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Queens Park Rangers 2 v 0 Nottingham Forest
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 12th September 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Back to work – Preview
Friday, 11th Sep 2020 20:24 by Clive Whittingham

Without fans, without an agreed-upon way of settling the season should it have to be suspended again, football returns tomorrow just six weeks after it went away because something, something, something… the Euros.

QPR (16-10-20, LLDWDL, 13th) v Nottm Forest (18-16-12, LDDLLL 7th)

Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday September 12, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Big ball of gas burning high in the sky >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12

In 1943 the American psychologist Abraham Maslow wrote a paper called A Theory of Human Motivation in which he came up with a “hierarchy of needs” that human beings require. There were five of these, and the base needs that anchored the pyramid were obvious: physiological needs like food, water, shelter, sleep; and safety needs, like being safe. At the top of the pyramid were “esteem needs” such as prestige and feelings of accomplishment, and “self actualisation needs” like achieving one’s full potential. But in between, linking them, integral to the pyramid structure, were “belonging and love needs”. Humans need to love and be loved. And they need to belong.

I’m going to print a few copies of this Hierarchy of Needs out, and roll them up very tightly to make it easier for me to shove it up the arse of the next person who cocks their head on one side and says “really, why?” when I turn down their terribly important Saturday meet/drinks/birthday/stag do/wedding because I’m busy that day, and every Saturday, because Saturday is the day I go to QPR games, home and away. The clue’s in the name, it’s a football club, and it’s where I, and we, fulfil our need to belong.

We’re certainly not here for the results because, well, look at the results. And while we may have got hooked in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s because of the football, we’re not still here for that either because for the vast majority of the last 25 years, well, look at the football.

It is possible to convince ourselves, and it’s at least partly true, that it’s some sort of sadistic emotional investment. That the prolonged periods of incompetence, disappointment and pain only make the brief flurries of success even more exciting when they pay out. I saw a video of us all recently, together in the side stand at Aston Villa, as Luke Freeman collected the ball and freed himself into space, and we all leant forward with a collective “gowoooooonnnnnnn”, before the moment of silence, and then the realisation that he’d queefed one in from 30 yards, at which point we all lost our damn minds. That feeling is missing, still, as we start this new season, and people who have never experienced it and don’t live for it won’t understand, but those who have and do will know exactly what I mean.

But, equally, I’ve had brilliant days in excellent pubs, riotous fun on rattling trains, life affirming experiences with wonderful people, going to see us lose in Oldham and Wigan. We went to Burnley, and drank in a pub that wasn’t even a full level above being the landlord’s living room, and while they didn’t “do food” and had no menu he produced us a pie and peas lunch from somewhere. Then after the game we dropped back in to find he had prepared carrier bags laden with large, icy cold bottles of imported Budvar, pork pies, and Scotch eggs, for our train home. I think he charged us about a score, and it fed half a dozen people all the way back to London. There was a hand towel in the gents toilet the colour of AIDS, that greeted you by name as you walked in, and gave you the history of the place while you pissed. We spent the trip home trying to fit Richard Dunne’s name into 80s power ballads. What was the score? Absolutely no fucking idea.

Football is back tomorrow for people who never went to football in the first place. Football is back tomorrow for people who think it’s outrageous that a few old soaks have been moved off Soccer Saturday, because that’s where they get their football from and they’ll miss Matt Le Tissier poking his head up out of his Fox News rabbit hole to scream “CHAAAANCE, GOOOOOOOOALLLL” while somebody else is talking. Football is back tomorrow for people who reckon they “support” Arsenal, but want Manchester United to win tomorrow because they’ve triple captained “Rashford” this week. Those people never understood why we took two days off work to go to Swansea and watch QPR draw 0-0 on a Tuesday night anyway, so they certainly won’t get why Sky’s mawkish “I am sport, and I am returned” adverts are akin to a doctor inviting us to watch our loved one being operated on via a small screen in an adjacent room.

