|Queens Park Rangers 0 v 1 Nottingham Forest|
Saturday, 27th April 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Beleaguered QPR face final home game with Forest - Preview
Friday, 26th Apr 2019 19:22 by Clive Whittingham
QPR continue to set all manner of unwanted records as their nightmare end to 2018/19 finally reaches its last home game against Nottingham Forest.
QPR (13-9-22, LLDWLL, 19th) v Nottm Forest (15-15-14, WLLLLW, 11th)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday April 27, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Ooooh it’s a windy one >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
I got to thinking about the 2005/06 season the other day, because that’s the sort of thing I do when I’ve been distracted from whatever I’m reading by this wonderful new London trend of sitting on the train playing music on your phone with no headphones. No wonder violent crime is up, I’d happily have maimed three this week alone.
You may recall 05/06 was the last time we sacked Ian Holloway in pretty harsh circumstances to replace him with a brave new era of better quality of football, more progression and development of young players, less random outbursts and so on. On that occasion the new man in was Gary Waddock, QPR hero, and he was rather hamstrung in his endeavours by a squad packed full of wasters secured from Gianni Paladini’s shady agent friends, and about to be packed even fuller still.
Don’t cry for me Sammy Youssouf, the truth is I never left you, all through the Warnock days, our mad existence, I kept my promise, don’t keep your distance.
I’ve got another verse for Marcin Kus, but I’m too weak, I should not try to sing.
The results in the second half of that season were remarkably similar to the ones we’re going through now. Though there were Leeds and Swansea-style random highs – a 1-0 home win against Millwall with Alan McDonald punching the air on the pitch before kick off, so delighted to be back at his club as Waddock’s assistant, and a fantastic performance and 3-2 away win at Sheff Utd - they were two of only three wins achieved from January 1 through to the end of the season. Rangers would finish up with no wins from their last 11 games and six defeats in the last seven. There was a mixture of the truly dire – a 2-1 home loss to Crewe stands out – and the desperately unlucky – 2-0 up and absolutely battering Norwich at Carrow Road only to lose 3-2 to goals after 78, 85 and 90 – in the same way we’ve deserved to lose at home to Bolton but also been beaten by West Brom and Derby in brutally cruel circumstances.
We survived then, as we have now, thanks to the incompetence of others, rather than anything we did ourselves. Last time the problems for the club, and Waddock, only really got started in the summer. An ill-advised attempt to break up Holloway’s dressing room by ostracising senior players like Marc Bircham, Ian Evatt and Steve Lomas (all were left at home from a disastrous pre-season tour of Italy) coincided with skinted Rangers botching their summer transfer business, adding the likes of Nick Ward, Egutu Oliseh, Adam Czerkas and, infamously, Armel Tchakounte who just weren’t up to the job. That Italian trip, where the players stayed in Sorrento’s plushest hotel but were subjected to a treacherous two hour bus trip to train on a substandard non-league pitch near Naples every day, included a friendly with Sorrento on an old-style artificial pitch which Waddock took one look at and promptly withdrew his first team players from – McDonald played, with Tony Roberts up front. Outside the ground before that game Paladini took one look at my 16-year-old brother, a strapping lad and pretty handy footballer, and asked if he fancied a game. We thought he was joking. We lost 5-1.
Predictably, the following season started poorly and Waddock was gone by mid-September, replaced by John Gregory who played the loan market skilfully to just about drag Rangers to safety before, himself, going through a nightmare summer and start to the following season as the cash ran out completely.
There’s no suggestion that the club is on the brink of the sort of collapse off the field that seemed to be a permanent feature of those times. It could scarcely, ever, be as badly run as it was under Paladini's stewardship. But FFP restrictions and the end of the parachute payments mean QPR will again this summer be attempting a rebuild without much cash to play with. Half a dozen first team players are out of contract, three more are coming to the end of loans, and the club must strike the right balance between ridding themselves of high earners who have underperformed and not leaving themselves with too many new bodies to bring in. As said in a recent match report, we shouldn’t fear radical change in the playing squad this summer, we should be terrified of more of the same.
