Where Do I Begin ?

I was chuffed to be asked to write for ‘Independent R’s’ although, of late, I haven’t felt very inspired. Unsurprisingly, it has been very hard to find anything positive or upbeat to say about my beloved QPR. It is no easier now as, having returned from the Bolton game, I have come to accept what seems to be inevitable: that QPR are going to be relegated this season. So I do hope this article is not too depressing for you to read – after all, it is only how I have viewed QPR over this season.

I am a little calmer now – having beaten the roof of my car whilst uttering expletives not usually associated with “ladies” (!!!) – after another shoot-ourselves-in-the-foot display of dire defending, chronic dead-balls, a midfield that was unbalanced and opened up easier than the Red Sea when Moses tried to part it with his staff, and missed chance after missed chance – that ended with us losing 2-1 to Bolton.

Was I surprised we lost ? No ! Did I blame the appalling refereeing that saw a perfectly good “goal” from Clint Hill not given nor a penalty near the death, when Onuoha had his legs cut out from under him inside the penalty area ? No ! Because neither the ref nor the linos caused us to commit suicidal defensive errors – like losing your man too easily – which cost us those two goals !

So what has really made my blood boil this season ? The simple fact that we had a golden opportunity – hand delivered through hard-work last season – which we have simply thrown away this season. I am fed up of hearing from the management team (whichever management team it is), the Board, the media pundits, whoever (!), that we have a “talented squad” – or any other positive adjective you would like to choose from. The so-called “talented squad” is, to me, more like a group of over-paid, under-performers who have not TRIED !

Oh ! It is easy to blame Tony Fernandes for “wrongly” sacking Warnock and/or bringing in the “wrong” man in Mark Hughes, as many have been doing on message boards, Twitter and the like. It is easy to blame Warnock for “losing the dressing room”, as some have claimed, or Mark Hughes for “never having won the dressing room” ! But it is not their fault that the team that is sent out every single game seems to lack heart, fight, desire, courage, and willingness to play for the badge – until, that is, we include last season’s Championship-winning players like Adel Taarabt, Clint Hill, Shaun Derry, Akos Buzsaky and the inimitable Jamie Mackie.

I noticed the difference against Everton when the core of the team came from our 2010/2011 Championship-winning squad. Against Everton we battled and fought, led by Taarabt and Buzsaky in midfield and backed up by Derry and Hill, even if it wasn’t very pretty and resulted only in a draw. If Heidar Helguson was fit, I believe he would also be doing everything possible to beg, steal or borrow a winning goal for us, short of literally breaking a leg ! And I would rather have Hogan Ephraim, for example, trying to run along the wing, than Shaun Wright-Phillips who goes missing in most games and has contributed nothing to our cause virtually since day one ! Because, even if Ephraim does not have the Premier League experience of Wright-Phillips, you know that, for sure, Ephraim will TRY ! And Ephraim wasn’t even included in our 25-man squad !

So where and when did it go wrong ? Many have compared our season unfavourably with that of our fellow promoted teams, Norwich and Swansea. For me, the real difference between the three promoted teams is in the pre-season preparations – or, in QPR’s case, lack of. Swansea and Norwich bought sensibly, but did not make too many changes from their promotion-winning squads. They have settled Boards and managers, and had a full and proper pre-season together. QPR ?

Again, this is simply my opinion: the writing was on the wall, for those who wanted to read it, when Briatore and Ecclestone re-surfaced with a resounding “no” to any post-promotion parade. There then followed several weeks of heightened speculation that the duo, insultingly dubbed “Tango & Cash”, were looking to offload QPR for unrealistic sums of money. Clearly, despite Ecclestone telling us all in December 2010 that he had bought out Briatore’s shares in QPR so as to be able to prepare us “properly” should we be promoted; the duo had no intention of putting another single penny into the squad. And it was equally evident that, behind their desire to sell, was something far more odious and destructive – why else would they turn down Mittal’s offer to buy them out, early on in the summer, only to sell to Tony Fernandes at the last possible moment at, apparently, not much more than what Mittal was offering ?

A poor pre-season, which included doubts over whether Warnock would actually be around for the opening match of the new campaign, was followed by a rush to buy players who nobody else wanted, just to try to bring in “the right sort” of Premiership quality/experienced player at the last minute (Joey Barton, I mean, as opposed to the Kieron Dyer’s of this world ? !) This meant that by September we had effectively had two different teams in the space of two months – neither of which group of players had had much time to gel or work together to build the understanding, on and off the pitch, necessary for a successful team. And then, in January, Hughes brought in even more new faces, mid-season with absolutely no time to bed in – as was proved when, for example, Samba Diakite got himself sent off in his first-ever game for us because he was, literally, “thrown in at the deep end” out of necessity and desperation. Meanwhile, Swansea and Norwich have just continued to learn about the league and to build a solid base, from the core of their promotion-winning sides, for potential survival.

