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Middlesbrough 0 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Sunday, 5th July 2020 Kick-off 15:00
I said to Sharon... - Preview
Friday, 3rd Jul 2020 18:22 by Clive Whittingham

With the sort of comic timing that's made Miranda and Mrs Brown's Boys modern hits, QPR's latest slide into a long run of defeats has collided head on with our beloved former miracle worker Neil Warnock's latest 'last job in football'.

Boro (10-14,16, LDWLWL, 21st) v QPR (14-8-18, WDWLLL, 15th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Sunday July 4, 2020 >>> Kick Off – 14.00 >>> Weather – Wet >>> Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough

"I'm looking forward now to one more challenge.” - Neil Warnock, Sheff Utd, 16/05/07

“This is my last job - there won't be another job for me. I feel I have got something to offer Simon Jordan and this job. There were offers when I left Sheff Utd, the best part of five or six decent offers. Initially I did not feel it was right to jump right into the first job that came along." - Neil Warnock, Crystal Palace, 11/10/07

“This is my type of club – muck and nettles, headers and tackles. I used to think south of Watford was the back of beyond.” - Neil Warnock, QPR, 07/03/10

“Football is a great sport and gives us a great living, but I do think there are more important things, if I’m honest. I don’t want to die on the job. I want to go and see my lad play in the academy and take him fishing down in Looe. There are other things to do. QPR was by far the best job I had done in my life in the space of time I had. I believed, and still do, that we’d have been halfway up the table by the end of the season. I always said I wanted one more big challenge, but I don’t see it going on beyond the prime aim of promotion. I would not want to go into the Premier League with Leeds or anyone else, to be honest. My wife doesn’t want to see me have a heart attack and have to look after me, without any quality time in between me packing up football and popping my clogs.” - Neil Warnock, Leeds, 23/02/12

"I did feel the club needs somebody to commit themselves now to actually take it forward. The chairman has a dream of the Premiership, and quite rightly so, but I do think that's a few years away yet. Ten years ago, I think I would have signed a three or four-year contract with the chairman because I trust him that much. With one or two key signings Rotherham have the nucleus to take the club and try and be in a comfortable position The club now is in a situation where it needs somebody to come in for a couple of years. I have that one season left in me and I felt at the end, I would have been staying at Rotherham for the wrong reasons." Neil Warnock, Rotherham, 19/05/16

“They are my type of crowd. Blood and guts – which I like. If I can get it right for them, I know how much they’ll get behind me.” - Neil Warnock, Cardiff, 05/10.16

"I look at Cardiff as a farewell club. I don't think I'll be leaving the club and going to another. When you get to my age you can't really look beyond the next few months or weeks, whatever job you are in, not just football. I would love to keep Cardiff up and stabilise the club next year and keep them up again. Health is so important. We will see how things go this season. Whether my wife will put up with me like that I don't know. You have seen things not just at Leicester, but Glenn Hoddle who I think is a fantastic guy. It just brings it home to you really. Its on a thread isn't it really, life? It’s been one of the happiest times of my life really. And having thought about retiring two or three times I am really glad I didn't. Because I do feel better for doing what I have done here and I don't think my job is finished yet." - Neil Warnock, Cardiff, 08/11/18

“Absolutely, yes this is my last season. One or two of my best friends have struggled health wise this year and my wife Sharon and I want to go and do a couple of things while we have our health. The club is in a great state now. They’ve got time to look at candidates now and if I can help them in any way before I call it a day then great.” - Neil Warnock, Cardiff, 03/08/19

“Apparently I have 12 league games to go to get 1,500 and that is really tempting to me. I might have to go to League Two or something like that, but why not? It doesn't bother me what division I am managing in. I just think I will go to the end of this season. We are doing quite a bit of renovation at the house in Cornwall and it will be finished at the end of the season. So I think Sharon will be happy for me to be out of the house for a few weeks. I would like to do the 12 games if I am honest, I would like to be able to contribute to a club, either saving it or getting it up. Arsenal didn't come in for me, but I was understanding." Neil Warnock, unattached, 14/01/20

