Two bald men, one comb - Preview
Friday, 10th Jul 2020 20:43 by Clive Whittingham
The two teams who've approached lockdown football in the most slovenly manner but aren't Birmingham City clash at Loftus Road on Saturday in a titanic struggle to discover who wants to lose the least.
QPR (15-8-19, WLLLWL, 14th) v Sheff Wed (14-10-18, LDWLLL, 16th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday July (July) 11, 2020 (year of the enormous shit) >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Plague of locusts >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
Ok guys, let’s have a grown up discussion about why we’re both here.
You’re here because, like me, you still value long-form written features and journalism. YouTubers with immaculate hair trying to replicate Messi’s free kicks while analysing Arsenal from an expert position of zero games attended this season isn’t for you. People, who used to support Luton Town, shoving microphones under the noses of coked up weirdos outside other - better supported - clubs for provocative clickbait opinions that deliver big advertising money isn’t for you. Over-the-top Tweeted think pieces that ignore the global pandemic, ignore FFP, ignore the club’s financial situation, ignore the coming recession, ignore the state of our owners’ businesses in the real world, ignore the truncated close season and transfer window we’re about to have, and insist that all but two, or maybe three, of the current QPR squad is “shocking” and in need of immediate replacement isn’t for you. And nor should it be. It’s not for me either. Brain rot.
You’re here for the stats, and the jokes, and the frequently contradictory prose that make it sound like I know what I’m talking about when actually I don’t. You endure the hideously cropped photographs, the graphic sexual imagery, and the Geoff Cameron Facts which – quick dip behind the curtain – started as a silly drunk idea on a train back from an awayday in Birmingham when we’d conquered a tower of onion rings and has been continued this long purely because we wanted to get to number 99 today and do an old Monkey Dust joke. Monkey Dust a show none of you will have watched, and therefore it’s completely wasted, but we thought of 98 Geoff Cameron facts regardless. And we’d do it again. In fact, as we’ve given the silly old goat another year extension to his contract, we’re going to have to do it again.
I was here originally because I wanted to be. When I was at university there was no YouTube, there were no ‘vloggers’, podcasts were not a thing. My mobile phone initially was good for playing Snake, and was then upgraded to a model which quickly lost its keypad requiring me to operate the buttons with a toothpick. Using it to film broadcast quality documentaries/take pictures of my genitals was a distant pipe dream. If you’re young and sure of yourself and full of opinions and self-entitled and go to occasional QPR games now you sit yourself down in front of a camera you picked up for the cost of a book, or strap your phone to a three quid bit of plastic, and off you go, ranting on, talking about how disgustingly useless all our players are and how various completely unaffordable players from other teams would be great for us. During the war (16 years ago) you wrote for a site like this, which is what I wanted to do. Then, when the reality of the world bit me square on the arse, I realised the token £120 a month TeamTalk slung me for doing half a dozen detailed match reports a month was actually the difference between landlord fixing the leak under the sink and landlord asking for the keys back.
And so, over 16 years, we’ve continued in waves together you and I. Sometimes I’ve enjoyed it, and frequently I haven’t. Sometimes I’ve carried on only for the meagre money it was bringing that I was desperate for, and other times I’ve done it for free because people have come up to me in the Crown and Sceptre and told me stories about how they read my sodding match reports out loud to their husband in hospital. I’ve put up with a succession of anonymous Twitter troll accounts, run by somebody who thinks it’s acceptable to email my boss telling him I’m doing QPR work on his time to try and get me sacked from the job I rely on to feed myself and pay my mortgage, or DMing my best mate to tell him they’ve seen me touching his wife up at games. Somebody apparently utterly enthralled by the idea that a lad from Grimsby doesn’t just want to quietly earn a quid or two extra to pay his bills by running a poxy QPR blog but in fact wants to be a “celebrity fan” and must be taken down. Somebody willing to try and destroy my career, my friendships, and somebody else’s marriage because they don’t like my fucking match preview of QPR v Stoke, or what I said on a podcast after QPR lost to bastard Ipswich, or that I write a banal column in the chuffing match programme.
