|Queens Park Rangers 3 v 2 Cardiff City|
Saturday, 31st October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Getting our priorities in order - Preview
Friday, 30th Oct 2020 17:22 by Clive Whittingham
QPR go into Saturday's game with Cardiff City missing key players, on a seven match winless run, without a goal in four games, and with Andy Woolmer refereeing. Can they catch a train on time though? That's the real quiz.
QPR (1-4-3, DDDLDL, 19th) v Cardiff City (2-4-2, LDWDDD, 14th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 31, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Wet and windy >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
Now, clearly, Queens Park Rangers have issues. Without a win in seven since the opening day. Without a goal in four matches since Macauley Bonne’s late equaliser at Hillsborough. Only three victories in 18 games behind closed doors.
A team that scored freely for much of 2019/20 now looks fairly bereft in attack, with just six goals scored in eight league games this season and two of those penalties. Bonne and Lyndon Dykes are toiling hard up front, but neither looks much of a goal threat at this point. One of their chief supply lines, Bright Osayi-Samuel, was left out of the team in midweek amidst ongoing contract farcicals. His natural replacement, Albert Adomah, still only fit enough for an hour or so of Championship action.
The high press that Warbs Warburton’s style of play so relies on has been rather stunted by the loss of Big Bad Luke Amos, just as he was starting to play well at Bournemouth, and the ongoing niggly absence of his natural replacement in that role George ‘Slab of Lad’ Thomas. Ilias Chair, as one would expect, is finding Ebere Eze’s shoes rather difficult to fill as the left sided attacker in the 4-2-3-1 or 4-1-3-2 system.
The centre of the midfield is as it has been since the Scowen-Luongo-Freeman triumvirate was broken up and while the defence behind it has improved significantly statistically this season, Rob Dickie’s ongoing handsiness finally caught him out during the week, and The Barbinger of Doom’s refusal to engage in anything that doesn’t involve a huge exaggerated sliding tackle is causing logistical difficulties.
Were you so inclined to blame the manager for this, and as we’ve repeatedly said QPR’s ongoing struggles despite multiple changes suggest the manager isn’t really the problem, then the question becomes who exactly would want to come now, and work with this squad, on this budget, who would really be able to do a lot better? Does this strike force start scoring goals, this midfield start functioning, this defence stop its collective brain exploding, this group of players find its voice, this squad gain confidence, simply by removing Mark Warburton less than a dozen games into the season and replacing him with somebody else? It would have to be a pretty decent somebody else, and they’d have to be available, and willing to come, and affordable, and happy to work with our wage bill and budget. Good luck with that. Eddie Howe isn’t going to shag you mate.
Then there’s the ongoing problem of not having fans in the ground, how much money that’s costing the club, how long owners with their own business concerns during a pandemic will keep writing a cheque to cover that and so on. The new training ground. The new kits having too much white on the shoulders. That big point we made about not taking the knee, only to now have quietly returned to taking the knee without anybody saying anything about it. The omnipresent lack of water pressure in the ladies’ toilets. That geezer pushing out hookie replica tops denying the club key income which could otherwise be going towards a six-year contract for some full back who’s looked sort of alright for the U23s on the odd occasion. The lack of provision for hot drinks at half time when Mick Dennis is around. It’s just problems problems problems.
But I want to make it clear right here and now that nothing, none of this, matters a single bit relative to this week’s, what shall we say, ok I’ll go as far to say scandal. Yes, scandal. A bloody outrage in fact.
Back story… For the sort of people who read think pieces in Murdoch newspapers about how spending two hours of your day, every day, every week of the year, every year of your life, crammed into an old, slow, frequently delayed railway carriage to get to an office somewhere at the annual cost of the debt of a small third world country is actually “part of you” and “you miss it really” and is something you should aspire to return to immediately global pandemic or no global pandemic, and thinks “yeh, they’re right, I fucking adore commuting really” then ViacomCBS-owned UK terrestrial Channel 5 has you covered. They’ve commissioned Paddington 24/7: Back On Tracks, which is basically some television cameras going around Paddington station, filming the people that work in there extorting your money and cleaning up when you puke that bad pint back up on the floor and selling you a chicken and bacon pasty with no chicken and bacon in it for £4.95, and then showing it back to you so you can sit at home and look at Paddington station on your tellybox and say “hey look there’s Paddington station that I used to walk through before the arse fell out of the world”.
