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Derby County 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Monday, 22nd April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
QPR's crawl to finish line reaches Derby - Preview
Sunday, 21st Apr 2019 15:21 by Clive Whittingham

Just the three games to go now, starting on Easter Monday with a difficult looking trip to Derby. Mind you they're all difficult when you're playing like QPR are at the moment.

Derby (17-13-12, DWDLWD, 8th) v QPR (13-9-21, DLLDWL, 17th)

Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Monday April 22, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – It burns, it burns >>> Pride Park, Derby

I stuck the Four Year Plan on yesterday for want of something better to do with my time and, well, because couldn’t we all do with a QPR story that has a happy ending as opposed to another kick in the nuts?

Among the catalogue of nonsense goings on is Flavio Briatore’s angry board meeting with 0-0 enthusiast Paulo Sousa where the former Juventus, Borussia Dortmund and Benfica midfielder, of 52 international caps standing, has it explained to him by a man whose talents extend to restaurants, clothing ranges, formula one cars, fraud, and balancing underwear models on his balls without having a heart attack, that draws in football are a waste of time. “The difference between lose and draw is one point,” says Briatore, dismissing Sousa’s notoriously cautious approach during his brief time in charge at Loftus Road. "Four four two, four four two, four four two, four four two, four four two, four four two, four four two. Four four two, four four two, four four two, four four two," Flav said.

Well, wouldn’t you credit it, Big Flav was right. By so many statistical measures, QPR should be relegated this season. Only the bottom two, Bolton (27) and Ipswich (23), have lost more than Rangers’ 21 defeats. Rotherham and Millwall, third and fourth bottom, have lost 19 each, Wigan 20 and Reading 18. Only the bottom three have conceded more goals than QPR’s 67. Only the bottom three have a worse goal difference than our -16. QPR have now lost ten home games this season, which equals the club record set previously in 2016/17, 1968/69 and 1949/50. Only Bolton (14) have lost more. The last time we were relegated from this division we only lost eight at home all season. Only four teams, including all the bottom three, have let in more goals at home than our 31. And it’s not like the away form has been brilliant either. QPR have won only four on the road this season, including against the bottom two, which is the same as Bolton who are second bottom. No team in the Football League has taken as few points in 2019 as our nine.

And yet there we are, in seventeenth, eight points away from the drop zone with only nine left to play for. To get relegated from here Rangers would need to lose their remaining three games and Rotherham would need to beat Birmingham home, West Brom away and Middlesbrough at home. Millwall would need to win two out of Villa away, Stoke and Bristol City at home, and Wigan away. Wigan would have to win two of Birmingham home, Preston away and Millwall at home. Reading would need to win one of West Brom home, Middlesbrough away and Birmingham at home. Given that Birmingham are a point below us and play Rotherham away, Wigan at home and Reading away then even if that does all happen it’s likely they’d be the ones to go.

And the reason is the lack of draws. Just nine all season. Only Swansea, Bolton (both eight) and Leeds (seven) have finished level in games less often. QPR have either won or they’ve lost and those 13 wins is more than anybody else in the bottom eight has managed. It’s saved them in a season that is one Nottingham Forest win at Loftus Road next week away from being the worst for defeats at our own ground in the history of the club.

I made a comment at the end of the Blackburn match report earlier this weekend that I’ve started to hear “I’m not renewing” from season ticket holders I never, ever thought would say it. That’s a statement of fact. I also said you can’t really blame them, which has provoked some debate in the comments underneath and on the message board.

It’s always a thorny one with football supporters this, because part of the deal is you support you club through thick and thin. As Marc Bircham recently said, we’re not QPR fans for all the success and good times, we’re QPR fans because it’s our club. Sitting through years and years of awfulness makes the good times we do have taste all the sweeter. It’s part of what gives us a special bond together as a support group, unlike other clubs who have more money, more supporters, more success, and have come to take things for granted so much they completely ignore cup and European fixtures and don’t even sell out cup semi-finals or finals at Wembley. To walk away from QPR now because they’re a bit shit, only to no doubt come trotting back out of the woodwork on a high horse about why you deserve a ticket next time we do have an occasion like the Leeds game at the end of 2010/11, is the sort of thing we laugh at Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal and others for isn’t it? Fair-weather. Disloyal. What else you going to do on a Saturday? This is our club, we stick together through tough times.

