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Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Leicester City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 28th October 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Chocolate Oranges are available from Rawlinsons – Preview
Friday, 27th Oct 2023 21:23 by Clive Whittingham

If you’re racing at Doncaster this is the place to stay, it’s The Crown Hotel at Bawtry – come and have a look inside.

QPR (2-2-9 DLLLLL 23rd) v Leicester (12-0-1 LWWWWW 1st)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 28, 2023 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Headless horsemen >>> Loftus Road (sponsored by Dettol), London, W12

It’s November 1989 and Queens Park Rangers are, you won’t be at all surprised to hear, struggling.

The reign of player manager Trevor Francis - which had promised so much when his re-worked and re-shaped team won eight of their last 12 games the previous season, and lost only two of the final 15 – is all but over. Less-than-fresh from a hospital bed after an operation on his own injury, he cuts a disconsolate figure on the front row of the South Africa Road Stand in a pair of aviator shades and a suit with the 1980's sewn into the hem. A brilliant player - through his career and in his Indian summer in W12 - he split his dressing room by fining Martin Allen for leaving the team hotel at Newcastle to attend the birth of his first child the previous March. Now on a run of seven without a win, and only one league success in 11 games going back to a day one victory over Palace, even one of the players he brought in – Nigel Spackman – is gobbing off about him in the press. The one win they did manage was a 3-1 at Aston Villa sealed by Francis’ extraordinary hat trick, but he’s physically unable to help today and can only sit and watch as his team, second last in the First Division table, welcome Liverpool. All conquering Liverpool, 1980s Liverpool, John Barnes Liverpool.

By full time the November night has closed in, the cigarette smoke hangs in the cold London air, and QPR have won. QPR have won. Paul Wright has shaken off the homesickness that would shortly remove him back to Scotland long enough to bag two. Mark Falco has rolled back the years, opening the angle with a touch to the left and then arrowing a vintage strike into the far top corner. Helen Francis, in a fur coat from which Denmark’s mink population spent 20 years in recovery, has charged down the steps and slipped her husband a full tongue. Martin Tyler, in raptures, describes it as a “result that will reverberate around the First Division corridors this evening… second from bottom Queens Park Rangers three, second from top Liverpool two.”

So, it can happen… he says, frantically clutching at straws ahead of the biggest mismatch in this galaxy since Captain Zapp Brannigan returned from a successful carpet bombing of the pacifists in the Gandhi Nebular.

The sponsorship deal for the naming rights to Loftus Road – or, as it will now be known by everybody, Loftus Road – does at least provide something to talk/write about other than the football.

A three-year deal to plaster the name of Malaysia’s trade promotion agency over the name of our stadium is, on the face of it, grim, but also where we and football in general are at the moment. The FFP rules force clubs like us to do things you ideally wouldn’t want to do – it’s why so many of them have a dodgy Far Eastern bookie as their shirt sponsor, because that’s the best rate you get in this market.

The club and its execs have, rightly, gone out of their way over the years to explain the situation we’ve been placed in by the rules of the competition we play in. But, in spending the money from Eze on pushing for promotion in 21/22 and not selling players who were at the peak of their powers then and virtually worthless now, they basically ignored their own rules and plan. They pitched as a development and selling club, they explained why, and we broadly accepted that and said ‘go on then, develop and sell’. Then they signed Andre Gray, Charlie Austin, Stefan Johansen… I think they’ve also become quite defeatist about the situation we’re in here, because there are clubs like Preston and Blackburn, putting consistently better teams than ours on the field while operating within all of the same restrictions.

We talk constantly about the FFP problems we face, but there are clever and creative ways to increase your headspace within them. Man City, with their Etihad Stadium and Etihad shirt sponsorship, are front of the queue of piss takers – that’s just their owner, dumping more cash into the money furnace, but doing it that way is fine for FFP whereas just writing a cheque isn’t. QPR are way behind the curve on this. Sheff Wed had the name of their chairman on their shirt – not a company, just the chairman’s name - which he was allowed to do as long as the deal was at market rate. Stoke – a club that has been in the bottom half of the Championship for six seasons, playing unpleasant football in a horrible stadium in an unpleasant part of the country – claimed they attracted north of £10m from “sponsorship” in their latest set of accounts by plastering Bet365 (the owners’ business) all over everything from the shirts and stadium down to the hand dryers. QPR, a West London club, show £1.8m from the same source over the same period. There’s spirit of the sport, and there’s stupidity. Other clubs are poking around into every corner of these rules they can, and it’s long overdue us doing the same, however unpalatable the renaming of the stadium, a stand, a bar etc may be to the purists and traditionalists.

There are two big questions I have, which they’ll never tell you and we’ll only find out in time. One: is this us, belatedly, waking up to the possibilities and more intelligent way of getting money in we can actually spend on the team (proactive); or is it another sign we’re actually so fucked on FFP and facing fines, transfer embargoes and points deductions that we’re trying every trick we can think of to scramble back below the line (reactive)?

