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Rotherham United 1 v 1 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 4th November 2023 Kick-off 15:00
Identity parade – Preview
Friday, 3rd Nov 2023 19:48 by Clive Whittingham

The Marti Cifuentes era begins with a relegation six pointer, in the pouring rain, in the north, against Rotherham United on Saturday afternoon – the Spaniard will need to hit the ground sprinting.

Rotherham (2-3-8 DLLDWL 22nd) v QPR (2-2-10 LLLLLL 23rd)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday November 4, 2023 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Pissing it down >>> New York Stadium, Not New York

Queens Park Rangers, it seems, have really taken my whinges about having to find angles for 28 match previews a season to heart. Another week where this site has felt like a full time job.

Since we were last in session, the team has lost for a sixth game in a row and extended a club record winless run at home to 12. Gareth Ainsworth returned to his office post-Leicester to find the door locked and a cardboard box full of cowboy boots outside in the halfway. When the news broke in the Crown, later that night, a table of lads celebrated so hard and loudly I genuinely thought we might have equalised. A real sign of just how badly Ainsworth’s reign has gone, somebody once held in such affection bringing such unbridled relief to the support base by losing his job. In his place, Marti Cifuentes, Ainsworth’s polar opposite in everything from the shoes up and across. QPR veering wildly from one type of manager to another again?

To go with the new man’s arrival, and that of his assistant Xavi Calm once the (hopefully routine – Bournemouth had similar issues with the staff their new guy brought) rigours of a tribunal over his work permit are concluded, we’ve had some shuffling upstairs. Amit Bhatia is standing down as chairman, with an FFP-dodging cash sponsorship of the main stand as a parting gift, amidst mounting criticism of his absenteeism and role in appointing Ainsworth in the first place. The equally under-fire Lee Hoos will now add the chairman role to his CEO portfolio, which is unlikely to placate his increasingly angry army of critics. Meanwhile there’s been a slew of naming rights and sponsorship announcements, including Matrade sticking their brand on Loftus Road and the training ground being named in honour of Ruben Gnanalingam’s late father. By the end of the week the club, as surely only our club could/would, was launching its own brand of QPR Coffee (it won’t stay in the cup for long).

In the interests of finishing on a forward-looking, football note, let’s start at the end of that list and work back to the beginning.

The sponsorship deals are what they are – FFP dodges. You would, ordinarily, name your shiny new training ground after one of the club’s most famous examples of development from youth team sprog into first team superstar – Alan McDonald, Gerry Francis, who knows maybe Ebere Eze someday if a chunky sell on fee from Palace ends up saving the club a second time over. I don’t want to be in any way disrespectful to Ruben, who after all is currently propping us up to the tune of £1.5m-£2m a month without which we’re insolvent overnight, or his late father, but there’s no connection to QPR there at all and pretending in press releases that Mr Gnanalingam senior showed a “keen interest” in the club and so on and so forth is insulting people’s intelligence. Likewise sticking the Bhatia name on South Africa Road – turns out it is that easy to just rename a stand, regardless of what the Stan Bowles campaigners were told about the one opposite – and talking about “honour of a lifetime” stuff.

The club can’t – but absolutely, definitely should – come out and say the truth. The ridiculous FFP rules in this league mean if Ruben sticks in £2m of his money a month then it counts negatively against our rolling three-year calculation, but if he puts exactly the same money into exactly the same place for exactly the same reason and says it’s because he’s sponsoring the stadium then that counts positively. It’s a joke, but that’s where we are. It’s why clubs like ours, supposedly invested in their community, frequently end up with a fly-by-night bookie on the front of their shirt. The press release from Matrade, presumably put out to explain to their other investors what exactly the fuck they’d want to do that for, lays bare not only the fairly piffly amount the deal is worth (£400k a season for three years, just enough to sack one manager and appoint another a cynic may say) but also that it’s entirely funded by Ruben who is a shareholder in the company. It’s Ruben putting money in that he was doing anyway, but in a way that positively impacts our rolling three-year FFP calculation.

