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Hull City 3 v 0 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 13th April 2024 Kick-off 15:00
To Hull and back - Preview
Friday, 12th Apr 2024 22:11 by Clive Whittingham

QPR continue to teeter, albeit towards the back of a long queue of similar basket cases, four points north of the Championship's bottom three, ahead of Saturday's difficult trip to Hull.

Hull (17-11-13 DDLLWD 10th) v QPR (12-11-19 LDWWLD 16th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday April 13, 2024 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Damp and windy >>> Hull, East Yorkshire

Plymouth for a six pointer in April was a real nostalgia fest for QPR fans of a certain vintage.

Like much of the rest of the country the place has gone rabidly downhill from a low starting point. The council turned up in the early hours of the morning to tear the street trees out of the High Street, replacing them with hoardings, fencing, and vague promises of some glorious new future/trees at some distant far off point in time. The shops you’d want to shop in have been replaced with charity shops, and the charity shops replaced with “vape labs”. There was an “Easter funfair” doing a brisk trade of five rides and four kids in the Tuesday lunchtime sunshine. The old, atmospheric Navy pub on The Barbican has been replaced with lino floors easily wipeable after a tactical chunder, and UPV doors front and back. The Copthorne, where my aunt once shared a lift with Gino Padula and basically told him he could have whatever he wanted, still has the same bathroom suites and asbestos panelling. Nick Blackburn once held court in the bar there.

You could still feel it though. Walking up that wide high street, through the underpass, past the baseball diamond in the park, towards Home Park. All the hope and optimism and energy of the 2001-2005 period, when those two clubs were revitalised alongside each other by charismatic managers and brilliant teams. It’s weird to have such happy memories of a ground, place and people where QPR eventually lost a crucial promotion six pointer 2-0, big Micky Evans rampaging around, David Friio picking us apart as he always did. But Rangers were promoted alongside the Green Army anyway, and we all rejoiced in the demise of Bristol City who, in those days at least, provided a needlessly spiteful welcome at Ashton Gate thanks to QPR’s various connections with the blue and white halved half of their city.

The LFW travelling party numbered 16 in the end on Tuesday, and would no doubt have touched 20 for a Saturday game. Some people ticking a new ground, mostly just people keen to reminisce and glad of a chance to be going somewhere new after ten years away from that part of the country. Like golf is a good walk spoiled, football has increasingly become a lovely day out torched by QPR’s ineptitude between 15.00 and 17.00 (19.00 and 22.00 on weekdays). The Championship, and Rangers’ recent performance in it, has been bleak as hell. Last season was a particular low when QPR not only decided to implode for six months, but did so in a campaign when the whole of the South East had abandoned the division and been replaced by the entire North West. As if league games at Burnley, Blackburn, Preston, Blackpool, Wigan, Stoke weren’t grim enough, we had to do it during a year of poor industrial relations on an already terrible railway line which serves that part of the world. Just when you thought we’d broken the back of it the FA Cup draw sent us to… Fleetwood. Fucking terrific. I’m pleased we lost the bloody thing in the end, they would have found a way to send us to Clitheroe in the fourth round if not.

It's easy to get all misty eyed about our time in the Second Division. For every Richard Langley hat trick in the sunshine at Blackpool, or fat bloke gets annihilated by deckchair at Hartlepool, there were bleak, windswept, soggy defeats at Notts County, Chesterfield, Peterborough (always Peterborough) and Northampton. Gaggles of locals eagerly toasting our demise, while Chelsea built a multi-trophy winning empire on dirty, Russian blood money. A lot of it, let’s be honest, was fucking horrible. Yes, we had a lovely time in hospitality at Bury, where you got a three course dinner and match ticket for £35 each, QPR won 2-1, and a comedian told racist jokes at half time. But, also, that uncovered away end at Swindon, with Sam Parkin charging about the place.

You can’t deny it was a lot of fun though. And this has been one of my coping mechanisms over the last eight months. I’m sick of going to Preston. I’m sick of being in a league so obviously financially doped in favour of the parachute payment clubs – Leeds, £14m on agent fees alone in the figures released by the league today, a figure that could transform our entire team. I’m sick of playing the same teams all the time. I’m sick of trying to corral a group of friends together and inject enthusiasm for a trip to a place we’ve been every year for the last ten years. And I’m sick of the team being shit at it when we do get there. I look downstairs and in little dark corners of my mind I think, yeh, could be quite fun, big groups of us going to places like Lincoln, Shrewsbury and Cheltenham. People sending me messages asking for pubs and tickets, rather than me trying to chivvy people along and beg company for this latest, greatest, most crucial trip of all to Huddersfield (£130 return, engineering work at Dewsbury, ASLEF drivers strike).

