|Queens Park Rangers 0 v 0 Reading|
Saturday, 29th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
In form QPR look for four straight wins as Reading visit - Preview
Friday, 28th Dec 2018 19:33 by Clive Whittingham
For the second time in quick succession QPR have a chance to bolster their play-off push with a home game against a relegation-haunted team when Reading visit Loftus Road on Saturday.
QPR (11-4-9, DLLWWW, 8th) v Reading (4-7-13, LDLDLL, 23rd)
Lancashire and District Senior League >>> Saturday December 29, 2018 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Grey but dry >>> Loftus Road, London, W12
Here we go then, for our next trick, four league wins in a row for the first time since 2014? That was the last time QPR were promoted, and was also the last time Steve McClaren was here working his coaching magic – although to be fair he’d left before we knocked off Doncaster, Huddersfield, Bolton (all 2-1) and Ipswich (3-1) in the January.
If there is a QPR team to do it, seemingly, it’s this one. A very un-QPR-like bunch who do things like winning away from home, keeping clean sheets, doing the double over sides and beating Nottingham Forest at The City Ground that almost all of their predecessors considered the sort of fantasy fiction you’ve only read about in books. Shit books at that, the sort they used to give away as a prize on Bullseye – “now, you’ve got your washer drier, the rocking chair, the full-length mirror, and your five shit books.”
Jim Bowen used to give you the time it took the board to revolve to decide whether you wanted to gamble it all and go for Bully’s special star prize which was invariably a speedboat, which is what every destitute family from Pontefract needed in the 1980s. Almost everybody did (who doesn’t love a speedboat?), apart from the odd really tight pair from the East Midlands, and they then had to throw 101 or more with six darts or less, non-darts player going first. This was made to look very difficult by most pairs and once they’d bollocksed the whole thing up Jim took them over to sit in the speedboat anyway, just for shits and giggles. Sometimes it was a Ford Fiesta that ran on leaded fuel.
In theory, tomorrow’s task for QPR should be somewhat easier than that. Reading have been running a temperature for sometime, and this is clearly now a very poorly football club. They’d have been relegated last season but for Jake Bidwell’s late act of generosity at the Madejski Stadium in April (fuck’s sake Jake) and are back down in perilous relegation trouble once again this, with just four wins to their name all season, only one of them away from home, and eight games without a victory coming into this match.
The Royals have replaced Paul Clement with a little known coach whose name is a collection of every possible moniker for a baby boy born in Portugal (José Manuel Martins Teixeira Gomes) and whose managerial career is 13 permanent posts and five other spells as an assistant long. Since 2013 he has managed Videoton (Hungary), Al-Taawoun (Saudi Arabia), Al-Ahli (Saudi Arabia), Beniyas (United Arab Emirates), Al-Taawoun again (because once is never enough) and, for the first bit of this season at least, Rio Ave (Portugal). They have shifted on despised CEO Ron Gourlay, a sort of Reading version of Phil Beard who did things like sanction a £7.5m move for Sone Aluko while treating the staff like shit and talking about Chelsea a lot. You’ve got to avoid pricks like that. Not as much as you need to avoid Kia Joorabchian though, who has smelt another carcass and is rumoured to be swooping in to feed once more – hence random foreign manager 2.3 turning up as manager out of the blue. The new man started with a 1-0 defeat at fellow relegation-strugglers Millwall in which two of their players were sent off. Their list of absentees for this game is the only thing longer than Gomes’ list of previous clubs.
It would, of course, be just like QPR to lose the game regardless, but we went through all of that routine before the Ipswich game and then Nahki Wells showed up, all cool and talented. Whether the Bermudian will be asked to show up again, and for how long, is one of the few possible criticisms you can level at Steve McClaren for the way he’s turned this season around, and one of the few obstacles that stand between us and a victory tomorrow.
McClaren picks the same team every week. And while that’s welcome, after Ian Holloway’s Secret Santa approach to who started and who didn’t each week, it is putting several players through an immense amount of minutes – Leistner, Bidwell, Freeman and Eze have basically played every minute of every game since day one and with five of the bloody things taking place in less than a fortnight over the festive period that’s a big ask. We looked exponentially better for the introduction of a fit and keen Ilias Chair for a fatigued Eze on Saturday, and again when Oteh and Osayi-Samuel came on later, but they are changes we could make sooner, more often. There was really no need for Wells and Freeman to play more than an hour on Saturday, and zero reason for them still to be on there once it went to 3-0. I’ve shit out bigger threats than that Ipswich team.
Whether we change the team from the start, make substitutions earlier if we’re winning, go with the same again and then write off the Villa or (more likely) Leeds games, or just keep flogging them until they drop (as Cameron and Rangel already have) will be a point of intrigue over this coming weekend.
A decision for McClaren to make – but he hasn’t got too much wrong over the past three months has he?
Geoff Cameron Facts #18 – While playing for the Spokane Spider Monkeys, Geoff was awarded the local mayor’s annual Awesome Citizen prize for staging the annual New Year’s Eve fireworks event in the grounds of his mansion after the municipal sports facility was put out of use by lewd graffiti about the mayor’s wife.
Team News: Impressive cameos from the bench by Ilias Chair, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Aremide Oteh must have pushed them further into the manager’s thinking given the sheer weight of fixtures at this time of year. You can’t help but think, however, that we’re likely to see them all at once, slung into a random set up against Leeds in the cup, rather than drip fed into the first team one or two at a time over the next few league games. Ebere Eze looks most in need of a rest, having played almost every minute this season and looking rather fatigued for it in recent games. Tomer Hemed has had a hernia op which rules him out for six weeks putting him, Angel Rangel and Geoff Cameron all on course to return at roughly the same time towards the end of February. Add to that, Mass Luongo will now miss a minimum of four games and possibly as many as seven depending on how Australia do in the Asia Cup – Jordan Cousins almost certain to deputise for him in midfield for now. We’re offering a single plum, floating in perfume, served in a man’s hat for any sighting of Sean Goss.