The two big questions I have are, firstly, why on earth we weren’t doing this before? I’ve long felt us a bit defeatist on our attitude to FFP while other clubs find clever work arounds and outright cheats. We’re competing, for instance, in a division with Watford, for whom FFP doesn’t apply because whenever it gets a bit tight, either here or at Udinese, the two clubs just swap a player between them, the chairman puts it down as a £20m transfer and passes money from his right hand to his left hand, and that’s fine, apparently. Stoke – in an unattractive, inaccessible stadium; in an unattractive, inaccessible part of the world; with an unattractive, inaccessible team which has been in the bottom half of this division for six years – reckon they clear north of £10m a year in sponsorship to our £1m, almost entirely by plastering their owner’s omnipresent bookmaker business Bet365 on everything from the hand dryers up. Even Sheff Wed's resident madman clocked that if he just stuck his own name on the home shirt he could plough FFP-positive cash into the club "at market rate". We’ve been, at best, naïve, and more accurately, asleep at the wheel. If you’re putting £2m a month in anyway, find more creative ways to do that. Secondly, I’m interested to know whether this is just somebody, somewhere (new finance director perhaps?), waking up, or whether we’ve fucked ourselves on FFP even worse than we thought and it’s now forcing us to scramble around looking for every workaround we can find to get us back the right side of the line. We’ll know more on that when the accounts land in late Feb/early March.

The question others are asking is whether this is all getting a house in order for a takeover. I don’t see that at all. This is Ruben and Richard Reilly now. To buy it from them – with the outstanding FFP fine still to pay, Covid loans owed back, outstanding transfer fees as per the last accounts, the wage bill, the £2m-monthly loss – would put you on the hook for a lot of money immediately, and the FFP rules mean you’re still not allowed to do anything much with a team requiring major surgery in all areas regardless of whether you’ve won the pools or you’re the Emir of Qatar. It’s a wholly unattractive proposition. These guys are in it up to their necks.

The Bhatia departure was pretty inevitable from the moment he started getting grief for not attending games, and Instagramming his days on the golf course with Chelsea-supporting gobshite Kevin Pietersen while Blackburn were unloading four goals worth over our tits.

Bhatia and his father-in-law are so unbelievably wealthy they could have bought this club out at any point they wished over the last decade and haven’t done so – because they’re too bloody sensible, and know full well it’s a money pit. Nevertheless, QPR fans have long been happy to buy into their expressions of love of QPR and the, frankly pretty risible, notion that they’re “supporting their local team” because their mansion just happens to be in Kensington with all the other mansions. That’s been driven by the job Bhatia and Ishan Saksena did here for a year with Neil Warnock as their manager, made to look even better by the shower of shite that pre- and proceeded it, as well as his well-honed ability to talk eruditely and smoothly to a room full of people.

When the abuse and trolling of Tony Fernandes on social media became too much for a man who takes all of that stuff to heart, parachuting Amit in as a figurehead was a shrewd move to take one unpopular guy out of the firing line and introduce somebody everybody liked instead. But this was no 2010/11 repeat, Bhatia’s influence and shareholding was minimal, he was literally just there as a kindly hand puppet to waft in front of a screaming baby – oooh look, it’s Amit, you like Amit don’t you? The masses screamed “sort it out Amit” and trusted he would, but it’s always been Ruben. Ruben is in charge, Ruben holds the majority of everything, Ruben calls the shots.

Once people get sick of one home win in a year, and travelling to far flung corners of a broken country to watch a shit team, they start to ask questions like ‘where’s the fucking chairman in all of this?’. People start to get aggy when the only QPR representative in the director’s box away from home is the CEO and DOF, never any of the owners suffering along with us in Rotherham, Middlesbrough, Blackburn, as we fork through the nose to watch the disaster they created. His rumoured influence in pressing Ainsworth’s case to be manager, and the decision to not only go golfing but plaster his social media with it on the day of the Blackburn game, just weeks after he’d said at the fans forum (with a straight face) he’s always at the games, even if you can’t see him, meant he’d served his useful purpose. If the baby is still screaming, the Amit puppet has to go back in the box.

The promotion of Hoos into the Bhatia role has angered many. Hoos is somebody I’ve got a good deal more time for than most of the QPR support base at this stage. That’s mainly based around his early days here. He felt to me like a grown-up in the room, with good football experience from Fulham, Southampton, Leicester and best of all Burnley who are the club we should be looking at to emulate. A breath of fresh air compared to Phil Beard, who’d basically overseen a catastrophic explosion of our balance sheet, north of 200% wages to turnover, with disastrous public appearances at fans forums thrown in for bad measure. Beard basically felt like he’d promoted over his ability level, based on previous achievements at the O2 and elsewhere that may have had precious little to do with him, and was trying to cover that up by promising free travel to Norwich away for pensioners, in a magic rocket.