Given that I spend all the rest of my life on here patiently finger puppeting the club’s financial situation, FFP status, medium and long term goals, you really don’t need to tell me what a disaster going down another division would be. For all the hope that we’d rebuild down there and come back as Ipswich have, or to a lesser extent Sunderland, both those clubs took a long while and a change of ownership in that third tier before they got their act together. I’ve met and/or interviewed everybody charged with running QPR and not a single one of them gives me confidence they understand why Brentford, Luton, Brighton and others have gone from being our pre-season friendly opponents to, well, our pre-season friendly opponents. Let alone be able to set us on a similar course. If we were to go down I think it far likelier we’d become the next Charlton, rapidly rotating through owners and managers and very quickly getting just as sick of always playing Port Vale as we used to be always playing Stoke. It was, just, seeing the whole band back together back in Plymouth on Tuesday pulled a few heartstrings.

Listening to Marti Cifuentes afterwards did the same. So calm, reflective, and level after a game which I left calling Asmir Begovic every name under the sun. Cifuentes has been like this throughout: however good or bad it’s been under his tenure, the grown up in the room. Never too upset or carried away. I admire him so much for this. Just the merest hint in his pre-match this week at how frustrating it is to prepare a team perfectly for the game ahead, watch them execute the game plan as intended, and then not win regardless because none of your strikers have heard about finishing low across the goalkeeper instead of high into the near side netting. I think he’s doing well to keep a lid on it. I’d genuinely have started bringing a gun to work if I was in charge of this lot.

When I weigh up what’s the biggest thing that’s scaring me about getting relegated, it’s him. It’s another sliding doors moment in QPR history. A manager that can keep us up despite Poppadom Hands in goal and Change Here for Moorfields Eye Hospital up front, with better FFP headroom and a lot of high-earning sludge out of contract this summer, really has the potential to make QPR in the Championship exciting again, and awaydays of a dozen people or more the norm. Get relegated, lose him, fester in the chaos that follows, and it doesn’t matter how nice the pubs in bloody Shrewsbury are.

Plymouth felt like such a microcosm. The improved defence and midfield, the better organisation, the shrewd and smart tactics, undermined by a goalkeeper who wouldn’t get in a pub team, and an attack that looked like it had drunk as much as us pre-match. The goal we did eventually score also feels like the situation we’re now in on the league table. Just one more win. Like Happy Gilmore, just tap it in. Sheff Wed home, tap it in. Plymouth away, give it a little tapperoo. But, no.

Please Rangers, please just get this done.

Links >>> Trouble on the home front – Interview >>> Road to Wembley – History >>> Nield in charge – Referee >>> Official Website >>> Hull Daily Mail — Local Paper >>> The Amber View — Blog >>> Tigerlink — Blog >>> Amber Nectar — Blog and Forum >>> Not606 — Forum >>> Ground Guide >>> Hull City Live — Blog

90s Footballer Conspiracy Theories No.40 In The Series – Former Leeds and Liverpool captain Gary McAllister said Finland – the country – does not exist. It is just a made up landmass fabricated by the Japanese and the Russians to secretly hoard fishing rights in the Baltic Sea.

Below the fold

Team News: Jack Colback has trained since Plymouth and should be involved. Michy Frey is still awaiting an oil change. Apart from Chris Willock replacing one of the attacking midfield three, likely Paul Smyth, the main decision probably comes at the back where you would expect Jake Clarke-Salter to return but Cifuentes suddenly seems very keen on Morgan Fox. Given that Fox played pretty well at Home Park I wonder whether he might slide left to replace Kenneth Paal in a repeat of the Swansea set up. Hull come at you with Anass Zaroury down one side and Jaden Philogene down the other which is… a challenge.

In Dave Mc Knows Exactly What He’s Doing Here news, West London Sport reports the lesser spotted Taylor Richards has suffered a “set back” in his comeback from not being included in the club’s 25-man-squad for the second half of the season. In Marti Cifuentes Knows Exactly What He’s Doing Here news, the manager is quoted as saying: “I read that I said it was his calf. It was his hamstring – my bad, perhaps it was lost in translation. Now he has a new injury in the same area. It’s the hamstring.”

