|Queens Park Rangers 4 v 1 Sheffield Wednesday|
Saturday, 10th April 2021 Kick-off 15:00
Standards – Preview
Friday, 9th Apr 2021 19:03 by Clive Whittingham
Warbs Warburton has finally showed his hand in the Todd Kane controversy, returning to exactly the sort of 'respect' and 'integrity' themes we’ve come to expect of him as our manager – worth bearing in mind if you’re hoping for a hail of experimental team selections across the last seven games.
QPR (14-11-14 WLWDWL 12th) v Shef Wed (11-8-20 LLDWLW 23rd)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday April 10, 2021 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – bright and breezy >>> Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium, Loftus Road, London, W12
Kane is risen. He is risen indeed. Or, in modern day QPR parlance, “back on the grass”, after missing the trip to Nottingham Forest with - *checks press release* - a “stomach upset”. Get well soon Todd.
Let’s have this right from the start… Playing for Chelsea, managing Chelsea, supporting Chelsea, being Chelsea, does not preclude you from success at Queens Park Rangers. Hell, it doesn’t preclude you from admiration, adulation, adoration, outright legendary status in W12. Dave Sexton, who so nearly brought a league championship to Loftus Road as manager in 1976, was ex-Chelsea. Dave Webb, part of that team, was Chelsea. Terry Venables was Chelsea before playing for QPR with distinction, and managing them with such ground-breaking deft and flair that it not only restored Rangers to the top flight and took them to the FA Cup final, but won him the manager’s role at Barcelona. Steve Wicks, ex Chelsea, great servant, great song, went on and played for Chelsea again after two successful spells with us. Clive Wilson arrived here from Chelsea as a midfielder before becoming the best left back never to play for England. Paul Furlong, 8,000 QPR fans absolutely beside themselves singing his name at Hillsborough, very much ex-Chelsea. John Spencer, one of the best finishers I’ve ever seen, 20 goals in his first 29 QPR appearances, came from Chelsea. Gavin Peacock did Chelsea in between two fine stints with us. Michael Mancienne and Jimmy Smith, vital cogs in relegation battles that, if lost, could have been the death of the club.
This isn’t a small-minded, backward-thinking, bigoted, sectarian load of old Rangers v Celtic we’re talking about here. The late, great, Ray Wilkins not only played for Chelsea as their youngest ever captain, he outwardly and publicly supported them. They were his club. Did it stick in the craw a little to hear him quite so partisan towards them in his latter years as a pundit? Of course. Did it detract from the magnificent service he gave to QPR as a player, arguably some of the finest of his career, that nearly earned him an England recall well into his 30s? Nope. Did we enjoy the multiple assists, the deft through-balls, the carving apart of champions-elect Leeds, the 30-yard chipped finishes against Sheff Wed and Wimbledon, any less, because he was Chelsea? Did. We. Fuck. We revered the guy. A wonderful footballer, an even better man.
It is, however, a fine line to tread. When it doesn’t go well, through lack of ability, lack of fitness, lack of effort, or whatever else, the Chelsea thing can become a thing real damn quick. Ben Sahar, Jose Bosingwa, 'Flash' Walker, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Mark Hughes… Early days Paul Furlong was able to turn it around in more spectacular fashion than just about anybody else, but if you’re Chelsea and it doesn’t go well for you here it’s not a great distance to travel, very few changes required, to reach Chelsea Cunt, and once you’re there it’s a long way back. It’s like Upminster: fall asleep on the District Line, there before you know it; getting back… Christopher Nolan film.
Because we’ve been there. We’ve been there in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We’ve seen their National Front magazines being sold. We’ve been stuck in various far-off corners of their decaying stadium, trapped behind Ken Bates’ fences. We’ve sat next to them giving it the big ‘un in Ellerslie Road. We've waited for Kerry Dixon's penalty to land. We’ve watched as several million people around the world have suddenly turned up in their colours, at a club that once pulled 8,000 people for a Premier League fixture with Coventry, pretending they were there all along, coincidentally just after some magically oil-rich Russian decided to use the place as a laundry. We were there when John Terry called our player a “fucking black cunt” and was punished with a four-game ban (a whole one game more than Charlie Austin has this week for treading on a Nottingham Forest player) and at the subsequent return fixture where they put him on the front of the programme for our black players to see, and hung a flag from the stand proclaiming him a "captain, leader and legend". It might not be Rangers v Celtic, but it’s not fucking tiddlywinks either. We see them. And you do have to be careful if you’re coming here from there, and hoping to make a success of it.
