|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Sheffield United|
Saturday, 11th August 2018 Kick-off 15:00
There's a game on Saturday - Preview
Friday, 10th Aug 2018 09:31 by Clive Whittingham
With the Sky-induced panic of the transfer window thankfully now behind us, it’s time to get on with the inconvenient chore of actually having to play some football as QPR face Sheff Utd.
QPR v Sheffield United
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday August 11, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Lovely again >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
Recruitment is vital in football. Spend your summer signing Adam Czerkas, Egutu Oliseh and Armel Tchakounte and you’re going to be in trouble. Spend it signing Clint Hill, Shaun Derry, Paddy Kenny, Jamie Mackie and Tommy Smith and you can settle in for the ride of your life. I don’t think anybody would pretend otherwise. Actually, that’s not true, David Pleat basically said word for word that making signings, even signings as good as Ale Faurlin, don’t make much difference at this level at all – and we’re very pleased that he did, because that was the expert testimony the FA took into account when judging how we should be punished for that illegal Faurlin deal.
Ok, so nobody apart from David Pleat would pretend otherwise. Trade like Brentford have and you can build an entire dynasty, trade like Sunderland have and you can build an entire away day at Fleetwood Town. But it’s not the only thing you need to get right. There’s an attitude perpetuated by a mixture of management simulation computer games, broadcasters that need you to watch their rolling news coverage, and dinosaur English managers overtaken by the modern game, that buying more players is the answer to all your team’s ills – and if it’s not, then fire the manager that did it, hire another one, and buy a load more. That QPR bought loads and loads and loads of players and got steadily worse doesn’t seem to have registered with those that demand more and more signings of the club now it’s trying to get its house in order.
Good recruitment has to go hand in hand with sound management, tactics, coaching, a sound financial footing, sensible retention, player development, a club ethos and so on. That’s how Brentford are able to consistently pick players up for small amounts and sell them on to the lazier, bigger clubs at a massive mark up a short time later. These clubs often have none of that, and the Brentford players rarely do as well once they’ve left Griffin Park. QPR are trying to get to that point themselves, which is why arguably their best bit of business over the last month ahs been long term contract extensions for Ebere Eze and Darnell Furlong – potentially two of the more sellable assets.
Given how panicked people were about the impending (two years away) expiry of Eze’s contract it is amusing just how quickly the extension of it was forgotten in order to move onto the next perceived crisis. If you’d care to cast your mind back all of three days to that announcement the parties involved did little to hide what their mutual intentions are. Lots of talk of QPR being “the right place for him right now” and warnings from Steve McClaren about the perils of sitting back on a new contract rather than pushing on and developing further. We’re somewhere between fattening a pig up for market and force feeding a goose for foie gras here. Soul destroying as it is, the only way a club in our position can survive and thrive in modern day football is by regularly finding players like Eze, putting them in the shop window for a couple of years, and then selling them to the rich and dumb for big money.
It’s the same for our visitors this Saturday Sheffield United, albeit with a much better home ground, fewer overheads and a bigger home support. They’ve been in League One for five seasons, their parachute payments from a single Premier League season are long gone, and they must now compete with us in a league where even middle of the road clubs like Stoke City can spend £10m on a player. It’s not impossible, as we keep saying citing Preston and Huddersfield and Burnley and others, and Sheff Utd made an excellent fist of their first season back at it last season when it looked for some time like they might push the play offs.
This summer they got that magic big money offer for one of their players - £12m from Bournemouth for David Brooks, a talented winger who fell out of Man City's academy and looks like every cheeky 15-year-old everybody’s teenage daughter has brought home at some point. That’s enabled them to trade a bit, and become one of those clubs spending £4m for a player Brentford got for a fraction of that two years prior in John Egan. That, along with David McGoldrick from Ipswich and Ben Woodburn from Liverpool, looked like shrewd additions from a manager who’s known little other than success in his career so far. And yet they’ve started with two defeats from two matches – tough fixtures against former Premier League side Swansea and promotion favourites Middlesbrough yes, but they were 3-0 down at half time at Boro on Tuesday. Incidentally, if you’ve ever wanted to know what it looks like in Tony Pulis’ mind while he’s knocking one out, treat yourself to those first half highlights – two goals scrambled in from corners and a third mishit in from a cross.
That brings them, and a large away following, to Loftus Road in a slightly concerned state, and desperate to get their first point or three on the board. There they’ll find Queens Park Rangers who, having lost 1-0 on the opening day and copped some fearsome stick from their own fans for their transfer window activity, are also in a slightly concerned state and desperate to get their first point or three on the board. Two games in and the worry and stress of it all is already churning enough stomach acid among the faithful to burn a hole in the hull of a ship.
Isn’t this meant to be fun?
Yeh go on then, pick that one out.
Team News: Steve McClaren made a half time change last week, removing Bright Osayi-Samuel and replacing him with Ryan Manning. Whether that’s a change that will be made from the start this week, and whether Idrissa Sylla’s typically maverick cameo was enough to move him ahead of Matt Smith after his ineffective showing at Preston, remains to be seen. Grant Hall will make his long awaited first team comeback in the League Cup against Peterborough on Tuesday.