Hoos always said he would answer your questions, and while you may not like the answers, or the decisions he made, you wouldn’t have the same mistakes and the same FFP problems you’d had here previously under his watch. To then have him, in interview with this site in the summer of 2021, be talking about keeping hold of players rather than selling, and discouraging clubs from bidding and unsettling his players, was a complete deviation from “the plan”. You had four sellable assets at the peak of their powers (Chair, Willock, Dieng, Dickie) and he genuinely said in that interview: “…get the message out to other clubs, please don’t waste your time giving me a bid and risk upsetting the apple cart because come September 1 he will still be with us and you turning his head for a couple of weeks is just going to piss us off."

The FFP problems we are now grappling with are a direct result of that summer about-face. Now we don’t like the answers, and we’ve still got an FFP problem, it becomes a bit ‘what’s the point of you then?’ It’s also felt like a lot of the finer details at QPR, that he was so hot on when he arrived, have been allowed to drift. You're getting things like the picture of the ceiling caving in on the, frankly pretty disgusting, waiting area they have for supporters in wheelchairs being Tweeted, and the club acting in shock and amazement because they clearly didn't know that was a thing. (No surprise, incidentally, to see head of operations Josh Scott's job now being advertised). The common denominator with Hoos and Phil Beard, though, is the owners. The CEO operates on their behalf. Phil Beard knows you don’t operate a business with 200% wages to turnover. I very much doubt it was Lee Hoos saying let’s sell nobody and give Stefan Johansen a three-year deal. They’re front men for the decisions made upstairs.

Increasing his role to chairman and CEO at a time when it’s his turn, post departure of Les Ferdinand, to draw friendly fire, looks perverse. Almost deliberately trolling the supporters. It’s also insanely bad governance for a company to have its chairman and CEO as the same person. But, I believe this is Hoos segueing into a chairman role that, as we’ve already said, is purely a figurehead and meeting chair at a club where Ruben writes the theme tune and sing the theme tune. A new CEO will follow in the New Year, bringing that fresh impetus and new ideas we’re clearly crying out for here, allowing Hoos to traverse into a less day-to-day role and spend more time with a family that, lest we all forget, is split between the UK and US, particularly brutal in a pandemic with travel bans. I think his critics, and I increasingly count myself among their number, have got what they want without yet realising it. The change clearly so desperately needed after last season is, belatedly, coming. We’ll see if I’m right January/February time.

In an ideal world you make that move when your new CEO is ready to slide into the position, but clearly the events on the field over the last few weeks have hastened things. Everybody thought Ainsworth had to be gone after the Blackburn debacle, but he was allowed to – in theory – fight on through three more games, two of them highly winnable, which we’ve now burnt off. The final call was made in a hastily convened meeting after Huddersfield. The relative of a Hammarby board member currently posting on our site confirms Marti Cifuentes has known about this for weeks, but wanted to finish the Swedish season with them . Things had gone so disastrously at QPR we’ve had to move now, two weeks away from the international break they were planning on using, and with Hammarby still to play two games.

That’s a pretty good summary of Gareth Ainsworth’s time here. Some thought it would go well and he’d be exactly what we needed, some felt it would turn out poorly and we’d torch another well-loved figure from our past. Nobody, on either side, could ever possibly contemplate it going as badly as it did. You genuinely could have got much the same outcome from putting one of us in charge – whittering on about passion and intensity while grown ups like Mark Robins point and say “look at that fucking massive gap over there lads”.

Everything I think about Ainsworth’s time in charge is here. Everything I think about our new guy, likewise, is in this piece.

Gareth Ainsworth is Gareth Ainsworth. The reason he’d been at Wycombe for ten years, despite massively overachieving on his budget there, is because any other prospective employer had, at some point, eventually, watched his Wycombe team play. It worked, relentlessly, over a long period of time, for them. To a neutral observer, or an opponent playing against them, it was unwatchable dirge. Go back and re-read what Hogan Ephraim told us about his move there and how it basically made him quit the professional sport at 30.