Hull’s injury list is growing almost as quickly as their play-off hopes are fading. Captain Lewis Coyle, a surprise success story this season, left the midweek draw with Middlesbrough at half time and Zaroury came out of that game with a groin problem. Matty Jacobs and Ryan Giles are also rated as doubts. Striker Liam Delap, on loan from Man City and scorer of seven goals in the first half of the season, is back and available for his first appearance since New Year’s Day. He’ll likely be utilised as a second half sub. Rosenior told what wreckage remains of The Hull Daily Mail: "We've got a few that won't be available for tomorrow but I don't want to give names, not at this stage. I won't give QPR any help with their homework on us. We're going to be missing a few, but we've got Liam Delap back.”

Elsewhere: Leicester’s ongoing wobble of three wins in nine matches did QPR no favours at all when they lost 1-0 at Millwall during the week, and the rest of the teams at the bottom of the table will be watching on nervously tonight to see what they produce at the other end of their long trek down to Plymouth. Argyle can start the weekend moving to 48 points and 16th place if they win – their next two games are away at fellow strugglers Stoke and Millwall.

The other big surprise in a midweek round that went almost entirely in QPR’s favour was Birmingham somehow contriving a 1-0 home defeat against a Cardiff side on holiday more than Gloria Hunniford. Can I just shock you, I like Josh Bowler. It’s now one win and eight defeats in ten games for Blues, who’ll be considering a seventh change of manager this season if it carries on like this. Coventry at home this Saturday, an away game at Huddersfield in the penultimate match looming large. This week’s gaffer Gary Rowett said of their efforts on Wednesday: "I think the group's got some quality but we just lack a bit of toughness at the right time and it's hard to give people that. You have to find that from within in difficult moments." And if that sounds awfully familiar for a club that have signed four of QPR’s biggest recent problem children and this week appointed Mike Rigg to oversee their academy then check these replies to Ethan Laird’s “things have to be said” post-match heart-to-heart, conducted while clutching an £820 Louis Vuitton washbag. Remember we’re looking for the name of the club, not the artist.

The other eye opener in the perfect Wednesday from a Rangers point of view was Blackburn becoming the latest club to set light to their goal difference with a 5-0 loss at midtable Bristol City. Rovers finish the season at Leicester, have Coventry and Sheff Wed to come at Ewood Park, and start the most difficult set of fixtures of any of the teams down there with tomorrow’s away game against Leeds – that’s the lunchtime TV game.

Bristol City, meanwhile, can continue doing us all favours again tomorrow with a home match against Huddersfield. The Terriers were level for a half-useful 1-1 draw and point at Preston with 12 minutes to go during the week but ended up losing 4-1 to a hat trick from late substitute Milutin Osmajic who scored on 84, 87 and 90.

Sheff Wed came back from two down to draw at home to Norwich and now face Stoke, three points ahead of them and one behind us, at Hillsborough. If Millwall do a better job than Birmingham with their home game against Cardiff they’d be to 50 points and, one would think, done and dusted.

Having set a record pace for the first three quarters of the season, none of the top four seem to want to shove their promotion over the line. Leicester, as already discussed, can go three clear at the top tonight in the South West despite rapidly collapsing recent form. That’s because Ipswich have taken one point from their last two prior to tomorrow’s home game with in form Boro and Leeds have won only one of their last four ahead of the Elland Road noon showdown. Southampton have fallen away even more dramatically – four wins from ten – and are now ten points away from second. Even with two games in hand they’re likely in that QPR 2014 purgatory of kicking heels waiting for the play-offs to start, beginning with a home game with Watford. West Brom, who will inevitably beat them over two legs as Russell Martin goes ideals and Carlos Corberan goes pragmatism, are at home to Mykonos-bound Sunderland. Norwich, destined to beat Ipswich in their semi-final, take their turn at Preston.

Referee: An interesting midweek for the Championship refereeing fraternity, with Geoff Eltringham once again displaying interesting interpretation of handball penalties when it comes to West Brom – Cedric Kipre punching the ball out from under the crossbar not a penalty, Rotherham player struck with the ball four yards outside the box penalty. Keith Stroud was also in fine form at Swansea v Stoke, with one goal incorrectly disallowed, and a penalty awarded for a foul outside the box.

Who knows what Championship rookie Tom Nield has in store for us tomorrow, but it didn’t go well last time. Details.


Hull: The Tigers have dropped back from the play-off picture of late. They were sixth and three points clear in play-offs after winning at Southampton on February 20 but are now tenth and six points adrift of the top six with four left to play. That had followed a sequence of five wins in six matches which looked to put Liam Rosenior’s team on course for a promotion push after an impressive January transfer window but too many draws and poor home form have unstitched that somewhat.

