|Sheffield Wednesday 1 v 1 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 3rd October 2020 Kick-off 15:00
Do you want the options again? - Preview
Friday, 2nd Oct 2020 18:24 by Clive Whittingham
QPR continue their 2020/21 season on Saturday with an away trip to Sheff Wed who, thanks to a 12 point deduction, are one of those teams in the category of "we'll be alright this season because of..."
Sheff Wed (1-1-1, DWWDLL, 24th*) v QPR (1-1-1, LWLD, 11th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 3, 2020 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Tipping it down >>> Hillsborough, Sheffield, S6
It was bin day in N20 today. Orange lights twirling, illuminating the rain on the kitchen window. Warning sirens sounding, hard-working geezers soaked to their skin yelling instructions and abuse, robust polyethylene hoisted noisily into the air by a great hulking machine, all of last week’s drink-to-forget mistakes crashing down in the opposite direction. No need for the neighbours to set an alarm on a Friday, they have the emptying of the LFW recycling for that.
I mention this because in this life for which “new normal” has already become the cliché, bin day counts as an event. When you’re up at the same time every day; to do the same things on the same computer in the same seat in the same room with the same other person; with the same few things for lunch at the same time; and the same Cheers, Frasier and Kitchen Nightmares repeats on in the background from the same channel’s same schedule; and you go running at the same time on the same days and shower at the same time in the same place; and drink the same wine at the same time to take the same edge off before going to bed in the same bed at the same time with the same book ahead of more of the same tomorrow; then anything slightly different becomes absolutely fucking fascinating. Bin day means I can go out into the back garden on Thursday night and drag the bins round to the front, then Friday means I can repeat the same task in reverse. I look forward to it. Like shaving day – love that, trying to start with a different bit of my face each time to keep the stimulation up. You should see the size of my erection on vacuuming day. And no, not because I use the vacuum cleaner like that. Wouldn’t fit anyway…
Though I will of course never bemoan the opportunity to attend a Championship football match ever again once I am eventually allowed back, I have to say the second tier of English football did make me feel much like this even in normal times. A division of mostly the same teams, with the gaps between the leagues above and below so large that anybody promoted or relegated from it doesn’t tend to stay promoted or relegated from it for long, playing the same type of football. Same managers, same players, same channel balls, same Tuesday night in Blackburn, same headed goal from Lukas Jutkiewicz, same fannying about in the name of progress from Swansea, same Brentford brilliance until it actually matters, same Stoke, same Bristol City, same QPR in sixteenth. Everything the same, rarely – Jorge Mendes’ Wolves, Jean Tigana’s Fulham, Warnock's QPR – anything markedly different from anything we’d seen before, just varying shades of grey. Same sickly sweet platitudes about it being the best, most competitive, most exciting football competition that ever did live based on three or four things that happens in the final four of five hours of a season that lasts nine months, includes 46 games for all entrants, and sees teams facing off against teams not that dissimilar from the one they played previous or the one they’ll play next every four days or so.
It was a bit of a bland slop even when we were in the ground to watch it, and get lost in our little personal melodramas, losing all plot and perspective over perceived injustices and narrowly missed what ifs. I still feel a deep guttural sickness about Nahki Wells-missed penalty to deny us the 4-4 against Birmingham. Now we’re not there to experience even that, the whole thing feels like something of a wasteland.
I bring this up now by way of a sort of apology really, for the Middlesbrough match report. I’d been sceptical of the plans to return supporters to football stadiums this soon but with the “get back to the office you plebs” publicity drive in full flow, and the club actually going as far as naming the date and game we could click through the turnstiles once more, and commencing the enormous logistical operation of socially segregating the stand and balloting for the tickets, I’d allowed the demon hope to set in once again. No it wouldn’t be the same, no the atmosphere wouldn’t be anywhere close to natural, no I wouldn’t be able to sit in my seat of the last 20 years with my friends and all those familiar faces you know and love simply through sitting near them, no I’m not even sure I would have enjoyed it that much but it would have been a step, some progress, another item ticked off, another moment closer to normality. I may have been sitting somewhere else, I may have been masked up, I may not have been able to stand up and yell it, but I could once again call Keith Stroud a cunt within his physical presence.