“I should be called the Red Adair because I don’t really get jobs that are decent in that respect, I always get trouble-shooting jobs. But I do enjoy that rather than being mid-table and nothing to play for. I just think you need that little bit of something on the edge. That’s what I’ve missed in the last few months. I wish I got a pound for every time I was asked if it was my last job. I’d more or less retired, I think, in my mind, but I thought, ‘What an opportunity, eight games without anybody booing me!’. At the moment I’m not going to be making any decisions myself, the main priority is let's make sure we keep in the Championship. When Rudy Gestede told me, no disrespect, but you have to have people in the trenches with you in this situation. We aren’t out of trouble by any means.” -Neil Warnock, Middlesbrough, 01/07/20

“I was only reminding Sharon the other day how much we used to enjoy our summer camper van holidays around the Scottish Highlands. Muck, nettles, pitching tents, it’s my kind of holiday that. I’ve always admired Scottish football, they get stuck in up here and it’s a bit of me, but I’ve never had a chance to experience it first hand. When the chairman called me on Thursday I didn’t hesitate. We’ve got eight games to save ourselves now and everybody needs to do perhaps just a little bit more than they have been doing…” -Neil Warnock, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, 28/02/23

I was quite happy in Cornwall if I’m honest but Sharon and I had been planning to bring William and Amy up to the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights for years and never quite got round to it so when Tromsø called I was straight on the plane if I’m honest. It’s my kind of place this, tundra, glaciers… I’ve already been on the phone to Chris Morgan seeing if he fancy it, Morgs would love this, you should see the pitch. It’s my last job in football this, I just couldn’t say no to the chairman here. If you get a good chairman as a manager you’re well set and they’ve one of the best here. Terrific people. We’ve got eight games to save ourselves now and everybody perhaps needs to just do a little bit more than they have been doing…” -Neil Warnock, Tromso, 06/08,27

“It’s funny, I was watching Sky Sports the other night and I said to Sharon, ‘I’ve always been fascinated by the NBA me’…” -Neil Warnock, Chicago, 03/04/28

“I was only saying to Sharon the other night while we were watching tele, I’ve always wanted to visit the Galapagos Islands. It’s out of the way but that makes it my kind of place, nobody wants to try and come here on a Tuesday night and be back for a game on Saturday. I don’t know a lot of the boys but we’ve padded up for training today to see what everybody’s about. We’ve eight games to save ourselves from an extinction event, I’ve told em already about eating all that plastic. I'm like Red Adair me. The giant sea turtles need to do maybe just a little bit more than they have been doing… -Neil Warnock, Puerto Ayora, 22/02/30

I’ve always been fascinated by outer space. I'd never been to the moon, grew up in Sheffield me, but now I'm here I'm really enjoying it. It'll be me last job this but they're great people. The atmosphere’s not right at the moment. We won’t be having eight loan players next year let me tell you, but that’ll come. We've got 8 games to save ourselves now... -Neil Warnock, Lunar Module, 10/01/42

Links >>> View from the Pu – June >>> Warnock’s latest farewell – Interview >>> 1993 away win – History >>> Duncan’s comeback – Referee >>> Misery loves company – Podcast >>> Official Website >>> Teeside Gazette – Local Paper >>> FMTTM – Message Board >>> One Boro – Forum

Geoff Cameron Facts No.97 In The Series – Geoff is currently the best goalkeeper at the club.

Sunday

Team News: Anthony Knockaert’s horrible hatchet job on Bright Osayi-Samuel on Tuesday night, which brought only a yellow card, left the QPR winger limping from the field before the end so he must be a major doubt for this long trip to the North East. Mide Shodipo would seemingly be front and centre to replace him after three extended sub outings so far in which he’s looked probably the best of a bad bunch. Or maybe Jack Clarke might get some minutes, as part of one of the strangest loan deals ever done and back on a ground where he literally drank himself into a Red Bull coma during his Leeds days.

Warbs Warburton switched to a wing back system and back three against Fulham, meaning a recall for Ossie Kakay for his first start in nearly two years. Kakay did himself no harm, but that’s a system the manager seems to like against Fulham, and should have yielded more than a pair of 2-1 defeats but for all four goals being absolutely gifted to the Cottagers across two games. Liam Kelly’s dire form since the restart could potentially open the door for Joe Lumley, but not Senny Dieng. We had speculated that the 24-year-old, still to make his QPR debut, might be an option this summer after returning from his latest impressive loan, this time at Doncaster Rovers, but although league rules on players who had been out on season-long loans have been relaxed slightly for the lockdown fixtures, they still say a player can only be selected if the club has no other fit and available option that has ever played that position at senior level before. For Dieng that means injuries to Kelly, Lumley and Dillon Barnes. Birmingham remain keen on him for the summer transfer window, so it may be that we never see him in QPR first team colours.