Since Warnock’s sacking (undeserved, in my opinion) it has become clear, from what has come out from the Club, that the structures necessary for survival in the Premier League, were not in place. With “Tango & Cash” running the show, I do not find myself surprised at this point and don’t think the structures would ever have been put in place. However, with the new Board, led by Tony Fernandes along with Amit Bhatia and Phil Beard, I do feel more optimistic about our future: particularly since listening to Phil Beard on a recent “Open All R’s” podcast – where he assured us that, even if we were relegated, plans for the new training ground and, vitally, the youth set-up, including returning to having an “Academy” status, would still go ahead (let alone a new ground !) This statement alone gives me hope for our future: that perhaps, at last, we have a Board who really does have the better interests of QPR at heart.

Of course, we have had a few bright moments this season – not least of which was the 1-0 drubbing of Chelsea. But, if I am totally honest, that was won more on sheer guts and plenty of good fortune, rather than an emphatic display against a 9-man Chelsea outfit who, let’s be honest, very nearly could have beaten us ! But it was all an illusion, wasn’t it ? Yes, we have had some rotten luck, including Hill’s goal-which-wasn’t-given against Bolton as well as Wright-Phillips’ goal that was disallowed against West Brom (for an offside that wasn’t !) But two home wins and three away wins so far this season really does tell its own tale: we are just not good enough !

So now, as I pray to any and every deity I can think of to please ensure we are not relegated after all; I find myself reflecting on what might have been. When we started this campaign, yes with a rude-awakening I know, I vowed to enjoy each and every game as if they would be our last. I loved the early away games as I went along with thousands of buoyant, enthusiastic fans, to places like Everton, Wolves, Spurs, and other Premier League grounds for the first time in over 15 years. I was moved by the upbeat, positive atmosphere generated at a packed Loftus Road, the likes of which hadn’t been seen for many, many years.

And then, as it became obvious that the team lacked heart, fight, desire, passion; that the so-called “Premier League stars” were not stars at all and certainly not to be trusted to help us cement our Premier League place because of their lack of talent (can Joey Barton actually deliver an accurate cross let alone a decent corner or free kick ?!!!); lack of desire; a “don’t-care-about-QPR” attitude; so I forgot my earlier vow. And I trudged to away games, trudged to home games, with a lack of heart myself – and I stopped enjoying our sojourn in the Premier League because it all seemed so pointless to me.

But not now ! I have followed QPR through thick and thin, thin and even thinner for nearly 40 years. I will always be a QPR fan – and a very proud one, too. I will hold my head high and enjoy the rest of this season – yes, even if we do not win a single point ! Because we all longed to be back in the Premier League and even if some of our squad desert us if and when we are relegated – I will never, ever desert my beloved QPR. Because I will be, always have been, and am QPR ! Aren’t you ?!

Sandy Lerman aka @sandyhoops and otherwise known, on VitalQPR, as sandyl:-D

28 thoughts on “Where Do I Begin ?

  1. Well said, Sandyhoops!

    I was born 2 streets away from St. Judes, where our beloved team was founded. I am, like you, a veteran R of over 40 years standing, and I always tell all these Man U fans from Surrey that my team occasionally excite me, frequently irritate me, but never bore me! You have encapsulated all my emotions brilliantly.

  2. at last!!
    i agree, also why does everyone at qpr have to air their thoughts we seem to have been talking ourselves into the relegation trap from within.
    it was so hard to get promotion you would think they would all fight to stay up.i am a big warnock fan but i was fed up with i am just pleased to be here comments. i still belive that pride and repaying your employers for their faith in you should be enough to keep us up-just but only if everyone shuts up and does their talking on the pitch and cocern themselves only about qpr.
    why is it that we cannot defend this year? also how i miss the real star player for the last two years -faulin. fiftheen years is a long time so yes if the new players are not intrested then use the players who gave a 100/00 to get us up the chance to keep us up. warnocks mistake apart from his signings was letting gorks go, he was better than what we have now and we had good defence last season. a new captain, i would rather play derry and makie than barton and philips (what does he do? )

    so come on rangers prove all the experts wrong and where your shirt with pride.