We’re also no closer to knowing who will be managing the team, but that shouldn’t effect the recruitment too much. Part of the problem with swapping Holloway for McClaren was signings who had been identified for last summer were rejected by the new manager, leading to an impasse and the team starting the season woefully short. McClaren then demanded, and was presented with, senior players on loan. Whoever the new man is, that departure from remit should not be allowed again. This is who we are, this is what we’re doing, these are the players we’re recruiting, come in with your eyes wide open and don’t think we'll just bail you out if you happen to fuck the first four games up.
We’re conducting an interview process, which is a welcome departure from the coronations of the past, but all this is doing at the moment is presenting clickbait hacks with a chance to say a new person is definitely, absolutely, really the front runner every couple of days because they’ve had their meeting with the club. Darren Moore was definitely getting it on Tuesday this week, Mark Warburton by Thursday. You can basically pinpoint who’s met Rangers and when by the dates on the stabs in the dark that websites like Football Insider and Here Is The City sling out without even caring if they turn out to be true or not.
But if you’re looking for another season like this one, well statistically there isn’t one really. Tomorrow could potentially be an eleventh home defeat of the league season, something we’ve never suffered before – ten defeats is the record, which we’ve done four times, including the year before last. It would also be a twenty third defeat of the season overall, which isn’t a record but isn’t far off – 27 in 1925/26, 28 in 1968/69, 24 in 2014/15, 23 in 1978/79, 1995/96, 1998/99 and 2016/17. Turns out losing 23 times in a single season is pretty difficult to do, and having only managed it five times in the history of the club, we’re now at risk of doing it three times in five years.
And Harry Redknapp advertises jam roly-polies. Drown me now.
Team News: QPR continue to have injury headaches in defence. Jake Bidwell, Angel Rangel, Grant Hall and Joel Lynch all missed the defeat at Derby and are likely to be out again. All four are out of contract this summer and therefore may have played their last games for the club. It leaves caretaker manager John Eustace with little choice but to go with the makeshift back four from Pride Park with winger Pawel Wszolek at right back, right back Darnell Furlong at centre back with midfielder Geoff Cameron and midfielder Ryan Manning at left back. Jordan Cousins’ knee injury picked up against Blackburn is not as serious as first feared but he’s not likely to play – another who we may have seen the last off with a deal about to expire. Elsewhere it’s the usual shuffling of the deckchairs between Nahki Wells, Tomer Hemed and Matt Smith in attack. With Cousins out and Wszolek at right back, a midfield four of Luongo, Scowen, Osayi-Samuel and player of the year Luke Freeman basically picks itself unless Eustace decides to start cobbing youngsters in there with Rangers now mathematically safe – Giles Phillips, Chay Tilt, Lewis Walker and Mide Shodipo seem to head that queue having made the bench a week ago.
Yohan Benalouane and Jack Colback are both on the naughty step for Nottingham Forest and have set off on a quest to bludgeon that prick from the Chris Akabusi advert to death. A reluctance to select big money signing João Carvalho form the start has been a stick to beat Martin O’Neill with during a recent run of defeats – the Portuguese ten was the star of the show on just his second start under O’Neill against Middlesbrough last week so should get picked again here.
Elsewhere: Ah Leeds. I mean, I expected them to choke, it’s Leeds after all, but that was really quite something. A 2-1 home loss to lowly Wigan Warriors despite the visitors playing the majority of the game with ten men, followed up with another loss on Easter Monday in their toughest game of the season so far away to Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow. It means that Borussia Norwich are promoted in all but name prior to a late Saturday evening kick off at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers. Sheffield Red Stripes will also be up if they, like everybody else, beat Ipswich Down at home in the Saturday tea-time game. All of which could leave the Champions of Europe facing a fairly hilarious damp squib against Big Racist John and the Boys live on Sky Sports Leeds on Sunday lunchtime.
