Toni Leistner is a fußballgott - Preview
Friday, 21st Feb 2020 22:39 by Clive Whittingham
QPR head back to Nottingham Forest on Saturday where, without being unduly pessimistic, I think we may have already peaked.
Nottm Forest (15-10-8, DWLWLD, 5th) v QPR (12-6-15, LLLLDW, 16th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday February 22, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – I don’t know, wet and windy probably, haven’t even bothered looking just assumed >>> City Ground, People’s Republic of Nottingham
A couple of things floated across my boat race this week, during the periods I wished I was asleep but wasn’t and brought about entirely because social media companies now want to show me things from people I don’t follow, and am absolutely not interested in, because they think I might like to follow them and be interested in them if only I was exposed to more of their publicly exploding anus/content.
The first was a viral video. Ooooh we love a viral video in this country at the moment.
What’s happened here is the ageing executives at linear television channels have started to be flicked in the ear by slightly younger, more twatty, execs who work in advertising and had it pointed out to them that the young, hip pricks with all the disposable income aren’t watching their generic, derivative, copy-cat programmes (and the adverts that run between them) any more. Even those that aren’t young or hip or a prick and do still want to watch Simon Cowell pass judgement over a lobotomised gibbon each Saturday night tend to zap through 30 seconds of that wide-eyed eunuch shouting “what’s up Peloton, how you doing today?” in the hope of making you park an ugly, giant, aggressively nagging exercise bike in your front room, courtesy of their excellent DVR machine and its live pause facility.
So, what to do? Well, the bloke who tells borderline jokes like Jeremy Clarkson used to makes a mint on YouTube, occasionally taking the piss out of Japanese suicide victims or inspiring massacres of worshipping Muslims in New Zealand. And that bloke who used to “vlog” about his “rape face” now lives in a penthouse in Battersea. Between them they sell out Maddison Square Garden and charge £20 on pay-per-view when they decide to “box”, while actual boxers toil away in small hall bouts in front of 300 people in Camden Town. Hell, the absolute danger who films him/her/themselves opening up Disney toys and talking about it makes more in a month than you and I make in a year, and that little kid who went round London chicken shops in a shirt and tie has his own series on Channel 4. Maybe, in order for traditional television executives to get back to the comfortable life of cocaine and undrinkable table wine on the Croissette in Cannes, a solution lies within, if only they could go viral themselves.
The result is a reputable sports broadcaster like Sky, which has paid a gazillion pounds to secure exclusive rights, and spent years positioning itself as the home of insight, and in depth analysis, and intelligent debate, sticking out something called “The Football Social”. Sky, like every other broadcaster, is wondering why their audience looks and sounds like me, muting the fucking Peloton advert, while that fat waste who used to be a Luton fan is cleaning up their target audience getting the local alcoholic to shout “it’s time to go” into a camera outside every Arsenal defeat while a weird fellow in headphones looks on. “The Football Social” is their reply and, inevitably, this is “produced in association” with Sky Bet which, while being very careful to separate itself from the broadcaster arm of Sky in recent years, still advertises on Sky, with the Sky presenters, and frequently offers markets which are tantamount to betting on which Sky Sports News presenter is telling the truth and which is lying to justify his or her’s otherwise meaningless existence. Are the Sky sources that say Ryan Manning is going to Newcastle correct, or are the Sky sources that say Ryan Manning is going to Wolves correct? Bet now. If it all turns out to be lies and he stays where he is, they keep your money. It’s like Banzai, only it’s your actual money, and the guy who used to play Pete Beale in Eastenders isn’t attempting to navigate an obstacle course in a shopping trolley against the clock.
"The Football Social" this week was five blokes in a room in replica shirts being filmed watching Chelsea v Man Utd and reacting to it. It’s football Gogglebox basically, which in itself was a rung on a ladder pointing steeply downwards to the point where intelligence ceases to exist and society starts to eat itself. Why come up with a new programme idea when you can just film mouthy cretins watching the current ones and televise their reaction? Hurrrrrrr hur, I love Steph and Dom me, hurrrrrrrrrr.