On such a show, a middle of the road Championship football team turning up on a coach - that initially parks in the wrong parking bay would you believe, cor what are they like, bloody hilarious – and then walking from that coach to a train via one of those outlets that will swap five of your English pounds for a cup of brown sugary liquid with your name spelt incorrectly on the side, counts as something of an event. So much so, in fact, that when it comes to clipping promos for your social media channel, you can do a thick two minutes on this ‘drama’. Will the lost coach arrive at the station in time? Will the Championship footballers nobody has ever heard of make it to the designated meeting spot in time? Will Lee Wallace, who I don’t know if you’re aware used to be the Captain of Glasgow Rangers, get on the 14.04 to Plymouth by 14.04? The answer to all of these questions is yes, as we know because we’ve already enjoyed, very much, our 3-2 defeat at Plymouth with everybody present and correct, but it passed the time while we wait for death, and in 2020 that’s all any of us are really aspiring to.
Nevertheless, the manner in which the middle of the road Championship football team got from coach to train was, clearly, to anybody watching, nothing short of a disgrace. Look at the arrogance and lack of professionalism of these young men as they dare to board their train sort of close to its designated departure time. Everything that’s wrong with this QPR team, that’s what this is. Careless, carefree, uncaring slugs, deliberately running train departure times a bit close and dragging us down to League One with their slovenliness. And where’s the manager while all this is going on? Eh? Eh? Riddle me that. Club apologist. Prison. Prison is what should happen here. Although that might be too good for them. What’s the other one? Execution. That’s it. That’ll learn them. Have we still go that wicker man?
Anyway, while we all scoured the players’ Instagram accounts looking for clues to their addresses in the background of videos so we could pop round and pour some petrol through the letterbox for this heinous crime, Great Western Rail (who very generously offer a £93 return ticket to Exeter on an empty off peak train during a global pandemic, bless them) felt the need to come out and say that actually QPR had boarded the train fine, certainly a good deal more fine than they subsequently defended against League One Plymouth when they got down there, and it would be lovely if they kept spending money booking "exclusive carriages" with them in the future. QPR were jolly pleased about this, because, well, somebody was advocating beating Liam Kelly over the head with a board with a nail in it.
And so another adventure in the world of QPR social media drew to its natural conclusion – everybody still furious, nobody really sure who with any more. Now, if only we could sort out the menace that is The Living Statue we might be getting somewhere. (You can do your own Joe Lumley joke).
Links >>> Preston re-run – Interview >>> Bowles and Givens strike – History >>> Chuckles Woolmer – Referee >>> Junior R’s Special – Podcast >>> Official Website >>> Three Little Birds – Blog >>> CCMB – Message Board >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> Mauve and Yellow – Blog
Geoff Cameron Facts No.112 In The Series – Following pleas from the younger players Geoff has reluctantly agreed to fulfil his captain obligations and press ahead with arrangements for Ilias Chair’s birthday party at Thorpe Park, while maintaining his original stance that the trip should be put on hiatus until Ilias is tall enough to go on the rides.
Team News: Long term, QPR are without ACL victims Luke Amos and Charlie Owens. Medium term, George Thomas is still a week or so away and Lee Wallace is still feeling out the extent of his nasty looking knock from the Birmingham game. Rob Dickie is on the naughty step for one match after his midweek red. Bright Osayi-Samuel was left out at Oakwell because we can’t have players deliberately running their contracts down, not that this is the case with him because he’s a great lad, but nevertheless we’re not in a position to let players leave at the end of their deals for nothing, not that he would because he’s under 24 and we’d be entitled to compensation, but is somebody who’s out of contract going to be as committed and focused as you want them to be, not that Brighty wouldn’t be because he’s not that sort of kid, but it’s about commitment to the team and if he’s not willing to commit then somebody who is willing to commit will play, not that Bright is uncommitted because we think the world of him and he gives 100% every week, but if his head isn’t in the right place then it’s best to leave him out, not that his head is in the wrong place you understand… Waiting to find out exactly where the roulette wheel of QPR contract talks has landed with him this week at 14.00 tomorrow is probably about as exciting as the day is going to get. Joe Lumley has had quite the October, going from a first choice Championship goalkeeper to being balled at through half chewed reheated pizza by Steve Evans – emergency one week loan at Gillingham agreed today.