But then QPR, and more accurately modern football in general, has rather made its bed on this one. Football supporters are treated as consumers now. Three new strips, every single season, £50 apiece. The Premier League clubs now even do a better quality of replica shirt, the same as the players wear, for upwards of 100 notes. When you buy a ticket, there’s a booking fee – just like there is at a concert or a theatre show. If you decide you want to roll up and pay on the day because it’s nice weather and you’re at a loose end, it’s considerably more to do that than if you bought your ticket a month in advance – just like it is if you’re using an airline, or a train company, or a coach service. Football managers and football players trot out carefully crafted, media-trained opinions which often bear little relation to the truth – just like company spokesmen and politicians do. Everything is over-hyped, over-priced, over-commercialised and plastered head to toe in sponsorship. It’s a business, not a sport, and the people who come to watch it are customers, not supporters.

Well, if you treat people like customers, don’t be surprised when they start behaving like them. The standards QPR have achieved since the New Year are unacceptable for any professional football club, and they’re certainly unacceptable for one as proud as ours. Most people will renew because it’s what we do – I’ve renewed – but some will not, because they’re not enjoying going to the matches, and/or because they want to make it clear to the players and the club that this isn’t acceptable and vote with their feet just as you would a restaurant or shop that gave you lousy service.

As Myke perceptively said in the match report comments, the win last week against Swansea perversely makes this worse, because they showed there that they can actually do it, they are good enough, it is within them, but for the most part over the last six weeks they just haven’t been arsed. Of course it’s catch 22, because by walking away because you demand better you’re denying the club the money it needs to try and make those improvements. But if the players can’t be bothered to do any more than they did on Friday against Blackburn, less than a week after they showed what they are actually capable of against Swansea, well then don’t be that surprised if a section of the support base can’t be bothered to fork over their £400-500 for potentially more of the same next season.

Links >>> Inconsistent Rams – Interview >>> Bowles leads Baseball Ground charge -History >>> Webb in charge again – Referee

Monday

Team News: QPR could well have Toni Leistner and Angel Rangel back after they missed Friday’s home defeat to Blackburn through illness and a calf problem respectively (Leistner was well enough for the bench) but lost two more players during that game with Jordan Cousins suffering a horrible looking knee injury and Joel Lynch lolloping off towards bag drop for his latest sabbatical. Geoff Cameron seems to have fallen out of favour altogether since John Eustace took over – weird how these things go isn’t it, favourite player of the previous manager but not worth a place in the team according to his assistant – but will surely be involved here given the quick turnaround and mounting injury problems. Matt Smith scored off the bench at the weekend and could be in from the start here against a team that struggles to deal with crosses and set pieces. Or, you know, pure QPR, will stick a midget up front and play with no wingers.

Duane Holmes has slipped between a gap in the floorboards while Scott Malone believes he is being followed by a dissident group of Cornish separatists intent on bringing about the fall of the government. Both are unavailable.

Elsewhere: Sheffield Red Stripes were the big winners in the promotion race on Friday, posting an early win against Nottingham Trees and then kicking back to watch the Leeds choke to end all Leeds chokes at home to ten man Wigan Warriors, and then a third Borussia Norwich draw in a row against Sheffield Owls – and even that only achieved with a last second equaliser.

Daniel Farke’s men remain in the driving seat, five points ahead of third with three games left, ahead of an away game at out of form Stoke. Sheffield Red Stripes can press home the advantage over the Champions of Europe with another win in a 15.00 kick off at Allam Tigers. The Spy Who Loved Me will have to watch on helpless until the evening when their toughest game of the season, away to Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow, is live on Sky Sports Leeds.

West Brom, away at Reading, and Big Racist John and the Boys, at home to Millwall Scholars, are both pretty safe in the play-off places but are facing opponents that need points to stay clear of Rotherham at the bottom. Sixth place is currently occupied by Pulisball on 67 points prior to a trip to Nottingham Trees. Bristol City, a point back, are at Sheffield Owls, then it’s our opponents Derby Sheep on 64.

Down at the bottom, QPR will be officially safe if Rotherham don’t beat Birmingham at home. The only other team down there still in the hunt whose game we haven’t mentioned is Wigan who will hope to follow up that remarkable effort on Friday with a home win against Preston which would also make them all but safe. Bolton away at Blackburn is now notable only as this week’s exciting game between two teams beginning with B after their relegation was confirmed. Ipswich Down, also down, are at home to Swanselona.

