|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 3 Swansea City|
Wednesday, 21st August 2019 Kick-off 19:45
More questions than answers - Preview
Tuesday, 20th Aug 2019 17:01 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have a win, a defeat, and two contrasting draws to take into their Wednesday night home match against Swansea, who've shrugged off summer departures to start like a train.
QPR v Swansea City
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Wednesday August 21, 2019 >>> Kick off 19.45 >>> Weather – Pretty nice, I was surprised too >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
It’s been dubbed, on our message board at least, as Rangers Madrid against Swanselona. One team that aspires to be all trendy and new age, gratuitously passing out from the back over the grave of John Beck, against another that wrote the bloody book on it. QPR, just getting started, Swansea, returning to roots under Graham Potter and now Steve Cooper after several years of mismanagement and failed Bertie Big Potatoes routine. QPR, of course, are case study 1.1 in dick swinging gone wrong. Maybe we could swap books?
Quite how far QPR have come in their attempts to tear it all up and start again is unclear. Players continue to be shovelled out: Sean Goss, spotted long enough to be forced into a permanent move to the sort of club he used to refuse to join on loan; Niko Hamalienen, swapping a loan at LAFC (one start, two sub, multiple Instagram stories) for the same deal at Kilmarnock (we’ll let you know on the ratio change). But a 2-1 away win at Stoke on day one is tempered by their dire start, a 1-1 draw at home with Huddersfield looks a worse result every time Huddersfield take the field, a 3-3 cup draw with Bristol City is rendered sort of irrelevant by the mass team changes and Saturday’s loss at Ashton Gate is somewhat tempered by their status as a promotion dark horse. One win, one loss, two draws later, we’re pretty much non-the-wiser.
Early takes so far are that we look better when Todd Kane is a right back than Angel Rangel. Kane’s introduction on Saturday was particularly timely, coming just after Ebere Eze’s withdrawal had enabled City to triple up on our other main threat Bright Osayi-Samuel, adding an extra attacking dimension down the right and creating more space for the former Blackpool man. You can worry about the removal of experience, and defensive nouse, by dropping Rangel but then there wasn’t a lot of either in evidence on Saturday when he chucked that suicidal throw-in into our own box, nor last season when he repeatedly played people onside. Great professional, wonderful on the training ground, maybe even worthy of one last hurrah from the start here against his former club given how he attacked the task last season, but it surely must be Kane from the start as soon as he’s fit enough to fulfil the gig.
I’ll repeat what I said at the weekend about the spot behind the lone striker. Mark Warburton initially used Josh Scowen there after his positive end to last season in a more advanced role. Scowen was within a whisker of making it 2-0 in the first half at Stoke, but missed and didn’t play well. His performance against Huddersfeld was so patchy he apologised for it on social media. We wondered all the way down on the train Saturday morning whether he’d be replaced with Ilias Chair, or kept faith with for one more game owing to his greater experience and defensive ability away to a tough opponent. To lose him through injury, and not pick Chair regardless, was the first thing Warburton has done so far that’s made me stroke my chin a little bit. Matt Smith was fine, but he didn’t effect the game unduly as either an attacking or defensive presence – a metaphor for the whole team. He just kept things ticking along beautifully in the middle third. The whole performance, from him and the team, reminded me of the sort of thing we take the piss out of Brentford for – immaculate in the areas that don’t hurt teams, toothless in the ones that do. I do wonder, whether through expressed agreement or because we’re desperate to be seen as a good option for the Premier League elite to send their excellent young boys on loan, whether this will be the first of many occasions that Smith or Amos get an undue nod ahead of a better option.
And then there’s the goalkeeper. I blame Rangel for the second goal on Saturday, a player of that experience should never be throwing that ball there in those circumstances and that context, but Joe Lumley could unquestionably have dealt with it better. He was lucky to get away with a cross come for and missed at that death at Stoke as well and mistakes, particularly with panicked kicks, continue to blight him. He’s probably got another season of “inexperienced kid” to spend but not much more than that. Whether that’s worthy of one of our fans cutting together four minutes of video of his mistakes and trying to make it go viral is open for debate. Personally, as he didn’t copy the player in on the Tweet, nor presumably (hopefully) scream and yell at him at the game, I don’t really have a problem with that sort of evidence-based critique of professional footballers who earn a barrel load of money to be able to clear a dodgy throw in properly, from people who spend a disgusting portion of their disposable income paying to be there to watch them do it. Are we meant to just clap and cheer blindly through this? At the game, yes. Online, when the player himself is copied in and reading the messages, also yes. But otherwise, probably not. Lumley has made bad mistakes. My biggest issue was several of the goals in the montage were no more Lumley’s fault than they were mine.
Go with Liam Kelly? Who looked communicative and excellent in distribution, but diminutive and susceptible to high ball in the pre-season games? I saw a Tweet from somebody after the League Cup game, in which he was beaten by two worldies but saved two penalties in the shoot out, saying they’d enjoyed the game but “never wanted to see Kelly play for the club again” owing to his lack of height and susceptibility to, I don’t know, goals of the season?
Like arseholes, everybody’s got an opinion, and thanks to social media we now have the benefit of everybody’s being amplified. Opinions, and arseholes. How you can reach a clear version of the former from what you’ve seen of Rangers so far this season I’m not sure. Three quickfire home games against a talented side that will match our style, a relegation-haunted outfit that should be a banker, and a League One highflyer we saw off relatively comfortably here in February should provide more of a clue.
