The view from the Pu - February
Wednesday, 4th Mar 2020 17:20 by Steve Hardy
Steve Hardy's monthly round up looks at the good, the bad and the indifferent from QPR's monstrously busy February.
Only in the Championship can the shortest month of the year provide you with seven games of football for your entertainment/punishment. Let’s have a look at what went well and what not so well in February before a month where 31 days provides us with just four games.
We’re a crazy bunch aren’t we? Well I suppose to the untrained eye the majority of football fans (by football fans I mean the ones who actually make the conscious effort of going to the games regularly) are crazy, spending all that money, travelling all those miles to an event that will more than often cause you a great deal of upset or annoyance. Taking 1,400 fans up to Forest for a game when your season is ultimately over is worthy of applause and I know it all seems incredibly small time but let’s not forget we are one of three clubs in our borough, and the worst in regards of league position and then with Brentford also down the road flying high it is good to know that the support is still there. To then read an article in regards to the Forest game being the 1,500th consecutive game for QPR fan Chris Kemp was pretty remarkable.
To put this into perspective that is around 30 years of not missing a single game, it’s absolutely incredible to be honest. The year of that Agueeeeeeeeeero goal I only missed seven games and that took me some doing with days off work and rearranging parts of my social life, not to forget the cost of it all. So to not miss a single game in 1,500 takes a real effort, I’m sure I’ve probably seen the chap at away games before but Chris I take my hat off to you, an absolutely amazing achievement, just goes to show how unique/mad we all are. Should name a stand after him I reckon.
So Nahki Wells inevitably left us at the end of January which has meant that Hugill has played near on every minute since and has come in for a bit of stick at times, however I don’t think he has actually done too badly. Yes he does have the propensity to miss absolute sitters – for instance Swansea and Stoke – but he never hides and he’s constantly putting his body on the line. On Saturday he scored one, set up the other and should have had another if it wasn’t for the linesman’s flag, taking his total to 13 for the season which is not too shabby from 25 starts. A lot of people will argue that with the amount of chances we create this isn’t a great deal but when you look at the scoring stats of Conor Washington’s time here I beg to differ, and if he was scoring every chance then he wouldn’t be here, he’d be playing for Stratford FC. Obviously a completely different player to Wells but to play nearly every minute in a month of 7 games is pretty impressive, in my eyes a good month for the northerner.
Finally the accounts have been released and like a bunch of spotty teenage virgins waiting for the latest Call of Duty we had been excitedly waiting for these over the last few weeks (or maybe it was just me). The state of the modern game, unfortunately, has you celebrating the switching of an energy tariff or pay-cut of a working professional (alright, I know they’re well paid footballers but still) almost as much as a goal nowadays but I must say that I was very pleased to see the accounts that were released last week. Slowly but surely it feels like we are finally going to start seeing the results of Lee Hoos hard work, however there is still a long way to go and this summer should give us a little more headroom in regards to recruitment so it will be interesting to see who ends up coming through the doors. It is worth noting that we still made a loss though – like nearly all clubs – but football is the only industry where operating losses can still be considered good news.
I spoke earlier about Nahki Wells departing, which was a shame as I thought we were finally starting to see the best of him, that being a 15-20 a season (at best) Championship striker. The fact that Bristol City spent big on a 30 year old striker who they could have got for free in five months’ time is pretty ridiculous. What is more ridiculous however is that QPR end up in a situation – as only QPR could do – where their top goal scorer for the season is starting the game on the bench for the opposition.
What rankles me even more is that said top scorer is sitting on the opposition’s bench rather well rested after we decided not to start him in the FA Cup despite the fact it was patently obvious he wouldn’t be available for the following game at Blackburn. Clive spoke about this on the podcast so I don’t want to go into too great a detail but this really wound me up. Nahki Wells going to Bristol City was pretty much a done deal from about the 7th of January so why we decided to go along with this pretence that he might end up staying was absolutely ridiculous, resulting in a situation at the beginning of the month where we have rested a player to ultimately be at peak fitness to then play against us. For all the progress the club seems to be making we are still prone to sticking a fork in the toaster every now and then.
Another bone of contention for me this month is our inability to mark players at corners. When you have players like Martyn Waghorn who, let’s be honest, looks about 5 foot six burying headers at the near post we really need to ask ourselves what are we actually doing on the training ground. Whenever you hear of a team unable to defend it is always the coach who comes out and states ‘we need to get back to basics’. No one really knows the exact definition of basic defending but you would imagine it is something along the lines of mark your man and stop them scoring and I don’t really understand why we cannot seem to apply this when defending corners. Surely to make it as simple and basic as possible it would be easier to put a defender on each post and then have your best headers marking the other team’s best headers? At the moment we do neither and it just ends up with a situation where our best defenders just stand around marking no one whilst Ilias Chair has to mark someone like Aden Flint. It’s not great to be honest and every time the opposition gets a corner it’s pretty much the equivalent of giving away a penalty. Surely a more basic approach of players of the post and your defenders marking their best players would help stem this? But what do I know.
A bit of a sidestep but I want to reserve my last negative for our lovely friends at Sky Sports. It is pretty handy being able to watch the midweek games on the red button when you’re either working late or feeling a bit under the weather but the fact that they use only the one camera is absolutely woeful. They also don’t show replays which during the Derby game was compounded by the fact that the commentator does get to watch replays and commentates to you as if you can also watch the replay which is rather annoying. We’ve all got out opinions on the red button midweek games and how they are affecting attendances etc but judging by the quality on offer for the Derby match I would say they are better off just scrapping it.
Bit of a shame to see Keiren Westwood have to come out and publicly criticise the abuse he was getting online this month but that, unfortunately, is the society that we currently live in. Be kind people.
February grade – B
Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19 >>> September 19 >>> October 19 >>> November 19 >>> December 19 >>> January 20
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