Two through the gate now.

Referee: David Webb, no not that one, is in charge of this one, just as he was for the meeting between these two at Loftus Road earlier in the season. Lazy. Details.

Form

Derby: The Rams have only been beaten three times at Pride Park this season (Leeds 4-1, Villa 3-0, Millwall 1-0) which is the joint best record in the division along with Aston Villa. However, they remain two places and two points outside the play-off places after an inconsistent season in which they’ve only won back to back league games on three occasions and only lost consecutive games once when they were beaten four times in a row in February. They come into this one in typically erratic form of three wins, four draws but just the one defeat from the last eight games – WDDWDLWD.

QPR: Rangers did initially have a good record at Pride Park when the ground first opened – the R’s were unbeaten in their first six visits here with three wins and three draws. The last of that sequence was the 2-2 draw when Patrick Agyemang and Jamie Mackie both scored in injury time but since then Derby have won four out of four without conceding a goal – three consecutive 1-0s and then a 2-0 here last season. Goals have been a problem for QPR against the Rams full stop in recent times – they’ve been shut out completely in six of the last 11 meetings and only scored seven goals in the other five, although one of those was the Bobby Zamora play-off final winner. Random BBC stat of the day – QPR haven’t won an away game on a Monday in 19 attempts (four draws, 15 defeats) dating back to a win at Swindon in January 2000 under Gerry Francis.

Prediction: With just three games left the top ten in our Prediction League are separated by just ten points, with WokingR just out in front. We’ve never had a race as tight since we started running the comp. The winner this year gets goodies from our generous sponsor Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Reigning champion Elliott reckons…

“Fat Frank’s team still fighting for a play-off spot and therefore likely to put a team with nothing about them and nothing to play for to the sword.”

Elliott’s Prediction: Derby 3-0 QPR. No scorer.

LFW’s Prediction: Derby 3-0 QPR. No scorer.

The Twitter @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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WilloW4 added 16:33 - Apr 21
A very apt headline and a terrific read. Excellent.!!
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stneotsbloke added 19:21 - Apr 21
Another superb article by Clive, 100% correct in every point made. Thank goodness for the mid-season highs or we'd have been relegated weeks ago. We know there's no money available but Les and the Board need to think long and hard about next season as it's going to be a real slog.

Clive.
Maybe I 'm a bit dim but what's the meaning behind calling Leeds "The Spy Who Loved Me" ?.
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enfieldargh added 21:28 - Apr 21
The Rotherham etc permutations may not be relevant if we dont loose at Derby.......yes I Know
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TacticalR added 22:27 - Apr 21
Thanks for your preview.

It's weird that you can get away with losing so many games if you can get enough wins under your belt. It's 3 points for a win in all its glory. I think that is the reason why there wasn't that much of a clamour for McClaren to go, as he had built up enough wins earlier in the season.

At the moment if we don't score first we fold. We're making everything look like hard work. Maybe we can get something off Darnell's head like we did against Swansea.
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Myke added 23:50 - Apr 21
@ stneotsbloke - a reference to the Leeds boss's spying palaver v Derby (and others) earlier this season I suspect
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francisbowles added 09:38 - Apr 22
If they are a bit like Swansea, i.e. a possession based team, then lets get that press going and two wingers and Hemed to start with Smith to come off the bench after an hour. Let's win the midfield battle and hope for some decent final ball and finishing.

If we concede early it could all go wrong!
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stneotsbloke added 09:48 - Apr 22
Thanks Myke. Of course you're right re. the Spy Who Loved Me naming.
Leistner and Cameron are far more important to us than we realise.
Could be a long and tough afternoon …...
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isawqpratwcity added 11:58 - Apr 22
Dear God, how many times? Draws still add a point and they all count in that rather annoying league table. Sure, complain about not turning draws into wins when you're in the middle of the table, but otherwise, swallow your discontent and yell "Bank". Never mind the three weakest links who get relegated.
As for not getting draws this season....sorry, leaving aside the first four games, this has been a season of two complexions: OMG good and OMG bad. Draws had nothing to do with it. Hang onto those lovely 2018 points and wait for arithmetic safety...it ain't far off.
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