|Cardiff City 0 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Wednesday, 20th January 2021 Kick-off 19:00
Burning Bright - Preview
Tuesday, 19th Jan 2021 17:55 by Clive Whittingham
QPR, buoyed by a first win in 11 attempts at Luton last week, are away again this midweek, heading to out of form Cardiff but reeling from the news that Bright Osayi-Samuel has signed a pre-contract agreement with Fenerbahce in Turkey.
Cardiff (8-5-10, WLLLLL, 15th) v QPR (5-9-9, DDLDDW, 20th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Wednesday January 20, 2021 >>> Kick Off 19.00 >>> Weather – Very heavy rain >>> Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff
Well, you know what they say, to lose one star player and sellable asset for bugger all is unlucky, to lose two is careless.
The news that Bright Osayi-Samuel has signed a pre-contract agreement with Fenerbahce, which the club seems to have found out about on Twitter with the rest of us on Friday night, comes as little surprise to those who have followed the saga of his contract renewal. Having gone out on a limb last summer to say only players committed to the club would be selected for the team Rangers are now left to try and scrabble whatever six-figure sum they can get from the Turkish giants for an early switch, and have less than a fortnight to source a replacement for one of their best players and key men. Whether they’re successful or not, Bright will not play for the team again, a blow it can ill-afford in its precarious league position. It’s a remarkably similar set of circumstances to those that saw Ryan Manning depart for Swansea for £150,000 at the end of the August window, a pittance relative to his value to the team whatever his defensive failings, as has been shown since with Lee Wallace and Niko Hämäläinen both inadequate in that position.
Here’s another trite old saying for the occasion: success has many parents but failure is an orphan. When a player goes well at QPR it’s not difficult to find somebody to take credit for the situation; usually somebody who fits with whatever PR narrative drum we’re banging at that point in time. When Luke Freeman excels we talk up Gary Penrice’s role, because we’re all about scouting lower league gems at that point. When Ebere Eze becomes a £20m player, it’s all about Chris Ramsay, because we’re all about giving kids a second chance and developing them now. When it goes wrong, and it’s done that far more often than it’s gone right under this ownership, things become a bit vague on exactly whose idea it was. See how woolly it currently is on who made the first suggestion and then final call on Lyndon Dykes and Macauley Bonne, for instance, and watch how that changes if either of them goes on a hot streak. See how long it took after Charlie Austin’s big impact at Luton last week for it to come out that actually this one was driven by Tony Fernandes. Wonder if Todd Kane was one of his too?
Fact is great signings and fuck ups are rarely the work of one person, however hard a PR machine may work to convince you otherwise.
In the first instance, the club seem quite happy for a thick slice of blame about Bright and Ryan’s situations to go to the players themselves. You don’t have to read too deeply into Rangers’ terse statement on Osayi-Samuel’s departure to know they are deeply unhappy to have found out about the move the way they did, only informed by the player and his representatives that it’s all signed and sealed a day after his new club made it public. That is, on the face of it, poor form, and goes hand in hand with Bright’s questionable body language and level of performance through the first half of the season. But then coming out so publicly last summer stating that players who don’t commit to the club long term will not play for the first team didn’t exactly incentivise him to be honest about the situation, and do you tell your employer you’re planning to leave months before handing your notice in? Your star player signing for a European regular on the other side of the continent without you knowing about it doesn’t say a lot for our network and connections in a notoriously gossipy industry. Ear to the ground on that one lads. Anyone seen Brighty?
But it helpfully feeds into the narrative that Manning and Osayi-Samuel are somehow disloyal, greedy, messing the club about… The reaction to this news towards Bright has been immediate and harsh online - there’s a lot of ‘good riddance’ and ‘rotting in the reserves’ in the air. Proper shit was lost when a picture of him appeared on the Twittersphere in Fenerbahce colours, despite it being a Photoshop so obvious and poor you could probably have cracked out a better version in Microsoft Paint. In actual fact they’re simply two promising young players who reached the ceiling of QPR’s current wage structure and can earn far more elsewhere. They’d be stupid not to do that even if QPR’s treatment of them had been exemplary throughout their time here, which it wasn’t. Manning, in particular, was on the verge of release back to Ireland prior to Ian Holloway and Marc Bircham’s intervention, and was later loaned out to Rotherham at a point where he’d already broken into our team and was supposed to be being developed by a well renowned coach (the whole reason that coach was supposed to be here). Meanwhile Bright spent that season parked on the bench. Both could have handled themselves better in the latter days of their respective sagas, no doubt, but you can’t treat them like that, then belatedly offer contracts below what they can get elsewhere only when they’ve started to do well for you, and then get all bitchy when the players reject them and move.
