Myths and wokeness on the Edinburgh express - Preview
Saturday, 24th Aug 2019 08:01 by Clive Whittingham
QPR meet Wigan Athletic this afternoon, exactly a year on from the same do-or-die fixture last season. The preview's late, but there's good reason for that...
QPR v Wigan Athletic
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday August 24, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Glorious, hot and sunny >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
So, yeh, the preview is late. Apologies to both regular readers.
If you’ll allow me to begin with a bit of dog-ate-my-homework explanation for this… I was travelling back from a work event in Edinburgh last night on the sort of pre-Bank-Holiday-engineering-works train you usually only see on documentaries about India, with humans and livestock packed 60 to a seat, and another 200 on the roof each with their own mini-disposable barbecue on the go. The intention was to spend this journey writing the Wigan previews but there were other problems besides being packed in so snugly I felt like a computer part being shipped from Japan.
First issue, train wifi. Now, this isn’t actually a thing you know. It doesn’t actually exist. It’s something the train companies advertise to make them sound good, but have no intention of providing, like tickets that don't cost twice your monthly salary, and buffet cars with things in them you’d like to eat. There isn’t a single train, anywhere in this country, offering wifi. They just trundle around completely disconnected from the outside world, smothered in stickers promising free wifi. It’s one of modern life’s great myths
Second issue, on the adjacent table we had been joined by Woke Dad 2.0 and his precocious son who were on their way back from seeing Woke Mum 2.0 perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. Woke Dad 2.0 was very keen for the entire carriage to know that he was A) woke, B) dad of the fucking year and C) on his way back from seeing Woke Mum 2.0 perform at the Edinburgh Fringe. He spoke very loudly, very often. This grinding, look-at-me-everybody, perfect parenting routine was exacerbated by his insistence on keeping his earphones in listening to music the whole time, lifting the decibels still further and meaning that, honest to God, there were fucking trawlermen in the middle of the North Sea that heard enough of the instructions to do Precocious Son’s precociously fucking advanced solar system activity book. Every now and again he’d tell Precocious Son that he was “annoying all these people” with his antics – nah mate, the two-year-old’s fine, it’s you grating my teeth down to tiny stumps you noisy, beardy wanker.
Precocious Son, meanwhile, like the rest of us, was very keen for Woke Dad 2.0 to let him quietly watch television on the iPad, something he communicated through the medium of screaming a lot and climbing on things. Woke Dad 2.0, however, had solemnly promised, for reasons I cannot even begin to imagine, that “telly” would only be allowed to happen once three hours of the journey had passed, the stars and planets join-the-dots had been completed and the constellations labelled, and several pieces of fruit had been consumed. Had I been able to thrash about even an inch or two I’d have freed myself, leapt across the carriage, finished the fucking wordsearch and apple segments myself and then we could have all watched Peppa the fucking Pig nice and quietly. But sadly, I was stuck fast, with no choice but to drink through it and listen to this new-age, middle-class, Islington-wanker, soft parenting routine for three bastard hours. At one point the pink felt tip broke, which meant Precocious Child could use “any colour except pink”, a statement that called into question Woke Dad 2.0’s wokeness and apparently required an immediate clarification that he was only referring to the pen and he’d in fact been dressing Precocious Son in pink since he was born. Said to nobody in particular. At enormous volume.
After three bastard hours, Woke Dad 2.0 relented and allowed Precocious Son to watch the iPad, at which point he sat down quietly, ceased screaming and climbing, and watched Peppa the fucking Pig. Just as he’d promised he would do all the way through the whole sorry ordeal. It was now, I thought, surely, that there would be enough peace and quiet for me to pen some thoughts on our terribly interesting game with Wigan. Sure, four of the big bottles of Peroni and one emergency can of the new Carlsberg from the trolley had been consumed to stop me strangling the living shit out of people in my immediate vicinity, but I’ve written these things in worse states. Except, no. No sooner had Woke Dad 2.0’s noisy parenting and did-you-know-my-wife’s-been-performing-in-the-EDINBURGH-FRINGE-ALL-WEEK ceased, but Woke Dad 2.0’s woke mate Jeffers got on the train, completely at random, choosing our train out of all the trains in the world, and our coach out of all the coaches on the train, and plonked himself right down next to Woke Dad 2.0 giving him a new lease of life and another person to tell all about his fucking wife’s fucking performance at the fucking Edinburgh Fringe at the sort of volume usually reserved for warning ships about hidden cliff faces. Lucky us.