Ainsworth was constantly at pains to stress that this style of play was not what he wanted, it was a child of necessity born from parents of a small budget and Bayo Akinfenwa up front. But he’d been there ten years, he signed Bayo Akinfenwa, he could have gone another way if he’d liked, as managers like Liam Manning, Mike Williamson and Luke Williams are doing at that level now. Our few high spots under his guise – Watford H, Burnley A, Stoke A, Cardiff A, Birmingham A – came when Ainsworth was allowed to be Ainsworth. Only at Boro, who we caught at a lovely time and would certainly lose 5-0 to now, could we be said to have played a solid 90 minutes of dominant football, and even then Asmir Begovic made three or four really good saves. We were all predicting record defeat against Leicester but perhaps it’s no surprise that game went quite well because, with expectations suddenly as low as they’d been when he was at Wycombe, Ainsworth was allowed to sink back, deep tight and narrow, hit on the counter, shithouse, keep the score down, get the crowd into the game etc. Only Andre Dozzell’s mindlessness cost him what could, easily, have been a great result. He constantly felt torn between trying to play a way more palatable to QPR fans and a style that showed he wasn’t just a one trick pony, and doing what he actually wanted to do - which, as we saw at West Brom when he surely knew his job was gone, was just to try and straight bat Geoff Boycott your way through 90 minutes and then hit a winning six off a corner in the last minute.

My fundamental takeaway from it all, however, is this…

What has gone awry, really since that summer of 2021, is what exactly we are as a club. Lee Hoos, Les Ferdinand, the managers, the board, had all worked really hard with the finger puppets to explain to us the realities of FFP and what it meant for this club. We would, henceforth, be a team that developed players to sell, and then reinvest the money into more players to sell, and eventually that would create enough working capital to build a promotable team – as Brentford had done. You would have to get used to your best player leaving, and so the conveyer belt creaked into life with Alex Smithies, Luke Freeman, and Ebere Eze. We would advance and further this mission by playing an attractive, modern, progressive brand of football that appeals to the bigger boys when they come sniffing around for your toys. Yeh, they’d concede some daft goals. Yeh, you’d be terrified by your goalkeeper. But this is the 2020s and this is football now. Mark Warburton was near perfect for the role. The team went up and down, but it finished in league positions exactly commensurate to the budget that was spent on it, and the football was so modern that you had clubs like Man Utd and Leicester actually requesting pre-season warm ups against us.

Since they decided that, actually, no, we’re going to chuck some money at Austin, Johansen, Gray, Odubajo etc, and we’re not going to sell Willock, Chair, Dickie, Dieng at the peak of their powers, they have lost their way. And they’ve continued to lose their way through Mick Beale – who would have been a good appointment had you not let him control the recruitment – into Gareth Ainsworth who, even in a best case scenario, was only ever going to motivate a bunch of twats enough to stay in the league and, with a 6-1 to Blackpool included, clearly barely even achieved that.

So what are we? Development club? Or club that gives Jack Colback and Steve Cook two years when the rest of the world is only offering one? Do we want the ball, or not want the ball? That veered about wildly under Gareth from game to game. Are we an attacking team or a defensive team? Are we a long ball team or a passing team? Are we an underdog or not? What are we? We don’t know. The team selections, styles, shapes, systems and approaches lurch around the road like Tom Lawrence driving Richard Keogh home.

At Cardiff this actually worked in our favour. They were so stunned at us basically chucking our entire pre-season out of the window after one game we were able to catch them completely cold and win the game. But that was never likely to last one opposition scouting reports had caught up with a right side of Paul Smyth and Osman Kakay.

