Forward Thinking

With the 2015/16 football season edging ever nearer Queens Park Rangers find themselves short in key areas just days before the season starts. It has to be questioned just what the club was thinking when we decided to loan out Steven Caulker to Southampton. A deal that makes little sense because it’s left us even shorter of options in defence. On the other hand it may be argued that it cuts the wage bill and the club does receive a small fee for it (£1.5m). Having signed James Perch on Sunday morning this signalled a real intent from the QPR board that they wanted to strengthen at the back, with the former Wigan man being ideal as he can play at right back and centre back as well as being able to sit infront of the back four. I have little doubt that James Perch will be a fantastic player for our football club and will help to bring some stability. However we’re still short in several positions. The signing of Paul Konchesky drew mixed feelings among QPR fans, a vastly experienced left back (also John Terry’s best man). I think that Konchesky is a decent signing for a club like us, although short of pace now at the age of 34 he still has the bite that we require. This morning the R’s signed Grant Hall from Spurs. The 23 year old impressed me during Sundays friendly to Serie A side Atalanta and looks confident in playing from the back. However there is still work to be done so I have identified a list of options that I think would be suitable for the club and would work around our shoe string budget.

Goalkeeper- Dan Bentley:

2015/08/img_7682.jpg Having lost one young prospect in Alex McCarthy to Crystal Palace for a measly £3.5m, Bentley would be an ideal replacement. QPR have already had a couple of bids knocked back from Southend but remain keen to get their man. QPR will have to pay in the region of £2m if they want Bentley’s signature.

Right Back- Danny Simpson:

2015/08/img_7680.jpg One that I’m certain QPR fans wouldn’t mind seeing back in a hooped shirt. Simmo made 34 appearances for the club in our play off winning campaign before being sold to Leicester the following season for a fee in the region of £2m. Simpson now finds himself out of favour at Leicester and could be on the move.

Centre Back- Tim Ream:

2015/08/img_7681.jpg Rangers had a £1m bid knocked back for the versatile American on Tuesday. Ream can play anywhere across the back four and is vastly experienced having made 112 appearances for Bolton, meaning that he knows the Championship well.

Left Winger- Jesse Lingard:

2015/08/img_7683.jpg Not really a position that we need to be strengthening but the 22 year old Manchester United winger is set to leave the club with United willing to accept a bid in the region of £2.5m. Lingard has been on loan at several championship clubs, proving his quality whilst doing so. With bags of pace and bags of ability Rangers should definitely look at signing the England U21 international.

Striker- Dwight Gayle:

2015/08/img_7684.jpg Having signed Connor Wickham, Gayle has fallen down the pecking order at Crystal Palace. Gayle was signed by Palace for a then club record of £4.5m in 2013. Gayle has showed glimpses of quality for Palace, scoring 12 goals in 48 games but has failed to cement a place in their starting line up. At 25 years old Gayle is just the type of striker that QPR are looking for, young and hungry and knows where the goal is. No doubt Gayle is capable of scoring 15-20 goals in the Championship. Gayle would be an ideal replacement for Charlie Austin and QPR’s interest has been reported along with Middlesbrough and Bournemouth’s. However Palace are looking for a fee in the region of £10m. QPR would have to sell to gain the funds to buy Gayle. With the end of the transfer coming around the corner so I hope to see a few more deals completed before the window slams shut. Tony, if you’re reading this you know what to do! Roll on Charlton away, come on you Rs!

Last minute depression, survival aggression and Chris Ramsey progression.

Wrote on Sunday – My thoughts on the club following our harsh 1-0 defeat to the rentboys. For once I had too much to say to fit in a series of tweets. Follow us – @TBATW_ on twitter.

Last minute depression

Consistently conceding late on in games is certainly a trait unwanted in any standard of football. In the Premier League it’s not unwanted, it’s suicidal. Queens Park Rangers have conceded late goals in a staggering 10 games so far this season. How many points has it cost us? I calculate it to be ELEVEN. The late goals conceded mean that we are still scrapping for survival rather than already planning ahead to back-to-back campaigns in the premier league. I’d be in dreamland if a QPR side ‘already had their flip-flops on’ during mid April because that would have meant we had done it the easy way. Unfortunately we’re doing it the hard way (again). Sunday April 12th was another chance to climb to safety. Nothing short of the most important and most anticipated game of the season, Chelsea at home. Unfortunately though yet more last-minute heartbreak as Fabregas, who epitomises the amount of loyalty in football today, wrongfully gave the Chelsea bastards all three points. Rob Green gets the finger pointed at for the goal but then again he’s won us far more points this season than he arguably lost us today. I’m sure our club will be punished for the actions of a few heroes situated in the Q,P,R blocks. To whoever threw that lighter at Ivanovic I ask one question, why couldn’t it have been something heavier? I thought the John Terry chants were brilliant and Sky will be delighted they chose a boring game which the people at home will remember for hearing “Terry you’re a c**t” booming out in their living rooms.

