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The view from the Pu – July
Monday, 3rd Aug 2020 09:58 by Steve Hardy

Several months later than we’d originally anticipated, Steve Hardy’s final column of the season looks at QPR’s July.

Let us rejoice that the 2019/20 season is finally over. A season that fans of all clubs won’t be forgetting in a hurry and one that I didn’t expect to be writing about going into the last week of July. Let’s look at a month that gave us two wins, two draws and two defeats, which on paper doesn’t seem anywhere near as bad as it felt at times.

Good

Kicking off with that initial positive that the season is, at last, over. Without doubt the strangest season of my football supporting life. A season that has dragged on until the end of July, seen John Terry take a knee for the Black Lives Matter movement without a hint of irony and, rather hilariously, has seen a team win eight games in a row and then lose to Barnsley and Stoke when it actually mattered – watch them beat Fulham now I’ve wrote this.

All in all though I would say that the hoops have negotiated this season very well bar the first six games since the lockdown break. I’ve mentioned it a lot throughout the season about keeping in mind where we thought we would be ending up in comparison to where we have actually ended and I would class this as a very good season. This was driven home when the Sky commentator mentioned last Wednesday that we have the fifth lowest budget in the Championship this season, so to end up in thirteenth position which is a vast improvement on last season is a job well done to me. Obviously this summer appears to be very uncertain for a lot of clubs but I do feel positive going forward, especially when you look at our position compared to certain clubs in relation to FFP. I’ve been impressed with Warburton this season and I do feel that we are starting to see these green shoots of recovery that we have been speaking about for the last four seasons. For once I’m filled with a tiny bit of optimism heading into a summer break – feels strange doesn’t it.

For me I would say the major success story of this season has been the development of our younger players and seeing that come to fruition in the performances and (fingers crossed) transfer fees of players such as Manning, Bright and Eze. We’ve also had ickle Ilias Chair establish himself as a first team regular and not look out of place, and before the perennial moaners state that we signed these players from other clubs youth teams we also have Joe Lumley and Osman Kakay who have been with us since the ages of 15 (Lumley) and eight (Kakay) respectively. So we’re obviously doing something right and a huge amount of credit deserves to be going the way of Chris Ramsey and everybody involved in the youth set up. To have an average of 24 for our starting eleven throughout July was pretty impressive and if you can add to that with an experienced spine of the team then it should give us the foundation to build going forward. Here’s hoping that we receive the money the performance of Bright and Eze have warranted this season and then we can push on from there.
We actually finished a season somewhere other than sixteenth place for a change and it is worth stating that we also ended the season with a three match unbeaten run, small positives I know but still positives none the less and hopefully this will create a positive atmosphere around the place when we shortly come back for pre-season. It’s incredibly small time to be championing a thirteenth place finish but when I look at what the club has done this year – blooding youth team players, winning away games, cutting the wage bill, open communication with the fans, actually sorting out the training ground – I would consider it a great season and fingers crossed this is also reflected in earning good money for some of our prized assets this summer (more on that later).

Bad

So let’s start with the worst part of the month and probably one of the worst performances that we have served up for a few seasons, Sheffield Wednesday at home. Clive wrote in his match preview that a more pointless football match you would struggle to find – two Championship teams in dismal form, with nothing to play for, playing in an empty stadium – but yet we still managed to make Wednesday look like the end of season Southampton teams of the 90’s. All the usual post lockdown issues were served up within seven minutes but I think the thing that left the sourest of tastes was the attitude of the players. When not even the manager can’t defend the players at the end of the game says it all, but watching the highlights (lowlights?) of the game is just infuriating, defenders not even running, tackles not being made and the opposition having the freedom of our penalty box is just basic things that a professional football team should not be allowing to happen. When you compare Ryan Manning’s performance in this game compared to his performances in the last two games of the season it doesn’t really sit well. It didn’t get any worse than this I suppose but my word this was rank.

It looks like we have seen Eze, Bright and Manning play in a hooped shirt for the last time and whilst losing this amount of quality is a negative in itself the most important part of these potential deals will be the transfer fee that we receive. Clearly no one knows what the transfer landscape of the Championship will look like going forward but looking at the recent transfer activity in the Premiership it appears that it will be business as usual in the self-proclaimed ‘greatest league on earth’. With this in mind and looking at Eze’s contract situation I genuinely think we are within reason to be looking at a fee of £20 million upwards for the youngster, however I pray for his own sake that he doesn’t end up at West Ham. David Moyes managing him? I dread to think of that, and looking at the clubs linked I would much prefer to see him at Palace where Hodgson would definitely get more out of his mercurial talents than the dinosaur would over in Stratford. Like I say though, I do feel that we can hold out for big money for our number 10. Looking at the money Norwich got for James Maddison a few seasons back and how that money affected them this will be a very important bit of business for the club and could shape our next few seasons. With FFP sanctions (supposedly) being applied to some clubs the money we receive for Eze could give us a bit of leg room to build on what we currently have at the club. I write all this though knowing that it will be famous ‘undisclosed fee’ when it actually happens.

With this in mind and looking at the pittance that Sheffield United have picked up Jon Swift for, I don’t actually think £4.5 million for Bright is a bad deal. Obviously we’ll never know exactly what we signed him for but this is still a huge profit on a player that we signed less than three years ago. For all the people who berate the club for not receiving £50 million for every player we ever sell I actually think this is a good bit of business, that’s if it actually goes through of course.

July rating – C

That brings to a close another season and I just want to say thanks to everyone who reads this nonsense and obviously a massive thanks to Clive for putting this up and for the great content that he continues to provide for us. Still the best football website out there in my book. Hope everyone is staying safe and hopefully see you all at an actual game very soon.

Season rating – B+

Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19 >>> September 19 >>> October 19 >>> November 19 >>> December 19 >>> January 20 >>> February 20 >>> March 20 >>> April 20 >>> May 20 >>> June 20

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loftboy added 11:00 - Aug 3
Another great read, thanks
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E15Hoop added 12:15 - Aug 3
Thanks, Steve. Agree with most of this, but not the comments on Moyes (partly because I live in Stratford, so go past the imaginatively titled London Stadium at least once every day, and watch the Spammers on occasion as well - blame my Uncle Michael, who's a pwoper EastEndarr!). Michail Antonio has been playing like he thinks he's Maradona without the random violence and cheating recently, and Moyes wants to completely overhaul the squad to also possibly include Mr. Ryan Manning of the Rangers parish. Given what Moyes achieved at both Preston and Everton, I don't think you can dismiss him that sniffily and, clearly Sir Alex of the True Timekeeping felt that he had somethiong of merit..
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isawqpratwcity added 14:09 - Aug 3
Thanks, Steve. I'm always looking for the simple conclusion and for me it is "...fifth lowest budget...thirteenth position". Our best finish since 2016, under Ramsey/Warnock/Hasselbaink, when we still had a fair few of our reasonable Premier players.
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kingfisher6404 added 15:01 - Aug 3
Thanks for that article Steve!
The small print we must always remember as a mantra is that we have achieved 13th in the Championship on a budget that most clubs laugh at! Thanks to Warburton and our squad we have over-performed perhaps, but certainly entertained!!
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