|Queens Park Rangers 4 v 2 Blackburn Rovers|
Saturday, 5th October 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Stuttering QPR face bogey side Blackburn – Preview
Friday, 4th Oct 2019 20:57 by Clive Whittingham
It was all going so well for QPR after four straight victories, but a chastening reality check of two quickfire defeats leaves them facing a Blackburn team they hate playing needing a result to just settle things back down a little.
QPR (5-1-4, WWWWLL, 11th) v Blackburn (4-2-4, LLWWLD, 12th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 5, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Bit shit >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
The last time Queens Park Rangers beat Blackburn Rovers at Loftus Road was Saturday November 6, 1993. Two of the starting 11 for Rangers that day are now dead.
I bring this up, firstly, because there is never a bad moment to reminisce about just how good that QPR team was, and to remember our dearly beloved Alan McDonald and Ray Wilkins who were both in the starting 11 that night.
Blackburn were the Chelsea and Manchester City of the era, bankrolled by local hero Jack Walker and led by big name manager Kenny Dalglish towards a Premier League title which would arrive a year later. They’d spent unprecedented transfer fees for the era on Tim Flowers, Alan Shearer, Graeme Le Saux, David Batty, Stuart Ripley, Colin Hendry and others and would later go on to make headlines around the world with a £5m move for Norwich’s Chris Sutton.
They’d beaten QPR twice the season before, when Rangers finished fifth in the inaugural Premier League, and would go on to beat us another four times in quick succession afterwards. But in front of a packed Loftus Road on bonfire weekend (17,636 were there), the atmosphere crackled and it built into one of those nights under the lights in W12. The game was settled eight minutes from time by a combination of Les Ferdinand and Colin Hendry diverting the ball past Flowers and into the net via a desperate attempt on the line which sent the ball up onto the underside of the bar, down onto the ground, and eventually just about far enough into the net to be counted. It eventually, wrongly, went down as a Hendry own goal. Loftus Road rocked. It’s one of those childhood games I remember being at distinctly.
The side picked by Gerry Francis that day was Stejskal; Bardsley, McDonald, Peacock, Wilson; Impey, Wilkins, Barker, Sinclair; Ferdinand, Allen. Blood of Jesus what a team.
I raise this, secondly, purely to highlight what a bloody long time ago it was. Everybody in that team has long since retired, and two of them have sadly passed on. Hell, everybody who played the last time QPR beat Blackburn anywhere has also long since ceased playing - L Harper, J Darlington, K Ready, D Maddix, M Rose, I Baraclough , P Murray, K Rowland (R Langley, 89), S Wardley, R Steiner (K Gallen, 88) and C Kiwomya won 2-0 at Ewood Park in November 1999. Blackburn have won five and drawn five of ten meetings in Shepherd’s Bush since that first game, and won eight and drawn seven of the 15 games at all venues since we got Brian Kidd the sack that day.
But most pertinently I bring it all up to highlight just what a weird concept the idea of a ‘bogey team’ is. You hear this term all the time in football, and in the Crown last week the impending arrival of a distinctly mediocre, midtable Blackburn team was already being talked about in hushed tones. “We never do very well against them,” whispered generic man at the bar, staring off into the distance, like somebody who had seen things during a war. It can work the other way, such as when Barnsley visit Loftus Road later this season. Barnsley have lost their last 11 games at our ground, and are without a win here in 25 attempts (21 QPR wins, four draws). “A guaranteed win,” veteran drinker will say with a broad smile on his face the week before.
These things can persist. As we know, it took us 35 goes in league and cup to get a win against Nottingham Forest at the City Ground until we finally achieved it last December. One of the next longest such record actually involves Blackburn – Grimsby haven’t won in 28 league games at Ewood Park. But to people not involved in football, and indeed the bookies charged with fixing odds against games, this is basically witchcraft. Hocus pocus nonsense, cooked up by superstitious types and given way too much prominence by knobheads like me charged with writing three match previews a week for nine months.