Where are Isis sympathisers when you need them eh? Blow it up. Blow it all up. Just take us. Bring me the sweet release of death, make it quick and fiery, free me from this pain. Take me to hell, I’ll go quietly, I’ll enjoy it, I may already be there. It was at that point that I surrendered the idea of doing any work on the train, dug my battered iPad out of my bag and stuck the first two episodes of Chernobyl on, where graphic depictions of innocent firemen and power plant workers having their faces melt off soothed me through to Kings Cross which I greeted like a brother I hadn’t seen for 30 years, with tears of joy and relief. I was in bed by half time of Aston Villa 2-0 Everton, with the sort of headache usually only brought on by prolonged exposure to Richard Madeley.
So now it’s six in the morning on Saturday, and I’m hungover, and never before has a quirk of the fixture list been quite so gratefully received as this one.
August does often throw these things up. QPR started Championship seasons with opening day home games against Barnsley twice in fairly quick succession in the recent past. In 2008, when the Briatore and Ecclestone money was in full flow and expectations were sky high, Iain Dowie’s Rangers fell one down to Iain Hume after five minutes. The natives, whipped up by eye-watering rises to season ticket prices, were fuming, and new goalkeeper Radek Cerny suffered the ignominy of having the name of his predecessor sung at him 15 minutes into his debut. Then in 2010, when it had all gone to shit, expectations were non-existent, and we all thought Paddy Kenny, Shaun Derry and Clint Hill was a proper Neil Warnock jobs-for-the-old-boys routine, we suddenly won the game 4-0. Not, it should be said, without surviving at least one big penalty appeal and a harrowing moment where Kenny came for a cross and walked straight underneath it first.
So many sliding doors moments early in that season. Warnock hadn’t intended to pick Derry from the start at all, only to sling him into the midfield at the last minute when poor Akos Buzsaky got injured again. Sheff Utd away, the second game, is usually a really tough one but was perfectly timed right at the end of Kevin Blackwell’s fading reign of hoof and hope and just before the Blades started to go into a serious freefall. Derby away, in the second road game, was a 2-0 defeat for all money before a freaky period of stoppage time drew QPR level. What if… what if… what if…
And now we have another. Wigan at home, five games into the season, on the August Bank Holiday Saturday, just as it was a year ago. Manna from heaven for those charged with churning out 48 match previews a season. Time, and time spent on trains with woke beardy tossbags in particular, dulls the memory and it’s hard to comprehend now just what a state we were in this time last year. A manager fulfilling his remit ditched in favour of a big name, a summer of recruitment botched, a club record breaking bad start to the season, we were approaching this game dazed, confused, staring relegation in the face, and nursing a 10-1 aggregate loss from the two games earlier in the week.
Things look and feel a lot different now, but this latest home game with the Latics is no less important than it was 12 months prior. We’re still in a weird, mixed up period where everybody seems quite happy with how things are going, apart from Mark Warburton the manager. QPR, as they were against Huddersfield, were applauded off on Wednesday despite not getting the result. Warburton, as he was at Boreham Wood in pre-season, was offered up the sort of “not the result you wanted but great performance” interview questions post-match that he had to refute and remind that it’s a results business. Win today and that will probably continue. It’ll give us enough points to tick us through a difficult game in Sheffield next week onto a more winnable one against Luton in September. That, and the football being good to watch, is probably enough for a support base subsisting on thin gruel for so long.
Lose again though, and continue conceding goals at the rate we are, and then I think you’ll see that mood change quite quickly and dramatically.
Links >>> Furlong’s late winner – History >>> Late window rush – Interview >>> Newbie – Referee >>> Wigan Official Website >>> Pie at Night - Podcast >>> Cockney Latic - Forum >>> Vital Wigan - blog and forum
Geoff Cameron Facts No.61 in the series – Geoff can kill two stones with one bird.
Team News: Although Mark Warburton is still without left back Lee Wallace, who’s yet to feature in a single minute of competitive or friendly action since joining from Rangers over the summer, he does have choices to make elsewhere. Luke Amos and Geoff Cameron both left the field with tight hamstrings during the midweek defeat to Swansea, while Marc Pugh and Ilias Chair both looked good again off the bench. Either Chair or Pugh would seem to be an obvious answer to the isolation problems Jordan Hugill has faced in the league games so far – particularly with how they contributed to the attack when selected against Bristol City in the cup.
Wigan bolstered their attack with the £3m signing of giant Barnsley striker Kieffer Moore right on the deadline, but he’s suffering with altitude sickness and is out for the next three weeks. Josh Windass, who scored against QPR at Wigan in February, has got lost on his way back from the shops while Joe Gelhardt and Anthony Pilkington are also absent.
