|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 1 Huddersfield Town|
Saturday, 10th August 2019 Kick-off 15:00
That was the window that was – Preview
Friday, 9th Aug 2019 17:56 by Clive Whittingham
A transfer window of more than a dozen departures, and at least that many arrivals, sees a completely revamped QPR team going into Saturday’s game with Huddersfield minus Mass Luongo and plus Nahki Wells.
QPR v Huddersfield
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday August 10, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Randomly blowing a bloody gale >>> Travel – No Hammersmith and City or Circle Line >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
I don’t do regrets really. When you have a self-destruct button a mile wide it’s best to look forward to the incoming disasters rather than backwards at the things you can’t change. But being honest, wasn’t it a crying shame that we didn’t bring back the Annual LFW Deadline Day Barbecue Spectacular for yesterday’s stuff and nonsense? There was more material there than in Steve Evans’ wardrobe.
You had Nottingham Forest, signing anybody that came within 150 miles of the place, declaring Carl Jenkinson at customs as an “England international” for an 18-minute spell in a 4-2 friendly defeat to Sweden seven years ago, then later adding a French-Congolese goalkeeper on a four-year contract to a squad already 40 senior players deep including five senior keepers. Did you remember Zack Clough was there? Did you really?
You had soft embargoed Reading spending in excess of £10m on players, one of whom was Lucas Joao – Viz top tip 1/2 this preview: “pretend it’s transfer deadline day at work by sitting in the canteen until a minute before it closes then rushing up to the counter to pay £12.50 for a Pot Noodle.” That money enabled soft embargoed Sheffield Wednesday to bring a load of players into their squad, which still doesn’t have a manager. Loan deals for all the Carter-Vickers, Clarke-Salters, Vickers-Salters and Carter-Clarkes of this world, scattered hither and thither.
Then there was the more ridiculous stuff. Scott Carson, a 33-year-old goalkeeper who wasn’t much cop when he was 23, with a penchant for dropping the ball in his own net, with a track record on decision making Deirdre Barlow would be proud of, with the expression of somebody permanently suffering from a concussion, getting a move to Manchester bloody City. Join the Richard Wright Retirement Plan now, we’ll give you this free Parker Pen just for enquiring and the first 150 goalkeepers to join get this attractive carriage clock.
And the absolute highlight of this or any other day, the idea that Steven Caulker may be darkening these shores once more with a surprise move to Newcastle. Now, I know forcing people to be optimistic is in vogue in the UK at the moment, and anybody who questions whether setting off down a steep metal fire escape riding a small tea tray is the smartest way to pass time is merely talking down the tea tray and failing to believe in the fire escape enough but, really, putting Steven Caulker together with Newcastle’s nightlife and expecting it to go well is a step too far. LFW’s proud claim of being the only recorded incidence of somebody being refused admission to Flares Newcastle was under great threat for a moment there.
Sadly, this was obviously an agent trick to make sure people in the UK remember Steven Caulker is alive and available. And while Caulker’s agent is a known miracle worker, even the annual summer puff pieces in the Guardian about how he spent a woke summer in Zaire teaching girls to knit their own tampons have dried up. It was never likely was it? Which is just as well. Imagine that guy’s first night on the Bigg Market. We wouldn’t have seen the likes since they fed that bloody mogwai after midnight.
Sky Sports News re-affirmed just what a crock of shit their “news gathering” operation is by reporting that Blackburn Rovers were in discussions with QPR over a loan deal for striker Idrissa Sylla, who left Loftus Road eight months ago to join Belgian side Zulte Waregem where he is almost certainly having a banterous time full of laughter and a surprisingly large amount of accidental goals from three yards out. Viz top tip 2/2: “Pretend you work for Sky Sports News by standing in a field and making things up.”
