The view from the Pu - December
Thursday, 3rd Jan 2019 16:15 by Steve Hardy
A first ever win at Nottingham Forest, an unbeaten Christmas, and a Joel Lynch appearance on Boxing Day - Steve Hardy was full of admiration (and shock) at QPR's breakout December.
I feel like this month has gone on forever (a bit like a standard season in the Championship), so much has happened since I last wrote. Overall though a very good month, especially by our standards, with six games played giving us three wins, two defeats and a draw. Let’s start with the positives:
Let me start with Pav. Honestly does this guy ever stop running? I have a firm belief that he doesn’t even have a car, I just reckon he runs everywhere like some sort of Polish Forrest Gump. I feel with some people the jury is still out with Pav but for me I have always felt that he needs a decent run in the team being played in the same position and we would finally start to see the best of him and I feel that this season especially this has happened. He’s currently our joint top goal scorer and despite the copious amounts of games that the festive season cooks up he still looks very fresh. A real positive for us this season and full credit to Steve McClaren for getting the best out of him, long may it continue.
Moving on I want to talk about the position that we are ending the year in. Who would have thought after that Bristol City game that come the end of the year we would be sitting in eighth position with 38 points to our name just four points shy of a play off place (I write this pre Villa)? I’m sticking to my guns with my theory that when you lose the first four games of a season your primary objective is safety and I will be more than delighted with a mid-table finish given our turgid start to the campaign. However, if I take the blue and white spectacles off lets look at this realistically. We are in eighth position so you would have to consider us in with a chance of the play offs, if it was any other team in our position I would be saying they have a chance of finishing in the top six. So (I think) what I’m trying to say is enjoy it (that’s if you aren’t already), the second half of this season does have the opportunity to get genuinely exciting and again credit to McClaren for turning this season into what it currently is. Having experienced the Premier League though I’d just be happy with a cup run.
Now I’ve got the short bits out of the way let’s talk about the best thing to happen this month, and while I think of it probably this season. Saturday December 22, after 34 failed attempts stretching all the way back to 1934, Queens Park Rangers Football Club finally won a game at the City Ground, Nottingham. Like Clive mentioned in his match report at the time and on reflection it does seem so incredibly small time to be celebrating what is ultimately a victory in a run of the mill league game like a Champions League final but I don’t care, the feeling in that away end at full time was exceptional and something that I will remember for the rest of my days. The chap in the row in front of me was telling me that he has lived in Nottingham all his life and I could genuinely see how much it meant to him, he was in his 50’s so I can only imagine what it must have been like constantly having the piss taken out of him by his Forest supporting mates every time we played there. Ironically I actually have a rather decent record at the City Ground, this was my fifth visit and in that time I’ve only seen us lose once so with that victory my record there isn’t too shabby, don’t get me started on Deepdale though, one for next season maybe?
Talking of things happening that you would never have even dreamed of at the start of August, how many people had Joel Lynch down as a Boxing Day goal scorer? I know he missed the game at Forest with those most threatening of injuries - dead leg - but who honestly thought he would be playing on December 26 and 29 this year, let alone scoring a goal. Without blowing too much smoke up McClaren’s arse another thing that he has managed to get out of the R’s this season is Lynch playing over the festive period, maybe his passport has expired or it has something to do with that contract expiring in June or is it because a winter break will be in force in the Premier League from next season?
All in all one of the best December’s I can remember, a win at Forest and a Joel Lynch Boxing Day goal - Christmas miracles do happen.
If you haven’t guessed I’ve been thoroughly impressed with our December efforts so there’s nothing too drastic from my point of view in this section, which is a good thing I suppose. What a time to be alive.
