The view from the Pu – August
Tuesday, 4th Sep 2018 09:15 by Steve Hardy
New LFW columnist Steve Hardy provides the first of his month-by-month reviews of the QPR season, starting with a traumatic August for the R’s.
So, we’re a month in already and it feels like it will never end. On the face of it - seven games played, three wins, four losses, zero away wins and only two clean sheets - it’s as if Ian Holloway never left. However, going deeper than that a lot has changed at Loftus Road since the curtain came down on 2017/18. Here, I’ll try to get my head around the good, the bad and the downright QPR for the month of August.
Let’s start with one of the massive positives from the Wigan home game, Joe Lumley. Saturday was my first sighting of Lumley and I really liked what I saw, not just the fact that he looked confident but his passion.
Clive has spoken at length over the summer about the consequences of letting people with the club at their heart leave. Players like Mackie and Onouha may have had their limitations but they did have a genuine affinity to the club and you can’t underestimate the affect it can have on other players having that person who will put in that extra 10% or chase that lost cause and I felt in losing those types of player we lost that level of commitment. I looked at the team at full time at Deepdale and thought to myself will there be anyone in there hurting at that result, it’s very lazy as a fan to just stand there and say they don’t care but it did strike me that we don’t really have anyone with that type of bond with the supporters anymore. Now I’m not saying that every player has to be Marc Bircham or Kevin Gallen but it does help when there is someone in the team who does have that bond as they can set standards and drag others along with them and Lumley’s reaction at full time and also when we scored at the weekend said it all to me.
Add to that the fact that he played well and I was very impressed. I don’t want to sound too critical of Ingram as I really feel for the bloke but the first thing I noticed at Preston was just how poor his kicking and distribution really was - some kicks barely reached the halfway line and others went straight out of play. It made me realise how important Alex Smithies was for us and how his distribution was a real asset - Washington’s penalty at home to Reading last season springs to mind - but let’s not write Ingram off completely yet, he could still have a massive role to play in our run to the League Cup final. Ok I joke, but I digress, now I’m not saying Lumley is some sort of super QPR fan, in fact he might not even support the club but his reaction at the end struck a chord with me and don’t get me wrong there is still a lot for him to work on as those last ten minutes last Saturday were like some form of torture.
Talking of a run to Wembley we’ve won two cup games, scoring five and conceding one, be still my beating heart. I know we made round three two seasons ago with the ‘Beast’ from Brazil tearing apart all and sundry before him (Swindon and Rochdale) and then went on to lose to Paddy McNair’s first ever professional goals but I just have a sneaky feeling that we may actually get somewhere in this competition this year. This is purely based on the fact that I think we are in for one hell of a struggle in the league and it would be the QPR way of doing things, finally have a decent run in a cup whilst sinking to the division below, I pray I’m wrong though. I have been hugely impressed with the ease at which we have managed to negotiate our way through the two cup games, I now have everything crossed for a win at Blackpool and a trip to West Ham in the next round.
Seriously though, and I know it has been said multiple times but a real cup run would be a real shot in the arm for us. Not only would it bring in much needed revenue, it could bring a couple of decent attendances down to the Loft, improve the atmosphere and galvanise the club when we all need to stick together. Of course though, we all know it’s going to be Forest in the next round so you can ignore everything I have just said, but still two cup wins against inferior opposition, maybe this is a real new era for a change.
Where do I start? Honestly.
Let’s kick off with the new man in charge. I understood why Holloway got the chop, I didn’t necessarily agree with it, but I understood. However, one thing this last month has shown us - well myself at least - is how poor our team actually is. I don’t think it dawned on Steve McClaren how hard this would be until that West Brom game and I agree with Marc Bircham in his analysis that we actually did very well last season to finish where we did. We all know that when McLaren came in his mission was to improve us as a team whilst coaching the talented young players on the books. That has since changed to ‘we need experience’ and whilst the difference the strikers made at the weekend was clear to see I don’t think I believe that we had been after Wells and Hemed for the last four weeks as reported, I’m firmly in the camp that these were panic additions after the start we have had. I think what I’m getting at here is that I’m still undecided on McLaren, which I’m sure a lot of you are, but this is certainly his last chance saloon so he knows that it needs to work. Saying all that I can’t help but conclude that it has been a poor first month for the new man in charge, this can quickly turn around in this division though especially with games against Birmingham and Bolton on the horizon. However they are both away from home, and we all know what happens when we play away.
Which leads me on to these talented youngsters that are now all of a sudden being loaned out, clearly to balance the books so we can pay the wages of Hemed and Wells. There’s not really much I can say that hasn’t been said but it is a real six of one situation. Do I agree with Manning going to Rotherham and Wheeler to Pompey? No. Would I rather Cousins or Goss to go? Yes. Unfortunately it doesn’t work like that and you can only offload the players that other teams want and I can’t really imagine there are too many takers for Sean Goss at the moment and there will definitely be a clause in Ryan Manning’s contract saying that he can’t play against us won’t there? I mean no club would be silly enough to not put a clause like that in would they?
Which leads me nicely onto what has happened this month that has left us saying ‘only at QPR’. The obvious candidate would be the data breach at the box office but no I’m going to go for something else.
Conor Washington hasn’t had the best of times in W12 since signing from Peterborough. It was hard enough for him being signed as a replacement for Charlie Austin but he then had to go through six months of being played as a lone striker whilst we punted hopeless balls for him to chase. An expected new lease of life never really materialised under Holloway and I think most fans ended up agreeing that you cannot fault his effort but the quality is just not there. On Tuesday night, despite not scoring since January 2018, Washington found some space in the box hit the ball sweetly and beat the keeper. Was this it? Had his time arrived? Would he prove us all wrong? No. His shot was cleared off the line by QPR’s Matt Smith - his strike partner for the evening. Contract terminated two days later, and he’s now at Sheffield United. Only at QPR.
August rating – D
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