For us, football is the farthest thing from back. I’ve preferred it this summer when it hasn’t been happening. If Keith Stroud falls in the forest and I’m not there to hang over the front of F Block and laugh in his face, does he really fall over at all? It’s now just like everything else. We’ve got a Zoom call with the New York office at 13.30, then we’re streaming QPR Forest at 15.00. It used to be a day cleared, a nonsense journey, bad decisions made wilfully and deliberately, pubs discovered in back streets, friends made for life and stories recounted forever. Have we told you about the time we accidentally got them to put gay porn on in Mabel’s Tavern because LFW official photographer Neil Dejyothin (not a salaried position) had a mate who reckoned that channel number had a hooky feed of the pay per view boxing? We were once refused admission to Flares Newcastle you know, the only documented and recorded example of such a thing taking place. Now football’s something I schedule in an hour-by-hour planner. Two hours of QPR there, then an oh-so-hilarious work quiz. We score against Plymouth and I’m sort of happy, and we concede against Plymouth and I’m kind of sad. In my living room. Then I do something else. I ruptured my oesophagus and nearly bled to death in the night celebrating Jamie Mackie’s goal against Liverpool.

I see all kinds of strong opinions about how QPR will do this season. Outpourings of angst and emotion around a certain relegation campaign, and way over the top optimistic predictions of play off pushes. I cannot bring myself to get overly excited, upset, or even engaged with either. Having spent this week producing 30,000 words of Championship preview I found three teams I liked (Norwich, Brentford, and Millwall) and at least a dozen who wouldn’t need too much to go wrong to go down. One of them starts -12. If you get relegated from this Championship, this season, you must be really fucking awful. But at the end of it I just felt a bit numb. What relevance is it to me if we start next season at Liverpool or Rochdale, if I’m not there? There’s no excitement, no engagement. Watching QPR now is like watching your mate play as them on Fifa, and if you’ve ever had the misfortune you’ll know there is nothing in this world more boring than watching somebody else play a computer game. It’s over there in the corner on my television, and they’re wearing the right colours, and I obviously want them to win, but if they don’t I’m over it roughly three quarters of a second after the final whistle and actually quite grateful for the chance to use the television for something else.

Football now feels like work to me. It’s back because it needs to be financially. Sky need something to show to keep the subscriptions going, football needs something to give them to keep the television money flowing. Is it right? No. Is it any good? No. Is it even safe? No. But money talks. So you’re being peppered with this idea that fans want football back, and here it comes, and you love football don’t you, and look at all the football, and the Championship is “back”. Then presented with sterilised banality. Just the same as you’re currently being bombarded with Murdoch press think pieces about how your daily commute is “part of you”, and “good for your mental health”, and you “miss it really” in an attempt to convince you that £200 a month of Great Northern Trains arserapery is actually nourishing for the soul in some perverse way and you haven’t at all enjoyed not having every single day of your life dictated by their ever escalating fares and constant inability to employ enough drivers to get you home.

There are vague promises of limited crowds back at football in October, but only as long as you’re able to complete three rounds of the Krypton Factor to enter a ballot for a ticket in an undetermined part of the ground at an undetermined price with no reference, weight or consideration given to your length of service or number of games attended. Groups of more than six are to be punished by a public stoning from Monday as the infection rate rises again, because we didn’t deal with it properly in the first place. Meanwhile, by way of complete and absolute contradiction, we’re also being cajoled into getting back to the office, having successfully proven we can work from home over the last six months. Because otherwise all the Prets might close.

A reckoning is coming because it’s either safe for me to get the train and sit in the office or its not, it’s either safe for me to “eat out to help out” or it’s not, and if it is safe then it’s also safe for me to sit in a socially distanced, open air, football ground. You can’t promote one and deny the other.

You need us to get back to work? Fine. We need to get back where we belong.

Links >>> Season Preview 2020/21 – Contenders >>> Season Preview 2020/21 – Midtable >>> Season Preview 2020/21 – Strugglers >>> Can’t we be friends Mark? – Interview >>> Ferdinand’s big Easter – History >>> Forest’s year again – Interview >>> Here we go again – Podcast >>> Robinson gets opening day – Referee >>> Official Website >>> Nottingham Post – Local Press >>> LTLF – Message Board >>> Bandy and Shinty – Fanzine >>> Forza Garibaldi – Blog >>> LFW Reciprocal Interview >>> Matchday with Max – YouTube Channel

Geoff Cameron Facts No.104 In the Series – Geoff goes straight into the Ray Wilkins Memorial League of Great Captains at #386, behind Cook, Mainwaring and Scarlet but well ahead of Planet and Birdseye.

