The view from the Pu - January
Friday, 1st Feb 2019 11:18 by Steve Hardy
Our regular columnist Steve Hardy returns to assess a January where QPR faltered in the league but progressed in the FA Cup.
Finally January is over, I feel like this month has gone on forever and we’re going into February still in the FA Cup – bloody hell! Let’s have a look at the good, the bad and the downright QPR for the month.
It seems like a lot of us are suffering from a bad case of cup fever. It is the first time we’re still in the FA Cup going into the month of February since 1997 I believe, so I think it’s all fair to say that we’ve all whipped ourselves up into a bit of a frenzy about it and rightly so. It was great to see so many QPR fans in the away at Portsmouth on Saturday and it helped create what I thought was a great atmosphere in a tidy old school football stadium.
It’s a real shame that the quality of the game didn’t match the atmosphere and I was left wondering how noisy it could have been had there been a little bit more quality from either team. Still it was a great day out and I’m sure the type of fixture that a lot of us have been gagging for over the last ten-odd years of losing to Blackburn the first weekend of January. From a personal point of view it was good that Nakhi Wells could channel his inner Idryssa Sylla and bundle in the equaliser as all my in-laws are Portsmouth fans so it would have made for a very long night. Unfortunately I cannot make the replay but I feel the club have priced this perfectly and I’m hoping that HQ is packed out and we really go for it and get through to the heavy heights of the fifth round. What a time to be alive.
That leads me nicely on to the round draw. I think we’re all excited about the prospect of a packed Loftus Road scaring the life out of Premiership Watford. However, we need to exercise caution here as we’ve still got to beat Portsmouth at home on Tuesday which will be very tough. It would be typical QPR to battle to a draw to get a team back to our place to then go on and lose it, so let’s beat Portsmouth first and then start getting excited.
Other than the FA Cup I don’t think there was a great deal to get excited about this month really. Freeman closed the book on goal of the season at Villa and we didn’t lose to John Terry but that and the FA Cup was really the only positives to come out of the month which is why I want to take a minute to single out someone who doesn’t really get much praise, everyone’s favourite Brian Harvey look-a-like Jake Bidwell.
Since we signed Bidwell in 2016 bar a dislocated shoulder he’s rarely missed a game, even this season when it looked like he’d broken his collarbone he was still in the team for the next game. He’s also played in multiple different positions under multiple managers and always got on with his job, let’s be honest he’s never going to be the new Roberto Carlos but back when we had Armand Traore pulling his hamstring at left back every two weeks we were crying out for a player with Bidwell’s attitude and work rate. Other than Luke Freeman I would say he’s been our best player this month – before I get pelters from everyone, it’s only my opinion – so fair play Jake.
One final positive is that it’s good to see so many of the youngsters go out on loan, particularly Paul Smyth and Aramide Oteh to Accrington (who are they etc) and Walsall respectively. I know Clive has said it before but it’s good to see these players going out to clubs in the division below as opposed to work experience loans to places like Leamington Spa. With parachute payments ending and FFP tightening these players are going to be needed next season so to get them out playing first team football in a tough division can only be seen as a good thing.
In all honestly it’s been a pretty poor month in terms of league form hasn’t it? Bar the FA Cup we played three league games, drew one and lost two and now haven’t won since Boxing Day and the fixtures don’t seem to look too kind this month either. Having said that we have always seemed to perform better against the teams toward the top and add to that the return of several key players to the team – especially Mass Luongo. The season has been saved after that disastrous start but we do really need to pull our finger out in regards to the league form otherwise we could end up seeing the season just fade away into a bunch of meaningless games from mid-March onwards.
One of the suggestions for the downturn in form seems to be that teams have found us out, another is that they players look tired having played so many consecutive games. For me I think it has just gone to show how pivotal that Luongo and Cameron partnership in the centre was, luckily Australia have been knocked out of the Asia Cup so we get Luongo back for this weekend and hopefully Cameron will soon follow. There is also an impending return for Tomer Hemed which will increase our ‘plan B’ from the bench tenfold. Hemed made a massive difference when he came on away to Rotherham towards the end of last year and when you compare it to the difference Smith made against Preston it’s day and night.
And my final negative leaves me with Preston bloody North End. Walking out of the ground last week I realised I have never seen us beat them, the best result I have ever witnessed is a draw in seven games. Think I’ll book a holiday for next season’s games.
How could I get this far without mentioning Mr Matalan Tracksuit from the Portsmouth game? Brilliant stuff R’s!
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