One player who is slipping under the radar a little bit is striker Marco Ramkilde, a 21-year-old Dane who signed an 18-month contract with the club to no fanfare at all midway through this season. Ramkilde has played representative football for Denmark all the way up to U19 level and had played in the top flight in Denmark for AaB as early as 2016 prior to a knee injury which blew out the best part of two years of his career. He is training with the first team at the moment, and QPR are not blessed with striking options, but Warbs Warburton was quick to emphasise that he is very much a “project” for the future rather than an option for Sunday in his pre-match preview on the offish site.

Boro lost attacking young full back Djed Spence to a hamstring injury after a typically forceful forward run at Hull on Thursday night – Lewis Wing was his replacement. Neil Warnock’s standard early tactics of bombing a couple out and giving another couple a clean slate have seen Rudy Gestede released early while Patrick Roberts, who’d only played four times for Boro prior to lockdown having arrived in January, has started both games. Roberts lasted an hour on Humberside and hasn’t scored in – wait for it, you know what’s coming – 45 appearances with four different clubs going back to September 27, 2017, when he got one of Celtic’s three at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

Elsewhere: Fun for all the family on the tellybox this evening as Charlton, with two wins and a draw under lockdown, face Millwall, whose play-off push has satlled with two points from nine available since we came back to action.

More local rivalry tomorrow at lunchtime as Wayne Rooney’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass host Nottingham Florists, both of whom have flown out of the blocks in lockdown and recorded a pair of 1-0 wins midweek to bolster play-off ambitions.

There are seven matches at 15.00 on Saturday, including the Champions of Europe away to the Mad Chicken Farmers. ‘Elsewhere’s’ favourite Patrick ‘Bam Bam’ Bamford missed another sitter in the week against Lutown, blaming the floodlights. Two more points dropped there against a team in the drop zone, following an earlier loss at Cardiff, suggests Marshmallow Bielsa’s men are desperate to choke again if only anybody would chase them with any conviction. West Brom won at Sheffield Owls midweek and play struggling Allam Tigers on Sunday – their victory on the Twelfth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour last night their first in 15 attempts. Tarquin and Rupert got a first win behind closed doors at Loftus Road and should really follow that up with a second against a Birmingham side whose manager is leaving and have made it quite clear they don’t give a single shit about any of this – a 3-0 loss at home to Huddersfield their latest effort.

Of course, Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow have set their stall out nice and clear with three consecutive wins to nil as they try and gatecrash the top two. Their home game this weekend faces them off with Wigan Warriors, who were the division’s other form team with eight wins and one defeat from 12 games but have now been stung by a plunge into administration. Coming just a month after the club was passed from one Far East consortium to another, it’s the latest roaring success story for the EFL’s governance of its competitions and fit and proper owner test. There’s much more to come out on that but the EFL’s CEO himself, Rick Parry, was filmed this week confirming that one story doing the rounds is the club’s owners tried to short their apparently desperate league position by placing a large bet in the Far East on the club to be relegated, only to get spooked by Paul Cook’s remarkable change of fortunes since mid-February. The team’s reaction will be fascinating, particularly this weekend against probably the best team they’ll have played all season.

At the bottom end of the play-off picture Bristol City – three defeats from three played – are going in opposite directions to Cardiff City who play them this weekend and hope to take their place. Preston Knob End were also looking well for a top six berth prior to the shutdown but have come back in dreadful form and may be ideal cannon fodder for the Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki who’ve quietly snuck back into the shit at the bottom of the table without anybody really noticing. Likewise Poke City, now back in the bottom three with Jack Butland not benefitting at all from the time away from professional football and facing an awkward home game against Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare who’ve won two of three to move back into contention.

I know we take the piss, but it’s a fascinating league really isn’t it?

Oh no, wait. Lutown v Reading. And Swanselona v Sheffield Owls.

Six to go.