Two: is this simply a (belated) Coates/Chansiri repeat? Our owners, Ruben Gnanalingam chief among them, have been funding the club to the tune of £1.5m-£2m a month for a long time now. Is the deal with Matrade (of which he is a shareholder) simply him putting the same amount of money in as before, but in a way that counts favourably under FFP and can therefore be spent on the team? I’m amazed they haven’t been doing stuff like that before to be honest, I’d have his companies plastered over every brick if it helped us out of this shit. Or is this, in fact, a pre-cursor to new investment and/or a takeover from other Malaysian/Far Eastern investors?

It looks like the former to me but there have been murmurings of big goings on behind the scenes for weeks now and it’s felt for a while like our owner, and CEO, are completely checked out of the whole thing. Beaten, defeated, fed up, wanting out. No better example of that than the weird drift we’re in at the moment where Gareth Ainsworth seems to know he’s toast, the team is certainly playing as if he’s gone, and yet no change has been made, either because we can’t afford to do it without breaching FFP, or because we don’t want any new guy to start with a hiding to nothing at home to Leicester. Or, secret option number three, some new guy is about to swoop in with his own man. One of the biggest obstacles and deterrents to buying QPR in its present state is the FFP position it’s worked itself into means you cannot spend money on the team even if you want to – you’d actually be better off letting it go into League One and buying it then. Maybe this could be some new guy clearing some headspace to be able to spend in January?

If I’m clutching at straws again can you blame me? The bleakness of tomorrow’s massacre-in-waiting is only furthered by the identity of the opposition. QPR and Leicester City were promoted back to the Premier League together in 2014, and they were the bottom two in that division when QPR won this fixture 3-2 in November that season. By the end Rangers had been relegated dead last, and Leicester completed a run of seven wins from nine to stay in the division by beating uys 5-1 at theirs on the last day. Their Andy Sinton-equivalent Alan Birchenell taking the time to come over to the away end at half time and announce over the public address that what few QPR fans had travelled should be welcomed and applauded as “proper football fans who support their team” has always stuck with me as a genuinely heartfelt and appreciated moment in an increasingly unpleasant sport that has long since sold its soul and stopped valuing people like me who just want to go to the actual game and support their team. I’ve always held him, and Leicester, in warm regard since and was ecstatic when they went on to remarkably win the league title a year later.

We had everything at our disposal to, if not win the bloody Premier League, certainly go on and achieve the deep runs into cups and Europe they did. Our owners are similarly wealthy, and from the same part of the world. Our history of yo-yoing between the top two divisions, and briefly down to the third tier with Ian Holloway as manager, are remarkably aligned. They made every right decision, and we made every wrong one. Even their recent blip will only see them in the Championship for a year, in which they’ll get 100 points, score 100 goals, break every record going, and enjoy lovely afternoons visiting some old haunts having a jolly time. We haven’t been anywhere near the Premier League since that 5-1 defeat, and aren’t likely to get anywhere near it any time soon. I’m sitting here wondering whether, and how, I’ll cover the Pizza Trophy games next season.

I can’t even finish with my usual eye roll and “wouldn’t it be so typical of QPR..” because, let’s be honest, it wouldn’t. We’ve won one home game in a year. It’s more than a year since we scored three in a game. It wouldn’t be typical of anybody to win this game with these odds against us, let alone this absolute rabble our years of chronic mismanagement have left us with.

Win this game and I’ll go to Rotherham in Helen Francis’ coat.

Links >>> Sickening – Interview >>> Happy times – History >>> Doughty in charge – Referee >>> Leicester City Official Site >>> Leicester Mercury – Local press >>> Foxes Talk – Message Board >>> When you’re smiling – Podcast >>> The Final Whistle – Vlog >>> Fosse Posse – Fan Site

90’s Football Conspiracy Theories No.12 In The Series - Stig Inge Bjornabye has been found shivering outside a series of lodges, warning Oslo's municipal council are surreptitiously implementing a '15 minute sauna' system in the city. He has produced a 14,000 word pamphlet detailing his belief that steam will activate the Chinese Communist Party chips embedded in his Adidas Predators, which he has not removed since 1994.