As discussed last week that was, rather farcically and needlessly, taken away from us in the days leading up to the Boro game. Meanwhile, the Royal Albert Hall will be hosting indoor events from the end of this month. And so I sat there in my group of no more than six in the Crown and Sceptre last weekend and we huddled around our QPR+ Pass on Andy’s iPad and we watched QPR draw 1-1 with Middlesbrough, and as the day wore on and the Peroni soaked in I found myself overcome with a very great sadness. Because we’re no longer making do now, we’re no longer making the best of a bad situation, we’re no longer tiding ourselves over for a bit, we’re no longer in a holding pattern until normality returns – this is normality now. This is football for us now, huddled around a twelve-inch screen, at a table we once danced upon to celebrate promotions, reaching play-off finals, avoiding relegations, and beating Ipswich Town with last minute Tom Hitchcock goals. This is it now, for the foreseeable. Sheffield Wednesday away tomorrow it says here, but it could be AFC The Moon – same iPad, same table, same pub. Always the same. Do you want the options again?
That probably coloured my view of the Middlesbrough game, hence the rather downbeat report you were treated to. I watched it back again at the start of the week, and it really wasn’t as bad as I’d perhaps made out. Nor is Macauley Bonne as good or as bad as people who are claiming he’s good or bad really say. Nor will Albert Adomah be the answer to our prayers, or a total disaster. It’s just in the life of a football fan who follows it 24/7 through the internet, in the life of the ever churning Championship, in the new normal in which we all now live, every slight bit of difference is exaggerated. Not signing a player for a couple of weeks in the transfer window feels like a catastrophe – oh no, 45 goals went out of the team, will we ever score again unless we sign a bajillion forwards right now? Every signing we do make is hyped to standards they can never possibly achieve, and so are likely to later get grief simply for being physically incapable of meeting unrealistic expectations. Every victory is a sure sign of title success, every defeat a harbinger of relegation doom.
In reality, whatever they’ve done, whoever they’ve bought, whoever they’ve sold, whoever the manager has been, whatever style we’ve adopted, whatever the circumstance – QPR have been sixteenth for the best part of four or five years now, in the same way I’ve sat at this lap top and this kitchen table every day for seventh months. What feel like seismic events within that setting are actually just minor deviations. Forgive me my overreactions as I snort myself back awake into this strange existence and subsistence, as opposed to experience and living.
Links >>> Barker chip shot – History >>> Deducted but not destroyed – Interview >>> The strife of Ryan – Podcast >>> Newbie – Referee >>> Sheff Wed Official Website >>> Sheffield Star – Local Paper >>> London Owls – Blog >>> Owls Talk – Message Board
Geoff Cameron Facts No.107 In The Series – Geoff is coordinating the drinks reception, house band and catering for the 2020/21 Ilias Chair coat reveal, brought forward to this week after a sharp turn in the weather.
Team News: Macauley Bonne was confirmed through the door prior to midday which means he is technically available for tomorrow should QPR want to use him. Ryan Manning was again in the U23 team during the week and won’t feature as his contract impasse continues – Lee Wallace is the man in possession though individual mistakes for goals against Coventry and Middlesbrough may open the door to Nico Hamailenen. Seny Dieng is likely to continue in goal with Joe Lumley also apparently stalling on a new deal (are you mad man?), though that feels like mpore a convenient excuse than the Manning situation. Bright Osayi-Samuel got off the mark in that Boro draw and remains in the team with his contract situation now apparently on the verge of being resolved with a renewal – who would have thought that possible two months ago? Dom Ball and Geoff Cameron compete for the holding midfield role, and then it’s two from George Thomas, Little Tom Carroll and Big Bad Luke Amos for the remaining midfield spots with Chair and Dykes making up the side.
Wednesday have a new striker signing of their own to parade tomorrow with Callum Paterson joining from Cardiff ready to attack lots and lots of corners at the near post. Good times. Chey Dunkley arrived from Wigan in the off season with gravy on the lung and is yet to feature. All fit and ready to go apart from that.