Saturday

Team News: Lyndon Dykes scored on his second appearance for Scotland in the Czech Republic on Monday, but also left the field clutching his back in the 67th minute. Thankfully this was just an impact injury and he has been training ahead of a competitive home debut tomorrow. George Thomas has also trained this week after sitting out since the Wimbledon friendly with a tweaked quad, although in his interview with us during the week Warbs Warburton suggested that a lack of pre-season prep will probably see the new arrival from Leicester start on the bench.

Quite where we are with Ryan Manning and Bright Osayi-Samuel who the hell knows any more. Warburton has made a point of repeatedly stating, in public, over the summer that players will not be picked if they’re just intending to run contracts down to a pre-contract deal somewhere else in January and then a cheap or free move out of here next summer. But he’s also been at pains to say that he’s not referring specifically to Bright and Ryan, the two most high profile first teamers whose deals expire next year and have so far refused extensions. Whether both, either or neither will start tomorrow is about as clear as mud but Paul Smyth has impressed in cameos during QPR’s pre-season and Niko Hamalainen made a full international debut in Finland’s midweek win against the Republic of Ireland. Don’t be surprised if one, or both, get a chance here.

Geoff Cameron has been named captain and will return, along with Yoann Barbet, after both sitting out at Plymouth. Rob Dickie will make a home debut.

Nottingham Forest have responded to a poor end to last season in the same way they respond to everything – by signing another clutch of expensive, ageing players. Luke Freeman will make his first return to Loftus Road since a departure a year ago after Forest agreed to pay his full Sheff Utd salary to take him on a season long loan deal. Loyal Taylor is also set for a league debut for Forest having got his dream free transfer move from Charlton into a colossal weekly wage at the City Ground. Tyler Blackett is the youngest of their half dozen summer arrivals at 26 and four of the players signed are already 30. They carry a squad of 30 senior professionals into the new season.

Elsewhere: Middlesbrough, hence forth known as the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour, started last season with a Friday night 3-3 at Luton and they’re first up again tonight at Watford who’ve brought an incredible squad down to the second tier with them but exactly what remains of that come the end of the transfer window remains to be seen.

All manner of intrigue among an opening Saturday fixture list – and Preston v Swansea as well.

Two early games, including the clash between Walt Disney fairy-tale Wycombe Wanderers and fellow newly promoted team Rotherham. The Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew’s Sporting Orient will have to recover from the disappointment of last season, learn to cope with being favourites rather than undogs, and beware any latent epileptics among their number potentially flushed out at a crucial moment by the seats in their new stadium, as they restart up at Birmingham. Thomas Frank is 100% certain they will win, and we suspect they might be the best team Brum play all season.

Barnsley have become the Twitter analytic accounts’ jizz sock over the summer with predictions as high as sixth for their season following a strong recovery under Austrian manager Gerhard Struber in lockdown. But they have once again sold a star player – Jacob Brown – to Stoke on the eve of the new campaign and with Cauley Woodrow and Alex Mowatt also being linked away they wouldn’t be a particularly safe bet yet. They start at home to Lutown, who have Nathan Jones back in charge for a full season and have already added Sheff Utd starlet Rhys Norrington-Davies to their number as he tries to reinstall a diamond and wing backs system.

Bournemouth are the least tipped of the relegated teams to bounce back. Long serving miracle worker Eddie Howe departed over the summer saying the club needed a fresh start, and the club promptly disagreed and handed the job to his assistant Jason Tindall who has one failed spell as Weymouth manager to his name. £80m in back transfer fees are owed and departures surely won’t end at Callum Wilson’s Newcastle move this week – somebody will eventually cotton on to David Brooks being the best player they have there. Blackburn haven’t even been mentioned in passing but they look short in key areas ahead of their trip to Dean Court.