QPR, in the end, did one in and one out, making it more than a dozen through the exit door this summer in one form or another (Baptiste, Bidwell, Cousins, Dieng, Freeman, Furlong, Hemed, Ingram, Luongo, Lynch, Phillips, Smith, Smyth and Wszolek) and even more than that in (Amos, Ball, Barbet, Barnes, Hugill, Kane, Kelly, Masterson, Mlakar, Pugh, Smith, Wallace as well as the return of Cameron, Rangel and Wells).
The departure of Luongo to Sheff Wed for the dreaded undisclosed fee unlikely to be much more than £1m felt like a bit of a dog’s breakfast. He was, of course, signed in a summer when we had the maximum parachute payment, and now we have no parachute payment at all, so it’s inevitable that we cannot match now what we were paying then. But he was only signed from League One Swindon, and was supposed to be part of the brave new era of buying low and selling high, scouting out rough diamonds and polishing them up for a profitable sale. To put him on a deal, renewed midway through, at a level the club knew they wouldn’t be able to match three seasons down the line, and then turning down offers for him in the intervening period (Nottingham Forest offered £2m, which looks mighty fine now doesn’t it?) is a bit daft. We have to stop seeing offers for our players as a threat, and players leaving as a bad thing. It's not. Sell them, we can trade our way out of this shit. Working yourself into a corner where you have to ostracise a very hard working, valued and effective member of your first team from pre-season to try and force a cut price move just to shift his wage and get any kind of fee you can before he leaves for nothing next summer is poor. No other word for it.
I liked Mass, but I always wonder where he could have gone as a player had we persisted with him as one of the three behind a lone striker, as Chris Ramsay used him, rather than dropping him back and asking him to do hard defensive yards, as every manager since Ramsay - bar a brief period under Ian Holloway - did. He was criticised for his goal record, rightly, but was that down to how we used him, and would he have become the big fat pig for market we so sorely wanted him to be had we not? We’ll never know. I think Sheff Wed have got a tidy signing for themselves there.
In through the gate now, Nahki Wells, and here’s one that’s sure to divide opinion. Regular readers, hello to both, will know that I’m rather enamoured with the Bermudan international, with his hair of a Lego man and little wink to the camera, if not his bloody penalty taking. His movement up front last season, playing as a lone striker, was a cut above anything we’ve seen here for a long time, and made you realise just how far away from being a Championship player Conor Washington really was. We used to complain that asking the muscular but short-arsed Washington to play up top by himself was unfair, and yet here was a man smaller in physical stature running rings round Millwall’s land of the giants. He scored some gorgeous goals. But he unquestionably tailed off with the team, badly affected, it seemed, by that injury time catastrophe against Birmingham at Loftus Road and by the end of the campaign just didn’t look like he gave much of a shit. His substitute cameo against Nottingham Forest, which included two lazy hacks at decent chances and another missed spot kick, stank the place up.
There’s the question of cost. These Premier League loans don’t come our way out of the goodness of the hearts of the teams in the league above, and as we can never hope to match the wages of the players there’s no chance of us signing them permanently so it’s dead money. Having already committed said cash to Jordan Hugill and Jan Mlakar this summer, should we really be shelling out again to loan Wells? Particularly as, just like last summer, we appear to want to play 4-2-3-1 and we already have a one. If Hugill is fit and firing, where is Wells going to fit? Welcome back to last September, when Steve McClaren was wrestling with trying to get Hemed and Wells into the team to the detriment of literally everybody around them after begging to be allowed to sign them both on deadline day.
The deadline day began with hopes of a deal for Scott McKenna from Aberdeen fading fast. Rangers had hoped to get the centre back for £3m, as a genuine prospect of somebody they could bring in and sell on for a profit later on. As other clubs, and Nottingham Forest naturally, got involved the price moved beyond our means. There was talk of David Bates, a Scottish centre back at Hamburg, being an alternate option. To go from chasing two progressive centre backs on a permanent to just paying out to borrow Nahki Wells, a striker who was hit and miss last season and doesn’t fit in our current system, did feel a little bit like sending a 6-year-old to the shops with a tenner. It doesn’t have to be spent if there’s nothing you like or need, but you know it’s going to be anyway.