Survival aggression

Our performance was superb. No QPR fan will be going home tonight feeling sick knowing that their teams been out played in the West London derby. I go home tonight knowing that the eleven players who put on the blue and white hoops today gave absolutely everything they could for the badge. They understood how much it meant to the fans and they showed no fear at all. Chelsea were made to look ordinary at best. Arguably the leagues best player, Eden Hazard, was bullied off the ball continuously. Chelsea players found themselves surrounded every time they had the ball within 30 yards of our goal and we managed to keep up the aggression and desire throughout the 90 minutes. Joey Barton managed to put together the most energetic and tenacious performance I’ve seen at Loftus Road by a QPR player in a while. Since returning from his ban following yet another act of stupidity he has encouraged determination amongst the dressing room. To me it appears as though he’s keen to redeem himself and finally understands what significance his stupidity has to us after being at the club for three seasons. Sandro was also excellent today in showing how to tackle in a derby game and it damaged us when he had to be subbed off. Clint Hill unsurprisingly made tackle of the day for his all-out-wipeout on Willian. Cleanly getting the ball whilst being able to clatter the Brazilian with both feet made it a perfect derby day tackle. Charlie Austin became a QPR legend for life for throwing Terry on the floor, in front of the Loft, leaving the scumbag humiliated. The type of aggression shown to fight back at Villa in midweek and the desire to take the game to Chelsea today showed that Queens Park Rangers are a team that many pundits are now questioning their decision to write them off. Obviously Paul Merson will still predict a heavy QPR loss every week after his mate’s departure because he ‘had people inside the club against him’. I will hold my hand up and say that after the game vs Palace I was preparing for the Championship and I assume many QPR fans who also went to Selhurst Park on that Saturday afternoon also just wanted the season to end.

Chris Ramsey progression

Back in October I wrote an article wanting Redknapp out following a poor start to the season (4 points in 7 games). I regret wanting Tony Pulis as his long-term replacement however it was evident that under Redknapp we were quite simply not good enough. In the article it mentioned “we lack everything a team at the bottom needs to get out of safety” and if it wasn’t evident enough in the early games then our away performance vs Burnley confirmed it. Of course the excuses remained. Adel Taarabt was three stone overweight, we had 12 players turn up at the start of pre-season, Harry’s knee is sore, Sandro has been out injured, we finished lowest out of the promoted clubs last season, Harry doesn’t read the papers, Zamora can only do 60 minutes, Fabio Borini wanted £90,000 a week, we lost Loic Remy. Do I need to mention anymore? However under Chris Ramsey how many excuses have you heard as to why things aren’t perfect? Could you imagine how long Redknapp would be moaning about having to play Karl Henry at left midfield vs Chelsea. The man now is charge of Queens Park Rangers Football Club is no longer an overrated manager looking to avoid complete humiliation before he finally retires to his home along the south coast. Instead in charge of my football club is a man with something to prove. Ramsey believes he finally has the opportunity to prove what he’s had the desire to do for years. This leaves us with a manager not sitting around waiting for his list of problems to magically go away. It leaves us with a manager that is proactive, not reactive. When Leroy Fer and Richard Dunne are ruled out for 10 weeks each there is sound of Ramsey crying about it. Instead the reaction is how can it be fixed and that it isn’t the end of the world. Despite no points picked up at home in five games under Ramsey so far I still feel confident of our upcoming games against West Ham and Newcastle. Compare that with the optimism levels following the first five away defeats under Redknapp and it’s quite a contrast. Our side under Ramsey has changed brilliantly. He’s given confidence into a player who looked like he could be leaving in January (Matty Phillips) and now he’s one of the most dangerous players in the league. We now go to teams away from home and aim to score first with the intention of then building on our lead. Our performance vs Villa showed a side that really wanted the retain its Premier League status. What I see in Ramsey is a man doing his best to succeed with what he’s got. Our style of football may not be something to saviour and our depth in many positions is very bare. Whatever the outcome of this season I would give him the job permanently because he’s desperate to achieve and has the hunger we haven’t seen in Redknapp or Hughes. The integration of the youth system into the team is something that will give the club a better future. One thing is clear. Despite the man only having a temporary short-term contract, Chris Ramsey is keen to improve the long-term future of QPR.

Redknapp – Time to go

Seven games played and only four points on the board. QPR’s performances this season just haven’t been good enough. We lack everything a team at the bottom needs to get out of safety and for me and many other R’s fans, the time is right for Harry Redknapp to go.