At some point during this week’s “The Football Social” Manchester United scored a goal against Chelsea, which almost everybody reading this will have been very happy about but I, as the poor little QPR supporter called Clive brought up in a northern secondary school surrounded by cunts like the cunt I’m about to talk about, was not. At the point of the goal the resident Manchester United fan, ginger of hair and stealer of his mate’s PornHub Premium subscription, interrupts his expert analysis of whether Jack Grealish or James Maddison would be better for “United” next season to leap from his recliner and onto the resident Chelsea fan to scream, an inch from his face, for a couple of minutes, things like “oh no” and “put some respect on that name”. This was the bit I got to see, putting the viral into viral video. Like AIDS, but in your eyes.
There are two problems with this.
The first is the problem I’ve always had with fans of "big clubs" like this. They're one game a season people, if that. It’s the same problem Grounds for Divorce author Mel Huckridge has with Nick Hornby’s seminal work Fever Pitch. If you’re at a loose end on a Saturday night, I recommend you come down the Crown and Sceptre, wait for Mel to pause for breath on whatever he’s talking about, and drop Nick Hornby and Fever Pitch in there apropos of nothing. Then settle back. Because, as he points out, if Arsenal really meant that much to Colin Firth’s character (or Man Utd to the pale virgin on "The Football Social"), if you’d been waiting since a small boy to see it, if you were so deeply ingrained in Arsenal that you were willing to shit on everybody around you to dedicate yourself to them, if you were so single minded about Arsenal that you jeopardised relationships with people even when they were carrying your child, if it affected your every thought and mood and decision and career move, if your whole identity was about you being an Arsenal fan, if it meant so much you made a book and film about it, and if that thing that consumed you so had a game at the end of the season in Liverpool which they had to win 2-0 to win the league and grant you every wish you’d ever made… you’d have been at the fucking game. Not watching it on the sofa at home with Mark Strong.
The second is this idea that started with Tim Lovejoy (a Watford fan, who quietly switched to Chelsea when they got rich, and wrote a book about all the times he’d pretended to be friends with footballers) on Soccer AM and has now permeated beyond the point of no return that football is all about “banter”. We banter backwards and forwards, we love a bit of banter, we miss the banter when it’s not there and we judge the banter when it is, we sit as close to the away end as we can and when we score we give them some banter and when they score they give banter back and we spend our whole lives playing “whataboutery” about whose players are better than whose and whose club is slightly less seedy and morally repugnant than whose and whose banter is more banterous than whose. Some scrawny prick that’s never been within 200 miles of Old Trafford in his life leaps up and screams in the face of somebody who hadn’t heard of Chelsea until 2004 and that’s football, and television, and entertainment. Great banter. Epic banter. Must see banter. Click this banter, you won’t believe this banter, banter never seen before.
The other thing that crossed my line of sight this week (sorry, this is turning into a multi-stranded Billy Connolly monologue) was Leeds United (three wins in 13 games) Tweeting that Reading are “the latest team not to sell their away allocation at Elland Road” prompting a whole barrage of truly excellent banter about how small time Reading are, how pathetic this was, how Leeds would have sold the allocation 20 times over and so on. This from a group of supporters who, to a man, woman and child, will all swear blind they were there for our 1-0 win at the start of the 2013/14 season when Clint Hill scored, the attendance was 23,000, and the upper tier of the stand opposite us was closed. The latest stop for the banter bus is club’s official social media accounts trying to out banter each other, leading to such classics as QPR saying Nahki Wells was “just happy to be here” four days before he was just happy to be at Bristol City, who we played next. Well don't we look like absolute mugs? Great banter though, which GIF should we use with that?
Even if Leeds, as they claim, had been selling out all along and not, as is actually the case, suddenly discovered 20,000 new fans when Marcelo Bielsa turned up, this is a club that charges away fans £39 in advance and £42 on the day. This to sit in an away end that is old, decrepit, with multiple obstructions of view, and absolutely filthy throughout, festooned with muck and grime and animal shit, in a part of the city accessible only by cab which, after the game, you can't get. We all do it anyway, because as above if it matters that much then you do it regardless, but this idea that Reading, or Preston, or QPR, or any other smaller support base should be mocked for not having enough weirdos who want to pay £40 each to go there and sit through that, in the name of “banter”, is modern football fandom personified. Nobody goes to the fucking games, they just sit at home taking the piss out of the few that do, often filming it for their YouTube Channel. Or Sky Sports.