Todd Kane should have been on a losing footing to begin with. He is/was the epitome of modern Chelsea: been there his whole life; hoarded quickly into an academy system designed to warehouse overpaid talent away from rivals rather than with any hope of ever actually using it; loaned out multiple times into places he couldn’t do any damage (Preston, Blackburn, Blackburn again, Bristol City, Forest because of course, Nijmegen, Groningen, mighty Oxford, Hull); and then, suddenly mid-20s, bombed out altogether with Chelsea safe in the knowledge that he’s not going to turn up at Spurs, Dortmund, Man City etc. and both make them look stupid and cost them £40m to buy back. That is the purpose of the Chelsea academy, and he sat there happy as a pig in shit while it paid for his very fast, very high-powered cars, though admitedly with all those FA Youth Cup memories to tell the grandkids about.
At QPR he replaced Darnell Furlong, son of aforementioned legend, who’d been at the club literally since he was a sperm, and captained various storied QPR youth teams to far flung successes with a sort of weirdly calm, wise gravitas, usually associated with old, bearded, side characters in films. Lovely Darnell with his back story, and his Premier League debut at 17, and his brown eyes, and his intelligent interview answers, and his physique, and his versatility. QPR for 20 years Darnell, QPR captain-in-waiting Darnell, QPR testimonial Darnell, booked for ten minutes on the podcast and stays for an hour because he loves the place so much Darnell. Flogged to West Brom for a paltry £1.5m, just when athletic wing backs were becoming a big thing, promptly promoted to the Premier League, but only after crying on his Loftus Road return.
The club calmly explained, doing that when there’s a Chelsea right back available for free on a four-year contract makes financial sense, and we just all sort of nodded along, and accepted the working out, and made positive noises about Kane’s flying debut off the bench in a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield. If Kane, fingers in ears, thinks he’s had it bad from the crowd here – given there hasn’t even been a crowd here for more than a year now – he might want to let Darnell’s dad put an arm around him and tell him some stories.
It was, it seemed, belatedly, just starting to go right for Todd at QPR in recent weeks. The switch to wing backs worked for the whole team, but especially for him. The horrible exposure of his dire defensive ability, as seen most pointedly in Huddersfield’s first and Wycombe’s equaliser in the games there before Christmas, happened less with a switch to three centre backs and his move higher and wider. The consistency in his crossing remains so atrocious I feel a parental need to check in on David Bardsley a couple of times a week and make sure he’s ok, but with the added opportunities presented by the system he has produced some beauties (throw enough shit at a wall?), most notably for goals at Birmingham and Bristol City. There was a goal too, at home to Bournemouth, to go with earlier excellent finishes against Cardiff this season and Millwall last. Maybe this would work out after all. Furs Snr could also tell him a few redemption stories as well.
Then the Chelsea thing happened again. The Bertie big potatoes, Tim Lovejoy, John Terry, smug, superior, we’ve always been fucking great, we’ve always been here, we’ve never had 8,000 people at home games watching Frank Sinclair fall over his fat arse, attitude that they’re all somehow better than this, took hold. The fingers in the ears thing? Fine. I can buy that. I’ve written on here before how toxic social media is in general, and around QPR, I’d probably have given it one of those as well if I was him. The interview with The S*n where he talked about all the offers he’d had to go to Ajax, Dortmund, Sheff Utd… Marge Simpson noise. You’re not better than us mate, that’s why you’re here. The subsequent second interview with youth-skewing QPR website R Generation (who, as bright boys, will fucking catch you out if you think they’re here to ask you such mindless, driblesome shite as your five-a-side team and who’s got the best dressing room mega bantz) less so again. Thinking you’re better than the player in your position – absolutely fine, competitive industry. Boasting about nonsense £13m moves to Bramall Lane, dismissing a youngster like Osman Kakay going all the way up to “the Scottish second division” just to play some football as proof that he’s beneath you, the farthest thing from fine. I’ll take a Bright Osayi-Samuel playing 150 games for Blackpool, or Osman Kakay going to the other end of the country to play for Partick Thistle, over this “academy education” bullshit anyday, even before you started running the boy down for it.