You have to have that clear identity of what you are, as a team. In Ian Holloway’s first spell here we were, unashamedly, “a laundry”. We pressed and rinsed opponents. We were physical, we were horrible to play against, we pressed high, we attacked wide, we loaded boxes. Once you’ve established that, every team selection, substitution and signing flows, because you tell a bloke like Mel Johnson or Andy Belk what you want and they find it for you. Ainsworth himself was one of the finest examples of a signing to fit a style. It’s not by accident that you end up with a team with Paul Furlong, Clarke Carlisle, Danny Shittu, Georges Santos, Marc Bircham, Martin Rowlands, Gareth Ainsworth et al marching around. It’s a team built to play a certain way. We’ve seemed torn for sometime about what exactly that way is, and should be – it’s how you end up with Neil Critchley picking Sam Field right wing in a 4-4-2, or Gareth Ainsworth trying to force through deals for Dominic Gape and Josh Knight and being overruled. If you know what you are and what you want to be, that stuff just flows, because you know you’re not just looking for a right back, you’re looking for a right back that can do these two or three specific things, and when he gets into the team he knows what to do in any given situation because that’s what he was brought here to do.

For all of that, Marti Cifuentes is absolutely perfect. He’d have been a perfect replacement for Warburton, when he was first identified, and for Beale, when we were put off by his buy-out clause and Critchley was available for free. Whether we’re too far gone – down the road of Ainsworth-ball, into the season, and into decline – for him to make the sort of revolutionary impact we need and he’s capable of, we’ll find out. But having turned down the short term rescue option and tried to put the club back on the long term planning course, you’ve now got to keep the faith, potentially all the way into League One.

Links >>> Hammarby's QPR supporting Neil Banks on Cifuentes - Patreon >>>
Right man. Right Time? Column >>> Ainsworth’s nightmare – Column >>> Home and away – Interview >>> Rowly’s winner – History >>> Newbie – Referee >>> Rotherham United official website >>> Sheffield Star — Local Press >>> Millers Banter — Forum

90’s Football Conspiracy Theories No.13 In The Series – Dmitri Kharine has a caretaker job at a Wagner-founded Russian troll farm sanctioned for meddling in US elections.

Below the fold

Team News: While we wait to see if the new manager plans to reunite Ilias Chair and Chris Willock in attack, change formation and style, or, who knows, find something for #TeeRichStarrrr to do, he has a number of practical issues ahead of Saturday. Cifuentes has an immediate problem in the centre of midfield where Andre Dozzell serves a one match ban for his act of rank stupidity against Leicester, and Jack Colback sits out a fourth game of the season suspended already having accumulated five bookings including three in his last three games. Colback will now have been suspended for four of the 12 games he should have been available for since arriving. Jimmy Dunne, however, is back available after his own brain fart the game before at West Brom. He joins Steve Cook in returning to the centre of defence but, shock of all shocks, Jake Clarke-Salter is out until at least the other side of the international break.

Don’t worry laddy, Grant Hall was getting paid to sit on his arse while you were still at your mother’s teat. Hall, along with former Cardiff man Sean Morrison, were both treated to a new deal at Rotherham this summer despite long histories of unavailability and, sure enough, both are now out. That’s particularly bad news for under pressure manager Matt Taylor as he’s already lost his first choice centre back pair of Tyler Blackett and Cameron Humphreys long term. Full back Lee Peltier has been filling in there and veteran former Blackburn man Daniel Ayala arrived this week as a free agent and will likely go straight into the team in front of the division’s outstanding goalkeeper Viktor Johansson who recently made his first appearance for Sweden. Three unnamed players from last weekend’s squad that lost to Sheff Wed have now also been ruled out with injury and illness, according to Taylor in his pre-match press conference. His decision to allow Peter Kioso to leave on loan to Peterborough is coming in for severe criticism as injuries continue to threaten to overwhelm a side that has only named a full bench once this season.

Elsewhere: The game of the weekend in the Mercantile Credit Trophy is undoubtedly tonight’s televised clash between Champions Leicester and Leeds. No team has ever taken 39 points from its first 14 games, nor won 13 of its first 14, at this level before and Leicester now don’t even have to average two points a game to break through the 100-point barrier.

The Saturday fixtures are headlined by games involving clubs that have decided to twist on their managerial positions. Wayne Rooney’s Birmingham City have lost three out of three since placing Mr Potato Head in charge of a team pottering along quite nicely in sixth, and they’ll do well not to make it four from four with red hot Ipswich coming to town on Saturday. Mayhaps they’d have been better advised to clock who actually did the thinking in spud’s Derby County set up – Liam Rosenior’s Hull won at St Andrew’s last week and can climb above West Brom into the play-off places with another win in the Midlands this weekend.

