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The view from the Pu – February
Tuesday, 2nd Mar 2021 15:35 by Steve Hardy

After a long slog through the autumn and winter, Steve Hardy finally has a bunch of victories and some genuine QPR improvements to shout about in his monthly review for February.

In the space of only four weeks it seems like the season has completely turned on its head, especially when compared to how the majority of us felt in early January. Let’s look at a month of six games played of which four were victories and the remaining two were split between a draw and a defeat, but ultimately it was a month in which the phrase ‘only QPR could do this’ was almost used to death.

Good

Let’s be honest, not even the most optimistic of QPR fans could have quite predicted how good February would turn out, especially when you looked at the teams we had to face in the first half of the month. Frankly it looked rather terrifying, but as I have stated earlier it was ‘typical QPR’ in upsetting the form book and becoming the form team in the division to only then go and lose to possibly the most out of form team to cap the month off. Let that not detract from what has ultimately been a fantastic month.

We are quick to criticise when we go on one of our wonderful six game winless streaks, and rightly so, but we do need to remember that it’s a two-way street and credit should be given when credit is due. The turnaround in not only the form but the overall feel to season has been close to miraculous so plaudits must go to Mark Warburton and his staff for the change in formation, change in performances and also what appears to be a change in attitude. Clearly aided by the January additions but it is not solely down to them so plaudits are due to the management and also to Les and Hoos for not wielding the axe when they so easily could have done. Heck, even Lee Wallace is starting to resemble something close to a Championship player.

One of the victories that tasted the sweetest for the majority of folks - as I know it did for me - was the Brentford home game. It was all very small time the celebrations at the end and the majority of the content on social media afterwards, but that win felt good and not only because of the fact that we’d finally gained a victory over our neighbours, for me it was the manner it was achieved. Clearly turning the game on its head within a 15-minute period was glorious in its own right that left you wishing we had been there, in W12, under the lights but for me the fact that we bullied them in that second half was so good to see. For so long we have been the team that that happens to, pushed around the pitch like startled children trying to play football ‘the right way’ only to lose the game by the odd goal, so it felt very good for it to be the other way around for a change. Especially when you considered Thomas Frank’s comments before the game about only showing his team a video of them chasing a ball in the 90th minute of a defeat to Barnsley, not since Steve McClaren’s refusal to sign players from divisions lower than the Championship has a manager shown such disrespect to the industry that they work in, add to that how much it smacks of arrogance that prior to a local derby no other analysis of the opposition is required.

One final point on this, and the cherry on the cake really, is that Brentford will get promoted this season and with their set up I can imagine them surviving in the Premier League for as long as their owner remains interested, so this is the last time we will play them for a while and it’s good that when we do eventually play them again we were the victors in the last meeting.

Quite good at beating teams beginning with B in February weren’t we? Which bodes well for March with us having to wait a lengthy three days until we face Barnsley followed by Bristol City. Anyway I digress, what I want to speak about here is how good it is that we won those games against Blackburn and Bournemouth. If those games had been played in November or December then we would have been staring at two defeats, more than likely to nil but there seems to be a real steel about the team currently and you can see that each victory means a lot to them. The Blackburn game especially was the type of muck and nettles victory that we’ve been crying out for all season and I did find it rather ironic that it was the eloquent Yoann Barbet with all his trendy diagonals and free kick attempts who was the one to bundle the ball in after it bouncing off an oppositions players arse, but they all count as my Dad would say. A lot of the time last season I would speak about getting the balance right, about when to play the pretty football and when to be gritty and it seems like now we seem to have a bit more of a balance throughout the team. Would I want to watch games like the Blackburn game every week? Of course not, but I also wouldn’t be too fond of watching us miss all the chances we did against Bristol City earlier in the season whilst losing either.


It all feels rather swell at the minute and when added to last Monday’s news that from June 21 all Covid restrictions under law should be lifted, then that appears to give the green light for fans to return from next season, which means four more victories this season to get us past that 50 point marker and then attention can turn to us all getting back down the bush from August, it’s a great feeling. It is a shame that we won’t get to witness Austin or Johansen live but if we can replace those players next season with similar then there should be real reason for optimism of further progress. More importantly I suppose is who we get on that opening day, I’ve spoken at length with my brother about this and we’re both of the agreement that attendances across the EFL that first weekend will be insane. Imagine Barnsley away first game, or Middlesbrough, I genuinely think we’d be packing out either away end, and that is something to be looking forward to as there finally appears to be an end in sight to all these restrictions.

Bad


This is a first. I’ve been writing this column for the best part of three years and this is the first time that I don’t really have anything to moan about. I could clutch at straws and talk about Todd Kane’s crossing, which I do think people seem to go a little bit over the top with but that is just my opinion, or I could talk about how annoying it is to hear the word transition so many times in a post-match interview but I suppose the most annoying thing that happened was losing to Birmingham thus preventing a perfect month against teams beginning with B. Clearly the result and performance against Birmingham wasn’t good enough but I do feel that the team deserve to be cut some slack for the month that they have had coupled with the state of that pitch, plus it allows us to have the usually moan about typical QPR beating the teams they shouldn’t and losing to the teams they should.

While I’m talking of things that didn’t go quite so well in February, I see that Lyndon Dykes appears to be bearing the brunt of people’s negativity online. Now by no means am I going to sit here and write that he’s set the world on fire, he hasn’t, but I’ve said before about the fact that this is a guy who was playing for Queen of the South not so long ago and has had to move to a new city in the midst of a national lockdown and global pandemic. Cut him a bit of slack people, I know we’re scarred by the ghost of Conor Washington but let’s not just write a player off after one season that for all intents and purposes has been played behind closed doors in the middle of a global pandemic. A bit of positivity between now and the end of the season and hopefully a couple of goals and then start again next season when we’re physically there to get behind the Australian Scotsman.

February Grade - A

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 >>> September 20 >>> October 20 >>> November 20 >>> December 20 >>> January 21

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nix added 22:14 - Mar 2
Thanks Steve. Good summary. Enjoyed it. Let's hope March also brings more good than bad and an absence of ugly.
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TacticalR added 15:42 - Mar 3
Thanks for your February review.

Quite a turnaround. In fact a mirror image of some of the previous games when, no matter how we played, we ended up losing. This month we have hung on in games and been able to get winning goals. At half-time at Birmingham it looked as though we were on track to do the same.

The new signings have made a huge difference. Now we've lost a game, we'll see whether February's results were a one-off new player bounce, or whether the team has really improved.
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