That rumour about Adel Taarabt, what was that all about? I know it’s clearly his agent peddling a load of nonsense but did anybody for a second take that seriously? If you did then you need to have a serious word with yourself. I suppose what I’m moaning about here is more the quality of journalism more than anything else and I know it’s a sign of the clickbait times that we currently live in but in all honesty it would take about ten minutes of research to find out that with the current set up at the Hoops we wouldn’t entertain a signing a like this, coupled with the fact that we are under a transfer embargo for January. Very entertaining though watching my Old Man think that we were re-signing him.
Although the month has finished better than any of us imagined, it didn’t start well. That Hull game had all the feelings - performance and atmosphere wise - of a testimonial, and I was as guilty as anyone of turning up expecting us to win easy. It was a strange game and a real reminder that in the Championship anyone can beat anyone on their day but my word that was an anti-climax, a lesson for us all I suppose. One thing I will say though is how on earth were Hull as low as they were, I thought that looked pretty decent and their form since has them top of the form table, I suppose it’s just another example of how tight the division is this season.
Although it was way back at the beginning of the month my final ‘bad’ point for the month was that cup draw. I always say that the only thing worse than all Premier League ties is all Championship ties and we seem to be the masters of getting these. Two out of the last three seasons we have ended up with all Championship ties and they always seem to be at home, it really doesn’t appear to be that random does it. All we want is an away game to a new ground or a game that actually have a chance of winning - although I don’t think they exist. Hopefully with the progress we have shown this season a cup victory could be on the cards, I’m not holding my breath though.
Touch wood we seem to have been behaving ourselves over the last few months so I reserve my final words for Mr McClaren. Obviously we all know his history in relation to umbrellas and the weather but I feel like the poor bloke can’t seem to catch a break, I can’t remember it raining so much in half a season before. The games that spring to for me are Derby (h), Brentford (h), Blackburn (a) and Middlesbrough (h) and I’m sure I have missed some off there but what I seem to recall from these games is that it didn’t just rain, it hammered it down. You’ve gotta feel for the man standing down there, soaked to the skin for another time and all he wants is a poxy umbrella but we all know that he can’t have one. Here’s hoping for a drier second half to the season.
Happy New Year everyone!
December grade – B+
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When Saturday Comes #15 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
This week, When Saturday Comes the U’s find themselves on an international break and a weekend off for the WAGs to get in some Christmas shopping. Just as well too, given the U’s have inconsiderately eased past AFC Sudbury to deny them the customary FA Cup Second Round break in December to do likewise. We wait to hear who our opponent will be at the JobServe – it’ll be either top of League One Wigan Athletic or Cameron Coxe’s National League parent club Solihull Moors, who replay at Damson Park on Tuesday evening. Incidentally, Solihull Moors may be part of history being made today, with their match at Meadow Lane already expected to easily top 10,000, and may break the record attendance for that league, which currently stands at 11,083 when Bristol Rovers faced Alfreton Town in 2015.
When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
A relegation six-pointer already, seriously! Grim news so early in a season which had such promise, but that may well turn out to be the reality when the dust settles in May. On the eve of All-Hallows Eve, I’m wondering whether the U’s will have served up Trick or Treat by 5pm this afternoon. Plenty has been written over the last week by supporters, the press, even the Chairman about the protests during and after the Sutton United rocky horror football show, and whilst everyone has the right to voice their opinion on the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch, that doesn’t give anyone (even the Chairman) the right to be abusive – it’s not big, it’s not clever, and if anything it undermines the validity of that opinion.
When Saturday Comes #11 by wessex_exile
This blog is a little earlier than usual, to give me and Alfie time to load up the car and sally forth for our first awayday of the season together, on the road to Vale Park – “He who would valiant be, 'gainst all disaster, let him in constancy follow the Master”. Not quite sure who the master is in that analogy, but let’s hope it’s Hayden Mullins on Saturday. All being well, I’m looking forward to catching up with fellow U’sual boarders (Noah, Durham maybe?, anyone else) when I get there. I won’t be meeting up with Clampin (Covid) or Judge (calf injury) who will miss out on making the trip, nor of course Tchamadeu (see below).
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