We’re quite low on the wave now. The money stopped months ago, there is no longer payment for this. I'm carrying on because if there's better Sheff Wed content prior to this game than this and better historical context to this fixture than this anywhere out there then I haven't seen it, and there's personal pride in that. QPR put the cue on the rack weeks ago, coughing into life and showing they are capable at Middlesbrough last week just long enough to stave off any lingering threat of being dragged back into trouble but, basically, not giving a single shit since football resumed. You’re reading this out of habit, or want of something better to do with your time, or because you’re hoping I might say something interesting, cutting, incisive, irreverent or funny about tomorrow’s match. But Queens Park Rangers playing like this against Sheffield Wednesday playing like that is beyond me. Even I can’t sell this shit. And for that I apologise.
Here comes that Geoff Cameron fact.
Links >>> Precariously placed Owls – Interview >>> QPR break 1988 duck – History >>> Some referee or other – Referee >>> Sheff Wed Official Website >>> Sheffield Star – Local Paper >>> London Owls – Blog >>> Owls Talk – Message Board
Geoff Cameron Facts No.99 In The Series – A 99!! LIKE A 69 BUT 30 WORSE.
Team News: This game has come too soon for Jordan Hugill following his hamstring injury sustained in scoring the winner at Middlesbrough last weekend. Frankly, given the nature of hamstring injuries, QPR’s league position, and Hugill’s own personal situation, I’m amazed there’s even a suggestion that he might come back and play in the remaining games. Earlier this season Hugill, on loan from Premier League West Ham, played on in pain through an injury that required an operation during the lockdown period in order to get games and goals under his belt and he’s been rewarded with a career high haul of 15 in the professional game. It speaks volumes for his character, certainly when compared to Tomer Hemed the season before, and makes me think that despite the obvious faults in technique, and the frequent missed sitters, I’d like him back next season if any sort of deal could be done. He’s very QPR, moments of brilliance set amongst long spells of drek, fully aware of his own deficiencies and aggressively ploughing on regardless with a 90s throwback haircut.
In his absence, Warbs Warburton must decide whether to give another start to the obviously out-of-his-depth Aramide Oteh, or concoct a forward line from Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Jack Clarke, Ilias Chair and Mide Shodipo. Clarke and Shodipo looked the best of a horrendous outfield bunch in the debacle at Wigan on Wednesday. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see a return to the back four set up, with Angel Rangel suitably rested and Osman Kakay able to partner Yoann Barbet at centre half allowing Geoff Cameron to move back into midfield and relieve the hagged looking Dom Ball and Luke Amos combo. It’s a lot of deckchair shuffling this though, nothing will significantly improve us in this situation.
Sheff Wed lost top scorer Steven Fletcher, top earner Fernando Forestieri and Morgan Fox at the end of June after the trio rejected vastly reduced new deals. Paul Jones, Kieran Lee and BFG extra Atdhe Nuhiu all agreed extensions to the end of July and are available. QPR-bound Sam Hutchinson and Sam Winnall, who Ian Holloway once thought he’d brought to QPR for less than £1m only to return from his lunchbreak to find the bidding had been driven up north of £6m in less than an hour (probably why Sheff Wed and Derby, the clubs involved, are in such shite now), have also both been released early. Unpaid wages from June have, belatedly, gone through to the Wednesday players this week. Another EFL success story in the making.
Elsewhere: The top four are really clicking into gear and keen to see it over the line now, but only two can claim automatic. Champions of Europe looked the most panicky among them, but Marshmallow Bielsa’s men were treated to a hapless Poke City servicing on Thursday night and promptly gobbled up a 5-0 win to move onto 81 points. Six clear with four to go, surely even Leeds cannot bollocks it up from here? West Brom are slowly discovering that even a fat Charlie Austin means goals at this level and they’ve now won three in a row to move onto 80 points which is five clear of Dynamo Gunnersbury who’ve returned with five straight wins but can’t close the gap, and Jeffers and AJ who won all three games while Aleksander Mitrovic was suspended but also remain agonisingly out of reach.
If we’re being pragmatic about it, all four should win again this weekend. Tarquin and Rupert host Cardiff City tonight – Neil Harris’ hopes of play offs dealt a spectacular blow by Adam Armstrong chipping Alex Smithies from 50 yards during the week (check it out). Leeds are at Swanselona on Sunday while Brentford will almost certainly be the best opposition to turn up at Wayne Rooney’s 24 Hour Pie and Prozzy this season. West Brom are at the Mad Chicken farmers.