Villa are secure in the play-off places, as are West Brom and they’ve moved to bring in Michael Appleton – linked with the QPR job – on a short term deal to manage the team through the end of season lottery. Their opponent on Saturday, Rotherham, need snookers to catch Millwall and stay up – three points behind with a much worse goal difference having played a game more. Millwall have Stoke at home tomorrow then a game in hand with Bristol City at The Den on Tuesday.
City are one of three teams scrapping for the final play-off place and they face one of the others, Frank Lampard’s Derby County, in the game of the day on Saturday. They can’t both win, but equally they can’t both lose, so swings and round abouts for Middlesbrough who are at home to Reading having stalled their recent revival with a big loss at Nottingham Trees last week.
That’s it as far as stuff at stake goes. Birmingham at home to Wigan Warriors has nothing riding on them while Swanselona and Sheffield Owls only have very technical chances of making the top six ahead of games at home to Allam Tigers and away to Preston Knob End respectively. Bolton are already relegated and so afraid of facing easily the best team they’ll have faced all season (two away wins) they’re threatening not to turn up for the game.
Referee: Controversial penalty enthusiast Scott Duncan is back with us in double quick time having also taken the 4-0 loss at Norwich. He awarded Sheff Utd a nonsense spot kick at Loftus Road in August then refused our own appeals for a blatant handball in the final minute of the loss at Wigan. More recently found screwing Bristol City in similar fashion at Aston Villa. Details.
QPR: Rangers’ lost for the twenty second time this season at Derby on Monday, more defeats than anybody else in the league bar the bottom two. Only the bottom three have conceded more than our 69 goals against this season. If QPR concede to Forest, they will have let in 70 league goals for a second consecutive season – the first time they’ve done so since a run of four consecutive seasons between 1961-62 and 1964-65. The controversial penalty that turned the game was the ninth spot kick conceded by QPR this season, which is more than any other team in the league. Harry Wilson’s late salvo made it eight goals conceded in stoppage time so far, which again is the worst record in the Championship. Only Swansea (eight) and Leeds (seven) have drawn fewer than our nine ties. As stated earlier, ten home defeats in a season equals the club’s worst ever campaign with 2016/17, 1968/69 and 1949/50. Even in getting relegated from the Premier League, albeit with four fewer home games, we only lost eight in 2014/15, nine in 2012/13 and eight in 1995/96. When we were relegated from this league in 2001, with a dire team, we lost eight home games all season. The 1968/69 QPR team, promoted too high too fast into the top flight for the first time in its history and relegated in last place, 15 points adrift of safety with only 18 points all season, also lost ten.
Forest: It’s been a thunderously midtable season from Forest who arrive at Loftus Road eleventh with 15 wins, 15 draws and 14 defeats. They have won consecutive games once, beating Sheff Wed 2-1 and Rotherham 1-0 in successive home games back in November. They have lost consecutive games, beaten by Reading 2-0 and Bristol City 1-0 in January and then a four match losing run at Rotherham 2-1, Sheff Wed 3-0, home to Blackburn 2-1 and away to Sheff Utd 2-0 which immediately proceeded last week’s thumping 3-0 home win against Boro. They haven’t won away from home in 14 attempts in all competitions going back to mid November when they were victorious at Hull 2-0. They’ve lost four of their last five on the road with the only point won coming at bottom placed Ipswich. Only Stoke (12) have drawn more away games than Forest’s 11 this season.
Prediction: Three points in it between WokingR and KensalRiseR with just two games left in our Prediction League. 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…
“We’ve finally made it to the last home game of the season. A season that has completely dragged since the turn of the year. A final chance for most to see quite a few players I expect on Saturday. I’d be amazed if with see Wells, Hemed, Cameron, Boswell, Lynch, and Wszolek again in August. I do think we’ll probably try and keep Rangel and Cousins if the price is right. Two teams with one win in their last five and both winding down for the season. You’d probably say a draw is the likely outcome but in true Rangers style this season, I’ll finish our home record with a loss.”
Elliott’s Prediction: QPR 1-2 Forest. Scorer – Pawel Wszolek
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 0-2 Forest.
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