Bristol City have overspent and are playing the “invest in youth, progressive style of play” tune we’ve heard time and time again. Chris Martin (Burger King is back on Deliveroo!) will lead the line against a newly promoted Coventry side who I suspect might bloody a nose on the opening day. Sheffield Owls start their climb back from a 12 point deduction at Cardiff, who I quite fancy. Not as much as Millwall though, whose shrewd summer recruitment gets an early test at home to Stoke who have spent three years trying to shift ageing, over-rated, over-paid, wage-bill burdens only to go out and add Steven Fletcher, John Obi-Mikel and James Chester to their ranks.

Huddersfield have decided a six-week summer is the ideal time to rip the whole thing up and go down a new-age approach with an unproven geezer who hung around with Marcelo Bielsa for a bit. They start at home to Norwich who’ve signed 11 players and are cast iron favourites for an immediate return. 0-4. Reading said ‘hold my beer’ and conducted their strategic review halfway through the break, so don’t put too much faith in their prospects at Wayne Rooney’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass.

Referee: An early test for Lyndon Dykes’ robust style of play as Tim Robinson and his fetish for penalising the attacking team at corners comes to town on day one. Case history.

Form

QPR: Rangers set a club record for home defeats in a league season in 2018/19 by losing eleven, the last of which was Nottingham Forest’s 1-0 success at Loftus Road in the April of that season. Things improved in 2019/20 with a home record of 9-5-9 although, again, only three teams (Birmingham, Hull Reading) lost more on their own patch. QPR finished thirteenth in the Championship table which was six places and seven points better than the year before. They won two more games and scored 67 goals compared to 53 the campaign before. However only Luton and Hull conceded more than Rangers’ 76 – the third season in a row the R’s have shipped 70 or more goals across a league term. Their lockdown form was particularly troubling, losing five of the first six behind closed doors and only scoring two goals, but they came home with a wet sail with draws away at Luton and West Brom and a 4-3 home victory against Millwall.

Forest: Only West Brom and Millwall (17) drew more than Forest’s 16 last season and it was a whole slew of those ties in the final third of the campaign – seven of their last 14 matches finished level – that took a seemingly unassailable play-off position and blew it up when an attempt to get a 0-0 at Barnsley went off in their face in injury time. They lost at Oakwell again by the same 1-0 scoreline in their League Cup game last week which brings them to Loftus Road on a run of seven without a win (L4 D3) either side of the truncated summer break. They’ve done well on this ground of late though, winning their last three visits and scoring ten goals in the process. Their 4-0 win here before Christmas was QPR’s heaviest defeat of the campaign. Nobody lost fewer away games in 2019/20 than Forest with four, though the defeats weirdly seemed to come at the division’s worst teams – Huddersfield, Birmingham, Wigan and most damagingly Barnsley.

Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. The squad is updated and you can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Mase won an unbelievably tight title race last season to become the first person to win the competition twice in the 16-year history of the site. He therefore knows the drill for the next nine months, and offers us the following for tomorrow…

“A new season starts under lockdown. I think we will be dangerous at both ends, much like last season. I'm hoping for a point and an entertaining game but fear that Forest may overpower us. Luke Freeman will definitely be involved in a goal if he plays for them.”

Mase’s Prediction: QPR 2-2 Forest. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes

LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-2 Forest. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes

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Myke added 22:00 - Sep 11
Excellent beginning Clive. As a non-attendee I fully get it that I don't get it. The last game I was at was Bristol City away (Ledesma was sent off) and I found myself humming 'we are qpr we are qpr' long after the final whistle much to the annoyance of my family. I frequently get very cross and shout abuse when watching them on telly (much to the annoyance of my family) , which is obviously only a pale shadow of being at the match. You are correct that I and others like me, are obviously not affected by 'behind closed doors' matches. I have even refused to renew my Sky subscription, because they wanted 92 quid a month off me, so won't see them there either.
But I am definitely affected by the surreal nature of the games themselves. Like watching cardboard cut-outs is how I described it in July, lacking even the three dimension of Subbuteo. It is 'back' for all the wrong reasons and will continue to be a silhouette of itself until you guys start pouring through the turnstiles again
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Lblock added 22:12 - Sep 11
If you don’t understand, don’t ask me to explain it as you’ll simply never understand
It’s football
1

LeedsR added 23:47 - Sep 11
Hilarious, insightful and always well written. As well as being very zen, the Keith Stroud comment was genius and had me laughing out loud. “Loyal” Taylor, perfect.