Referee: Scott Duncan is not a man QPR had a happy time with last season. First he awarded a nonsense penalty to Sheffield United at Loftus Road in August, having already been let down by his linesman for an offside first from Billy Sharp. Then away at Wigan he waved away injury time appeals for a QPR penalty when Ryan Manning’s goalbound shot was saved splendidly with an outstretched hand by somebody other than the Wigan goalkeeper. Against Nottingham Forest at Loftus Road he evened that up by allowing our own Jack Robinson to do exactly the same. And so, without wishing ill on anybody, we weren’t exactly drowning in a river of our own tears to find him on the long term injured list for almost the entirety of 2019/20, only very gently being eased back into action with some nonsense League Two action in mid-March. Why this pandemic is a festering pain in the arse part 56,789 in the series – he’s got fit during the lockdown, and now he’s back, warming himself up with the Miazga v Lawrence bitch slap contest at Derby v Reading last week. A poor referee. Details.

Form

Boro: It’s the clash of the team that draws all the time against the one that never draws at all at the Riverside on Sunday. Boro have finished level 14 times this season, including six of their 12 games immediately before the lockdown. Only Swansea (15), Cardiff (16) and Millwall (17) have managed more in the Championship this season while only Luton and Stoke (seven each) have drawn fewer than QPR’s eights. QPR’s one-thing-or-the-other approach to the league this season means they’re six places and six points ahead of Boro with six to play despite losing more matches than them – 18 defeats to Boro’s 16, but 14 wins to their ten. Boro paid £15m for Britt Assombalonga, £6.7m for Ashley Fletcher, £6.3m for Rudy Gestede and have Lukas Nmecha on loan from Man City but have scored fewer goals (40) than any other team in the league this season. Those four have 18 goals between them in the league, with Fletcher top scoring on nine. Thursday night’s surprise defeat at Hull was the first time this season Boro have scored first and lost the game. Prior to that on the 14 occasions they had opened the scoring they’d won nine and drawn five – including a 2-2 at Loftus Road in November. Jonny Howson leads the Boro squad this season in assists (six), passes completed, tackles made and interceptions.

QPR: Not surprisingly given Boro’s struggles and the way QPR have approached the season, Rangers have scored far more goals than Neil Warnock’s new side – 59 in the league compared to Boro’s 40. However, as well as losing more matches (18 to their 14) Rangers have also conceded far more goals – 66 to Boro’s 52. Four more against in the remaining six matches and it will be the third season in a row QPR have shipped 70 goals in a league season (and it was 66 the season before that as well). QPR have won six away matches so far this season which is their best haul since the 2013/14 promotion season when they won eight. They still have trips to Boro, Wigan, Luton and West Brom to come but all four have plenty to play for and given how Rangers have started the lockdown they’re starting to look like fairly evil fixtures rather than a favourable opportunity. There are nine teams below QPR in the table at the moment, with seven points separating us from Stoke who are third bottom and who we’ve beaten twice this season. In the 14 games played against the other eight teams we have won three (Birmingham A, Luton H, Hull A), lost six and drawn the other five including a 2-2 with Boro in W12 in the corresponding fixture. With only two home games left and eight defeats at Loftus Road so far we at least cannot match last year’s unwelcome club record of 11 home defeats in a single 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 grumpy reigning champion WokingR tells us…

“Well if anyone thought my Fulham prediction was grumpy, things haven't exactly got any better since have they? Think Uncle Neil will have them too organised and motivated for us and we'll be back to drawing a blank. 2-0 to yet another team in red.”

Woking’s Prediction: Boro 2-0 QPR. No scorer.

LFW’s Prediction: Boro 1-0 QPR. No scorer.

The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

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switchingcode added 20:01 - Jul 3
Boro 0 RaRas 2 Colin says “they are the worse side I’ve seen this season in the championship and can’t believe they lost me “
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TacticalR added 20:56 - Jul 4
Thanks for your preview and a great review of Warnock's neverending 'muck and nettles' tour.

Will our post-lockdown form ever pick up? Will Hugill overcome his love for Boro?
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062259 added 04:11 - Jul 5
Lunar module? Atmosphere? I chuckled.
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Burnleyhoop added 08:56 - Jul 5
Hilarious....no doubting Warnock’s passion for the game, although I do doubt his desire for a quiet life in Cornwall.

Hoping for a big performance today or the jungle drums will be at it big time otherwise. We defo need to end the season on some sort of positive.
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