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Coventry City 3 v 2 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Friday, 18th September 2020 Kick-off 19:45
Something about building on a promising start - Preview
Friday, 18th Sep 2020 14:25 by Clive Whittingham

QPR surprised plenty of people, including their own supporters, with a fine 2-0 win against fancied Nottingham Forest on day one, sending expectations swinging off in completely the opposite direction for a Friday night game with newly promoted Coventry.

Coventry (0-0-1, WLD, 14th) v QPR (1-0-0, LW, 1st)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Friday September 18, 2020 >>> Kick Off 19.45 >>> Weather – Depends what you’ve got your thermostat set at >>> St Andrew’s, Birmingham

Taking you behind the curtain on our 30,000-word season preview that none of you read (read it you bastards, read it), we start putting these things together first of all by working out roughly who we like and who we don’t like.

That didn’t help much this season because in a league as savagely bang average as the 2020/21 Championship it quickly became apparent that I ‘liked’, at most, four teams (Norwich, Watford, Brentford, Millwall) and could easily see at least 10 of them (Wycombe, Rotherham, Coventry, Huddersfield, Reading, Birmingham, QPR, Barnsley, Luton and Sheff Wed) getting into quite serious shit without too much effort at all.

So we craft that into some sort of predicted league table, pass it around the Crown and Sceptre to see what everybody thinks, run a set of tits up the flagpole and see who gets wood, and then re-write the whole bloody thing based on various barbed comments about what a complete bloody moron I am. A further re-write occurs once all the opposition fan responses are in and somebody we thought would do really well is actually ready to take a big gun out to the garage (Preston, Bristol City), and somebody else we thought would be terrible is already booking their tickets to Anfield (Barnsley). And a final rejig occurs after we've laid out all the fiddly little transfer graphics and it’s become apparent that somebody we hadn’t ever considered (Coventry) has signed really rather well while somebody else that everybody else is talking up has been rummaging around in the dog poo bin again (Stoke, Forest).

Then it’s time to begin writing the bloody thing up, and this tends to start at a rapid pace, with words hencing forth in torrents, about Brentford, and Nottingham Forest, and Reading, because whether they like it or not Brentford and Nottingham Forest and Reading are bloody funny at the moment. Then come the obvious ones, like Norwich who are clearly going to do well, and Sheff Wed who are clearly not. Then there are the ones we can do little “comedic” routines on, like Swanselona, who play perfect football while being managed by Sloth from the Goonies, and Blackburn, who used to throw live roosters at each other but have now gone a bit dull. Derby present an opportunity for a Frank ‘serious point, light hearted point, but no seriously serious point’ Lampard bit, all the usual stuff about Wayne Rooney’s taste for Marlboro Reds and wizened old vaginas, and a whole recap of the life and times of Richard Keogh so that’s always a fun hour or so. But pretty soon we're sitting up in the middle of the night trying to figure what on earth to say about Luton Town (wing backs and that), Middlesbrough (Warnock and that) or Cardiff (maybe we could put Neil Harris in The Fast Show’s Right Royal Cockney Barrel of Monkeys).

And then nobody reads the fucker and loads of teams we thought would be crap win on the opening day against loads of sides we predicted would be great. Birmingham v Brentford and Derby v Reading prime examples. As well as, it should be said, our good selves beating Nottingham Forest in such convincing and stylish fashion. Suddenly the pendulum of doom has swung the other way back into the light. Maybe we’re not as bad as we thought, maybe the recruitment has been shrewder than it looked, maybe we won’t feel the loss of all those good players as keenly as we might have done, maybe Lyndon Dykes is the new Les Ferdinand, maybe the Championship’s even worse than we thought, maybe we going to steamroller the whole fucking thing and the season will end with Lee Hoos riding onto the pitch on a huge novelty tractor with a big cigar and aviator shades and enormous American flag, towing behind him Les Ferdinand and his big fat I TOLD YOU SO-themed float.

Or maybe not. Perhaps what has happened here is you’ve immersed yourself in QPR social media for the six week off season, where people compete to outdo each other in the doom stakes, branding anybody who thinks we’ll do anything other than lose 2-0 to Forest “delusional”, sending laughing emojis to anybody who says we might keep a clean sheet, scolding anybody who predicts anything other than a gruesome relegation battle as a “happy clapper” and going out of their way, day after day, hour after hour, Tweet after Tweet to say how utterly terrible the squad is, how useless the manager is and how he must be replaced immediately by Gareth Ainsworth, what a disgrace it all is, how much the board has killed us… to the point where even making it onto the field against Nottingham Forest on day one with 11 players, properly clothed, feels like some incredible achievement. As the belt loosens and air rushes into the plastic bag, oxygen floods the blood and rushes to the brain, and a feeling of euphoria takes over as Lyndon Dykes tears the net from the post with a penalty kick.