Covid and its consequences has properly b***ered up so much in the world. Yes, a significant positive is that it shows that it is possible for many to work from home (as long as you’re paying for the internet connection and your own office equipment), but the contradictions and the “example” set by those in power makes the whole situation so infuriating and frustrating.

For those of us fortunate to have been able to go regularly, it’s our story, our friendships, our routines and superstitions, that sense of belonging and shared experience bordering on the religious that will be painfully absent when it kicks off tomorrow in the empty stadium. And for those who follow the Rs from afar, it will seem even more distant. Just doesn’t feel right.
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mtwhite06 added 03:56 - Sep 12
This sort of bummed me out. I get that I don't really understand and never will (though experiencing it vicariously through this blog and the podcast suggests its pretty awesome.) I'm sorry you guys can't experience it tomorrow.
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royinaus added 05:13 - Sep 12
My mum & dad were from Shepherds Bush and Notting Hill respectively. Alas, having had my sister two years prior in Hammersmith hospital, while pregnant with me they moved to Essex in 1965.
Nonetheless, my earliest memories are of sitting on my dad’s lap in Ellerslie Road along with my cousin and a couple of uncles. Dads lap was not for the lack of seats; indeed, as I’m sure you’re aware Clive, t’was said back then that if you arrived at Stamford Bridge at midday you may be lucky enough to get a ticket – arrive at the Bush at five to three and you’ll get a game. It was simply that I was that young. Not many believe that one of those memories include once landing in the next row when Rangers scored, my dad, along with his cohorts having more than whetted their whistle at the Kenilworth Castle in Notting Hill.
My cousin Paul and I continued the trek from Harlow to the Bush throughout the eighties & nineties, usually finding our way to Epping and getting the tube directly to the Bush. Unless it was raining, we avoided alighting at White City preferring the pre-match buzz of the green and Uxbridge Road not to mention the requisite pre-match pie, mash & liquor. We hugged each other as well as total strangers at Highbury when Clive pit us through – another eternal memory.
In 97 fate took me to Australia, a situation I’ve endured ever since. Much to the consternation of my family & friends, on every trip home since, and there have been many, my itinerary has always included every possible game the trip could incorporate. This meant always coming at Christmas – the most expensive time to fly.
So it was that trips home aside, I very rarely got to see the R’s. True, the premiere league in which we occasionally dipped our toe was shown here but as you know, we invariably found it too hot. Some years ago, whilst scouring the net for anything QPR I staggered upon a certain blog where the author seemed perfectly in sync with my passion and frustrations. It was a blog that was to become my principle source of QPR nourishment. Whilst I don’t remember the player in question, I recall vividly the looks I received from my office associates upon reading that “he’d come as a 1973 vagina,” - still my favourite.
That was until a few years ago when they started the live streaming. I knew my players again, the good the bad and the ugly - was part of it again and could put clarity to your reports that still go unmissed.
Streamed games with no crowd are indeed nothing like being there and I acknowledge as a life-long fan, one that even managed to seduce my Australian partner of four years to sit with me til 3 in the morning to watch, that Pie & liquor it ain’t, but in its absence it’s still, as the Australians would say, “a bloody good feed.”
5

Neil_SI added 06:56 - Sep 12
I’m still upset we missed the boxing that night. 😅
1

SouthAfricanRanger added 08:39 - Sep 12
Brilliant Clive- Nobody could have written it better-I’m passing on to friends and family and fans of other teams to read a piece by the world’s leading author on football
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slmrstid added 08:53 - Sep 12
Excellently written as always, like you am struggling to muster as much enthusiasm for a league campaign at Loftus Road I can't be there for. I find I can hardly recognise any of our players when they're squashed into small figures on my TV (although it is also quite a small TV...)