You can get on runs with teams that particularly suit you – QPR have enjoyed playing Birmingham at St Andrew’s of late, two wins and a draw – but there’s no reasonable way that things that happened 25 years ago when Blackburn were the richest team in the country, or 19 years ago when we were dreadful and schooled by Graeme Souness’ promotion bound side, or the subsequent cup ties against a good top flight Rovers team, should have any bearing on what happens on Saturday. All the players involved are long gone, some of them literally.
Unless, of course, talking about these things makes it a self-perpetuating thing. THat players are aware of them and when things start to go slightly wrong in a game it's an extra weight on their minds. In which case, I’m sorry for bringing it up.
Links >>> Rovers all over the map – Interview >>> 1982 controversy – History >>> View from the Pu – September >>> Furlong too far – Podcast >>> Hooper in charge – Referee >>> Blackburn Official website >>> Lancashire Telegraph – Local Paper >>> BRFCS message board and podcast >>> Rovers Chat – Blog >>> Our reciprocal interview with Rovers Chat
Geoff Cameron Facts No.68 in the series – Geoff rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.
Team News: QPR should be able to recall Grant Hall to their beleaguered backline after he missed the last three injured, and Yoann Barbet returns from the one match suspension picked up for his late red card against West Brom. With three games in a week, Mark Warburton had promised to make changes even before the two defeats to nil, so expect the likes of Marc Pugh, Lee Wallace and others to come into the reckoning here.
Ben Brereton remains in therapy to deal with exactly how badly his £7m move from Nottingham Forest has gone, while Dan Butterworth is out with Maple Syrup urine disease. Lewis Holtby may be in line for a first Blackburn start after arriving in September as a free agent, if he can be persuaded to keep a shirt on for a full 90 minutes.
Elsewhere: Quite whoever at Sky Sports Leeds decided to try and tempt the paying public in on a Friday night with Birmingham v Middlesbrough needs a serious looking at, but there it is anyway, kicking off another festival of mediocrity in Mercantile Credit Trophy before the international break.
More interesting perhaps is tomorrow lunchtime’s bottomless brunch at the Cottage with Jean-Paul and Claudia hosting plucky upstarts Charlton Athletic, who were relegation favourites before we started but are showing no signs of going away after excellent displays against Leeds and Swansea this week.
The Champions of Europe are back in that part of London this week for the always-genial meeting with Millwall Scholars. Neil Harris amicably resigned from his position there in the week, paying the price for consistently doubling down on the Lions’ supposed only possible style of play long after a division initially surprised by his team had figured them out. Having let Harris oversee a substantial summer overhaul, only to put together another one-dimensional long ball team, Wawll will have to tread very carefully in appointing a replacement who can work with that squad and that budget.
Still clinging to his job is Nathan Jones at Poke City, despite losing an absolute gimme at home to Huddersfield Imps during the week. The board have decided to stick with their man and publicly back him, but he’s unlikely to get that elusive first win of the season away at Swanselona tomorrow. Another one where it’s perhaps all in the available replacements willing to come and work with a team brought in over the summer to play a specific way for a specific manager. Swansea v Stoke this week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with S. Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki, meanwhile, will look to follow that result with a first home win against Allam Tigers in an equally thrilling game between two teams beginning with H.
Now as if PSV Derby hadn’t scraped the barrel of moral repugnancy enough already over the past two years, they saw fit to recall Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett to their team for the midweek game away to Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare just a week after they’d seen fit to drive off into the night completely off their chops after an all night session, ending the career, and nearly the life, of the club captain in the process. They were rewarded with a late equaliser against them at Oakwell and frankly that’s the least they deserved. For those players to be playing in advance of the court case is despicable. No surprise either to see Ryan Giggs, a man whose moral compass spins all the way up the snatch of his brother’s wife, selecting Lawrence for Wales this week regardless as well.
