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The view from the Pu – September
Wednesday, 7th Oct 2020 11:21 by Steve Hardy

Columnist Steve Hardy returns for a new season of monthly reviews, starting with a September that began with a bang and ended haunted by familiar defensive failings.

Just like that, another season is foisted upon us. Still we are not allowed to attend and are left in this weird flux where you still care about the result at the weekend but ultimately are left feeling flat whatever that is. Watching non-stop games on TV like we’re in some form of never ending World Cup is not really my cup of tea, as football to me is about a lot more than the 90 minutes.

More of that negativity to come I’m afraid as we look at the good and bad from a month that has seen a full house, one win, one draw, one defeat and of course an annual early cup exit. At least we didn’t sign Ben Watson though I suppose.

Good

Unlike last season we didn’t have to wait until December to keep our first clean sheet after the opening day shut out against Nottingham Forest. With each passing week and Forest defeat to nil it looks less and less impressive, but we did look solid nonetheless.

All jokes aside I was actually very pleased with how solid we looked on day one. After getting the first goal it only looked like there was ever one winner to me whereas last season this could’ve easily ended up in some form of 3-3 Kevin Keegan wet dream. It was a shame that we reverted back to type for the trip to Coventry which I will go into further detail later, but for one week at least the sun was shining and it looked like we had the Lumley of old back between the posts, it now seems to an open discussion as to whether he will even be a QPR player by the end of next week.

Another positive from that opening day victory was that our new number nine is already off the mark and not only has he now bagged a couple (albeit both from the spot) I don’t think he’s out of place at all. I would like to describe him as a trimmer version of Jordan Hugill, although judging by the way he’s hit both of those penalties it looks like he knows how to keep his knee over the ball. My biggest worry is that – and this is mainly the Coventry game talking – he seems to be cut adrift from the team when we’re poncing about with the ball in our own half, although with the George Thomas now coming back into the team and Chair moving to a more central role, hopefully that link between the midfield and Big Dykes (don’t Google that) can really click into gear as the season progresses.

I do very much like what I see though and I’m a hell of a lot more impressed than I was after a few games of watching Nick Ward, maybe since singing Luongo our luck with Australians has changed? Although with his propensity for burying penalties and the Premier League handing them out like sweets at Halloween, maybe we should worry whether our new striker will still be here when the window closes.

I made reference earlier to possibility of Joe Lumley leaving and he’s not the only one in this situation, unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of months you’ll know that Ryan Manning and Bright Osayi-Samuel have also had question marks over their future. I do think the club deserve a bit of credit here for keeping an open communication channel with the fans, it’s definitely a lot more refreshing than the Harry Redknapp ‘I don’t get involved in that kind of thing’ rhetoric whilst we made sure that average footballers would never have to work again. However, by selecting some and not others this will obviously lead people to make their own conclusions – Manning won’t sign, Bright is close etc.

Personally, I just think it’s good that finally the club are being sensible when it comes to wages, we obviously have a clear wage structure in place and are not deviating from that. When you also take into account the current economic climate it’s more important than ever that we stick to this structure and I’ll also be watching with interest what happens here in regards to Bright, Lumley and Manning. It’s patently obvious that Bright has the quality to be playing at a higher level in the future but for Lumley and Manning if they think they can make a great deal more money in a division where more and more clubs are having to cut their cloth due to overspend and mismanagement I’ll be intrigued to see where that is.

At least with everything going on we still have that element of entertainment. Will they or won’t they sign? Will we be allowed back in or not? Will the twitter folk ever be happy? Will I ever wear trousers again? The excitement is never ending.

Bad

I’m going to have a full on rant here. That first goal that we conceded at Coventry, oh my days, where do I start. Football cliché #567 ‘keep it tight for the next five’ said after near enough every single goal, anywhere in the world is scored. Not at QPR though, no, we’ll let a team that has not even ventured into our half for 40 minutes have a free header at the back post, scored by a guy who looks tall enough to be in the next Borrowers film. Honestly the more I watch that goal the more I’m sure it’s a clip of someone deliberately trying to lose on FIFA, slack passing and poor tracking back but the icing on the cake was the supposed marking by Lee Wallace.

Now I’m not one to specifically dig players out as I’m just some loser who (used to) spends far too much money and time on QPR but I would love to know what he was doing for that goal. This is a guy with over 300 professional appearances and he leaves the only opposition player in our box to go and mark no one, it’s mind blowing, I still don’t get it. A lot of people had a moan about Lumley letting it through his legs to put the tin hat on it, but in my eyes he shouldn’t even have had a shot to save. It’s so infuriating because that was a different game if we got to half time at 0-1, we could be now looking at an unbeaten start and possibly even two clean sheets. The worst part for me was the lack of accountability, not one player after that goal went in questioned what Wallace was doing. Obviously he more than likely knew he was at fault but in my experience knowing that you’re going to get an earful from a teammate for cocking up usually keeps you on your toes, but when that went in it was just hunched shoulders and slump back to the halfway line. We need to start setting standards of what we deem acceptable on the football pitch and quite frankly that wasn’t good enough. To then work our way back into the game in the second half and present them their third goal really capped it off. I know Warburton mentioned something to do with a bonus for not conceding from set-pieces but I’m guessing the bonus must be a Milky Way or a Topic as they obviously can’t be that interested in it, especially judging by the goal Middlesbrough got at the weekend.

So to the question on everyone’s lips, when will we be allowed back in? In all honesty when the games got suspended earlier this year I actually wasn’t too fussed as the season was done for us, so a couple of months to save a bit of dough and then be back for the new season was welcomed by myself. But I never thought we would still be banned now and I never thought I would miss it this much. Clive summed it up for me in his Forest preview when he said that it’s called a Football Club for a reason, we’re a community, a society within a society if you like. It’s not a hobby, it’s more than that. This club and the whole day out at football has helped me through some of my darkest times and always knowing that there is Saturday to look forward to does help, no matter how tough life gets. The train down, the pub, catching up with mates, the pub after, it’s all an escape and you don’t get that watching a game on a stream on you iPad in your front room. It’s not the same, it’s not even close and I don’t know if I can stomach a whole season of this. The worst part is the not having a date, even if they said March you have an end date in sight but at the minute it just feels like we’ll never go back and it genuinely makes me sad. I hope I’m not the only one who finds themselves watching videos of fans in away ends or on trains singing songs to remind themselves of what it will hopefully be like one day in the future. I’ll definitely never take another Tuesday night away to Blackburn for granted.

Anyway, I hope everyone is staying safe and here is hoping to some kind of resolution to the current situation.

September grade – C

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 >>> February 20 >>> March 20 >>> April 20 >>> May 20 >>> June 20 >>> July 20

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kingfisher6404 added 12:47 - Oct 7
Thanks for that report Steve and agree with it all - especially in regard to being denied the chance to be part of a match. I am not a season ticket holder, so no chance getting selected, but most others must feel like us and be desperate to attend a match. Come on UK government - do something sensible, popular and workable! With regard to Lee Wallace moving away from the ball-crosser, I can only imagine the backs were told to do this for some reason or Wallace had anticipated the goal and was already positioned on the 'Naughty Sod'....
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gazza1 added 17:55 - Oct 7
So....the Coventry defeat is all Wallace's fault. There is a lot more than that I'm sorry to say. And as for giving him a public bollocking, what good would that do?? I am sure there was a 'drains-up' at a suitable time and not when we have just conceded and emotions are very high.
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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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