Office politics, as much as poor form, seems to be behind Nigel Pearson’s departure from Bristol City ahead of their home banker against basement dwellers Sheff Wed whose new coach Danny Rohl has his first win in charge but has since been through a typical week of rambling official statements, demands for the fans to foot £2m worth of bills, and an unpaid debt to HMRC by local nutter Derek Chansiri. Uncle ‘Arry’s had a word with the usual favoured journalists and Frank Lampard is now hot favourite for the Ashton Gate post.

There’s a clash of styles and ethos at The Den where Wawll are playing Southampton and the dance of a thousand passes. Former Saints boss and South Wales PE teacher Nathan Jones (“level, this level, playing at this level, level, level”) is being heavily tipped to get the vacant Millwall job, at which point one would presume a vortex will open up and start swallowing up what little good is left in humanity.

Elsewhere, there are chances for three of the season’s surprise early strugglers to continue recent revivals. Middlesbrough, as they did last season, have gone from bottom after eight games to play-off contention with six straight wins and after a midweek cup win at Exeter they’ve got another mammoth trip to the South West immediately with a game at Plymouth who this week have set out their latest detailed, coherent five-year plan Stoke were fourth from bottom a fortnight ago but have won three in a row prior to a home game against high flying Cardiff. And Swansea have bounced back from a horrible start to win four of the last five prior to welcoming Sunderland this weekend.

Huddersfield have really pushed on and affirmed the high quality that was enough to beat us at their place by going 8-1 down on aggregate across two fixtures since, they welcome fellow strugglers Watford. Coventry are also knocking around the wrong end of the table ahead of a trip to Preston Knob End who are now without a win in seven.

In this week’s Football Without Fans Is Nothing update, Blackburn’s trip to Norwich has been moved to midday on Sunday. Might not be a bad fixture for their team though. After five quick wins and lots of goals to start the season it looked like the Canaries might have shaken out of a two-year malaise but with a protracted handover of the DOF role from Stuart Webber to Ben Knapper from Arsenal dragging on, the team is quietly cratering down the league (now seventeenth) with seven defeats in ten and a league-leading 27 goals conceded.

Referee: Sam Barrott was a junior at Halifax Town when injury ended his playing career as a teenager. He’s on a super-fast track as a referee, promoted to the Premier League in this just his fourth season on the league list, and making his debut at Fulham’s recent home win against Sheff Utd, having only refereed four Championship fixtures prior to the start of the season. It’s a first QPR fixture for the 30-year-old. Details.


Rotherham: While QPR’s only two wins this season have both come away from home, Rotherham’s two have come on their own patch and there’s a stark difference between the way they’re playing, and the results they’re getting, at the New York Stadium compared to on their travels. Away from home last week’s dire defeat to bottom club Sheff Wed made it seven defeats from eight away games. The surprise 1-1 draw at Southampton is the only point they’ve won away and the outstanding goal by Jordan Hugill that got5 them that is one of only three scored in those eight matches. At The New York, however, Rotherham have been reasonably impressive despite a catalogue of injuries. Coventry were beaten 2-0 here last time out, and Norwich 2-1 before them, while Blackburn and Preston were held to draws and Leicester and Bristol City both needed late goals to win 2-1. Goals, predictably, are proving a problem, with only QPR (10) and Sheff Wed (seven) registering fewer than the Millers’ 12 – Hugill is top scorer here with three followed by three players on two including full back Lee Peltier.

Struggles away from home are nothing new for Rotherham in the Championship. This week marks the one year anniversary of their last away win, 1-0 at Sheff Utd remarkably, and since then they’re winless in 22 road trips, losing 14. They did actually win six away games in 2020/21, more than their five at home, in getting relegated but in their previous two seasons at this level (18/19 and 16/17) they won only one away match in two years of trying – that, inevitably, a 2-1 at Loftus Road that basically ended Steve McClaren’s reign at QPR. It means the Millers have won eight away games in 77 attempts across four years of Championship football. What they do in this division, they do at home, and that’s exemplified by QPR’s record since the switch of stadiums – the R’s have one point from four visits since Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink got his first win here in 2015/16. The last two meetings here have finished 3-1 to the hosts.

Viktor Johansson (52) and Asmir Begovic (49) have made more saves than any other Championship goalkeepers this season.