Anybody who braves this country’s death trap roads, this country’s eye wateringly expensive railways, this country's ticket prices, this country's police and this country's football stewards to watch the poxy football in this division, is worthy of respect and pity whether there were 3,000 of them there or 300 – and particularly if some prick thinks it’s acceptable to charge them 40 notes for doing it.
Why is any of this relevant? Well because in December last year we went up to Nottingham Forest, and we won. It was our first win there, in our thirty fifth go. The away end was packed, as it always was for QPR trips there in recent times, because there are still enough sad bastards among the long suffering Rangers support who didn’t dare not be there in case it was the first time we won at the City Ground. We wanted to actually be there, not pretend later on that we had been.
So we went, with zero expectations, and just before half time Luke Freeman put a peach of a free kick in and Toni Leistner got up well and headed home the opening goal. Promising, but nothing to write home about just yet. Better QPR teams than this had led in Nottingham, better QPR teams than this had led here in injury time (opening day 1990), but actually winning here was something else. The second half lasted as long as the cretaceous period. In stoppage time Forest’s best player Adlene Guedioura let rip with a howitzer. It was a brilliant shot, he’ll rarely if ever strike a ball cleaner or truer, and it arrowed towards the top corner at the far end of the ground perfectly within our eyeline. It was a goal. It was an equaliser. It was another year, another visit, another game ticked off, another failure. Maybe it’ll be lucky thirty sixth. But Joe Lumley saved it, somehow, and we saw the stoppage time out, and we finally won. The away end was lively. The train home was a mobile disco. We pushed the closing time in Mabel’s Tavern. And we did a Diane Abbot on the last Northern Line home. It was a day of days.
This was on the way to a nineteenth placed finish. Same as the season before, the season before that, and in all likelihood this season as well. The video below is taken just behind me as the full time whistle sounded. It looks like the celebrations of a support group heading to Wembley, or into Europe, or towards a league title. In actual fact it’s just a bunch of die hards, enjoying the end of a hoodoo - an utterly meaningless highlight in another dire season, a rare one in the for column before getting back on the everyday treadmill of defeat and disappointment.
Ginge back at “The Football Social” would probably laugh, and mock, and certainly not understand. He’d talk about Premier League titles and European Cup campaigns he watched on television. Even other fans in this league would describe it as smalltime, and something to take the piss out of. The term “cup final” would be bandied about. Leeds would probably tell you they’ve won at Forest loads of times, always with more fans than we could ever possibly take. Look at these sad bastards, celebrating like they’ve won the FA Cup, for a midtable away win. QPR fans, rightly, would ask if this is all we aspire to, the odd little blip of life in an otherwise flatline existence. I agree with them, and if you want me to write 3,000 word state of the nation stuff on that well then I already have, and will again.
But for now we’re going back to The City Ground, where Toni Leistner scored, and QPR finally won, and we all had a fucking lovely time. There’s no shame in any of that.
Links >>> Up and down like a bride’s nightie – Interview >>> Ian Wright’s debut – History >>> Jones in charge – Referee >>> Cooking on Gas – Podcast >>> Official Website >>> Nottingham Post – Local Press >>> LTLF – Message Board >>> Bandy and Shinty – Fanzine >>> Forza Garibaldi – Blog >>> LFW Reciprocal Interview >>> Matchday with Max – YouTube Channel
Geoff Cameron Facts No.90 in the Series – If Geoff had played it would have been 2-0.
Team News: No fresh injury concerns we’re aware of at Rangers, but obviously a host of player – Todd Kane, Jack Clarke, Luke Amos, Lee Wallace – pushing for starts ahead of those who beat Stoke 4-2 last week. Presumably Conor Masterson must wait for a fitness problem with either Grant Hall or Yoann Barbet before he gets another crack at the first team, unless we’re going to a back three and wing backs again any time soon. The last time Angel Rangel made three consecutive starts was during the Spanish Civil War.
