth prospects and selling them on for a massive profit, owning their training grounds, redeveloping their stadiums… even those bastards have a bit of a dip in form after the manager of the month award.
I thought we’d be safe. Not because Daniel Farke has recovered from a difficult first season in English football and the loss of his best player - James Maddison - just as Norwich’s parachute payments draw to a complete stop to stick eight wins and a draw on the board from ten matches and top the Championship. Not because Neil Harris has rebounded from that lousy start and driven that horrendous looking Millwall side we systematically dismantled in September to three wins and a draw from five games. And not because Garry Monk, with every sodding thing he’s got going on at Birmingham, has taken one of the worst teams at this level over the last three years, under the threat of a hefty points deduction, and gone 11 unbeaten including four straight wins through October.
But because, Frank Lampard of Frank Lampard’s Derby County was nominated as well. And you can come at me and say that Frank Lampard’s Derby County have only actually won four of their last 12 games. And you can say that amidst the festering spunk fest that was his return to Chelsea in the League Cup, they lost 3-2 thanks to a wide-eyed secure unit escapee that he is keeping faith with sloshing one into his own net. Again. And you could say that they actually only won twice during the judging period, in contrast to Millwall. And QPR. And Norwich. And Birmingham. And that even the league’s assertion that he deserved a nomination for an “unbeaten October” was, in fact, incorrect, because, like I say, if you’d care to climb over the mountain of used tissues and notice the game, they did actually lose at Chelsea. But none of that matters. Because is Neil Harris a lovely boy who went to a nice school and speaks Latin and loves his mum and scored loads of goals for ‘the Chels’ and won many caps for an England side that turned even the most nationalistic football supporter against his own national side? No. No he is not. So, Frank Lampard of Frank Lampard’s Derby County would be getting it – obviously - for their “unbeaten” October. That actually included one defeat.
Except no. It’s worse than that. They’ve given the bastard thing to Steve. The first time we've had it since Warnock won it two months in a row eight years ago. And just in time for the visit of Brentford who will (altogether now) almost certainly be the best team that we’ve played all season.
Geoff Cameron Facts #11 – During his student days, Geoff spent time on an Erasmus placement in Paris where he lived in a loft apartment with a group of French performance artists who insisted he referred to them as ‘his hats’.
Team News: So it’s come to this, with the QPR fan base hanging around by the phone waiting for news of Geoff Cameron’s hamstring. Well, having been initially taken to Springfield General Hospital and pronounced ‘dead’, he has since been moved to a better hospital where his condition was upgraded to ‘alive’ so he is set to return to the base of the midfield having missed the defeat at Blackburn a week ago. Tomer Hemed, however, who also missed the trip to Ewood with a groin strain, is likely to miss out again with Nahki Wells therefore likely to lead the line ahead of Ebere Eze. Grant Hall continued his long road back to first team action with another U23 outing against Coventry on Monday. Mide Shodipo is a long term absentee, Darnell Furlong has made it back as far as the bench after his summer knee surgery. Following Callum Wilson’s England call up we’re offering a signed copy of Harry Redknapp’s Guide to Players I’d Definitely Have Signed If I’d Ever Bloody ‘Erd of Them for any sighting of Sean Goss.
Lewis MacLeod is being assessed for a brain strain and may play for the visitors but Kamo Mokotjo is side-lined with a broken heart. Emiliano Marcondes is nearing fitness after an unpleasant incident with a poison dart frog. According to research from St Andrews’ University, more than 2.4 billion years ago the Earth's atmosphere was an inhospitable, methane-rich, haze in which the toxic gasses drove wildly fluctuating surface temperatures. Rico Henry hasn’t been fit to play for Brentford since those days and is struggling to acclimatise, even for fixtures in the Greater London area, so we won’t be seeing him on Saturday either.
Elsewhere: Our final visit to the font of mediocrity prior to the sweet release of the international break and horrible realisation of how little else there is in our lives other than this ultimately meaningless endeavour actually starts with something that looks quite decent on paper – Sheffield Red Stripes and Sheffield Owls competing for Steel City superiority live through the tellybox this evening for yourselves. Glory be.
Tomorrow Sky Sports Leeds are showing…. Leeds, at West Brom, in the evening. That leaves ten games for 15.00 including a second relegation six-pointer for Ipswich Blue Sox and their new manager Paul ‘Paul’ Lambert – it’s Reading away this time, after a draw with Preston Knob End at home a week ago. Reading have won three of four home games of late but steadfastly refuse to do anything other than lose comfortably away from home, except for their game at Brentford where they somehow got a point despite Brentford being easily the best team they’ve played this season.