Elsewhere: Early successes from our season preview. 1 – Bristol City. How people laughed when we said they’d finish second in the league. Well, there they go, winning away at Derby midweek to climb into the early contention ahead of another eminently winnable away match at Allam Tigers today. 2 - Champions of Europe. Now just one more win at Poke City away from claiming another August league title, just as predicted. Given that Stoke have taken the bold tactical move of playing without a goalkeeper at all this season, this one should be relatively straightforward for Marcelo Bielsa’s side. 3 – Fulham. Jemima and Tabitha are third, which is exactly where we said they’d finish. A midweek thrashing of Millwall Scholars sets them up nicely for a home match with Nottingham Florist’s Cast of a Thousand Footballers. The Scholars aim to bounce back away to Middlesbrough.
Early failures from our season preview. 1 – Sheffield Owls. Wouldn’t take very much for this to turn into a full on relegation meltdown, we confidently called in the wake of Steve Bruce’s defection. They can go top today if they secure a fourth win from their opening five games away to Preston Knob End. 2 – Spartak Hounslow. Could well be their year, we suspected, and our contributor from Griffin Park agreed, predicting fourth or, if things went really, really badly, sixth. Currently eighteenth, they will nevertheless almost certainly be the best team Charlton have played all season. 3 - Charlton. Certain to finish dead last we said. Currently fifth. 4 – Cardiff. The Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour will end in another promotion – we said. Currently twelfth, they’re looking to avoid a third straight hefty away loss at the Mad Chicken Farmers.
Fixtures we weren’t able to crowbar into this tortured exercise include Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare at home to Lutown and no-longer-Borussia Huddersfield at home to Reading.
Referee: A first appointment with either QPR or Wigan, and only the third Championship game of his fledgling career, for newbie referee Matt Donohue from Manchester who’s started the season with 20 yellows in four games. Brief details.
QPR: Rangers started last season with four defeats from four games played, and 13 goals conceded, smashing all club records. They ended that run on this weekend, in the fifth game, by beating Wigan 1-0 at Loftus Road. This season they got off to a much better start, with an opening day win at Stoke and a draw at home to newly relegated Huddersfield. But that win in the Potteries on day one remains Rangers’ only success so far after five games, and they arrive into this ficture having lost 2-0 at Bristol City and 3-1 at home to Swansea so far this week. The Swans defeat continues a dire run of home form stretching back more than a year. QPR haven’t won at Loftus Road in three attempts this season and lost here 11 times in 2018/19, more than any other season in the club’s history. Alex Smithies’ penalty save for Cardiff at Reading last week was the seventh spot kick he’s kept out in four seasons (essentially three seasons as he didn’t play at all last year) – his successor at QPR, Joe Lumley, conceded from the spot again during the week continuing a dire record of conceding nine of the last ten he’s faced with the other going over the bar at Sheff Wed in May.
Wigan: While they’ve bloodied some big noses at home, Wigan’s away form since returning to the Championship after a year away has been consistently awful. Their 1-0 loss here exactly a year ago was one of 16 away defeats for them in 2018/19, a total only matched by the division’s bottom-placed whipping boys Ipswich. They only won two of the other seven games, at Stoke and amazingly with ten men at Leeds right at the end, which was the second lowest total in the league apart from Rotherham – who of course won their one and only road game last season at Loftus Road. This season they opened with a 3-2 home win against Cardiff but have since lost four straight in all competitions without scoring a goal, going down 3-0 at Preston, 1-0 at Middlesbrough, 1-0 at home to Stoke in the cup and 2-0 at home to Leeds in the league. Goals were a problem in pre-season as well – well, once they’d got a 7-1 win at Chester out of the way that is. They lost 1-0 to Fylde, drew 0-0 with Everton, 1-1 with Bradford and 2-2 with Burnley.
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. Today he say…
“I hope none of you lot are paying any attention to this or are using these predictions to then choose the exact opposite. Four games in and not a single point earned yet. I'm yet to predict a single correct result so far, let alone get a score right or a scorer. There were good signs against Swansea but we still look brittle and I'm still not sure he's getting the selection right. Hopefully Chair and Pugh showed him enough on Wednesday to get the starts they deserve. Going for a 2-0 home win as Wigan's away form is poor. Hugill to score our first but, what do I know!?”
Woking’s Predictions: QPR 2-0 Wigan. Scorer – Jordan Hugill
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-0 Wigan. Scorer – Ilias Chair
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