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The view from the Pu – April/May
Thursday, 12th May 2022 16:48 by Steve Hardy

For the final time this season Steve Hardy sucks his teeth and reviews the previous month, in this case the period of time when QPR's season finally fell apart once and for all.

There was a part of me, for so long this season, that thought I would be writing separate articles for the months of April and May. Sadly, it would take a brave man to try and write a report for a whole month that includes only one game, hence me waiting for the conclusion of the season before writing up the review of the last five and half (traumatic) weeks.

It’s finally over now, a season that promised so much and for a brief moment seemed to be going the way we dreamed only to then burst into flames and sink to the bottom of the ocean, so let’s take a tired look at those last eight games.

Fulham at home was played out only a mere five weeks back, however it actually feels like it was a lifetime ago. Still in with a genuine chance of troubling the top six, fresh after a two-week international break and in front of a sold out KPF we arrived more in hope than anything else and that hope was ultimately extinguished after a quarter of an hour with the game was put to bed there and then. There’s no shame in losing to a team far too good for this division - just look at what they did to Luton who actually ended up making the top six. Probably the best team to grace this division since we lifted the trophy ourselves and whilst the game had a feel of men vs boys match you couldn’t accuse the hoops of not putting the effort in on the day, we ultimately just weren’t good enough to meet the challenge.

Like I say, no shame in losing to the eventual champions and we were back on the road and in action again the following Tuesday up in Sheffield for our re-arranged fixture against the Blades. As mentioned in the previous paragraph we still had an actual chance of turning things around at this point in the month but by the way we played in this fixture you never would have known that, as we laboured through 90 minutes of awful football and lost to a goal that a pub team would’ve been embarrassed to concede. Sheffield Utd may have been up there and ultimately stayed there but let’s not forget that this is a team with Rhian Brewster and Olly McBurnie ploughing their front line and they make our strike force look Liverpool’s. I know the majority of us (myself included) had written us off by this point but even just watching the highlights back to reacquaint myself I struggle to believe how lacklustre we looked throughout this game. It reminded me very much of the Millwall away game back in February, awful to watch.

With sand slipping through our fingers and our chances pretty much all but over another slog of a journey up north was required. This time to another unhappy hunting ground in Preston and the writing seemed on the wall the minute Kieren Westwood pulled out in the warm up. Fair play to young Murphy Mahoney for stepping in for what must have been a daunting debut and credit to the supporters for the reception he received that day, I’m sure it must have helped settle the lad’s nerves. Overall a better performance and certainly more chances but again the defensive errors that didn’t seem to be there earlier in the season cost us, still it was nice to have a few shots on goal for a change. One of those strange games where the opposition keeper gets man of the match yet you walk away feeling like you could have lost by four or five. Probably the perfect microcosm for our season.

Following our dreadful but expected start to the month we were then tasked with two games in short succession over the easter weekend and with the season being over it was nice to travel to games without that added stress for a change. Of course, Rangers chose this moment to play more like the Rangers of January and picked up four points from a possible six and ultimately had that game at Huddersfield gone on ten minutes longer I think we would have been taking maximum points that weekend. Ultimately for me that weekend was a real case of what if. I think Clive wrote in his Huddersfield match report that in a parallel universe somewhere there was a packed away end up in Yorkshire, inflatables flying all other the place as we lapped up the spring sunshine and roared our team on to another late away victory to help cement our spot in the top six. The reality was that it was the same 600 of us standing in that huge away end watching us trying and failing to defend corners and although we rallied and should have won the game I just couldn’t help but feel sad for the easter weekend that we should have had, a real theme of the last few months for myself. Still, despite being the team with the worst form in the league we managed to score another last minute goal against Derby, this time relegating them in the process. I know relegation is never a nice thing but surely the Derby fans can rest a bit easier this summer knowing that they get a season without having to play us next year. They must really hate us.

Following the long weekend we still had three games of the season remaining and with the victory picked up against the rams we still had the faintest of hopes of making the top six. A victory at a Stoke side nursing an injury list similar to ourselves and with nothing to play for was a must. A meek one nil surrender without a shot on target was what was delivered. A lot has happened and been written in the last few weeks by people way more skilled, qualified and intelligent than myself so I’m not even going to try to justify why this has happened but you would surely think that with the momentum of the late Derby winner and the season on the line that we would have been flying out of the traps right from the get go but the game was played out like a pre-season friendly, it was bizarre. Another long journey home, this time with the season officially over and in the following week it was confirmed that Warburton would be on his way after the conclusion of the season.