Lee Tomlin hasn’t played for Cardiff since the beginning of the month when the training ground sous chef found him passed out face down in a vat of custard, but he’s trained this week and will travel to London assuming they can find somebody strong enough to lift him onto the flatbed truck. If available he could potentially replace the £5m loanee Harry Wilson who has “impinged his hip” having too many shots (imagine) according to manager Neil Harris who mused “ fackin ‘ell, you mug, wevver tomorrow comes too soon for the slag we will ‘av to see on the training pitch today. If not I’m certainly ‘opeful of next week. Mug. Slag" Josh Murphy came back for 60 minutes of good, honest, fun times against Boro last week and is available here despite not featuring at Derby during the week. Centre back Filip Benkovic is yet to debut after arriving on loan from Leicester in the summer, but had a little run around in the ressies during the week. Arsenal loanee Jordi Osei-Tutu has exploded into a thousand pieces.
Elsewhere: All those aggrieved season preview authors wondering just who or what on earth this is masquerading as Reading get a first hand look at the league leaders tonight as they kick the weekend off with a televised trip to Coventry – just the one league win all season for the Sky Blues, though we can’t quite place who that was against. Another surprise early pacesetter, Bristol City, get Saturday underway with an early home match against one of the pre-season favourites, Borussia Norwich.
Down at the other end of the table the bottom two, Wycombe and Sheffield Owls, meet for the first time this season. Wanderers finally got a point on the board in a midweek draw at home to Watford while Sheff Wed’s rotten 2020 continued with a 3-0 shellacking at near neighbours Rotherham leaving them stuck on -4. Gary Monk’s side have only won nine games in 2020 out of 35 played. They've failed to score in 15 of those. They've conceded five goals in a game on three occasions, including two 5-0 home defeats. They've been beaten at home 11 times, and to nil at home on six occasions. One of the nine wins was against Rochdale in the League Cup. Both teams will be viewing this as a huge opportunity.
Draws with Forest and Cardiff haven’t abated the speculation about Phillip Cocu’s future as landlord of Wayne’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass, with Wayne himself said to already be lining up his backroom team ready to take over, and a Saudi prince preparing a big money takeover. That second win of the season won’t be easy to find down at Bournemouth who are now second and still unbeaten. Wayne like soft play because Wayne no get hurt.
Millwall Scholars are justifying our pre-season faith in their chances, climbing to third with a midweek 2-0 win at Preston Knob End despite Gary Rowett and his entire coaching staff having to stay away from the club with plague. Stand by to choke on the richness of Alex Neil – that’s Alex Neil Preston manager Alex Neil – accusing the Lions of shithousing during the midweek meeting at Deepdale. Wawll at home to Sporting Huddersfield this weekend while PNE are drawing 0-0 with Aitor Karanka’s footballing Zolpidem.
Watford are at Grimley Miners Welfare, Rotherham head to Stoke and the Mad Chicken Farmers travel to Swanselona, where home manager Sloth says he’s still not sure how he managed to land QPR’s Ryan Manning for just £250,000 on deadline day. Hey you guys indeed.
Eight goals in six games for Spartak Hounslow’s future £28m striker Ivan Toney as the Justice League leaders head into their Saturday game at Lutown – almost certainly the best team Nathan Jones’ men will have faced all season. And of course we wish Nottingham Florist, cruelly denied that crucial fifteenth summer signing Kamil Grosicki by the league this week for not getting the paperwork in on time, all the luck in the world in the hunt for their second victory of the season up at The Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour.
Referee: Look, it’s Andy fucking Woolmer. What more is there to say? Professional Idiot. Chuckles.