Fulham’s midweek win came at the expense of Nottingham Florist who stalled slightly in the face of Harry Arter’s persistent midfield niggle. They got to Preston Knob End tomorrow who looked to have given yup entirely until three goals in the last ten minutes got them a win at Hillsborough during the week. Lewis Grabban and Joe Lolley have been involved in 67% (37) of Forest’s 54 goals this season (28 goals, nine assists) but both are a doubt for tomorrow.
At the other end it’s becoming a matter of who the EFL are deducting points from and who they aren’t. Wigan Warriors are on 53, but actually 41, which puts them bottom and five adrift of Stoke. They play Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare this weekend who are second bottom on 42, four short of safety. Lutown are grinding Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki into submission as we write this, and are also on 42 points. The Allam’s shameless force into the ground of their Tigers has them third bottom with Millwall Scholars in town on Saturday. Wigan play Barnsley, Hull and Charlton next and may well yet escape despite the decuction. The whole thing could yet be tossed into doubt by a deduction of eight or more points for the Owls. It’s a total mess basically, and the Twelfth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour is quietly climbing away from it all, with another eminently winnable game against Bristol City at home on Saturday.
A week and a half and it’s all over again guys.
Referee: Oliver Langford has always seemed like a perfectly reasonable fellow on the many previous occasions we’ve had him tending to our games. I’m kind of half hoping he just goes fucking rogue here to liven it up a bit. History and stats.
QPR: After the brief cough into life at Middlesbrough to snap a three-game losing run and move QPR well beyond the safety mark to 53 points, the R’s returned to their previous lockdown form with a listless 1-0 loss at Wigan during the week. Their summer form now shows four losses and one win from five games, with just two goals scored, both of them by Jordan Hugill who is now injured. Only the top three Leeds (68), West Brom (73) and Brentford (75) have scored more than QPR’s 60 this season, and yet to watch them at the moment you think they’re never going to score. For a more detailed breakdown about what exactly has changed since the lockdown, and why, I’d recommend this deep dive from Antti Korpela.
Sheff Wed: The Owls’ numbers this season are… odd. At home no team in the league has scored fewer than their 18 goals – bottom three Luton (29), Hull (29) and Barnsley (28) are all streets ahead. Away from home, no team in the league has scored more – Leeds and Brentford are matched with Wednesday’s 33. Their home results since the turn of the year include 3-1 losses to Preston and Derby, 3-0 losses to Reading and West Brom, and a 5-0 set back against Blackburn. Their away results this year include a 4-0 win at Nottingham Forest and a 4-1 win at Middlesbrough in which all the goals were scored before half time. Wednesday won 11 games in the league through to mid December out of 23 played with six draws thrown into the bargain. On December 22 they went third. Since Boxing Day they’ve won three and lost 12 to dip down to 16th, seven points shy of the drop zone with a potential deduction to come. They’ve won five games in 2020, two in the FA Cup at Brighton and QPR, two in the league at Leeds and Bristol City. Their only home win in 11 games dating back to December 22 was a last minute 1-0 against Charlton. Injury time goals have been a bit of a theme. Wednesday have scored eight of them, gaining five points, and conceded ten of them (including two in one game twice at Blackburn and Stoke) surrendering 12 points. Add the 12 lost back on and they’re sixth, take the five gained away and 19th and two away from the bottom three. Wednesday lost 5-0 at Brentford (best team they’ve played) in the game before lockdown and have returned with a draw, a win, and three successive defeats. Top scorer Steven Fletcher (13) has left the club, Jacob Murphy is next best on six.
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 reigning champion WokingR tells us…
“These games are coming so thick and fast now, are of poor quality, devoid of any atmosphere and are completely meaningless. This game between fourteenth and sixteenth is for nothing at all and I reckon that is exactly the performance we are likely to get. A boring 0-0 where nobody out there gives a toss.”
Woking’s Prediction: QPR 0-0 Sheff Wed. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Sheff Wed. Scorer – Bright Osayi Samuel
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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