The view from the Pu – Season review
Monday, 17th Jun 2019 18:01 by Steve Hardy
Steve Hardy’s final LFW column of the 2018/19 campaign looks back at the highs and lows of the season as a whole.
So the season is finally over and we can all rejoice in having nothing to do on our Saturdays again, and then after about two weeks we'll begin to miss the monotonous sludge of supporting a mediocre Championship club. A lot has actually happened in May despite only having one game to play but here I'll have a look over the good points and the bad points from a very, very peculiar season.
We have finally, mercifully won a game of football at the City Ground, Nottingham. I know for those of us that were there on December 22 that winning at Forest was probably top of a lot of people's wish lists for the season and for me personally I don't really think it got much better than 17.00 that day. I think I actually said to my mate coming out of the ground 'if I don't see us win again all season I don't care' and if it wasn’t for the Swansea home match/anomaly in March that would have actually happened. I need to be careful what I wish for in the future.
In all honesty though, despite the narrow scoreline I do hold this game and performance as one of our best of the season. There was a real togetherness about the team that day and every player put in a real shift and the celebrations at the end are something that will live long in the memory. I know I'm waxing lyrical about a random league win in the middle of December but when the main aim of the season is to find three worse teams you have to celebrate the little victories. A great day all round and everything seemed so positive coming out of the ground.
Prior to that piece of history being made we had a glorious week in October where for a brief moment we seemed unbeatable. It all started in the autumnal sunshine up in Ipswich, where a great day out in the sun soon turned into Luke Freeman banging headers into the top corner against Sheffield Wednesday and ended with one of the performances of the season at home to Aston Villa. I can still vividly remember how I felt coming home after that Villa game, genuine optimism for the first time in years, but the thing that impressed me the most was that we looked so solid at the back, even Joel Lynch was starting to look like a footballer.
However, it just proved to be another false dawn and another tick in the column of 'it's the hope that kills you'. Depending on your outlook on your life I suppose you can look at that week either way, there is the semblance of a team there to work with pending the correct decisions or that a turd can indeed be polished although it won't look good for that long. Still, it was a great week wasn't it?
Another (sort of) piece of history was achieved this season when we found out that the FA Cup doesn't end after the 4th round. When I first started going (was forced) to watch our beloved hoops it was March 1997 just after our exit at Wimbledon. So this year was the first time in my QPR supporting life that I saw us in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Bear in mind that we've only spent three of those years entering the competition in the first round that is a woefully poor statistic. I still view that Watford game as a missed opportunity, and hindsight is a wonderful thing but a genuine chance for us to make an FA Cup semi-final was within our sights this. I suppose that is progress of some sorts and it was great to head down the bush for a game of importance - the atmosphere that night was brilliant - but I do often find myself thinking what would have been had Leistner buried that opportunity at the end. Fingers crossed it's not another 22 years.
I've reserved my final positive of the season for someone who most likely won't be here next, player of the year Luke Freeman. It's fairly obvious that a lot rests on us selling Freeman this summer as to what we can do in recruitment department, but spare a thought to think of how bad this season could have been had we not had lad waddling about for us. A great season for the guy and when the inevitable online backlash starts about how we should have got more for him, let's not forget that he only cost us £500,000.
It was a bit of a record breaking season all round wasn't it? Here's a look at some of the unwanted records that were broken.
The worst start to a season in the club’s history. I know everything went to pot since the turn of the year but I do have to keep reminding myself exactly how bad we were at the start of the season. Coming out of the ground after that Sheffield United home game I really worried for us and that was further compounded the following week away at The Hawthorns. So to actually finish where we did and to be safe with games to spare was something of a minor miracle when you look back at that first month of the season. Bar the Wigan victory August saw four defeats, two goals scored and thirteen conceded. A nightmare start, here's hoping for a home game with Barnsley to start next season.
Eleven home defeats in a season takes some doing. To put it in perspective the only team who lost more at home than us was Bolton and it's well documented what issues they had going on at whatever they call that ground nowadays. On reflection the home season was a bit similar to the rest of the season - started poorly, got better and then finished poorly - but my word did we suffer some cack. Bristol City, Preston and Rotherham spring to mind when I think of how poor it got this season, especially when you consider how important we consider Loftus Road to be. Hopefully the new man makes it a priority to better the home form because going from ninth to twenty third in the home table is quite frankly unacceptable, especially when you consider what people have to pay to watch it.
How do you follow that up? Well if not being very good is one thing you can control the referees that you get is something you can't and this season we had to suffer many a poor decision. There's not a great deal I can say that hasn't been said before but when you look at how poor we were in the second half of the season and couple that with how unlucky we were those points gained from September - December become even more important. Maybe the new training ground is built on some sort of ancient burial ground. Again, here's hoping for better next season - can't get any worse can it.
Looking at some of those stats - 7-1 defeats, 11 home losses - I still can't believe we didn't go down.
This is usually the part of my article where I wrap everything up by trying to be funny. For this one I thought I would end by summing up my thoughts on the recent going ons instead.
I think the appointment of Mark Warburton was the pick of a bad bunch to be honest, I think if he can perform for us how he did with Brentford then we could be on to a winner, the Championship looks a lot tighter next year than it has been for a while (famous last words), and although I think we will struggle there doesn't appear to be too many teams that would be clear favourites. If we can scout wisely develop a style of play then I think maybe this could be the start of progress, or more realistically we'll be sitting here in a years’ time looking forward to how Gareth Ainsworth's first game.
Finally, the released players. Very happy to see Lynch go, thought the bloke has been a liability for the majority of his time here. Bidwell and Pawel were unlucky but it just goes to show how much we have been over paying in wages over the last few years.
Enjoy your summer R's.
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