The Rotherham loan, and Osayi-Samuel’s prolonged bench sit, were both perpetuated by Steve McClaren, and once we’re done blaming the two players the club is going to do nothing to stop us trying to force the rest of the responsibility for this situation through the customs check at Hair Island. Always interesting which of my Tweets the club’s otherwise silent majority owner Ruben Gnanalingam chooses to like or retweet, and this week it’s: “Yes with the salary structure as it is players are going to bump up against the ceiling of it v quickly. Basically if McClaren hadn’t misused these two they renew 18 months ago and we’d now be selling them for ££ because they wouldn’t renew again.”
This is more just than trying to pin it on the players. That McClaren misused the pair of them, and others, during his ten months in charge really isn’t a debate. He was brought in to develop players like Ryan, Bright, Paul Smyth and Ebere Eze who had all broken into the team and impressed under Holloway the season before. Apart from Eze the rest were jettisoned immediately, out on loan or onto the bench. This shouldn’t be forgotten when we’re talking about how disloyal these players are, and how much they owe the club. Had he done what he was brought here to do, rather than end up trying to loan his way out of the crater he dug for the team over the summer, then Bright and Ryan would have had another 20+ starts each under their belts that season, and with a year plus a one-year option left on both their deals you’d probably have been discussing a third or fourth year extension with both after Christmas, at a point when they were more settled and happier with their progress and would have been open to that chat and still under the ceiling of our current wage limit. Had they not signed, you’d have had a summer window with two years of contract in hand to try and negotiate their sale. Instead, a year was wasted, and so when they both did then get a chance in the team and come good, they were both closer to the end of their deals, and being made well aware of what would be on offer elsewhere because of their form and potential free transfer status – i.e. far more than we could offer.
Easy to sit here and criticise in hindsight of course, except this isn’t hindsight. We wrote about the problems McClaren’s approach, and the club ceding to it, were storing up for later, with these two players in particular, again, and again, and again back in 2018/19. We get so much more wrong than we get right on this site but it wasn’t difficult to see that stepping so abruptly away from developing our own into loaning in proven players to dig a big name manager out of a mess he’d been allowed to create by ripping up that summer’s transfer plans was a stupid plan from an era QPR were supposed to have left behind.
So it’s McClaren’s fault? Well, yes, but only in part. This is the problem you cause by changing managers as often as we do, changing from one extreme of manager to the next when we do so, and then going along with so much of what they want and say – and that problem still potentially exists now. It was QPR who sacked Ian Holloway while he was fulfilling his remit, QPR who then pivoted to his polar opposite Steve McClaren on the whim of the ownership based on a coaching stint some six years prior, and QPR who then nodded along as he tore up the summer transfer plans, ignored players he was meant to be developing, and demanded a set of expensive loans to haul his own arse out of trouble. As with Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp’s ruinous trolley dashes, we could have said no.
With Bright in particular the club knew what they had. Senior management at Loftus Road fumed at Osayi-Samuel’s lack of minutes, particularly when the team’s form nosedived after Christmas. This anger was particularly acute after a 2-0 defeat away at Middlesbrough, a fifth loss in a row, when the winger had, not for the first time, taken the LFW Star Man award despite only being on the field for the second half – ironically brought on at half time for Manning, hooked on his first QPR league start of the season. They could have backed themselves and tried to renew his contract anyway at that point, not gone along with whatever the chump of the moment thought and waited to see. What manager wants manager gets does not work at QPR, and this is another fine example of why. This is all precisely what the director of football model is supposed to protect against.