It’s a big chance for Ipswich this, with a number of other teams around them at the bottom of the table facing tough fixtures. That dire Birmingham team we drew 0-0 with in September had somehow stuck 11 unbeaten matches together including five wins prior to last week’s defeat to Frank Lampard’s Derby County and they’ll likely get back on the horse at home to the Allam Tigers. Ryan Manning inspired Rotherham to a 2-1 comeback win against Swansea a week ago but Blackburn away looks tough. Swansea will be looking to bounce back from that set back with an away game at Bolton. Preston are at Bristol City and Millwall Scholars are at Borussia Norwich, who briefly led the league after a 4-0 win at Hillsborough a week ago. So if Ipswich can get that second win of the season, then my word they might only be two points away from fourth bottom. Bunting at the ready.
Stuff we haven’t mentioned yet includes Frank Lampard’s Derby County at home to Big Racist John and the Boys, and if the yeasty aftertaste of the squelchy televised circle jerk that was the coverage of Chelsea v Frank Lampard’s Derby County hasn’t quite left the back of your throat yet then just be grateful that the captain, leader, bellend hadn’t returned to his two and a half day role at Villa Park when this weekend’s TV games were picked. Will they kiss? Will they use tongues? Will the highlights actually feature any of the on-pitch action? Who knows? And, if we’re honest, who fucking cares?
Stoke v Tony Pulis finished 0-0 a week ago. Could you believe it? Did you see that coming? An electronic microscope built at the cost of millions of pounds to peer inside the atom and tell us about the origins of life as we know it wouldn’t have been able to detect just how surprised I was that this game finished goalless. You could have knocked me off the top of the tallest cliff in the world with the tiniest feather when the news broke via my mobile telecommunications device. If you sat through it, and sadness is your thing, then this weekend it’s Aitor Karanka v Stoke. A veritable thigh rubber if ever there was one. Pulis, meanwhile, is boring the skin off the bone back at his Riverside lair against Wigan Warriors.
Is that it? That’s it. Everybody gets two weeks off now for Wayne Roney’s bring-your-own-brass birthday party, which is being held at Wembley Stadium on Thursday night in the guise of an international friendly.
Referee: James Linington from the Isle of Wight is a regular face at QPR games, last in charge for our 4-1 home win against Norwich at the back end of last season. He’s never refereed a QPR league defeat, though we have been dumped out of the League Cup by lower league sides under his watch twice -nothing unusual there, that applies to half the population. He had four Brentford games at Griffin Park last season and they lost three and drew one of those which sounds good to me. More case history and stats here.
QPR: The defeat at Blackburn ended a five-match unbeaten run that included four wins and four clean sheets. Rangers have a bad recent record at Ewood Park and will be hoping to put the set back behind them quickly because previously this season defeats have come in batches – four straight losses in the league in August, three defeats in a week in all comps in September. Prior to the loss at Rovers, Rangers had kept seven clean sheets this season including three in three games the week before – equal to the number they kept in the whole of last season. At home they’ve won four, drawn one and lost three. Overall this season QPR have scored 15 league goals – Brentford’s Neal Maupay has 11 on his own. Having gone 50 years without a defeat to the Bees, Rangers are now without a win in five going back to March 2016 when Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s team won 3-0 at Loftus Road with goals from Junior Hoilett, Seb Polter and Tjaronn Chery.
Brentford: The Bees failed to win any of their first eight league games last season which meant they missed out on a play-off spot despite only losing eight of the remaining 38 across the rest of the season. This year is threatening to be the opposite way around, with a tremendous start to the campaign of four wins two draws and one loss from the first seven games lifting them into the early promotion picture before an eight game winless run more recently (four draws, four defeats) was snapped with last weekend’s 2-0 home victory against Millwall. Thomas Frank started with three straight defeats after succeeding Dean Smith, losing to Bristol City, Norwich (both 1-0) and Preston (4-3). They’re yet to win on the road this season (four draws, four defeats) though they conceded equalisers in the 90th and 88th minutes at Villa and Leeds having led. A running theme from last season, when they led the league in this – their 11 points dropped from winning positions this year is second only to Villa and Blackburn with 12.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football, with prizes available for the Christmas leader and overall champion. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last year’s champion Elliott was right that the good run would come to an end at Blackburn, and this week he tells us…
“Finally we welcome back a 15.00 kick off at Loftus Road on a Saturday. And what better way to return than a ‘nice’ London derby. I feared for Brentford when Dean Smith departed and it looks like they’re in for a struggle now. What they do have is a goalscorer in Maupay so we’ll have to keep him quiet. With Cameron hopefully back in the team and a good week’s training I actually quite fancy us.”
Elliott’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Brentford. Scorer – Nahki Wells
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-0 Brentford. Scorer – Nahki Wells
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Pictures – Action Images
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