Before the season restarts again for the remaining 9 games, Young fan Conor, reflects on our season so far and his vision for Mark Warburton’s blue and white army.
When I heard that the former Brentford and Rangers manager Mark Warburton was taking the reigns at the R’s, I was quite excited. However, I was also excited when McClaren, Holloway, Hughes and Hasselbaink took over and look how that turned out. The one thing that made me buy into his ideas was the way he spoke. He knew the job on his hands, the situation we were in, but he had a clear plan on what he had to do. He is also brutally honest – something you don’t find with managers nowadays – after every match, he says exactly what I think. He is either a mind reader or he views the game like we do. The latter of course!
The summer was full of tops and turns. Players in, players out. 15 players in to be exact. Some great young talent coming to the club in Masterson and Amos and good seasoned pros like Marc Pugh with Cameron and Rangel both extending their contracts. Nakhi also returned to my delight. He and I both knew he had unfinished business here. I don’t know how Warbs signed so many free agents like midfield maestro, Dom Ball and the best left footed defender in the championship, Yoann Barbet. However, for me, losing Matt Smith was quite upsetting even though everyone knew he wasn’t going to fit into Mark’s style of play. It is pleasing however, seeing him thrive at Millwall under Gary Rowett.
The first game at Stoke bought joy to many of us QPR fans as we thought they would be fighting for a play-off spot but that wasn’t the case. After one of the best passing moves the Championship has seen, with Ebere Eze leaving a Stoke defender on his backside when finishing the move off, many QPR fans thought promotion would be on the cards and everything will be great under Warbs, and yes to an extent that’s true but, we’ve had to overcome a lot to get there.
September was one of the best months for me as a QPR fan. Not only on my birthday were we were 3-0 up in half an hour against Luton, but we had also enjoyed a win previously against Sheffield Wednesday and the week after, we beat London rivals Millwall too! Unfortunately for us, we were then put back in our place by promotion chasers West Brom. If we had beaten West Brom, we would have gone 3rd and would have won our last 4 games.
In October, I had realised that keeping a clean sheet was like winning the lottery but I actually didn’t mind. I recognised that this QPR team, playing some of its best football since the 2010/11 season were playing for the shirts and even if we were losing, we would never stop attacking. Risky I know, but I enjoyed it and I knew that we would come back. After a crushing, undeserved 3-0 loss to Cardiff, we composed ourselves for a 4-2 win over Blackburn, followed up by another win over Hull City with that man Eze making all the headlines.
A frustrating 2-2 draw with Reading led to the much anticipated game over Brentford. Every season, I always say ‘We’ll beat Brentford’ because we are normally on good form heading into the game and I have a load of Anti-QPR friends who want us to lose. I also remember that we are called QPR and don’t like winning against Brentford even though we had actually beaten them at home 3-2 last season. This Brentford team was strong and had amazing players like Watkins, Benrahma and Mbuemo who had plenty of assists and goals between them. I was upset when Watkins scored to make it 1-0 but we were struggling without Hugill , who was suspended, to create havoc amongst the Bees defence. After Hall had equalised with a bullet header, Mbuemo went down easily in the penalty area after clashing with Scowen. I had Brentford friends who even agreed with me, that it wasn’t a penalty but hey-ho. Watkins scoring right at the death and seeing the Brentford fans celebrate like they won a cup final made my skin crawl but I remembered Brentford had never been in the Premier League which did make me feel better and shut some of friends up!
November was a month that isn’t fond in my memory. A winless month that saw us beaten by rivals Fulham and Leeds, battered by Forest and drawing against Derby. No clean sheet in this month meant we went 19 games without one.
The start of December was very positive. A CLEAN SHEET against Preston followed by another CLEAN SHEET over Birmingham which also resulted in wins was a great feeling. However that weekend, we must have forgotten how to defend after a 5-3 defeat against bottom of the league Barnsley who a had a mini revival since their new manager coming in. The week after that, the game against Charlton when they had rescued a draw at the death after not winning in so many games almost left a tear in my eye. A defeat against fellow strugglers Reading and Hull left many R’s fans angry and calling for Warbs to go. I for one didn’t agree with what people were saying that about the Gaffer, its uncalled for and the players were still playing good football but individual mistakes and our inability to defend set-pieces cost us and it still sort of does now.
The new year led to a 6-1 demolishing of Cardiff with Nakhi bagging himself a hat-trick, followed by a 5-1 thumping in the FA-Cup of fellow Welsh team Swansea, with the crowd chanting ‘Are you Cardiff in disguise’ and ‘ we want six’ . That is exactly what football is about. Another 3-1 derby defeat against Brentford left all of us feeling glum. However, the controversial win over Leeds which resulted in us keeping a clean sheet and denting their promotion hopes sure did put a smile on everyone’s face with Liam Kelly making a superb stop from the spot and cementing his place as our new number one. The week after, we were knocked out by Sheffield Wednesday in the FA-Cup which was Nakhi’s last game before being recalled and making a move to Bristol City. This left us light up front and that was definitely on show in our next 3 games ending in defeat.
The turnaround was on though. A goalless draw against Swansea and a 4-2 win over Stoke, after being 2-0 down, led to another goalless draw against playoff chasing Notts Forest and another win over Derby. We started to show form and our hunt for the playoffs. Birmingham was next and a draw was played out between the two sides in a hotly contested game led to the last game before football got postponed. A fantastic 3-1 away win against promotion chasing Preston after going 1-0 behind and down to ten men demonstrated that the Superhoops were fighting and the playoffs werejust around the corner. That left us 6 points off the playoffs and leads us up to now.
We have no idea what QPR will be like when we return against Barnsley but one thing I know for sure; We fight, we have passion and we always stay in games no matter the score. We have to believe in Mark, John and Neil and we will continue to get results. At QPR , we need stability and I think we have found the right man and team for that. Mark could lead us back into that promised land if we give him all of our support.
COME ON YOU R’S!
Written by Conor McCdrudden