Kakay was already back in the team for Reading and Coventry before Kane’s bout of the trots apparently ruled him out of the Forest defeat. By first of all giving Kane to a young fans website when he’d already made some questionable remarks to The S*n, then demanding/pleading with R Generation to bolt the stable door and remove the interview with the horse long since fucked off for a game of poker with the rest of the ladz, then behaving as if he’d simply vanished from the face of the earth last weekend, the club rather made a rod for its own back. Unusual, the PR from the club has been cautious and absolutely spot on for years now. Kakay at wing back and Sam Field removed from his excellent midfield combo with Stefan Johansen to fill in where Kakay could/should have been in a 3-1 defeat at a crap Forest side rather brought the whole thing to an unnecessarily unhappy head.
Warbs Warburton’s pre-match Warbleton did finally include some Kane content this week. To the written press, of which West London Sport is the pre-eminent member, he say: “I’m very aware of what was said. But what we speak about as a squad stays private. We’ll never disclose that. For me personally, amongst the squad and amongst the staff, respect is paramount. We’re in a very competitive business but it’s important to me that we all speak with respect. Speak our minds; speak openly and honestly, but in a respectful way. That’s how I’ve always approached any job I’ve been in.”
Absolutely word perfect. How far we’ve come to reach a manager for whom “respect” and “integrity” are the standards he lives and operates by. From Neil Warnock, who set his stall by “muck and nettles” and “Sharon and Tarbs”, to Sparkless Hughes and his “meticulous preparation” and “business of winning Premier League football matches”, and ‘Arry’s “it’s about good players” and “bonus games”, to Jimmy’s “it is what it is”, and Schteve’s Quality, Professional, Relentless powerpoint presentations, and now Warbs Warburton, a robotic man programmed to reward standards. Standards of behaviour, performance, fitness, and respect.
Todd Kane was disrespectful, and therefore he doesn’t play. You could shit on Warbs’ front lawn as long as it was done in a respectful manner. Is there anything he hates more than disrespect? The idea that the remaining seven matches of this season may be used as some sort of experiment, with all manner of youth teamers thrown in, formations tried, games thrown, results compromised, makes me smile. On the final day of last season, at West Brom, when quite a substantial chunk of our support base would quite like us to have lost just to piss off the foreman at LegoLand Kew, when one bad tackle on Ebere Eze would have cost the club £20m when it most desperately needed it, Warbs picked the strongest possible side, got a performance, and came away from a promotion chasing team with a point. Integrity of the competition, you see.
It may have cost us not having Kane at Forest, or Manning for the whole season, or Bright since January, but it comes back to you in the end if you keep doing the right things for the right reasons. QPR, cutting budgets, selling their best players, passing on deals for Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill, shaking hands with Bright and Manning, are getting better regardless.
Integrity, respect, standards. For all his failings, eccentricities, and things that wind you up, it’s a strong three pillars to stand on as a man, never mind a football manager.
The longer Warbs is here, the better I think he is for us.
Links >>> The 88 slow start – History >>> We’re doomed – Interview >>> Brooks in charge – Referee >>> Adomah and away – Podcast >>> Sheff Wed Official Website >>> Sheffield Star – Local Paper >>> London Owls – Blog >>> Owls Talk – Message Board >>> War Of The Monster Trucks – Fanzine
We were very sorry to hear of the death of South Africa Road regular Derek Milton, who first attended QPR games with his father in 1947, and also had stints as the UK Ambassador to Haiti and High Commissioner to Jamaica in the 1980s and 1990s. A tribute has been posted on our message board.
Below the fold
Team News: Charlie Austin sits out this one, Rotherham on Tuesday and Middlesbrough next Saturday after being found guilty of violent conduct retrospectively after the Forest defeat last week. The impact Charlie has made since returning has played a large part in transforming us from a relegation candidate into a top half side. He was always going to be fondly remembered at Rangers for his first spell here, but to come blazing in through the door at the last minute on a rescue mission as successful as this one will rightly cement his position in QPR folklore whether he stays beyond his loan or not. But we shouldn’t shy away from calling that what it is – blatant, stupid, with zero possible gain, and now maximum possible punishment. To be punished retrospectively all four officials have to submit reports saying they missed it entirely, and given the position of the linesman, fourth official and our old mate Keith Stroud all mere yards away and looking straight at it, that’s little short of a lie. Stroud’s punishment for missing such an appalling incident, worthy of a three game ban, while staring straight at it, is…. another big Championship appointment this weekend between Barnsley and Middlesbrough. Lyndon Dykes, Mac Bonne and Charlie Kelman stand by to fill the main striking role as a one, or a two together, with Albert Adomah’s latest assist at Forest presumably moving him into contention with Ilias Chair and Chris Willock for that second attacker role if we stick with the same system.
