The view from the Pu - April/May
Thursday, 13th May 2021 15:14 by Steve Hardy
Steve Hardy's final monthly review of the 2020/21 season finishes on the positives of Lyndon Dykes, Charlie Austin, Stefan Johansen and more, as QPR round out the campaign in style.
Somehow, as if out of the blue, we have now reached the end of a season that the majority of us will remember forever due to the restrictions it has been played under. Although I’m sure if you offered the majority of people the opportunity for it to be scratched from their memory they would be taking you up on that option. Being rather lazy I have combined the last one and a bit month into one final monthly report for the season. So let’s take a look at the month of Apray (that works right?) that provided us with a massive six wins and three defeats.
They say over the course of a season your luck balances out. If you think back to earlier in the season and some of the rank bad luck we were experiencing - the red card that wasn’t given at Brentford, Seny Dieng saving a penalty only for it to rebound straight to the taker as glaring examples – it is refreshing to see us being on the receiving end of lucky moments. Specifically I’m referring to the second goal in the Sheffield Wednesday win. First of all we’re very lucky that for some reason The Owls picked Joe Wildsmith instead of actual goalkeeper Kieran Westwood, but whatever he was doing for that second goal was something else. I know the shot took a deflection but the guy has literally thrown it in the net, I genuinely couldn’t believe it (and neither could Barry Bannan) but it was good to see it finally happen to us as opposed to against us. Although only a few games later it looked like normal service had resumed with our own keeper the one throwing the ball in. It was good whilst it lasted I suppose.
A drum I have been banging all season, and am glad for once in my life to be proved right, is that Lyndon Dykes has been a good signing. Even during that lean spell you could see the work he was putting in for the team and to be rewarded with the end to the season he has is well deserved. To put it into context he scored 12 goals this season, Andre Ayew who allegedly cost Swansea £18m and Dominic Solanke who is rumoured to have cost £19m bagged 16 and 15 each and when you consider that you can’t say anything other than this signing has been a success. That goal against Rotherham was a thing of true beauty and a great example of the actual ability the guy has as opposed to him just being labelled as a work horse. I’ve said it in near enough every one of these this season but for him to move to a new city in the middle of global pandemic with the weight of being the club’s new number nine and big summer signing on his shoulders is a lot to bare and to see it all pay off in spades has been something that I have enjoyed greatly this month. The nay sayers and doom mongers will put it solely down to the arrival and impact of Charlie Austin and I’m sure his arrival has had an affect but there’s always been a player there for me and when you compare his returns to players like Ayew and Solanke, I certainly know who I would rather see in the hoops. I really do hope he has a good Euros, but importantly hope he comes back to us injury free come pre-season.
A big deal has been made about our form since the turn of the year and for us to add 15 (fifteen) wins to our total is nothing short of remarkable really. Clearly the return of Charlie and the addition of Johansen played a huge part in this but let us not forget the switch in formation from Warbs and also the incredible amount of focus that the players have shown in the last few months. Under normal circumstances a lot of those recent victories would have been boring draws and pitiful surrenders in front of tired and annoyed fans, so for the management to keep the players focussed and showing that commitment and desire deserves applauding. On top of that add how exciting some of the games actually were and it just made it more upsetting that we weren’t there. The Middlesbrough and Luton games for example were not only exciting but an actual enjoyable watch, imagine that train back from Middlesbrough and the last minute Adomah winner to round the season off.
There may be an element of hypocrisy here as I’m going to sing the praises of Austin and Johansen for one last time. I know earlier when writing about our Scotsralian striker I said people will lazily put his turn of form solely at the feet of Austin so there may be an element of hypocrisy here, but, other than when John Gregory’s January signings pretty much kept us up in 2007, I cannot remember such a good winter transfer window than the one we witnessed this season. The performances of these two in particular and their clear influence on the rest of the squad was nothing short of phenomenal. Like I say you cannot lay the turnaround solely at their feet as there was also the change in formation but, like everyone else, I have everything crossed that they will be back next season. The thought of the reception they will get from a packed Loftus Road is enough to keep me awake at night. Also a shout out to Yoann Barbet, every minute of every game across a season that was pretty much played in 10 weeks is a remarkable achievement.
One final question, who is the person who keeps shouting ‘You R’s’ every time we score when we’re playing at home? Originally I presumed it was Joe Lumley but he wasn’t in the squad for the Norwich game and the mystery shout could be heard after the Dykes goal. It’s irrelevant really now but whoever it is they’re an absolute hero.
I quite like these months where I have to scrape the barrel to find something bad to write about. Let’s be honest if the first thing that springs to mind is our keeper letting one squirm in and our striker missing a penalty against the best team in the division then we’re doing alright. However I will say that, and this is clearly with a huge serving of hindsight, the decision to start Dieng in the Norwich game was an odd one. First of all I don’t think Joe Lumley did a great deal wrong in the one and half games that he played in so felt it was a tad harsh for him to be dropped. Secondly, and this is where the hindsight comes in, it was fairly evident that Dieng wasn’t particularly fighting fit to be playing. After the game it came out that Warbs and Lumley had ‘had words’ and we can all make our assumptions about what that means but ultimately I just think it’s sad way for Lumley’s time at QPR to end. A guy who clearly has an affection for the club and also has the ability – in my eyes – to be a good keeper at this level, he never hid and some of the abuse he received last season was unacceptable. It has been confirmed that talks for a new deal are ongoing but if that is the last we see of him then ultimately it is a sad way for it to end.
I could leave my last point to sit here and moan about the fact that three more wins in that turgid first half of the season and we would be right in the mix, but in a selfish way I’d much rather have the season we have had than us getting a play-off spot, purely for the reason that we can’t go. It is a very selfish view point I know but for me if I can’t be there to experience the success, to feel that moment then it’s just not the same. Imagine the Oldham home game being played in an empty stadium with us only being allowed to watch in groups of six, would we still be talking about it 20 years later? So the point that I’m trying to get at is that I don’t think I’ll be asking myself what if this summer – well certainly not about QPR - and instead, for a change, will genuinely be looking forward to a new season. We still need to iron out that mad inconsistency between our worst and best performance, as witnessed with the horror shows at Forest and Rotherham, but for me there does appear to be genuine optimism at the end of a season which doesn’t feel right.
Just want to say thank you to Clive for allowing me to write these articles and for everyone who reads them. I do read the comments and it’s much appreciated, here’s to hoping everyone has a great summer and we’ll all be back in August. Stay safe everyone and come on you R’s.
Apray 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
The Instagram - @sph_1985
Pictures - Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
Letters from Wiltshire #48 by wessex_exile
“And now the end is near, and so we face the final curtain…regrets, we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. Not quite right Paul Anka, probably more than a few, but otherwise a fair assessment of where the U’s are today. It’ll be interesting to see how we perform with the relegation monkey finally off their back – I’m not expecting miracles, particularly with Tranmere needing at least a point to guarantee making the play-offs, but they’ll certainly be more nervous than we will be, so can we make that count? This will be my last blog of the season, and not yet sure what I may or may not do for next season, but suggestions are always welcome.
Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Queens Park Rangers Polls