Links >>> Taarabt’s Christmas cracker – History >>> Smooth start for new boss – Interview >>> Prem ref in charge – Referee >>> Swansea Official Website >>> Planet Swans – Blog and Forum >>> Wales Online – Local Paper >>> The Jack Army – Forum
Geoff Cameron Facts No.60 in the series: If you want Geoff Cameron to go in goal, he will. He once saved three penalties in a shootout for the Virginia Vagabonds after being pressed into service late in the game when the first choice keeper was caught in passing gunfire.
Team News: Goalkeeper Liam Kelly, attacking full back Todd Kane, and hairy ‘ten’ goblin Ilias Chair are all pushing for starts for Rangers after lacklustre showings at the weekend from Joe Lumley, Angel Rangel and Matt Smith. Lee Wallace is still troubled by his hip flexor injury, but would be unlikely to unseat Ryan Manning in his current form. Young left back Niko Hamalainen has gone from a loan spell at LAFC to a season-long stay at Kilmarnock – we’re not in Kansas any more Toto.
Elsewhere: Having spent the second half of last season losing every week and saying it didn’t matter because it was all about building for next season, and then a whole summer on top of that where the budget was spent and the plans were set in place, it’s taken precisely four league and cup games for Borussia Huddersfield to decide they want to go back to being plain old Huddersfield after all. Jan Siewert the first casualty of the new season ahead of their Wednesday date on the Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour.
Tomer Hemed ambling into Charlton a week and a half after the transfer window was supposed to have closed is still quicker than he ever moved for us – a move enabled by his release on a free from Brighton. He’s already guaranteed at least two goals for the Addicks with two games against QPR still to come but he gets underway with a home game against Nottingham Florist’s Cast of a Thousand Footballers, which battered Birmingham City at the weekend. Birmingham return to action tonight against Barnsley with this week’s exciting fixture between two teams beginning with B.
There’s the first Fit and Proper Owner derby of the season tonight as the Allam Tigers host the Mad Chicken Farmers. Blackburn belatedly got a first win of the season at the weekend at home to Middlesbrough, who are currently involved in their own Fit and Proper Manager test with Jonathan Woodgate three for three and facing a home banker with Wigan Warriors this evening. The Tuesday night action is rounded out by a play-off contender clash between PSV Derby and Bristol City, and Sheffield Owls v Lutown at Hillsborough – the latter struggling as many suspected, the former doing anything but despite still awaiting a permanent managerial appointment.
Filling out Wednesday’s fixture list, West Brom v Reading, which we mention now to get it out of the way. Preston Knob End v Poke City… for those in peril on the sea. That leaves us with the feisty derby at Craven Cottage as arrest league leaders Penelope and Annunziata play host to Football League Family Club of the year Millwall Scholars.
Best left till last, game of the night is quite clearly the Champions of Europe now just two games away from being crowned champions in August once more, but now facing the their most difficult game of this or any other season at home to Spartak Hounslow.
Stay safe out there.
Referee: Paul Tierney, a Premier League referee who did the Championship play-off final between Derby and Villa last season, returns to Loftus Road where he was once terrorised by the infamous local squirrel. Details.
QPR: If you were looking for clues into what QPR would be this season, with 14 players in and 17 and counting moving out, the opening games haven’t really helped you out much. There has been an away win at Stoke, who are yet to beat anybody, a home draw with Huddersfield who have since sacked their manager, a home cup game with Bristol City where it looked like we might score every time we go forward, and an away game at Bristol City where I don’t think we’d have scored if we were still there now. There have been no clean sheets, in fact seven goals have been conceded in four games continuing a theme at Rangers that has seen in excess of 70 goals conceded in each of the last two league campaigns. Rangers lost a club record 11 home matches in a season last during 2018/19.
Swansea: Swansea lost manager Graham Potter, fleet-footed winger Dan James, and bearded striker Tartan McPartick over the summer but any fears of a talent drain effecting results at the former Premier League side have been dispelled by a smooth transition and start under former England U17 boss Steve Cooper. At home they’ve between Hull (2-1), Northampton (3-1, League Cup) and Preston Knob End (3-2) already, despite trailing in all three games. On the road they have a 0-0 draw at PSV Derby to show for their efforts. A quirk of the fixture list and cup draws mean six of their first nine matches are at home. The Swans won all six of their pre-season friendlies, deep breath: Mansfield A (2-1), Crawley A (3-2), Yeovil A (6-1), Exeter A (3-1), Bristol R A (3-0) and Atalanta H (2-1). Borja Baston was Swansea’s record signing (£15.5m) in August 2016, but had made just 20 appearances for the club prior to this season and has spent time on loan at Malaga and Alaves. He could yet leave the club, which is eager to shift his wage, this month with the European transfer window still open but he has started the campaign with three goals in three games, including two to turn a weekend deficit with Preston into a 3-2 win.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Reigning champion WokingR went for a 1-0 loss on Saturday, so had further reason than most to curse that farcical second. Tomorrow night he say…
“God I hate this game. I predicted the loss on Saturday but then, buoyed by reading Clive's preview, and seeing how poor Bristol’s home form was, made a last minute change and went for a win. Still pointless. Looking for an immediate reaction and to bounce back with a nervy 1-0 win with Chair the scorer."
Woking’s Predictions: QPR 1-0 Swansea. Scorer – Ilias Chair
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 1-1 Swansea. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
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