Happier news elsewhere with Jordy De Wijs apparently fit to slide back into the middle of the back three and continue his quest for a permanent deal. Geoff Cameron has also returned to training if not and so as long as Todd has very respectfully returned from his most disrespectful bout of the trots, we have a fully fit squad to choose from bar long termers Luke Amos, Little Tom Carroll and Charlie Owens.
Matt Penney dropped out of last week’s Cardiff rodgering at the last minute with a migraine, after starting Darren Moore’s first two games in charge. He was replaced by Kadeem Harris, who then subsequently dropped out of a midweek U23 game he was meant to be playing in at the last minute as well. AC 12 on the case if either or neither feature this weekend, which Moore says they well ma’am. Moore himself will watch the game from home because of Plague, and from there he has a choice to make between keeper Joe Wildsmith (who has a dodgy history against QPR), and Kieran Westwood who is back from a rib injury and now seven off 200 appearances for Sheff Wed with seven games left to play. No return to Loftus Road for Mass Luongo, who has decided, sensibly, that he’s best off out of it. Dunkley, Im-Awful and Dele-Bashiru the long termers. Anybody who catches sight of a real, live Jack Marriott is asked to telephone Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 – his family, and people who wonder why neither Derby nor Sheff Wed (two of the four lowest scorers in the league) have use for him, are worried.
Same team as Monday likely, given it won five-fucking-nil.
Elsewhere: Four thumping xG pummellings in a row has Justice League leaders Spartak Hounslow on a roll at just the right point of the season, and the good news just keeps coming with Thomas Frank “100% certain” of victory at Preston Knob End this weekend, where they’ll almost certainly be the best team the managerless Whites have faced all season. Hundred? Hundred’s alright I guess, FiveThirtyEight.com had them at 238% likely to win that one but whatever.
“We have been in touch with the Premier League and made our feelings clear. From our perspective the Premier League has two options: they either award promotions based upon points gained in the Parallel League of Righteous Justice and Footballing Truth - which is our preference - or they expand the Premier League to 21 sides. This would incorporate the three clubs promoted via the flawed system of three points for an actual physical win, as well as the team that is shown statistically to be the deserving champions using metrics other than goals scored/conceded within the 90 minutes.” – Audrey Roberts.
The naysayers, luddites and backward-thinking troglodytes who insist on judging football matches on the old fashioned arbitrary method of counting up the actual goals scored actually have Borussia Norwich top of the league on 87 points, and mathematically capable of sealing promotion as soon as tomorrow with a thirteenth game unbeaten and eleventh victory in that run away to Wayne Rooney’s Derby County. Sporting Huddersfield, as they do for everybody except us, kindly rolled over for a 7-0 defeat in the week. Watford have lost one and won 11 of their last 13 and are somehow, unjustly, nine points clear in second ahead of tonight’s televised match with Reading. Frank says: “There is no outstanding team in this league”.
The rest of the play-off picture is heating up nicely with Barnsley now just two points off third following a 2-1 win at Lutown and ahead of their home date on the Thirteenth Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour this weekend. Neil, shock horror agreeing this week to give it “one more” last season in football with Boro in 2021/22. Swanselona have hit a brick wall at the worst possible moment, losing four in a row ahead of a tricky Saturday lunchtime trip to Miiiiiiiiiiilllllllllllllllllllll who have steadily come back into form themselves and climbed back into the top half of the table on a run of three consecutive wins. All four teams now look vulnerable to Bournemouth finally getting their act together, coming home with a wet sail on a run of three consecutive victories and with an absolute home gimme against Coventry City – just two away wins all year – this weekend. Cardiff’s surprise thrashing at Sheff Wed seems to count them out, and they’re at home to the Mad Chicken Farmers this weekend with Tony Mowbray under mounting pressure on a run of one win in 14.