Glad, and completely unsurprised, to read you share my disdain for this modern nonsense phenomenon of "e-sports". As you say, it is quite simply watching other people play computer games and that is one of the most boring things on earth (although fun to play yourself, if you enjoy playing the game in question).
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HastingsRanger added 10:25 - Sep 12
Superb read, along with all the other teams preview. Thanks, at something is normal.

The contradiction of safe to travel and work in an office versus unsafe to travel and watch in the open is one of so many right now. Nothing is safe yet but apparently the show goes on.
It is all very remote and seems a irrelevant, like the WW2 London leaving, except you cannot attend, or watching obscure games in the 80s on YouTube.

It really does highlight how divorced the game has got from the fans.

Sadly money is doing the talking.

The only positive is a September start, instead of holiday season. But that won’t last.
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cranieboy added 10:35 - Sep 12
Truly great stuff - Thanks
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HastingsRanger added 10:41 - Sep 12
Should read 'at LEAST something is normal' and 'like the WW2 London LEAGUES' ... not that anyone was reading!



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GroveR added 12:35 - Sep 12
Royinaus, describing the Kenilworth as "Notting Hill" is a bit like describing the White City estate as "Holland Park borders" - it's geographically accurate but don't walk in expecting to see Hugh Grant nursing a light and lager 😂

Ever drink in the Favourite across the road? The flat-roofed pub's flat-roofed pub.

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TacticalR added 14:26 - Sep 12
Thanks for your preview and getting us started with the new season.

Everything has a context. Everything is connected. You can't just rip football out of its context and expect it to be the same. Of course it's not the same.

Even watching a stream from home when fans are in the ground is not the same as watching a stream from home when fans aren't in the ground. There's a danger that 'football' could become an absurd training ground excercise. It mostly was that last season for us after the lockdown. It remains to be seen if it's going to be like that this season.

'Football now feels like work to me'. A bad sign, but that can happen to anyone at any time over anything they *have* to do.

One point that was made this week about Murdoch's (and Boris') mates is that the landlords want the value of city centre commercial property maintained, and that means people going into offices to work.

On your point about whether 'it’s either safe or it isn't' I have tried to keep an open mind about this from the beginning (when we didn't know much about the virus). That's why I'm glad we've got the Corona thread on the forum, and we can also observe what's going on in Sweden as a test comparison case (although even there people have significantly changed their behaviour).
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royinaus added 17:04 - Sep 12
GroveR
Alas I did not - was 40-45 years ago when I was with my dad at The Kenilworth.
I was outside with a coke and a packet of crisps
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GroveR added 17:43 - Sep 12
You didn't miss much mate 😂
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Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
Letters from Wiltshire #08 by wessex_exile
Lots of discussion this week on football forums, including here, on two subjects – the petition to lobby parliament to allow limited numbers of supporters back into football grounds, and of course the return of that old chestnut from Man City Chief Executive Ferran Soriano, introducing Premier League ‘B’ teams into the EFL. First off, I don’t mind admitting I’ve signed the petition ( https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/552036 ), as have 192,779 others at the time of writing, though I don’t actually think it’ll make any difference. I can completely understand why some do not think this is a good idea, as second-wave spikes of coronavirus infection pop up all over the country (mainly because – let’s face it – some people are dicks and can’t be trusted to sit the right way on a toilet). But to me, the two go hand in hand (not dicks and toilets) – whilst football clubs throughout the country struggle financially without spectators, we are always going to be under threat of this sort of ‘B’ team nonsense as a condition of financial support from the Premier League fat cats. They got their way in 2016 with the EFL trophy, who’s to say they won’t again when the financial squeeze really starts to tighten its grip without paying customers through the turnstiles? Robbie has featured prominently in this debate in recent weeks, and looks like he will again on Sky tomorrow if this tweet from Sophy Ridge is anything to go by -
Letters from Wiltshire #07 by wessex_exile

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