Elsewhere: October is one of those weird Championship months where everybody plays six games, but only one of those takes place between now and the 16th. The last round of fixtures before the latest crucial international break starts this evening with newly promoted Cov at home to newly relegated Bournemouth on your Sky tellybox.
Another new arrival back in this league features in the early Saturday fixture too, with Borussia Norwich at home to Wayne’s 24 Hour Beer and Brass. All doesn’t appear overly well in either camp, with Norwich’s big summer intake of 11 new faces failing to shake them from the hangover of 11 straight defeats to end last season. They’re 1-1-1 so far, about to lose Ben Godfrey to Everton (albeit for a hefty £25m), and left star names Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia out of their defeat at Bournemouth last week amidst questions of attitude and focus ahead of rumoured moves to Leeds and elsewhere. The Rams, meanwhile, must be due another one of their famous team building evenings out after starting the year with three defeats from three games. LOSING MAKE WAYNE SAD.
For those of us charged with making sense of this nonsense league before it’s even begun, in the form of a season preview, there are a couple of surprise names up at the top of the fledgling league table. Unfancied Reading have won all three games so far after ripping it up and starting all over again just a fortnight before the campaign began. They face fifth-placed Watford who have set a stall out nice and early for a solid grind back to the Prem – three played, none lost, two scored, none conceded. The Mad Chicken Farmers, with a paper thin squad, have also started with six points from nine and emphatic, high scoring wins against Wycombe and Derby. They’re at home to Cardiff this weekend while Swanselona, in third with seven points, host Miiiiiiiiiillllllllllllllllllllllllllll.
At the other end it’s already looking bleak for Castel Di Sangro, three defeats and no goals scored, only saved from last place by Sheffield Owls’ points deduction. Lutown away represents as good a chance as any to get off the mark although they too have put six points on the board early. Grimley Collier Band await news of manager Gerhard Struber who is in talks over a move to New York Red Bulls ahead of their north-off with Middlesbrough – Neil Warnock thankfully back at work after a Covid scare. Rotherham v Sporting Huddersfield on the undercard there.
And naturally we wish Nottingham Florist’s slimline squad all the luck in the world as they hunt their first goal of the season at the fourth game of asking at home to three from three Bristol City.
Two Sunday games for your delectation, with League Cup quarter finalists Stoke hosting Birmingham City, while Justice League leaders and fellow cup enthusiasts Spartak Hounslow will almost certainly be the best team Preston Knob End have played all season.
Referee: Michael Salisbury, in his first full season on the Championship list, gets a QPR gig for the first time in his career. Some previous with Wednesday in the dim and distant past. Details.
Sheff Wed: The Owls have so far clawed back four of the 12 points they were deducted for FFP shenanigans, showing an identical 1-1-1 record as QPR in the league but still sitting on minus eight. Worth pointing out that not only does the division look significantly weaker than most recent seasons, with a whole clutch of teams seemingly with real potential of going down, but last year Huddersfield survived by three points and four places having taken only two points from their first nine matches so if Wednesday can find three or four wins in the next six or seven games they’d stand a fighting chance. They have, however, been in pretty lousy touch all the way through 2020. Just eight league and cup wins since the turn of the year in 32 games in all comps, and two of those were against QPR at Loftus Road in league and FA Cup. That run has included three separate concessions of five goals, in a 5-0 home loss to Blackburn, 5-0 away defeat to Brentford (best team they played all season TBF) and 5-3 reverse at the fag end of the season to Fulham. Conceding goals at Hillsborough was a big problem for them in the second half of last season, with Preston, West Brom, Derby and Reading all bagging three here and Blackburn getting five. Only Middlesbrough and Birmingham (six) won fewer than Wednesday’s seven home victories in 2019/20 There does look to have been some work done on that. Gary Monk’s side actually kept four clean sheets in a row to start the season, drawing 0-0 with Walsall A in the cup and Watford H in the league, and winning 2-0 at Cardiff on day one then by the same score at Rochdale. However, their last two games have resulted in 2-0 away defeats at Fulham in the Cup and Bristol City in the league and they come into this one without a goal in three matches – hence the arrival of Callum Paterson from Cardiff this week to replace Sam Winnall, Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri and Atdhe Nuhui who all left in the summer.