At the other end Wycombe have suddenly won two in a row but now have just six fixtures to make up a nine-point gap on Birmingham and Coventry. For now, their home game with Lutown remains merely part of a prolonged funeral procession. Their latest win came at Rotherham, a savage blow to the South Yorkshire side’s hopes of surviving. They’re third bottom, seven points away from Brum and Cov with multiple games in hand on both but really struggling with schedule and health of the squad. Their Saturday-Tuesday-Thursday-Sunday week, which includes a game in hand against us, and a six pointer at home to Coventry, starts at hapless Huddersfield tomorrow. All four of their games feel very winnable this week, but it’s time to piss or get off the pot.
Birmingham with two wins and a draw from four feel like they’re going to have enough for another spawny survival act under Lee Bowyer, and Stoke have nothing to play for at St Andrew’s tomorrow. Bristol City are already talking about whether they’ll bother keeping Nigel Pearson on for next season, and their home match with Nottingham Florist is barely of interest to actual fans of the club. We do, of course, as always, wish them luck in getting the cast of a thousand footballers down to Bristol safely though.
Referee: John Brooks from Leicestershire, who has a fairly bloody history with this fixture, is the man in the middle on Saturday. Details and gory pictures.
QPR: Playing twice over the Easter weekend produced the perfect microcosm of everything good and bad with this Queens Park Rangers side. So slick, quick, fluid and threatening against Coventry, so laboured, slow and vulnerable at Nottingham Forest. Rangers have won 14 times this season and have followed seven of those with a defeat in the game immediately afterwards. The R’s have four wins, four losses, and two draws in their last ten games, with no streak longer than two games, highlighting the naturally inconsistent nature of a team sitting twelfth in a 24 team league on a record of 14-11-14. Those four wins are as many as QPR managed in the entire first half of the season mind – they’ve gone from four victories in 24 league and cup games to start the season to ten wins from 17 matches since the turn of the year. At Loftus Road the R’s won three of their first 13 games this year but come into this match on a run of six wins and two defeats from the last eight home games. Ilias Chair’s start at Nottingham Forest was his hundredth appearance for the club. Lyndon Dykes has gone from no goals in 24 appearances to two in 144 minutes for QPR. Only Bristol City (30) are on longer waits for the award of a penalty than Sheff Wed (28) and QPR (16) with our last coming away at Norwich over Christmas. Albert Adomah has made 13 sub appearances and no starts since Norwich away, a total of 186 minutes of action in which he has contributed one goal and four assists.
Sheff Wed: The Owls went from scoring six goals in ten matches to five in one with their Easter Monday demolition of Cardiff, in which they were 3-0 up at half time. It was the first time they have scored more than two goals in a game all season and was only a second win in 11 games, a run that included seven consecutive defeats between February 16 and March 14, four of them to nil. It also nudged them above Wycombe, Birmingham and Derby for goals scored in the league this season having previously managed the fewest – 28 up to 33. Wednesday have lost every single game this year where the opposition have scored first – 20 defeats, only Rotherham (21) and Wycombe (23) have lost more, and even with their six point deduction back they’d still be in the bottom three. Their total of four away wins this season (Cardiff, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Barnsley) is better only than Huddersfield, Wycombe (three each), and Coventry (two) all of whom QPR have played at Loftus Road within the last four fixtures here (W2, L1). Only Luton (nine) have scored fewer goals on their travels than Sheff Wed (13) and only Wycombe (37) have conceded more than their 37, though they did snap a run of five away wins on the spin with a surprise 2-1 victory at in form Barnsley prior to the international break, before then going down 1-0 at Watford in their last away game. They are a rather depressing 4-2-14 away from home this season overall – nobody has lost as many away games.
Prediction: We’re indebted to The Art of Football for once again agreeing to sponsor our Prediction League and provide prizes. You can get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Let’s see what last season’s champion Mase offers us this week…
“We've been solid at home this calendar year, and although Wednesday have been improving lately - including a demolition of Cardiff earlier this week, their six point deduction looks like it could be decisive in their survival this season. They need to go for it, and even without Charlie Austin I think we will have the nous to pick them off and shore up our top half berth.”