They know it too. They’ve admitted it tacitly over the last few months, handing out contracts of eyebrow raising length to players such as Osman Kakay and Niko Hämäläinen just in case they should suddenly develop into Championship level footballers. Blame the players, blame McClaren, put it down to one of those things and blame nobody, but the contracts handed out this summer to players far, far below the levels Ryan and Bright were at even two or three years ago tells you they’ve been spooked. Though, of course, a four-year contract for Osayi-Samuel during that McClaren season would have raised the same eyebrows for the same reason – I don’t want to be that guy criticising them for doing now what I’m saying they should have done back then, that’s Richard Littlejohn’s bottle-throwing approach to column writing.
Anyway, start the clock on Bright’s January 2022 loan move to Nottingham Forest.
Links >>> Time ticking on Harris – Interview >>> Ray Jones last minute – History >>> Bond takes Cardiff trip – Referee >>> Thank you Derry much – Podcast >>> Cardiff Official Website >>> Three Little Birds – Blog >>> CCMB – Message Board >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> Mauve and Yellow – Blog
Geoff Cameron Facts No.126 In The Series – Geoff has sold monorails to Brockway, Ogdenville, and North Haverbrook
Below the fold
Team News: Hull City conceded 87 goals in the Championship last year, only they and Luton on 82 conceded more than QPR’s 76, pushed over the top by a late 8-0 defeat at fellow relegated outfit Wigan. There was clearly something that appealed to QPR in that as they’ve added the 26-year-old Dutch centre back from that team, Jordy de Wijs, on loan to the end of the year with a view to a permanent move and he should debut here. That has finally enabled the long talked about chance for Conor Masterson to go out on loan and build on his 20 career senior appearances – joining League One basement dwellers Swindon Town for the second half of the campaign. Maybe he can send back a few scouting reports on Scott Twine while he’s there. Aramide Oteh has been called back from League Two’s third bottom side Stevenage where he bagged four goals in eight starts and seven sub appearances and sent back out to Colchester, who are twelfth in the same division. In the Many Varied Adventures of Dillon Barnes this week he is spending the second half of the season on loan at Burton Albion, who are bottom of League One and managed once more by Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink. Bright Osayi-Samuel will not play for the club again, after signing a pre-contract agreement with Fenerbache.
QPR’s chief summer transfer target Kieffer Moore hadn’t played for Cardiff since December 12 prior to the weekend home loss against Norwich, when he came on after 58 minutes. That puts him back in contention for tomorrow night. Striker Max Watters, 16 goals in 19 appearances for League Two Crawley this season, is in line for a debut after a January transfer window move, as is 24-year-old Crewe right back and friend of the shirt printer Perry Ng who has also joined. Deals for Bournemouth centre back Jack Simpson and Villa full back Frédéric Guilbert had not been done at press time. Arsenal loanee Jordi Osei-Tutu has been missing since the end of October and is still five weeks away. The game “comes too soon” (cliché klaxon) for experienced trio Sean Morrison, Aden Flint and Lee Tomlin. Marlon Pack is on the naughty step after a red card at the weekend.
Elsewhere: Three wins in a dozen games were enough to convince the leaseholders of the Beer and Brass over to its best customer last week, and Wayne ‘fire hot, fire make Wayne warm’ Rooney saw his first permanent managerial gig in the same way he saw his first caretaker spell out – with a 1-0 loss to the team immediately above them in the Championship table, Rotherham playing the part of Sheff Wed in their latest disaster. The Rams try again in the early evening game today at home to Bournemouth amidst reports they’ve blocked Scott Carson’s permanent move to Man City because they need the £500,000 loan fee due for the second half of the season to make January’s pay roll.
Coventry, two points ahead of QPR on the ladder, have a tough match away at promotion chasing Reading in the other Sky Sports Leeds match this evening but the Mad Chicken Farmers at home to Swanselona has fallen victim to the weather. Rotherham, third bottom, look to build on the weekend win with another at home to injury hit Stoke which would put them back to within two points of our own rabble. Watford v Grimley Collier Band makes up the Tuesday night list.
