Another weekend of football is fast upon us, as QPR welcome Middlesbrough to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Last week, after a great win at home against Forrest, the R’s fell short against a Coventry side we were expected to beat. Yet again actually doing some competent defending proved to be our downfall. Players were out of position at key times, we were weak in our tackling and our defending from corners was woeful. It was a familiar story and highlighted the worst parts of our game under Warburton.
The story of the week however was not our defensive failures or our lack of attacking threat, it was firstly the fact that we had not taken the knee at the start of the match. Sky placed the blame squarely at QPR’s door, despite the fact that we had not taken part in taking the knee for a number of games. Also they seemed to absolve Coventry of any blame in this matter. Following this was an angry outcry from a large amount of QPR fans (and some neutral fans), who highlighted the good work we have done as a club.
Then (Sir) Les Ferdinand issued a statement through the club, he reiterated that he had decided to no longer do interviews about racism in football. Why? Because people only want a sound bite or a video clip that’ll get thousands of views, all the while though nothing positive gets done and change doesn’t happen. This is all rather well summed up with the fact that our under 18’s were subject to racist abuse at a game in Spain over a year ago. Les rightly points out that “UEFA refused to deal with the situation and the Spanish FA did nothing. What media coverage has been given to that? Not nearly as much as what has been granted to QPR not taking a knee.” Have Sky acknowledged what we had to say, not really. Have they apologised for singling out our actions? No. Should any of us be surprised? Again no.
Then as we moved on and the whole not taking the knee problem eventually faded away, QPR were linked with the signing of Georges-Kévin Nkoudou. Now this took me by surprise, here’s a player who’s spent a lot of his career at top clubs, he has a number of years left on his contract and apparently we were going to wade in with a bid of €3.5m (£3.2m). Then this evening, everyone’s favourite ITK account confirmed what I think we all knew, that their isn’t any chance of this happening. A bizarre rumour from a completely unreliable source and everyone ate it up, when will people learn?
Now we move onto the story that was released today, the club will not be selling any more season tickets for the foreseeable future. Perhaps people are not aware of this or maybe they are just ignorant of how important this is. Clubs like us rely very heavily on our season tickets, where as in normal times any Premier League club can count on tourists and a bigger fan base we simply cannot. We are obviously at a point where it could go very well for QPR or very badly. A success simply would be that at the end of the pandemic Queens Park Rangers football club still exists. Everyone knows the financial difficulties we have and yet you still see people demanding more players bought for prices we cannot afford.
The EFL are in the process of proposing a bailout from the Premier League to help clubs who are struggling with the fact that no fans are being allowed into the stadium. I think this needs to happen and I thought this even before the pandemic, support must come from the top and the wealth needs to filter down the leagues. I do slightly worry that the Premier League will make some demands before the money is passed onto the EFL, for example including ‘B’ teams in the Football League. They are also considering how much each club should get. One massive factor in this is transfer revenue, a prime example of this being Birmingham who received £30m for Jude Bellingham. There are questions from the Premier League about whether Birmingham actually need this money. My mind naturally races to our transfer dealings. Would we receive less money because we sold Eze for a large sum? That is not clear right now and there will be plenty of time passed before a decision is reached, the fact that Eze’s fee was less than Bellingham’s may also work in our favour. But nevertheless it is something that should be kept in mind when discussing transfers and where exactly we should be finishing come the end of the season.
Having read all that you might have forgotten that this was meant to be a match preview for our game against Middlesbrough. So I’ll quickly suggest some things that I think might get us a better result on Saturday. Let’s look at team selection first. I think having Niko Hamalainen starting instead of Lee Wallace, who was at fault for at least two of the Coventry goals, may provide some energy and mobility in the back four. Hamalainen is also better going forward than Wallace, Manning’s attacking quality was something we definitely lacked. Also I would recall Dom Ball and have Tom Carroll beside him at the base of the midfield, in the CAM role I would have Chair and on the left have either Smyth or Thomas. Warburton could make some changes, but ultimately the one thing that will improve us is defending competently.
So that’s it for this so called preview, which in truth was more an overview of all things QPR, that happened in the last week. Nonetheless I must reiterate the most important thing, and that is is that we actually have a football team to go back and watch once this pandemic is over. Because otherwise I literally don’t know what I’ll do with myself if we don’t have one.