QPR: Gareth Ainsworth in numbers then: 28 games managed, five wins, four draws, 19 defeats including each of his last six games. QPR scored 20 goals while he was in charge, never managing three in a game, scoring twice on only three occasions and failing to score in 12 games. They conceded 51 times, including a 6-1, two separate 4-0s, five occasions where they shipped three in a game including this fixture last season, and kept only four clean sheets. They recovered only two points from losing positions (West Brom A 2-2, Swansea H 1-1) and lost on 18 of the 20 occasions they conceded the first goal. This season they have as many 4-0 defeats as they do victories. He leaves the club on a record run of 12 without a win at home, and won only once at Loftus Road in his 14 games in charge with two draws. His final win percentage of just under 18% means only five in our history have done worse: Neil Critchley, one from 13, 8.33%; Gary Waddock, four from 23, 17.4%; Ray Harford, five from 41, 12.2%; Steve Burtenshaw, six from 41, 14.6%; Bill Dodgin, two from 16, 12.5%.

Marti Cifuentes inherits a team second bottom of the league on a six-game losing streak in which they’ve scored just three times and conceded 14. The 2-1 defeat to Leicester was perhaps the most predictable among them, and most were grateful it wasn’t a good deal worse, but it did just add another one to all the columns of horrendousness QPR have been building for the last two years. 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 86 matches and lost 46. At home we’ve won just eight of 39, losing 22. Since we topped the Championship exactly a year ago by beating Wigan 2-1 at home we’ve won just six times in 46 games, losing 30; at home we’ve lost 17 out of our last 22 and won only once in a calendar year. This season it’s two wins from 15 overall, and six defeats and a draw from seven at home. We haven’t scored three goals in a game in 47 attempts going back more than a year. We have scored more than one in a game only five times in our last 45 attempts. The last time we came from behind to win was against Reading at home on October 7 last year, 49 games ago – since then we have recovered just three points from losing positions. We are since winless in 29 games when conceding the first goal. We are currently on a year-long run of one win from 22 home matches, the worst in the history of the club. Leicester made it 12 without a win in W12, also a club record.

Andre Dozzell’s red card against the Foxes was the fourth Rangers have picked up already, more than any other team in the Championship, and on three of the occasions the game was level at the time of the dismissal and went on to be lost. Jack Supple tells us West Brom and Leicester is the first time we’ve had players sent off in consecutive games since Reading H and Portsmouth A in the 2010/11 promotion season – so it’s on lads, don’t go booking anything for May just yet.

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. Let’s see what our reigning champion Aston got for us this week…

“With our new messiah in charge and a game which should be a bit kinder than some of the more recent fixtures, I am feeling positive about this one. It’s too quick for Cifuentes to make a huge difference but if nothing else, he might well at least have the players playing with a bit more freedom and against a very poor Rotherham side, I think that will be enough. It won't be free-flowing and exciting (yet) but we'll win 1-0 and Ilias Chair will be the one popping up with the goal.”

Aston’s Prediction: Rotherham 0-1 QPR. Scorer – Ilias Chair

LFW’s Prediction: Rotherham 1-0 QPR. No scorer.

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TacticalR added 10:32 - Nov 4
Thanks for your preview.

That's an interesting observation that a takeover is not on the cards because the club is so hamstrung by FFP that anyone taking over can't really do anything about the situation. This is the legacy of Fernandes. As Bhatia was chairman, I always wondered if the Mittals were waiting for things to get so bad that they could take over the club, but it looks like that option (if it ever was an option) is long gone.

In retrospect Ainsworth was a lot more old school than most of us realised, rooted in a different era of football, unable to change.

Let's hope that Cifuentes can pick up the pieces.

Myke added 11:38 - Nov 4
Clive will you revisit your excellent l lĺopening piece in Jan/Feb (CEO) and Feb/March (FfP) to remind us where we are at?

Northernr added 12:03 - Nov 4
I’m still revisiting my prediction that Steven Caulker was a brilliant signing 10 years later :-)
Nice to see you back posting.

royinaus added 06:38 - Nov 5
Clive, you really are a credit to this club (or us fans anyway)
You’re knowledge of ffp and it’s fatuous inconsistencies are really eye opening.
Your coffee quip had the missus and I laughing.
Coming over for December - hope to see you in the Crown & Sceptre

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