One way to impress the new manager in charge of your team is a wholehearted, committed, forceful display in his first game in charge. Hats off to Tyler Blackett, who killed a man to death, and Leandro Bacuna, who decided he’d had enough of it all and trod on another, in the Boxing Day defeat at Millwall – both sit on the naughty step for this one as a result.
They add to an extensive list of absentees at Reading which includes Liam Moore (gout) who could be replaced by 20-year-old Gabriel Osho or 106-year-old John O’Shea. Tiago Ilori may also be an option if his missus will let him off seeing the in laws. Chris Gunter has minor women’s whiplash while Tom McIntyre has pierced his foot on a spike so they’re both out. Saeid Ezatolahi is out with a lack of consonants, Jordan Obita has said he can’t be arsed and Paul McShane is not very good.
Other than that, clean bill of health.
Elsewhere: Some incredible finishes to the Boxing Day fixtures, with Borussia Norwich scoring twice in injury time to recover from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Nottingham Trees and the Champions of Europe going one better by also notching two after the 90 minutes to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 win at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers. That leaves Marcelo Bielsa’s side two points clear at the top as they face resurgent Allam Tigers at home while Norwich are hosting Frank Lampard’s Derby County.
FLDC were beaten at Sheffield Red Stripes in their play-off clash during the week and the Blades could continue their push into the top six with their own win against Blackburn tomorrow. West Brom, meanwhile, continue to pile up more conventional wins, with Wigan Warriors the latest victim ahead of the weekend game with Sheffield Owls who’ve won two out of two under caretaker manager Lee Bullen. Wigan, meanwhile, on an alarming slide are away to Swanselona.
Intriguingly timed collapse for Pulisball, one win and four defeats from their last seven games just as the transfer window is about to open and he’s about to demand some more money to spend, Rajiv Van La Parra will be first through the door from Borussia Huddersfield but that won’t be in time for their weekend gimme (surely, surely) against Ipswich Blue Sox. Some rumblings around The City ground about the future of Aitor Karanka too – four games without a win following that Norwich debacle and with owners who are notorious back in Greece for their itchy trigger finger with Olympiakos managers. He could do with a win away to the Millwall Scholars who beat Reading on Boxing Day.
What else do I have for you here? Well Birmingham have won both their Christmas games, scoring five and conceding none, to continue their surprise play-off push, but whether they’ve played a team as good as Spartak Hounslow all season is highly doubtful. Bristol City, who were comprehensively outplayed 1-1 by Thomas Frank’s team during the week, will hope to have regained enough self respect after that drubbing to put up a decent showing at home to Rotherham United.
Big Racist John and the Boys are away to Preston Knob End. Bolton v Stoke looks like full blown AIDS.
Referee: Rob Jones from Merseyside is seemingly on the fast track to the Premier League, running straight over the top of Ebere Eze as he goes. Details.
QPR: Steve McClaren’s men continue to match and knock off all manner of records from 2017/18 with five months still to go in 2018/19. A ninth clean sheet of the season against Ipswich is two more than managed in the whole of last season, and the win at Forest was not only the first ever for the club at The City Ground but also a fourth victory on the road this season compared to three last. That win against Town on Boxing Day in the first return fixture of the season also brought up the first double. Rangers can achieve a second by beating Reading tomorrow after winning 1-0 at the Madejski Stadium back in October. Last season the only team they beat home and away was Birmingham (2-1, 3-1). Rangers won four and drew one of five games in October, including victories to nil against Ipswich and Reading. If they repeat that record with victory here it will be the first time since 1974 that they’ve won four games in the month of December. They come into this one on a run of three wins from three games and two consecutive clean sheets – their best return in this month since Luigi De Canio was in charge in 2007. Since starting the campaign with consecutive home defeats to Sheff Utd and Bristol City, QPR have won seven, drawn one and lost two at Loftus Road.
Reading: The Royals have won only one of their last seven meetings with QPR, and Jake Bidwell missed an injury time penalty that would have drawn that one at the Madejski Stadium last season. They’ve lost both their Christmas games so far, both 1-0 to Boro and Millwall, and arrive at Loftus Road without a win in eight (D4, L4). They’ve only won once away from home all season, 3-2 at Preston back in September. They’ve lost five and drawn three of eight since then and overall on the road this season their record is won one, drawn five, lost six. They’re currently second bottom of the league, three points behind fourth-bottom Rotherham. Jon Swift has had 34 shots on goal without scoring this season – the highest in the Championship. Lump on.
Prediction: Congratulations to DanRanger who held off the challenge from DerbyHoop to top the Prediction League at Christmas – we’ll be in touch this week about your goodies from our generous sponsor The Art of Football. It’s tight at the top though so still plenty of time to overhaul Dan and be crowned overall winner in May. Get involved here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Reigning champion Elliott tells us…
“Another brilliant performance on Wednesday against a very poor Ipswich team. I do think there’s a huge advantage to having both games over Christmas at home. I was worried about this Reading match with them having a new manager on board. However having lost on Wednesday and having two players sent off, you’ve got to fancy us. I’ll regret this but I’m going for a perfect Christmas period..
Elliott’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Reading. Scorer – Ebere Eze
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-0 Reading. Scorer – Nahki Wells
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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