But then we’re only one Jordan Hugill injury away from relying on an untried kid from Brighton, and perhaps after seeing him in training for a couple of weeks – coupled with Aramide Oteh’s poor spell at Walsall and dodgy pre-season which screamed the need for another spell in the division below – they’ve decided another striker they know and like isn’t a bad option for us.
It remains a mental transfer window for QPR. One we’ll only know the success of on the pitch over the course of this season, and on the balance sheet when the accounts for this period emerge in 18 months’ time. Though the club are confident it has resulted in a significant reduction in the wage bill, and even created some FFP headroom to play with in January and beyond – hence the McKenna bid.
There’s always somebody worse off than yourself. Huddersfield spent deadline day agreeing a new three-year contract with their best player, Aaron Mooy, then promptly loaned him out to Brighton for the season. Which, given the timing, was a right touch.
Links >>> History repeating? History >>> Whitestone back at Championship level – Referee >>> QPRcelona – Podcast Season preview – Contenders >>> Season preview – Midtable (including Huddersfield interview) >>> Season preview – Strugglers
Geoff Cameron Facts, No.57 in the series – While playing for the Saskatoon Sasquatches, Geoff once set a record for 178 completed sideways passes in a match, prompting an immediate £3.5m bid by Brentford.
Team News: QPR, one would think, are likely to name an unchanged team this week following last Saturday’s flying start at Stoke. That’s contrary to Sky Sports’ well-researched team news that says a winning team will have to be changed following the loss of Mass Luongo to Sheffield Wednesday. Nice one lads, just as we were reeling from that shock departure of Sylla to Blackburn as well. Dom Ball is (I think) back from his ban and Todd Kane is another week closer to full fitness. Lee Wallace, however, remains in rehab from his hip flexor problem. We’re offering one full reading of a bed time story from Gerry Francis as this week’s prize for a sighting of Sean Goss.
Huddersfield squeezed Trevor Chalobah and his two-tone hair under the wire on deadline day so the former Ipswich loanee can play here. Aaron Mooy signed a three-year contract, then promptly pissed off to Brighton on loan so he’s a big miss.
Elsewhere: Some very peculiar starts for a couple of London sides tipped for big things this season. First up, Jeffers and AJ, beaten on the opening day at newly promoted Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare, with defender Cyrus Christie making some very damaging allegations about fans racially abusing and physically attacking members of his family behind the goal into the bargain. Not a great look on the back of the astonishing news that Fulham had more fans arrested at games than any other London club between 2015 and 2018. Proof if proof were needed that gin and tonic can be a serious business.
“Now listen here barkeep. When I order a gin and tonic from your emporium I expect it to be mixed professionally with a proper tonic, and here you are trying to fob me off with a Schweppes. Now one of two things is going to happen here: either you’re going to go and find some Fever Tree for my drink or I’m going to lace up my duelling gloves and give you a thick ear. Now what’s it to be?”
Further down the river, early warning signs that this brave new era at Real Sporting Hanwell may look a lot like the old era at Real Sporting Hanwell as they slipped to a 1-0 defeat at home to Birmingham City and promptly sold star striker Neal Maupay to Brighton for £20m and failed with a last minute attempt to replace him with Charlton's Lyle Taylor. Their acquisitions look seriously impressive but was there anything more Brentford than starting a game with 75% of the possession, 15 shots on goal to Birmingham’s one, and losing the game 1-0 to a 20-yard headed goal from a defender? Odds slashed on another Justice League title heading to Griffin Park this season.
Chances of redemption come amongst a whole clutch of 11 games taking place at 15.00 this Saturday. The Fulham massive are boxing ears with the Mad Chicken Farmers daggggggghn by the rivah – bring your facking dinner, because when they’ve finished wiv you you’ll facking need it. Blackburn started with a home loss to Charlton. Bees meanwhile head all the way up to Middlesbrough, who began the new season with a 3-3 nonsense at Luton on the opening night.