Football is so far up itself in these situations it’s untrue. The sport cannot see past the players as sellable assets - thereby sending a message to them that they can behave as they please and never be fired, which in turn leads to shit like this in the first place. Managers also refuse to see past the next match - anything they think will help them win they'll do, regardless of morals or consequences. Let’s not forget Sunderland went out to bat for Adam Johnson for a year, and kept playing him, when they were in full possession of the text messages and all the evidence that eventually convicted him. They did so without any thought for anything other than his value in the transfer market and his use on the pitch.
Anyway it’s Lutown at home for the Rams this time, and no doubt a second successive home win will silence any thoroughly deserved boos Bennett and Lawrence will receive at kick off.
Quickly sweeping up the rest… The Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour rolls into West Brom on a seven match unbeaten run; Wigan Warriors are away to the Sheffield Eagles; Preston Knob End at home to Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare; Bristol City are at home to Reading.
Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers have started unusually well, even topping the table for a brief moment last week after a Friday night win at Poke, but they’ll surely find it all catching up with them this weekend at home to Spartak Hounslow who will almost certainly be the best team they’ve played all season.
Referee: Premier League referee Simon Hooper gets this date, his first QPR appointment in a season and a bit. He’s a decent referee this fella usually, but Rangers are on a seven match winless run with him which includes six defeats. Details.
QPR: Rangers have gone from four league wins in a row, their best record since 2013, to two defeats in a week without scoring a goal. Defeats to third placed West Brom and tenth placed Cardiff continues to harden the stark divide between the teams QPR can compete with and can’t – Stoke (24th), Wigan (19th), Millwall (18th) and Luton (17th) have all been beaten while Swansea (1st), West Brom (3rd), Bristol City (7th) and Cardiff (10th) have beaten us. Only ninth placed Sheff Wed is an outlier. The goals against is clearly the big problem, no clean sheet all season and an average of 1.83 goals against per game (22 in 12) isn’t getting you very far very fast. The only other team in the league without a clean sheet is Luton. Rangers lost a club record 11 home games in the league last year, including a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn on Good Friday. They’ve continued that patchy form in W12 into this season with wins against Wigan and Luton, draws with Huddersfield, Bristol City and heavy losses to Swansea, Portsmouth and West Brom. Three of the next four are at home – Blackburn, Reading, Brentford.
Blackburn: Rovers have an excellent record against QPR. The last time Rangers won was the 1999/00 season, 2-0 at Ewood Park (Wardley, Gallen) and the last time QPR won at Loftus Road in this fixture was 1993/94 1-0 (Ferdinand, though widely credited as an own goal). There have been ten meetings at Loftus Road since that game (five away wins, five draws) and 15 meetings in total since the 99/00 one (eight Blackburn wins, seven draws). That’s as near to secure form as you can get when assessing Rovers this season because they really have been all over the map. Four wins, two draws and four defeats have included home defeats to newly promoted Charlton and Luton, away wins at Hull and Reading, a 3-2 loss at West Brom with all the goals in the first half and plenty else besides. Away from home they have won two, lost two, scored five, conceded six. Make sense of this if you can, it’s like knitting fog. Sam Gallagher has only one goal since his permanent move from Southampton in the summer (against Sheff Utd in the League Cup) but has scored against QPR in three of his last five meetings with us for Birmingham and Blackburn.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last year’s champion WokingR and I were hopelessly optimistic with our draw predictions at Cardiff and this week we say…
“Well let's hope that the return from injury and suspension of Hall and Barbet might just bring some much needed stability back and a return to the back three that has worked so well. It will also allow us to push Cameron back into midfield as him and Leistner at the back has to be the slowest centre back pairing in the league. Hoping for a mood settling 2-1 win, despite the return of Bradley Dack. Still no clean sheet though and Nakhi Wells to score first.”
WokingR’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Blackburn. Scorer – Nahki Wells
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-2 Blackburn. Scorer – Nahki Wells
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