Forest are in the same position and can name the same team that drew 2-2 late on at West Brom last week if they need/want to. Semedo, Diakhaby and Tyler Walker were the three of the bench to help them seal an injury time point at The Hawthorns should Sabri Lamouchi want to shake things up a little. Samba Sow (knee), Sammy Ameobi (knee) and Lewis Grabban (criminal beard) were all doubts for last weekend and are so again but played a week ago and will do here too.
Elsewhere: The Mercantile Credit Trophy coughs back into life tonight with that splash proof camera Sky Sports Leeds have inserted into Wayne Rooney’s arse active and broadcasting again as Wayne Rooney’s Derby County face promotion chasing Tristan and Jean-Paul at Pride Park.
Back in West London, Justice League Leaders Spartak Hounslow at the lunchtime game at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers – probably the toughest game Blackburn have faced all season to be fair. No Saturday evening, Sunday or Monday games this week though which basically qualifies as a mid-winter break in this festering league, before we bounce back to life with a glut of Tuesday and Wednesday fixtures.
Among the 15.00s it’s all eyes on league leaders West Brom who travel to face inconsistent play-off chasers Bristol City. The Champions of Europe are at home to hayes and Yeading, with Marshmallow Bielsa’s men hoping the 1-0 win they scraped against Lee Johnson’s side a week ago can stem the falling apart and be backed up with another maximum this week ahead of winnable trips to Hull and Middlesbrough. The play-off chasing side not mentioned yet are Preston Knob End, and they’re at home to the Allam Tigers.
Strange goings on at Sheffield Owls. Flying and top six bound before Christmas, with a 4-0 win at Forest to throw on the pile, they’ve been dire since the turn of the year with their cup win at QPR their only success in seven – a run that has included a 5-0 home loss to Blackburn and a 3-0 Hillsborough reverse to Reading. Midfielder Sam Hutchinson (rumoured to be interesting us) and goalkeeper Kieran Westwood have been bombed out and rumours abound about Garry Monk’s position and part in all of this. Keep an eye on them as they travel to the second city to face Birmingham.
At the other end of the table, a couple of six pointers between teams that look destined for the drop (Lutown, Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare) and teams that are dearly hoping that’s the case (Charlton and Middlesbrough). Poke City are at home to Cardiff while the Wigan Warriors host Millwall Scholars.
What else? Nothing! That’s number wang. Twelve previews to go.
Referee: Rob Jones from Merseyside i9s the man in the middle for this one, his first QPR game since an August defeat at Bristol City. Forest have had two cracks with him this season without a win either. Then it’s Keith Stroud for Derby on Tuesday joy of joys. Details.
Forest: The Trees come into this on a run of DWDWLWLD and it’s been every bit as typical of them as that makes it sound. They won 1-0 away at Justice League Leaders Spartak Hounslow, only to then lose 2-1 at middling Birmingham City. They followed that up with a 2-0 televised success against the Champions of Europe to put them within sight of the summit, only to lose 1-0 at home to relegation-haunted Charlton. Their last ten home games have included wins against Derby, Wigan (both 1-0), Luton (3-1) and Leeds (2-0), draws with Reading and Boro (both 1-1) and defeats to Sheff Wed (4-0) and Charlton (1-0). Overall at The City Ground this year they’re 8-3-5. They actually haven’t lost two in a row here since December 2018, with the second of those defeats coming against QPR – our first win in 35 attempts on this ground.
QPR: Only second bottom Luton (66) have conceded more goals than QPR’s 58 this year, and they’re also the only team in the division to have conceded the first goal in the game more often than Rangers. Consequently, only Swansea (16) and West Brom (a remarkable 24) have taken more points from losing positions than QPR’s 15. QPR matched their total of away wins from 2018/19 early doors, a December victory at Birmingham lifting them to five. Sadly, they haven’t won one since with the 0-0 draw at Swansea just about halting a run of five straight defeats on the road. The 4-2 victory against Stoke last week, having been 2-0 down, was Rangers first win in six attempts, with four straight defeats and a draw in the previous five. Only Brentford (54) and West Brom (59) have scored more than our 51 goals this season.
Prediction: This year’s Prediction League 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. Our down in the dumps reigning champion WokingR says
“Let’s face it, lightening doesn’t strike twice does it?”
Woking’s Prediction: Forest 2-0 QPR. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: Forest 2-0 QPR. No scorer.
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Pictures – Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
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