The Champions of Europe began their relentless pursuit of another August league title with an emphatic win at Bristol City live on Sky Sports Leeds, and you can (shock horror) catch their second game of the season on the same channel as Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers head up to Elland Road Saturday lunchtime. Leeds are then on television again during the week, with a League Cup tie against Salford "Class of 92" City so perfectly within the tiny sphere in which Sky believe their subscribers exist that it could be the first recorded example of a TV executive drowning in his own cum. I hope you like prolonged close ups of Paul Scholes picking his nose at the back of the stand.
Sorry, feel a bit icky now. Anyway, couple of far more interesting games than that taking place in the form of local derbies between Preston Knob End and Wigan Warriors, and Sheffield Owls against Barnsley. Allam Tigers managed to hold onto Jarrod Bowen in the end – shame for Assem, probably already submitted the plans for a new wing of his house – which moves their chances of staying in the division from none to slim. We’ll get a further clue of just how slim when they face off at home against Reading, who should now be shitting it with one of their main rivals for that final relegation spot keeping hold of its best talent.
What do we have elsewhere? Charlie Austin returns to the Championship without us (sob) at West Brom and starts life there at home to the Millwall Scholars. Derby Sheep and their ever more creative ways to circumnavigate the FFP regulations are at home to Swanselona – if their midfield was half as creative as their accountant they’d be a real danger (hat tip @goddardinho). Charlton got a surprise away win on day one and now have a home game with troubled Poke, who keep chucking money at their problems without any hint of a turnaround just yet.
The Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour welcomes Lutown. Lucky boys.
Referee: Dean Whitestone has been out of the Championship since 2016, with his last match being Huddersfield’s 5-1 home defeat to Brentford (easily the best side they played that year). He’s back now, and first up is a trip to Loftus Road. Details.
QPR: Rangers started the season with an away win on day one for the first time since 1987, although it should be said that there were some pretty tough games among them and quite a few draws (Man Utd 0-0, 88/89; Forest 1-1, 90/91; reigning champions Arsenal 1-1, 91/92; Man City 1-1, 92/93; Villa 1-4, 93/94; reigning champions Man Utd 94/95, 0-2; reigning champions Blackburn 95/96, 0-1; Sunderland A 98/99, 0-1; Hull A 05/06, 0-0; Burnley 06/07, 0-2; Bristol City 07/08, 2-2; Charlton 15/16, 0-2; Preston 18/19, 0-1). Last season QPR lost 11 times at Loftus Road, which was a club record. One week in they’re already a fifth of the way towards matching their total of five away wins for the whole season as well.
Huddersfield: Town were dire last year in the Premier League, recording just three wins all season – two of those against Wolves. They amassed only 16 points across 38 games – 20 shy of the safety mark. They were hamstrung by a poor summer that left them woefully short in attack, scoring just 22 goals in 38 league games including a paltry ten at home. Karlan Grant, a January arrival from Charlton, finished as top scorer with four from nine games. Centre half Mathias Jorgensen was joint second with three. Many of those failings were in evidence again on Monday night when they began their campaign back in the Championship with a 2-1 home loss to Derby. Admittedly Tom Lawrence’s two goals were beautifully taken, and one from a catastrophic defensive error, but it needed a penalty to get Town on the scoresheet at all. Their pre-season results weren’t too bad, with a -0 win at Hamburg and a 1-1 draw with Montpellier in the challenging ones, to go with a 3-1 win at Rochdale and a 2-0 at Donny Rovers in the fitness exercises.
Prediction: WokingR just pipped KensalRiseR to the post to win last season’s Prediction league, which is ack for a new season and once again sponsored by Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here.
"Wow, what a pleasant and unexpected result that was. It's still far too early to see any sort of pattern or even know who we will pick so going on nothing more than gut feeling and a 2-0 win and still hoping for an Amos first goal."
Woking’s prediction: QPR 2-0 Huddersfield. Scorer – Luke Amos
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-0 Huddersfield. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
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