In reality, it’s a strange time of year this. Reading’s record-breaking, 106-point, 99-goal title winners of 2005/06 lost their opening game of the season 2-1 at home to Plymouth Argyle. A year later Hull City were also promoted via the play offs having also lost at home on the opening day to Plymouth (3-2). Maybe that League Cup exit last week wasn’t such a bad thing? Last year Charlton won their first two, and were unbeaten in their first seven, winning four, and ended up relegated. Sometimes you can tell a lot by what goes on early in a season – QPR’s 2010/11 title winning team hit the ground like Usain Bolt – and sometimes you can tell nothing at all.

We’ll know a bit more tonight, and a bit more again next week, but I suspect, as ever, the truth lies somewhere in between our 2-0 win against a Nottingham Forest side that’s really not in a happy place right now, and the doom-laden apocalyptic prophecies of the Twitter trolls.

Links >>> Champions of Europe – History >>> Cov get day one shock – Interview >>> 47 points to safety – Podcast >>> Martin in charge – Referee >>> Coventry City – Official Website >>> Coventry Telegraph – Local Press >>> Sky Blues Talk – Forum >>> Sky Blues Blog – Blog >>> Sideways Sammy – Blog >>> The Lonely Season – Blog >>> Sky Blues TV - Clasic Match Highlights

Geoff Cameron Facts No.105 In the Series – Cameron scored QPR’s consolation goal in a 2-1 loss to Coventry at Loftus Road in 1955/56.

Friday

Team News: Warbs Warburton presented a clean bill of health for his squad in the pre-match on Thursday, with only the ongoing contractual situations surrounding Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ryan Manning casting doubt on their selections. Big noise in little Blackburn that they're close to signing the latter. Dom Ball (2022) and Osman Kakay (2024) both followed Conor Masterson (2023) in extending their contracts this week. George Thomas should be fit to face his former club having turned in an impressive substitute cameo against Forest last week following a couple of weeks out with a quad problem picked up in the pre-season friendly against Wimbledon.

Coventry are without reserve goalkeeper Ben Wilson who is fighting an addiction to classic Donkey Kong. Marko Morosi started at Bristol City last week, with third choice Tom Bilson on the bench which, if I didn’t know better, I’d say sounds an awful lot like Ben Wilson pretending not to be Ben Wilson.

Elsewhere: Couple of results to pour icy cold suppressant foam on the raging flames of pre-season previews everywhere in week one. Chiefly Reading, apparently in turmoil after a complete ripping up and starting again of their coaching and management set up just a fortnight before the season, winning 2-0 at Rooney’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass, who were tipped to do reasonably well this year with a full season of WAYNE LIKE FIRE BUT FIRE BURN WAYNE surrounded by a clutch of excellent young boys. This week they swap opponents, with Reading playing the analysts favourites Grimley Colliery Band at home, while Derby are at Lutown. Nathan Jones men started with a 1-0 win at Oakwell last weekend.

Further surprise came at St Andrew’s, where Spartak Hounslow were almost certainly the best team Birmingham will play all season, with 65% of the ball and 16 shots on the goal, but nevertheless lost 1-0 to one of only three shots on target the home side managed. Both teams went away from that one happy, with Aitor Karanka loving nothing better than 90 minutes of artery hardening 1-0 accomplished with no possession or shots, and Racing Club de Kew Bridge able to slap a thick eight points onto the Justice League table in the first weekend. Indeed Thomas Frank declared himself satisfied with the 1-0 defeat post match, on the basis that they “should have won”, in the most Thomas Frank interview ever given. They’re at home to Huddersfield this weekend.

Aitor, quick trust exercise, ultimate fantasy? We’re all doing it.

1-0 up probably. They’re a superior team. I’m just watching.

Of course the other relatively big surprise from day one was our own victory against Nottingham Florist’s Cast of a Thousand Footballers, leaving them without a win in nine matches either side of the break and apparently on the cusp of sacking manager Sabri Lamouchi just four months after extending his contract. That hasn’t, naturally, stopped them signing a player every day this week, to go with the 30 senior pros they carried into the season in the first place. Among their number, Brighton promotion winner Gaetan Bong, who signed a chunky contract with the club on the last day of the January transfer window, played once in a 1-0 loss to Charlton, hasn’t had a minute of action since and didn’t get a squad number this year as he is now “out of favour”. Wins needed, and quick, with Cardiff in town for a Saturday lunchtime game.