QPR: It took QPR 19 league games and 21 matches in all comps to keep their first clean sheet last season, but the arrival of Rob Dickie from Oxford helped them notch a shut out at the first time of asking this time around with a 2-0 opening day win against Nottingham Forest. Sadly they’ve since returned to their bad old ways with four goals conceded in a game and a half against Coventry and Middlesbrough, including the obligatory one in each match from set pieces. Only Wigan let in more from deadball situations in 2019/20. Rangers have won three of their last seven visits to Hillsborough, including the last two (both 2-1). They’ve only lost one of their last five visits to this ground. Jordan Hugill scored twice in a 2-1 win here a year ago, one of seven away wins secured across the campaign which was the R’s best total since the 2013/14 promotion season.
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. Last season’s champion Mase offers us this…
“As long as we continue to give away as many clear-cut chances as we do from set pieces (and in open play), we should expect to concede. The hosts will also want to erase their points deduction as soon as possible, and our generous defence will be an ideal facilitator for that.”
Mase’s Prediction: Sheff Wed 2-1 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes
LFW’s Prediction: Sheff Wed 2-2 QPR. Scorer – Lyndon Dykes
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Letters from Wiltshire #11 by wessex_exile
So, what’s happening in the world outside of coronavirus? Well, the world collectively holds it breath waiting for the outcome of the US presidential election, and what may transpire if the result doesn’t go the way of white supremacists, our own government votes itself a handsome pay rise, then votes against free meals for our most impoverished children during half term, and thousands protest in Poland over new laws that ban abortion in almost all circumstances. What the f*ck…
Letters from Wiltshire #09 by wessex_exile
There’s enough doom and gloom about concerning the coronavirus pandemic to last several lifetimes, and let’s face it, 2020 really does suck. I’m pretty sure we’re all in need of some positivity right now, something to set our sights on, a goal if you will. Mine came to me in a blinding flash of inspiration as I prepared my wake-up mug of caffeine this morning – never, in all my years of following Colchester United, have I got even close to watching every single match of a season. I suspect I’m not alone in that, even diehards like noah must miss the occasional one or two each season. Kind of thanks to coronavirus (bizarre huh) and the relaxed approach to match streaming on Saturdays, I’m currently on 8/8, today being the 9th. Why not, I thought, make it all season without missing a game? There’s a lot of ifs, buts and maybes in that, not least if we do emerge from this crisis before the end of the season and the streaming gets canned, but for now I have my goal…
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
Welcome to Matchday #4 everyone, with the U’s making a reasonably solid start to the league campaign, undefeated, two clean sheets, only one goal conceded and sitting comfortably just outside the play-offs. I’d probably feel more comfortable if we were scoring a few more at the other end, so it’s good to see Chuck getting back into action. The big news that’s grabbing most of the column inches now is of course that President Trump is in hospital with coronavirus. Now there are many out there in the social media world who consider this somewhat poetic irony, given his (mixed) messaging on the subject since the crisis began, and there are more than a few wishing that it ends very badly for Trump. I’m not one of them, but I was reminded this morning of a famous quote “I have never killed anyone, but I have read some obituary notices with great satisfaction”. Often misattributed to Mark Twain, it was Clarence Darrow in his 1932 work The Story of My Life. For those, like me, who consider Inherit the Wind probably the best courtroom drama ever made, Darrow was the lawyer in the real Scopes Monkey Trial.
Letters from Wiltshire #06 by wessex_exile
Here we are again, back in the (now) much-maligned EFL Trophy and a home tie against West Ham United U21s, and I think probably our last chance to stay in the competition? Robbie’s most recent rallying cry has been to “buy, buy, buy” when it comes to iFollow streams, and with the likelihood of supporters getting to matches receding, making streaming probably our only viable revenue stream, who can blame him. As an exile, I was never expecting I’d have many opportunities to see the U’s in the flesh this season, so he’s rather preaching to the converted as far as I’m concerned, but I do like the loyalty scheme he’s put together.
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