Yet again today we went a goal down early and at this moment the game is lost. Before the goal went in and after the goal went in we had no plan. A manager as experienced as Redknapp playing a premier league game with no game plan (again). Suicidal tactics that are inexcusable in any level of football. If that doesn’t speak volumes then i don’t know what does. Glenn Hoddle gets brought in to work with the side on the new 3-5-2 system and players like Isla are brought in to suit the system. Yet after three games the formation has been abandoned. We go back to a back four but with no right back in the squad because our only one got sold to Leicester. Once again, inexcusable management from someone most people wanted as the current England manager.

Tony Fernandes asks for stability. But what he desires for is for QPR to be consistently good. At the minute all we show is a consistently bad performing QPR side. If he sticks by his “stability” values then Redknapp will remain in charge but only so Fernandes isn’t made to look a fool in the press. If he has enough courage he’ll fire Redknapp knowing that he’s saving the club from an immediate return to the Championship.

Looking at our Twitter notifications tonight (@blueandwhitew12) i see nothing short of a meltdown. The message from the fans is clear. #RedknappOut. What our club calls for is someone to take this talented squad of players and insert a game plan and discipline. Someone who will get results and get points on the board. Someone who will make sure every single player on that pitch knows exactly what their role is and how they should go about it. Someone who will let those 11 on the pitch know when their doing something wrong. If you haven’t already guessed by now then the ideal candidate is Tony Pulis. If you think of what he did with that group of Championship level players at Palace then think of what he could do to our talented squad. It could be something special. Tony Pulis is a manager who needs financial backing. He left Palace due to a lack of it. Tony Fernandes + co will give him that and be able to make him enjoy his role at QPR. There is still plenty of time for our season to be a great success but in my opinion that cannot happen if Redknapp remains in charge.

Time to pull the trigger Tony. Come on you R’ssssss

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QPR v Stoke – Review and thoughts.

No QPR fan will ever easily forgive the amount of damage Mark Hughes managed to inflict during his short spell at the club. The ex Manchester City, Blackburn, QPR and now Stoke manager expected every bit of abuse hurled towards him from the Loftus Road faithful in a gloomy and humid afternoon in W12. The game never really promised to be a thriller. The physicality of stoke against a QPR side trying to show some bravery after a cowardly display against Manchester United last weekend. QPR could not afford to lose whilst a defeat was the last thing Mark Hughes wanted on his return to Loftus Road.

The match started off just like 4 of the previous 5 games this season. QPR going 1-0 down from a goal out of nothing. Isla let Victor Moses get a cross in with minimal pressure and Crouch set up Diouf nicely for the opener. QPR had set up with a narrow 41212 diamond, designed to compact the midfield area and stop us being overrun in there again. This appeared to work fine off the ball however when we were on the ball it was like looking at a team of subbuteo players. Every player was static and the lack of width meant we tried tiki taka football through the middle which failed miserably on most attempts.

On the verge of half time Steven Caulker rose like a salmon to head the ball goal-bound from a corner. Although it was heading in it still needed slicing into the net by any of the 3 Stoke players on the line. After half time it was very tight and I began to sense us gradually getting into the game. However once again poor play by Isla lead to Moses picking out Crouch who got away from the static Rio Ferdinand to slot home. In respect to us Crouchy didn’t celebrate. This left QPR with 40 minutes to attack the Loft and get something from the game. This lead to the play from Stoke which every football fan cannot stand. The dirty tackles, continuous time wasting and slow play immediately winded up QPR fans. Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Niko Kranjcar was a potential leg breaker and got the LR faithful letting him know just how they felt about it. This could have been seen as a good thing on the other hand because Loftus Road began to come alive as QPR looked for the illusive second goal.

In the 87th minute Niko was once again fouled and this gave him a golden opportunity to remind the Premier League that he’s well and truly back. The free kick that followed was magical. It dipped perfectly over the wall and was into the net within seconds. QPR were deservedly level and it finished 2-2.

For me the bright spark in our team is Leroy Fer. The dutchman possesses amazing agility and balance on the ball despite being tall. His pace and skills allow us to turn defence into attack within seconds. My only criticism of him today was not having a shot more often because he can certainly hit them. I would like to see him play a more attackive role in the future so he can link up more with Charlie Austin, who i thought had a great game today. The QPR number 9 held it up well and showed great link up play with others.

However there was some serious weaknesses in our play today. There didn’t look to be much team chemistry on the ball and there is a lack of understanding from the players on what to do with the ball when they have it. Rio Ferdinand had a shocker today. Outpaced by Peter Crouch and couldn’t handle Crouch all game. Mauricio Isla was tormented by Moses and couldn’t handle his pace. The Chilean looks like he may struggle all season if he does not come to terms with the Premier League soon as teams will look to target him.