Hull have drawn five of their last eight games and only four teams in the division have drawn more than their 11 overall. At home it’s six without a win (four of which have been drawn), one win in eight and two wins in 11. Sunderland, Norwich, Swansea and Stoke have all won here in that sequence while Boro, Leicester, Birmingham and West Brom got draws – not exactly a formidable bunch. Hull’s overall total of seven home wins is easily the lowest in the top half of the table – you have to look down to Watford in fourteenth with five before you find somebody with a worse record. Birmingham, second bottom, and Plymouth, 20th, both have more home victories to their name. Nobody has drawn more home games than Hull’s eight.

Liam Rosenior’s side is good at spreading goals around the team. Jaden Philogene is top scorer here with ten (he has two in two after none in eight) followed by Aaron Connolly and Ozan Tufan on eight. With Fabio Carvalho on seven in 15 starts since arriving on loan from Liverpool, and Liam Delap with seven prior to his injury on New Year’s Day, that’s five players in this Hull squad with more than QPR’s joint top scorers – Lyndon Dykes and Ilias Chair both on five. Two of Tufan’s goals have been penalties – when he’s not taking them Jaden Philogene (v Watford) and Fabio Carvalho (v Leicester) have both missed.

For three seasons from 2018 to 2021 these teams played six games without the home team winning once. QPR won here 3-2 in 2020/21 in an Ebere Eze masterclass and then 3-0 early in what we hoped would be the Mark Warburton promotion push in 2021/22. Hull also won two and drew one of three visits to Loftus Road in that time. Since then QPR have beaten the Tigers 3-1 and 2-0 at Loftus Road and collapsed here 3-0 in a debacle last season.

QPR: Rangers’ attempt to achieve safety in the Championship this season continues to crawl along at excruciating pace.

If you’re an optimist, Rangers have lost only three of their last 15 games to climb four points clear with 12 left to play for. Only four Championship sides have won more points than QPR’s 26 since January 20. They’ve won seven of those games, including four away from home. Traditionally a real problem for Rangers, the away form since Christmas has been excellent with one defeat in eight games and currently unbeaten in five matches. Rangers have won ten of 28 and taken 39 points since Marti Cifuentes took over, the 11th best record in the league across that period. If you’re a pessimist you’ll point out it’s only two wins in seven, and one point from the last two against lowly Plymouth and Sheff Wed. Rangers have failed to score in three of their last six and are still yet to score more than two goals in a game more than once this season.

QPR’s last six goals across seven games have now been scored by Sam Field (three), Steve Cook (two) and Jimmy Dunne (one). Ilias Chair is without a goal in seven appearances, Chris Willock in eight, but both have good records against Hull. They scored a goal apiece in the 2-0 win at Loftus Road in December. Chair has four goals in his last six appearances against the Tigers, Chris Willock has three in five. Lyndon Dykes’ wait for a goal stretches even further. It’s 14 QPR appearances without a goal for the Scotsralian and away from home the record is even worse. Dykes hasn’t scored away from home all season and his goal at West Brom last Easter was his only away goal in 2022/23. His last away from Loftus Road before that was at Fulham in a 4-1 loss in October 2021 – 52 away games with one goal.

Only Gavin Bazunu at Southampton rates lower than QPR’s Asmir Begovic and Hull’s Ryan Allsopp on Opta’s goalkeeper rankings this season.

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. Reigning champion Aston says.

“Well it won’t be an easy game, their attack is as good as anyone in the division, their defence is not. On the other hand, we have a completely toothless attack and a really strong defence. Unless we're in for another Begovic special, I think 0-0, no scorer obviously.”

Aston’s Prediction: Hull 0-0 QPR. No scorer.

LFW’s Prediction: Hull 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Ilias Chair

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Myke added 00:36 - Apr 13
Cheers Clive. Yep a draw looks likely. I think we all agree that one more win will do it. More likely we will draw the next two, lose to Leeds and need a point v Coventry on the last day.

Marshy67 added 10:13 - Apr 13
Third game of a three game week?
I'd definitely take a point today.

CateLeBonR added 11:06 - Apr 13

Thanks Clive one of your best yet. Although Clitheroe is actually a very nice town. With Pendle Hill fixed in the eye and the River Ribble sweeping by. Accrington Stanley? Who is thy?? It’s much nicer than Preston and there’s little chance of having QPR spoil your afternoon.

TacticalR added 15:00 - Apr 13
Thanks for your preview.

I can't see how anyone in their right mind would think that going down would do us any good. I call such people boiled frogs because they have forgotten that the owners started off with a Premiership club, so we have already gone down a division on their watch.

'Just get this done'. Amen. As I have said before, whatever happens in the remaining games, at least Cifuentes has restored some respectability to our season.

DavidHoyt added 09:01 - Apr 25
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