Watford got off to a winning, if slightly uninspiring, start at home to the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour in the Friday Sky game – Grant Hall asleep at an early corner, best let the Boro fans know what to expect nice and early I reckon – and they go to Sheffield Owls this weekend who began their climb back from -12 with a win at Cardiff. Boro meanwhile will be without Warnock who has the Rona (all the very best to him, no Sharon jokes this week as a mark of respect) as they try to get off the mark at home to Bournemouth. The Cherries beat the Mad Chicken Farmers 3-2 last week, Blackburn now face Wycombe whose fairytale start to life in the second tier turned rather nightmarish when Rotherham bagged a last minute winner at Adams Park. Rotherham, infamously, won only one away match in their last two years of football at this level (where on earth might that have been?) so to get one on the board straight away is a great boost for Paul Warne ahead of their home game with Miiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllllllllll.

Three remain for a mention: Borussia Norwich won 1-0 at Huddersfield last weekend and now face Preston Knob End at home; Swanselona won 1-0 at Deepdale and now host Brum; Stoke and Bristol City is your Sunday tellybox offering.

Referee: In the 1970s, Steve Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. Since the 1980s, having branched away from comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, as well as an author, playwright, pianist, and banjo player, eventually earning Emmy, Grammy, and American Comedy awards, among other honours. Details.

Form

Coventry: The Sky Blues were top of League One when play was halted in early March, with just three defeats and 18 wins from 34 games played giving them 67 points, five ahead of second placed Rotherham. They were unbeaten in 14 league games when the lockdown came, of which 11 were victories. At St Andrew’s they won 11, drew five and lost just once in the league, against Tranmere in October. Their awakening to the Championship was a rude one, with Bristol City scoring off their kick off on day one without Cov touching the ball. Mark Robins’ side slipped to a 2-1 loss there despite dominating for long periods and in the League Cup they won 1-0 at MK Dons then lost on penalties at Gillingham having led going into stoppage time. Unlike most Championship sides, Coventry have had something resembling a normal pre-season, with their first friendly against Rangers taking place back in July (lost 2-0). Since then they’ve lost 2-1 to Swindon, beaten MK Dons and Burton 3-2, and won a pair of back-to-back games with Peterborough 2-1 and 3-2.

QPR: There have been 108 meetings between these sides and an unusual amount of blowouts. Coventry have registered a 7-0, a 6-1, a 6-3, three 5-1s, a 5-0, six separate 4-1s, and a 4-0. QPR have two 5-1s of their own (78/79, 93/94) and three 4-1s. These sides haven’t met since QPR’s promotion year of 2010/11 when they did the double over Aidy Hoofroyd’s side, winning 2-0 at the Ricoh and 2-1 at Loftus Road. QPR won seven away games last season (Stoke, Sheff Wed, Millwall, Hull, Birmingham, Preston, Middlesbrough) which is their best haul on the road since the 2013/14 promotion season when they won eight. It took them 22 games in all competitions last season to keep a first clean sheet (2-0 v Preston, December 7) and they registered just five shut outs in total, but they began this campaign with one in a 2-0 win against Nottingham Forest on Saturday. That continues a positive sequence of opening day victories with Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink (3-0 v Leeds), Ian Holloway (2-0 v Reading), and Mark Warburton (2-1 v Stoke, 2-0 v Forest) winning four of the last five season openers. Rangers have lost only one of their last six visits to St Andrew’s, winning four.

Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Mase won an unbelievably tight title race last season to become the first person to win the competition twice in the 16-year history of the site. He therefore knows the drill for the next nine months, and offers us the following for tonight…

“A very pleasing result against Forest although we did benefit from their wastefulness in front of goal. I don't know much about the new teams in the league this year but would hope we can avoid defeat and maybe nick it, particularly as they've had to play midweek already.”

Mase’s Prediction: Coventry 1-1 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes

LFW’s Prediction: Coventry 2-2 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes

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enfieldargh added 14:48 - Sep 18
Love your previews.

Always a superb read

Keep em coming
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simmo added 16:04 - Sep 18
I find myself really looking forward to seeing Lyndon Dykes play, I'm fckin loving him and his style and the fact we own him is great after years of borrowing.

Interesting early test against a solid team, let's hope we keep up the momentum and get our first away win.
1

TacticalR added 18:54 - Sep 18
Thanks for your preview.

That's a lot of maybes.

Anyway, surely the whole point of being a football fan is not measured judgement but the weekly gyration between exhilaration and despair?

Coventry are an unknown quantity, so we'll have to see what they come up with.
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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -

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