Thanks to our wonderful friends at Sky it turned out that the Fulham game was actually our last 15.00 Saturday kick off of the season. I really don’t know who does their market research, because I can imagine about as many people want to watch QPR v Sheff Utd on a Friday night as they do Derby v Fulham on Good Friday at 20.00. With the news of Warburton’s departure fresh in everyone’s minds it ultimately meant that the game was irrelevant and it gave the crowd a chance to thank the gaffer for everything he’s done over the last three years. It was also fairly evident that Charlie Austin had played his last game in W12 so it was nice for him to get the send off he deserves, whether he has or hasn’t had a great season is irrelevant, what he did to the team last year and his performance in one of the worst Premier League teams of all time should never be forgotten. Another game where you couldn’t help but think what if again. Imagine something had been riding on that game, a packed KPF on a Friday night crackling under the lights, it would have been something to behold. Just another example of the real shame that this season has turned out to be, something that appeared to be offering so much turned out to be a real sickener.

So finally the season came to an end in the deadest of rubbers down in South Wales and again typical of Rangers to turn in a decent performance when it doesn’t matter, but all jokes aside it was nice to finish the season with a win and a clean sheet. The importance of Seny Dieng and how detrimental his injury was to our season there for all to see. It was also great to see Dom Ball for one last appearance, a QPR player if ever I have seen one and on top of that just a really sound bloke. Everyone has their own opinions but for the budget that we always plead to have, passing up the opportunity for a versatile player that is also a senior member of the changing room is something that could come back to bite us.

What to make of it all.? First of all I can’t believe the season is over, it only feels like yesterday that we played Millwall in the summer sunshine, but on the other hand that Coventry away game feels like a lifetime away. If I’m being honest, I just don’t think we have been good enough and when you add to that the injuries to our most important players then it was always going to be too much of an ask to make the top six. If you actually look at our form over the whole season bar the months of November and January it’s patchy to say the least. By no means is it as bad as the form from February onwards but it doesn’t scream promotion, lots of defeats on the bounce or in some cases three on the trot. Basically those unbeaten months of November and January happened so close to each other that it over inflated not only our position but our expectations and that is why the complete loss of form hurt so much because we all started to believe a little, and we’ve all been around long enough to know that it’s the hope that kills you.

What next? I don’t agree with the sacking of Warburton but I do understand it. Personally I felt that with another summer of huge outgoings and incomings he is probably the best man to give the stability required and steady the ship and also you have to give credit to some of the signings made in his time here, Ball, Dickie, Willock for example, that maybe he could have pulled a rabbit out of the hat this summer. But when you read of disintegrated relationships behind the scenes and then add to that the completely woeful form, he was clearly a guy on borrowed time and there is always the fear that the form could leak into next season. As it turns out the message appears to be the refusal to involve some of the youth team players is what has cost him and irrelevant of who the new manager is, if people at this club think we can compete in this division with some of the youngsters we currently have then we need to start looking up the directions to Accrington and Shrewsbury come May 2023. All in all it just seems a real mess at the minute which never seemed like happening way back in January. The next appointment is key but I can’t help but feel a bit similar to the time we gave the job to Gary Waddock and he relied on a load of youngsters, waifs and strays and once that inevitably failed we turned to John Gregory to loan in a bunch of experienced pros to keep us up. Just take me back to Coventry away in January, there was nothing to worry about then.

Enjoy your summers R’s fans.

April/May grade – D

Season grade – C

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 >>> July 20 >>> September 20 >>> October 20 >>> November 20 >>> December 20 >>> January 21 >>> February 21 >>> March 21 >>> April/May 21 >>> August 21 >>> September 21 >>> October 21 >>> November 21 >>> December 21 >>> January 22 >>> February 22 >>> March 22

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Paddyhoops added 07:22 - May 13
Thanks for the monthly summary's Steve. Spot on as usual.

Northolt_Rs added 07:47 - May 14
Thinking about this season makes me feel ill…..especially after watching lootin and Huddersfield in the playoff semi last night. Warburton totally sh it the bed.

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