QPR: The negative numbers continue to stack up for QPR, who’ve now made their worst start to a Championship season since 2007/08 when John Gregory was sacked after drawing three and losing five of the first eight matches. Rangers now haven’t scored a goal for four matches, resulting in 0-0 draws against Bournemouth A and Birmingham H, and defeats to Preston H 2-0 and Barnsley A 3-0. Of the six goals they have scored this season, only three have been in open play, with two penalties and a goal off a corner at Coventry added to that. Rangers have won only one of nine in all comps this season, and three in 18 since football resumed without crowds in June. They’ve won just six of 28 in all competitions and 11 of the last 45 stretching further back. At Loftus Road QPR suffered a record breaking 11 home defeats in a league season under Steve McClaren in 2018/19 and over the last two and a bit seasons have won just 19 of the 50 league games played at home. Rob Dickie’s howler at Barnsley in the week was the third penalty QPR have conceded already this season, to go with 11 last year and ten the year before – all Championship highs – of which only one has been saved (Liam Kelly from Patrick Bamford v Leeds in January) and one has been missed (Fernando Forestieri over the bar at Sheff Wed in May 2019). In the last four years QPR have only won consecutive league games on ten occasions across 165 games. Defensively things have improved this season, with three clean sheets already, compared to six in the whole of last year, and two nil nil draws already matching the 2019/20 total. However, still, only five clubs in the league have conceded more than our ten goals in seven games.
Cardiff: The Bluebirds arrive at Loftus Road in remarkably similar form to our conquerors from last week Preston North End. At home, last season’s beaten play-off semi finalists have been pretty patchy, still awaiting a first win after four matches with two draws and two losses. Away from home, however, they’re not only unbeaten, with two wins and two draws, but they’ve only conceded a single goal across those four games and have kept clean sheets at Nottingham Forest (2-0), Preston (1-0) and Blackburn (0-0). They arrive into this match unbeaten in five, though four of those have been drawn including the last three in a row 1-1. They were, of course, beaten 6-1 on this ground on their last visit on New Year’s Day as Rangers ran riot, but that’s one of only ten defeats suffered in 45 Championship matches since Neil Harris was appointed manager. They have lost only four of the 20 away matches he has been in charge for in the league. Since football moved behind closed doors in June they have been beaten only five times in 21 Championship games.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“After three consecutive fairly ropey performances, where it has seemed that we have also been short on luck, pluck and confidence, I'm expecting physical Cardiff to get ahead (another bloody penalty?) and be able to keep us at arm's length relatively easily. A tricky Halloween.”
Mase’s Prediction: QPR 0-1 Cardiff. No scorer.
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 0-2 Cardiff. No scorer.
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Letters from Wiltshire #18 by wessex_exile
Trump has finally conceded defeat, albeit in a childlike, begrudging and typically ungracious manner, but at least things are moving on now, and hopefully the beginning of a new, less adversarial era in world affairs. There was an interesting article on one of the news websites this morning looking at how the transition for other administrations have gone – none as poorly (so far) as this, but still some amusing anecdotes nevertheless. Apparently, ahead of George W Bush taking up residence, the departing Clinton team went around the White House removing all the W’s from keyboards – very childish, but quite funny too…
Letters from Wiltshire #17 by wessex_exile
So I never actually imagined more than two weeks after the event that Trump and his attack-dog “Hot Mess” Giuliani would still be refusing to acknowledge that Biden has won the US Presidential election, but there you have it. Closer to home, we are just past halfway through our circuit-breaker 4-week lockdown, and most of the graphs suggest things are slowly improving, but nowhere near a rate that would see figures return to the pre-October levels. Much closer to home, Alfie has been in self-isolation for the last 14 days because one of his teachers tested positive – delighted to say we have both passed through that period without developing symptoms…and without killing each other either 😊
Letters from Wiltshire #16 by wessex_exile
Good morning everyone. Outside the football bubble, and across the pond, we have the soon to be ex-President of the United States walled up in his White House bunker, inexorably going through the Kübler-Ross 5 stages of grief…and in a particularly undignified and un-statesman like manner. Clearly we’ve had Denial by the bucket-load, Anger as he lashes out firing those he perceives as disloyal, Bargaining as his legal team try and force recounts of perfectly valid election results, and no doubt a huge amount of Depression as he sulked in silence for the best part of a week. Now perhaps, as he nearly slips up when eventually breaking radio silence to address the press, we see the beginnings of Acceptance. If I’m honest, I’d be quite happy for Trump to keep this up and make the transition as embarrassing as possible for himself and his supporters – and if the police could eventually drag him out of the White House in hand-cuffs, all the better.
Letters from Wiltshire #15 by wessex_exile
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Letters from Wiltshire #14 by wessex_exile
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