Below the fold

Team News: While Leicester have £8m England international centre back Conor Coady on their bench, QPR are preparing to strap in a back three of Osman Kakay, Sam Field and Ziyad Larkeche. I know Sam comes across as a lovely boy, with his soft voice and fashionable cardigans, but whatever sin that bastard committed in a previous life must have been absolutely horrific. Jimmy Dunne’s entry for the International Year of the Wally Brain awards at West Brom means he's banned for one game, Morgan Fox is crocked until after the international break and, even if Steve Cook’s hamstring injury has cleared up, Ainsworth gave very strong hints in his pre-match press conference that we’ll be placing all those chips on Rotherham next week rather than asking the poor bastard to chase Jamie Vardy about tomorrow afternoon. Jake Clarke-Salter’s latest run towards a QPR testimonial ended at half time on Tuesday after a whopping four starts (the most he’s ever managed for the club is five). Gareth says: “Contrary to belief, Jake is a tough one who will try and get through things and play through things for this club, if he’s ready he’ll play.” Not sure we need to be worrying about a reliance on Russian gas for our hot air this winter.

Elsewhere… well who cares really? Reggie Cannon’s got a sore throat after spending the last few days screaming expletives down the phone at his agent, but he’s in line for a home debut the poor sod. Another piece of evidence into the ‘how bad does it have to be for Chris Willock to get a start?’ about to be filed. And this week’s prize for a sighting of Taylor Richards is a two-night getaway in a French chateau with no internet or phone signal, timed to coincide with the Rotherham game.

For what it’s worth, Nigerian Onyinye Ndidi missed the midweek win against Sunderland but that’s not reckoned to be a serious injury so he should be back in contention.

Our Leicester man Ian says they like to rotate their strikers this season, and thinks Jamie Vardy (26 England caps, five goals so far this season) may come in for Kelechi Iheanacho (48 caps for Nigeria, five goals in his last six games). Don’t forget there’s Stephy Mavididi here as well, who when he moved from Arsenal to Juventus in 2018 had a clause in his deal requiring a further payment should he win the Balon D’Or, and Fatawu Issahaku, who’s on loan from Sporting but has only scored once (fucking amateur). Patson Daga has 38 caps and 15 goals for Zambia, and once scored 54 times in 53 starts and 29 sub appearances for Red Bull Salzburg, but Leicester think he’s a bit shit. Hairy Love Islander Tom Cannon, who you may remember being the best player on the pitch when we lost at home to Preston over Easter, has not made it onto the field yet since an £8m summer move from Everton. Gareth Ainsworth, meanwhile, will select from Lyndon Dykes, Rayan Kolli, Sinclair Armstrong and Sweet Charlie Kelman this weekend and says he has “great strikers”.

If we’re looking for some tea and sympathy then outstanding midfield duo Harry ‘Winkle’ Winks and Leicestershire’s premiere wedding venue Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall are both one yellow card away from a ban, so maybe they’ll leave them out with games at home to Leeds and away to Boro to come next. Mind you mini-Pep is giving it full mighty-Pep in the press before the game so he’ll probably insist on the eleventh-hour emergency loan signing of fucking Rodri just to see him through.

Elsewhere: If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Birmingham City over the last few years it’s that they absolutely hate climbing to sixth in the league. They consider it an immediately sackable offence. Luckily for Wayne Rooney, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of a problem. Two defeats without scoring, including a midweek home loss to the guy who actually did all the thinking when Spud Head was at Derby, and Brum are well on their way back down the table with a lunchtime trip to Southampton tomorrow and then Ipwich home and Sunderland away beyond that. The dog bothering derby between Leeds and Huddersfield is also at 1230 tomorrow – Huddersfield showing all the skill, ability and talent we talked about in their 2-1 victory against us last weekend with a 4-0 midweek home loss to Cardiff.

That result has the Welsh side up in seventh, their best performance for a number of years, and they’ll probably fancy their chances again in the Sevenside matchup with Bristol City at home. Another of the early surprise pacesetters Preston Knob End are falling he other way now, and can go below Hull if they lose on Humberside. West Brom have somehow stumbled into the top six after their free hit on Tuesday, they go last this weekend with a Monday Night Football at Coventry. Ipswich are quietly nine points clear in an automatic promotion place behind champions Leicester, and they host their fellow newly promoted team Plymouth in an aesthetically pleasing tie at Portman Road – 4-3 our prediction there.

Down at our end, Sky’s penchant for live Goat Rodeo continues with a monstrous South Yorkshire sludge-fest between Sheff Wed and Rotherham on Sunday. I guess, at least, they can’t both win. Daniel Ayala has today joined The Millers on a free while Sheff Wed’s new boss finds himself under a transfer embargo for January owing to unpaid debts to HMRC. They’re stationed either side of our hapless lot, but it’s already looking a long way across the six point gap to fourth bottom Huddersfield, Coventry, and then Swanselona who’ve been on the slide again of late with two defeats in a row prior to a trip to Blackburn.

Boro v Stoke and Sunderland v Norwich completes the weekend list.

Referee: If the British Boxing Board of Control are still insisting on signing this off as a fair fight then the referee is due to be Leigh Doughty.