Mase’s Prediction: QPR 1-0 Sheff Wed. Scorer – Ilias Chair
LFW’s Prediction: QPR 2-1 Sheff Wed. Scorer – Rob Dickie
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Letters from Wiltshire #47 by wessex_exile
Here we are, at the penultimate game of the season, and our last game in front of the cardboard U’s faithful at the JobServe. It has been a long, difficult, and definitely strange season, which frankly I’ll be glad to see the back of. That’ll we’ll be here again in August is definitely going to be something to celebrate, but I suspect we’re facing a summer of significant rebuilding both on the pitch, and possibly off it too. I won’t be the only one, but the biggest oddity for me has been being able to watch every single game – not always easy viewing, but something I’ve never done before, and probably never will again. But it doesn’t really make up for not being there in person, the long train journey away-days, meeting fellow U’s and other supporters, and of course sharing a beer or three. Fingers-crossed we can return to the terraces in 2021/22.
Letters from Wiltshire #46 by wessex_exile
That was quite a week for us all then. In the space of four short but remarkably tense days we have gone from having to take shoes and socks off to check how many more points we need to guarantee survival, or whether we would even achieve it, to breathing a huge sigh of relief knowing we’re almost there. But close of play this afternoon, whether by our own actions or the failure of others, I am sure survival will be confirmed. Of course, Tuesday night not only all but guaranteed it, it also virtually condemned local rivals Southend United to non-league football for the foreseeable. Looking at the host of fully professional former football league sides currently battling it out for the two promotion slots out of the National league (including Hartlepool, Torquay, Stockport, Wrexham, Chesterfield and Notts County), it is not going to be a walk in the park for Southend to return any day soon.
Letters from Wiltshire #45 by wessex_exile
Tonight, Colchester United face Southend United in what may not necessarily be the most important game of our respective histories (though it’s certainly very close), but is almost certainly the most important Essex derby ever. However this season pans out, by the end of it there’ll either be only one team in Essex, or worst case scenario, none at all. If the U’s win, then Southend will be 9pts behind with just three games to go, and a minimum of a -12 goal difference to overturn if they want to overtake us. Certainly mathematically possible, but that would rely on a remarkable turnaround in their form, form that they’ve shown precious little sign of achieving so far this season. The stalking horse is Grimsby, with their game in hand, who have rather belatedly shown an improvement in form, so their match against automatic promotion chasing Morecambe tonight is equally important, particularly if we want to avoid the unthinkable, with both Essex clubs dropping out of the league.
Letters from Wiltshire #44 by wessex_exile
So here we are, as the nation mourns the passing of His Royal Highness, Duke of Edinburgh, the U’s face the first of two season-defining moments, with our late kick-off match at home to Walsall. Before then, no doubt many will have been focused on events elsewhere, not least the early kick-offs for Grimsby (at home to promotion-chasing Bolton Wanderers), and particularly Essex rivals Southend United, who faced a tricky visit to Exeter City – still very much in the hunt for at least a play-off spot. As I finalise this blog, I know that Grimsby have beaten Bolton 2-1, and Southend earned a credible 0-0 draw in the West Country. More to the point, the U’s will know this too. Whilst I can’t help but feel that will ought to be to our advantage, it surely must also put additional pressure on a squad whose confidence is paper-thin. We must hope that Hayden Mullins, assisted by Paul Tisdale, get their heads right, and send the lads out this evening fired up with self-belief.
Letters from Wiltshire #43 by wessex_exile
Well, that has been a lively week for Colchester United in the press, and not least for Robbie Cowling, with not one, or two, but kind of three club announcements in rapid succession to try and put the record straight. First, we had Tribunalgate, which certainly looked very poor according to the initial press reports, but which on closer inspection when some of the ‘fact gaps’ were filled in wasn’t anywhere near the story that some would have us believe. Then of course we had the ‘leak’ that the U’s were about to go into administration, despite all the reassurances we’d been given in previous statements from Robbie. Not so said Robbie again, and particularly angry at what he believed to be the source of the story. Hence statement #3, repeating his assurances, but this time after passing through the lawyer filter to remove his thoughts on the source. To paraphrase Robbie’s conclusion to that statement, let’s hope we can all have a day off from this sort of media shenanigans and enjoy our game at Oldham tonight!
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