Elsewhere: Let’s rattle through this nice and quickly shall we? It’s been a long night, and frankly who gives a toss about any of this really? Two weeks in and the faux enthusiasm is starting to crack.
All the games are on a Saturday this week, crammed back into the time we’d all rather it kicked off at anyway in order to accommodate blanket coverage of The Best League In The World which crawls back out from under its rock with tonight’s thriller between poor, impoverished Man Utd and one of the other lot trying to get to 42 points as quickly as possible then head out on holiday.
We do have one TV fixture, with Sky Sports Leeds showing us, wait for it, Leeds away to, wait for it, Big Fat Frank’s Big Fat Derby. Colour me shocked.
I’m just going to read down the list for the rest because once you’ve seen one Championship fixture you’ve seen them all. Aston Villa at home to Wigan Warriors, fun times. Moneybags Blackburn (where’d you get those four aces from?) are at home to the Millwall Scholars. Bolton, fresh from a remarkable opening day win at West Brom which equalled their total of away wins for the whole of last season, welcome Bristol City in this week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with B.
It remains to be seen whether Tony Pulis’ fairly shameless attempts to extract yet more money for yet more players at Middlesbrough has yielded a promotion winning team – a 3-0 midweek win against Sheff Utd suggests so, and they should make mincemeat of whatever state Birmingham City arrive in. Borussia Norwich play West Brom, who spent 80 minutes trying to lose 4-0 to the Nottingham Trees on Tuesday night and then could have won 4-1 themselves in the last ten minutes. Weirdoes. The Trees themselves will get their first win of the season on the board at the third attempt at home to Reading.
Ipswich Blue Sox’ Best of the Lower Leagues compilation album head to Rotherham. Given their defending in the opening week, a meeting between Sheffield Owls and Allam Tigers could finish about 5-5. Stoke got a full Bielsa right in the face on the opening weekend, and if they make that arrogant Premier League mistake of thinking Middlesex are just some little club to be swatted aside they could find their first home game of the season quickly blows up on them. Swansea v Preston is also occurring.
Referee: Scott Duncan is our man in the middle this weekend. He was at Loftus Road twice last season, for 2-0 QPR wins against Reading and Bolton, and has awarded Rangers a penalty ont wo of his last three visits to this ground. Full case history and stats available here.
QPR: QPR lost away to Preston for the third consecutive season last weekend, extending a winless run at Deepdale to 13 games dating back to 1980. It also continued last season’s unhappy trend of away form – just three away wins all season and four straight defeats on the road to finish the campaign which means it’s five straight now including last weekend. It won’t take much to improve QPR’s away results this season and that’s a potential big win for Steve McClaren, but equally it won’t be easy to be as good at home as we were in 2017/18. A dozen wins, five draws and six defeats was the same home record as Derby who finished sixth – QPR were sixteenth. That included a 1-0 win against Sheff Utd in October which the R’s will hope to replicate this weekend.
Sheff Utd: The Blades were 1-0 up with a quarter of an hour to play on the opening day against newly relegated Swansea but contrived to lose 2-1, and then found themselves 3-0 down in the first half at Middlesbrough on Tuesday night in a re-arranged fixture. They rather fell away from the play-off picture last season after a roaring first half of the year, and won only three of their last 12 games. Away from home they won eight, drew four and lost 11 over the course of the season. Quite the eclectic collection of pre-season friendlies yielded wins against Jamie Vardy’s old Stocksbridge Park Steels (5-1), Portuguese mob Maritimo (1-0), Bradford Northern (3-2), and Donny Rovers (2-0) along with draws against Mansfield Town (0-0) and the Stags’ close rivals Inter Milan (1-1).
Prediction: Given that QPR rarely scored more than two, and never kept a clean sheet, last season’s Prediction League should have been a doddle right? Right? Well, Elliott Cooke (@cookiee42, Elliott42) certainly thought so, leading from the front throughout despite brave chasing by JB007007 and ending up with more than 100 points. Lots of goodies from Art of Football for him then, and potentially for you this season. Everybody starts afresh now, you only need to be registered on the site to play, so here’s the link – get predicting. Meanwhile, here’s Art of Football’s QPR collection, ideal birthday present material, to peruse. They’ve kindly agreed to provide prizes to the overall winner AND whoever is top at Christmas. To help you pick here is our reigning champ Elliott with his thoughts for this week…
“Well, as with all recent visits to Deepdale, we come away bullied, battered and bruised. The stat of being the only team in The Championship last weekend not to have scored has been well broadcast amongst social media. Sheffield United got a hiding midweek by a Tony Pulis masterclass. The fact the Blades really struggled to deal with crosses into the box and any set pieces might just suit us. On paper, this should be a perfect game for Matt Smith to get off the mark. I’m going to continue with the optimism for a little bit longer and go for a perfect start at the Loft…
Elliott’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Sheff Utd. Scorer – Matt Smith
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Sheff Utd. Scorer – Ebere Eze
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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