QPR: What is this form of which you speak? Rangers have now lost five games in a row, scoring two and conceding 12. It’s the fifth different sequence of at least five games without a win since January 2022, and the eighteenth time this club has done this to us since we returned to the Championship for the start of the 2015/16 season.

You really can just keep adding numbers in all the bad columns so you’ll excuse me for doing that and just copying and pasting this from the West Brom preview. Since we beat Reading 4-0 at Loftus Road at the end of January 2021 to push into the Championship’s automatic promotion picture we have won just 19 out of 85 matches and lost 45. At home we’ve won just eight of 38, losing 21. Since we topped the Championship exactly a year ago by beating Wigan 2-1 at home we’ve won just six times in 45 games, losing 29; at home we’ve lost 16 out of our last 22 and won only once in a calendar year. Since Gareth Ainsworth assumed “control” we’ve won five and lost 18 of 27 games ad the West Brom defeat brought up 50 goals conceded; at home it’s one win and ten defeats from 13. This season it’s two wins from 14 overall, and five defeats and a draw from six at home. We haven’t scored three goals in 46 attempts going back more than a year. We have recovered only two points from losing positions in 27 games under this manager. We have scored more than one in a game only five times in our last 44 attempts. The last time we came from behind to win was against Reading at home on October 7 last year, 48 games ago. We are since winless in 28 games when conceding the first goal. We are currently on a year-long run of one win from 21 home matches, the worst in the history of the club. Blackburn made it 11 without a win in W12, also a club record.

Of the 20 Leicester outfield players who have started at least one match this season only two of them (Jamie Vardy 79.4%, Wilfred Ndidi 79.2%) have a pass completion record lower than 80%. Seven of their players average more than 90% success rate when passing the ball (Hamza Choudhury 95.3%, Harry Winks 94.9%, Conor Coady 93.8%, Wanya Marcal 93.3%, Jannick Westergaard 93.3%, Ricardo Pereira 90.7% and Yunus Akgun 90.5%). QPR also have 20 outfield players who have started at least one game this season. They have zero with a 90%+ pass accuracy rate, and only four in the 80%s (Jack Colback 88.8%, Ilias Chair 83.5%, Andre Dozzell 81.9%, Jake Clarke-Salter 81.3%). The other 16 all have a lower pass completion success rate than Leicester’s worst player in this metric and that includes seven players who give the ball away a third of the times they have it. Worse still, Albert Adomah (56.8%), Paul Smyth (55%) and Lyndon Dykes (42%) essentially give possession away ever other time they try to execute a pass.

Leicester: Gareth says Leicester don’t concede many goals and score loads, which is why they’re top. And, for once, he’s right. No team has ever amassed 36 points from their first 13 games at this level, nor won 12 out of 13 to start a Championship season. They are already 14 points clear of the team in third. They are the league’s top scorers with 27 – more than two a game. They have conceded just seven times – the next best record in the league is second placed Ipswich who’ve shipped 13. They have failed to score only once, in their only defeat at home to Hull, and have scored two goals or more in nine of their other league games. They have scored four goals in a game twice already (both away at Blackburn and Southampton). No team has scored more than one goal in a game against them and they have kept six clean sheets including four in their last six – QPR have kept ix clean sheets in their last 39 games. Away from home they have won all six of the games they have played, scoring 16 times (2.66 a game) and have conceded just four.

Leicester already have four players on five goals or more for the season: Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall (five), Jamie Vardy (five), Kasey McAteer (five) and Kelechi Iheanacho (six). Lyndon Dykes has five goals in his last 35 QPR appearances.

QPR actually have a positive win record against this opponent, which will remain intact regardless of how badly the two meetings go this season – 26 to 23. The two haven’t met since 2014/15 when Rangers finished a Premier League relegation season with a 5-1 loss at Leiester on the last day, one of seven wins from the final nine which propelled the Foxes to safety and turned out to be the start of a charge to a miraculous league title the year after. Rangers had actually won the Loftus Road meeting 3-2 at the end of November.

Prediction: We’re once again indebted to The Art of Football for 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 newly extended QPR collection here. After an unfortunately correct score in the week, let’s see what our reigning champion Aston got for us this week…

“This isn't going to be pleasant, is it? No defence and a team playing like this. I think Leicester will score a few early on to kill the game and then ease off ahead of a busy winter.”

Aston’s Prediction: QPR 0-5 Leicester. No scorer.

LFW’s Prediction: QPR 0-4 Leicester. No scorer.

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062259 added 03:50 - Oct 28

TacticalR added 13:05 - Oct 28
Thanks for your preview.

Comparing ourselves with successful teams only leads to madness. One difference is that Leicester had a relatively modern stadium, whereas Fernandes was distracted with building stadia in the air.

On our terrible passing cause among many is how ill-judged our passing is. Players try long passes that are never going to come off. This is sometimes due to bad judgement, sometimes due to players being too far apart.

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