Next week QPR head to the south coast to face Southampton who have got off to a flyer under their new manager. I would like us go to an away game and for once go with the attitude of really wanting to take the game to them. Maybe a change in game plan will really get our season going. A point today showed some good character but it also highlights that we’re in for a really tough season. Come on you R’sssss

The future’s bright

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It’s no secret that Tony Fernandes and Harry Redknapp have highlighted the need to rebuild the clubs academy and invest into the youth system. The development is a key area that will become ever so vital for the club in the long term future with the homegrown players rule and the fact that the club will be able to blood young talent from the academy. Therefore saving money from not having to pay for talent that has been raised at another club.

Just an hour after posting our first blog , QPR announced the signing of 20 year old Liverpool full back Jack Robinson. The England U21 international has played at every level for England bar the first team. Just hours before completing his move to QPR, Jack was called up to the England U21 squad before making his way down to London to sign for the R’s, pose for photographs and then make his way up north to complete a season long loan to Huddersfield. What a day eh?

Personally I think Jack Robinson is one for the future but is undoubtedly better defensively than Armand Traore. I like the thinking behind this move as it shows signals real long term intent from Tony and Harry and backs up what they said about improving the youth set up. Although Robinson wasn’t brought up through the QPR youth system hopefully in years to come this will be the type of player we will be able to raise. Jack spent time on loan last season at Blackpool where he proved he was one of the best full backs in the Championship. Even though he proved to be poor disciplinary wise (6 yellows and 3 reds) I’m sure this is something Harry will look to iron out. Robinson maintained an average pass rate of 72% a game and won half of his defensive duals. The ability of Jack Robinson is also highlighted by the fact he is the second-youngest ever player to have played for Liverpool, having made his senior debut at the age of 16 years and 250 days.

Another young player to join Rangers is 24 year old English goalkeeper Alex McCarthy of Reading. McCarthy has been widely tipped to be a future English international and is also one of the finest shot stoppers in English football although his distribution and handling needs a little work on. McCarthy stands at 6’4 and has been described as a “traditional English goalkeeper who isn’t afraid to put his head where it hurts”. You may remember McCarthy being named man of the match last season when we drew 1-1 at the Madejski. The Superhoops found him unbeatable that day and it took an inch perfect free kick from Joey Barton to beat him. Like Robinson, McCarthy has also played for England at youth level and is looking to make the step up to the national squad. Whilst Rob Green will most likely remain the number one keeper, McCarthy will provide much needed competition and a great back up for Green should he get injured. McCarthy is a man who is capable of pushing Rob Green for a name on the starting XI each week and will certainly be looking to do that.

In my opinion the signing of Robinson and McCarthy are excellent for QPR as a club, two young English players who in a few years time will be looking to break into the England squad. Having nurtured such players like Raheem Sterling and Peter Crouch in the past, hopefully we can hold off bigger clubs by maintaining Premier League status and look to improve the clubs academy in due course but for once the future is starting to look bright.

Wrong man for the job

Richard Dunne has had a great career at centre half. Playing for big premier league clubs and having hundreds of appearances under his belt. However his role in the recent 352 formation acquired by new boys QPR is a tough test for the 34 year old. In both of the R’s first two games the defender has been exploited and cracks have began to widen in his performances. The system calls for a defender who is able to confidently step out of the back-line with the ball, but also move out to the touchline to face the wingers one-on-one. The 34 year old looks awkward in possession, and he tends to play conservatively to compensate for his lack of pace. As he doesn’t push on, it forces Traore to hold back, and the whole system suffers as a result.

Nedum Onuoha has the pace required to equal his counterparts. He has also shown many times in his QPR career that he is not afraid of going forward with the ball. This will enable QPR to be less negative on the ball and give Armand Traore the chance to be further forward more often. Something that will hopefully lead to QPR moving off their goal tally of zero for this season. Just like Richard Dunne however Nedum is right footed. A problem which leads to the right footed player at left centre back being uncomfortable when playing it down the left side and forcing them to play it inside. As shown on sunday against a typical Mauricio Pochettino team, the high pressure upfield led to Richard Dunne panicking and Spurs capitalising on him being forced to play inside. Erik Lamela forced Dunne onto his left foot and outpaced him every time when cutting inside.

As ‘deadline day’ approaches there is an expectancy from R’s fans for business to be done late on. The type of player QPR require to replace Richard Dunne may not be available. The amount of quick, left footed, confident on the ball, good passing, defenders that are within our price range and wanting to join a club already fighting against relegation is limited. A lot of work needs to be done with whoever Redknapp has planned to partner Rio and Caulker if QPR are going to look better on the ball and leak less goals. The opening two games have shown that although QPR have some players who suit the 352 perfectly, they also have a few who really look out of their comfort zone. The inclusion of Richard Dunne vs Burton on Tuesday night suggests that he will not feature on Saturday. Three games in 6 days is something a man of his age cannot cope with. If QPR are to survive this season the removal of the veteran from the starting XI could be the key to getting into winning ways and chasing down the 40 point target.