More focus on the top half on Wednesday, though much-fancied Miwlllwawllll’s one win in 15 slide down the table is threatening to become terminal ahead of their trip to Huddersfield. Fackin’ ‘ell ‘Wawll indeed. Good to see our former player of the year Richard Keogh back in the Championship game too, stepping back up from MK Dons to join the Terriers this afternoon. Careful who you take a lift home from/what you do in your own penalty box this time Rich. Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers finally seemed to have kicked into some sort of gear – justifying their place ahead of a dozen arrivals on deadline day no doubt – with seven unbeaten games and three wins in a row going into a home date on the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour.
League leaders Borussia Norwich at home to Bristol City is the early Sky game, Birmingham are drawing 0-0 at home to Preston Knob End, and Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow will almost certainly be the best team Lutown have played all season.
Referee: Darren Bond is the man in the middle for this one, his first QPR appointment of the season having refereed a 2-1 win at Stoke, 2-0 win at Birmingham and 2-1 loss at Blackburn among our road trips last year. He has had Cardiff once already, sending off Lee Tomlin midway through the second half of their 0-0 draw with Blackburn in October. Details.
Cardiff: Pre-season optimism was high around Cardiff, with a narrow failure in last season’s play-off semi-final against Fulham, and a summer transfer window that included the expensive acquisition of Harry Wilson. Three wins, five draws and five defeats represented an inconsistent start, but things looked to be coming together in early December with five wins from six games including a 4-0 at home to Luton, 3-0 at home to Huddersfield and 1-0 at Watford. However things have rather dropped off a cliff, coinciding with an injury to Kieffer Moore who’d scored four goals in that run, and they arrive into this match on a run of six defeats in seven, including all of the last five in league and cup. They haven’t kept a clean sheet in eight matches. Cardiff have beaten QPR on this ground in each of the last two seasons however prior to that this was one of those rare parts of the world where Rangers tend to do quite well on their travels. In 17 visits prior to 2017, going back to 1980, the R’s won seven, drew six and lost only three times.
QPR: The 2-0 win at Luton last week was QPR’s first success in 11 attempts, although with five draws in the previous seven the R’s have actually now only lost two of the last eight – counting the extra time defeat to Fulham as a draw after 90. If we’re to win consecutive games for the first time in 16 matches, since Derby and Cardiff were vanquished at the end of October, then it will be the first time QPR have won two away games on the trot since we beat Millwall and Sheff Wed both 2-1 either side of a victory over Luton at the end of September 2019, 33 away games ago. The victory at Kenilworth Road was only the second road win in 13 this season, although with 1-1 draws at Millwall, Wycombe and Norwich immediately prior Mark Warburton’s side are now unbeaten in four away from Loftus Road. The clean sheet at Luton was our sixth of the season, matching the total for 2019/20.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. 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 our second postponement of the year, this looks to be a good time to be heading to South Wales as Cardiff have suffered a bit of a slump in recent games. The difference Charlie Austin's return seems to have made was great to see last week at Luton, let's hope he can continue to bear the weight of the team on his shoulders. Having had a bit of bonus time on the training pitch in the past few days should aid him - and us - too.”
Mase’s Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Charlie Austin
LFW’s Prediction: Cardiff 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Charlie Austin
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Letters from Wiltshire #34 by wessex_exile
I won’t dwell on Robbie’s latest message to the supporters – we’ve all read it, and we’ve all probably drawn our own conclusions about what it doesn’t say as much as what it does. To me, bottom line, I suspect the clock is now ticking for Steve Ball (at least), turn around this terrible form pretty damn quick, or start clearing out your locker. Regardless of personal opinions on any of the individuals concerned, I would like to think none of us actually wants to see people made redundant in the current climate. But, these are difficult times that require tough decisions. If Steve Ball is up to the job and can turn this around, I’ll be more than happy to support him. If he’s not, he has to go before irreparable harm is done…and we all know what that will look like, we’ve been there before…
Letters from Wiltshire #33 by wessex_exile
Today we face a trip to Crawley, not usually a venue that bears fruit for the U’s it has to be said. In nine visits we’ve only won once in the league, and once in the League Cup. Of course, we’ll all remember that League Cup victory, indeed many of us were probably there to see us progress through to 5th round and the dream fixture against Manchester United at Old Trafford. All of our goal-scorers that night, Luke’s Norris and Gambin, and Cohen Bramall (okay, technically an O.G.), are no longer with us, so let’s hope at the very least that recent departee and subsequent returnee Frank Nouble can bag another like his late equaliser against Mansfield. Steve Ball commented during the week about how tight the league is at the moment, and he’s right that a couple of back to back victories would see us move significantly up the table away from danger – but we’ve got to win them first Steve – something we’ve failed to do since our 1-0 victory at Scunthorpe on December 8th.
Letters from Wiltshire #32 by wessex_exile
Fifty years ago yesterday, Colchester United of the 4th Division pulled off the greatest cup giant-killing ever, beating 1st Division Leeds United 3-2 at Layer Road. Watched by 16,000, and the Match of the Day cameras, Dick Graham’s U’s, a rag-tag band of mostly aging journeymen, defied the odds to defeat arguably the greatest club side in Europe at the time. “The greatest cup giant-killing ever” is a bold claim, and over the years various football magazines and websites have run their own polls of which was the greatest. Whilst that day at Layer Rd always features, as the years have gone by other feats fresher in the memory have been put forward as a candidate – we probably all remember Ronnie Radford’s screamer against Newcastle, Sutton’s exploits, or even Bradford City quite recently at Stamford Bridge – but these pale into insignificance when you pause to reflect on the Don Revie side that we beat that day. Sprake, Cooper, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Giles etc – all full internationals, all household names – the only one missing was Billy Bremner, and that was because he was injured. By comparison, all we had to offer was Ray Crawford – at his peak arguably on a par with some in the Leeds side, but that peak had been ten years earlier playing for Ipswich and England. Eleven heroes didn’t just try and hold out against Leeds United, they took the game to their illustrious opponents with such tenacity, grit and no small amount of flair, and before we knew it, the U’s were 3-0 in the lead. As legs tired, Leeds got back into the game with goals from Hunter and Giles, but we held firm – typified at the death by Graham Smith pulling off an impossible save to ensure the U’s achieved the greatest cup giant-killing ever!
Letters from Wiltshire #31 by wessex_exile
And so the dust settles on another transfer window closing, and despite (my) expectations that the possibility of incoming business was going to be remote, we have instead seen a veritable flurry of activity, with no less than three coming in. Big Frank Nouble, making a very welcome return on loan from Plymouth Argyle, of course needs no introduction. Neither really does feisty Brendan Sarpong-Wiredu, here on loan last season, and this time signed full-time from Charlton Athletic for an undisclosed fee. Actually paying hard cash for someone did come as a surprise, presumably offset by the sale of Cohen Bramall to Lincoln for a similarly undisclosed fee. However, the fact that the Addicks have insisted on not only a sell-on clause, but a rarely used buy-back clause too, suggests (a) Wiredu’s signing fee probably wasn’t too high, and (b) Charlton are protecting those finances with these clauses. The last one, which would have been a complete surprise for me were it not for a contact leaking me the news earlier yesterday, is left-back Josh Doherty on loan from Crawley. Josh was only announced once outgoing left-back Bramall was confirmed, and presumably his loan is directly related to part-time fashion model, TV and radio celeb and former left-back Mark Wright signing for Crawley on a non-contract game-by-game basis in December. We have also released seven from the academy, Ollie Kensdale, Miquel Scarlett, Sammie McLeod, Michael Fernandes, Ollie Sims, Danny Collinge and Matt Weaire, and I’m sure we all wish them the best for the future.
Letters from Wiltshire #30 by wessex_exile
Friday night football – can’t beat it. Gives you that feelgood factor all weekend, sitting back to enjoy a stress-free Saturday afternoon watching others fail in your wake. Of course, you have to win first, which we’ve been struggling to do for a while now, so be prepared for the possibility of a miserable weekend just in case. We share this evening with Reading v AFC Bournemouth, albeit they kick-off an hour later than we do. In the real world, leaders of the UK’s five largest business groups have written to Boris demanding action on the substantial difficulties they are facing over Brexit bureaucracy, whilst French border authorities are reporting that two-thirds of lorries arriving from the UK are empty (i.e. no exports leaving the UK). Still, at least the NHS can enjoy their extra £350m per week…
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