  3. Good stuff written there Sandy.

    If only Briatore and Ecclestone had sold out early in the summer to the “Mittal Men” then things may have been different. We shall never Know.

  4. Excellent article Sandy, some home truths on the season thus far. Many thanks for doing that for us.

  5. Well said Sandy. It sums up my feelings too. We all know that a number of things have not been right off the pitch but on the pitch the reality is that the new signings have simply not been good enough and/or put the effort it. A few people have said to me that last seasons squad would probably have gathered only a few fewer points than the “new look” team have so far. It’s hard to argue with that.

    I pray to any and every deity that I can think of that we are not relegated on Sun 29th April at the SW6 Dog Track. That would be just too much……but down I (very sadly) think we will go.

  6. I hadn’t even considered we could go the way of the dodo on Sun 29th – now that’s just a horrible, nasty thought!!! Perhaps we’ll beat Liverpool, Arsenal and Man United away (and perhaps I will win tonight’s lottery – got a better chance!!!)

  7. Can be summarised as follows
    April – Faurlingate spoils run in
    May – July; Hiatus, no parade, no celebration, no meaningful signings, no nothing
    August – hello Tony F; panic buying
    September- December Performances decline in inverse proportion to number of players and formations used.
    January – Sacking, new boss more panic buying
    Jan – March Repeat: Performances decline in inverse proportion to number of players and formations used.

    Bolton was as bad as MK Dons away
    Poor team selcection, poor formation, poor tactics, poorly timed substitutions

    Common threads?

    Last year’s underpaid Champions seem to outperform -consistently – this year’s overpaid mercenaries (benefit of doubt to Zamora and Cisse so far) This must cause dressing room resentment

    Hughes match day tactics = Warnock2 without the humour or passion

    Any hope?

    It’s not so much the run-in, Hughes face at the Reebok was rheumy-eyed bewildered, gloomy, hapless. Hard to still Believe.

    This week’s bright spot? Cisse’s surprising grown-up admission that the Hill ghost-goal wasn’t the reason we lost.

    What to do?

    Keep Calm and Wear Hoops
    Enjoy any remaining points we glean this season

  8. Great stuff, Sandy. You echo my own sentiments exactly. I have been supporting Rs for over 70 years and, no matter what, will continue to do so until I go up to that great football stadium in the sky (I hope!). What a nightmare year this has been but we always wake up from a nightmare and everything is fine again. Let us hope it will be so soon.

  9. Good stuff, nice to hear something positive. I feel the same (even though I am 12,000 miles away), and I think the reasons are correct. Tango and Cash were at the Bush just for the heck of it to see if they could make some money. When it became too hard, they walked away, but not soon enough.

    I think we are down, I would love to be proven wrong, but I doubt it. Lets hope Hughes can form a squad that will return us straight away, and the owners are committed to the fight.

  10. excellent read….some of the home truths, many of us know but try not to accept.
    losing faurlin was a disaster for us, for some reason barton and swp have failed for us, whatever he tweets barton has been overall poor. his pass completion rate is pathetic, yet some won’t hear a word against “saint” joe!???
    you need luck…how many times have we hit the woodwork and then seen deflected shots go by us!?
    poor refs and officials are the standard in modern football, yet it’s hard to accept in a BILLION ¬£¬£¬£ industry.
    there’s still hope but as said, with so few wins all season, how will we win 5 now , with 10 to go? at utd,citeh,the bridge??? i only wish we’d go down fighting, with spirit and a resolve to bounce back and not take another 15yrs.
    fans do care….lately re the “euston battle” i have said, arsenal fans booed the team and wenger after defeat to man utd, now look at them, look at their response…whether or not it’s right to boo, fans showed displeasure and now reap the cheers and applause. DID THE PORTUGAL break help us in any way? have we seen any improvement under hughes?

  11. Just to say anyone who is on twitter can see that Joey dug out sandy and the site for what she said and wrote and played the real fans card as in if you were you would not write this kind of thing.

    Well that is wrong anyone who seen us at Bolton would have comeback thinking in the same manner as Sandy unless they stuck their heads in the sand and think that just because we have lost to the likes of wolves blackburn and bolton we would then turn it all on it’s head and beat the top of six and more in our run in and who knows maybe we will.

    But like it or not what sandy has said this far into the season she is bang on and fair play to Sandy when pulled by Barton on twitter she did not back down and backed what she said.

    Fans like Sandy are real and if Barton does not understand that then that is his issue not Sandy also Barton is quick to say his bit to people ask Adel for one what it is like to be on the other side of what Joey says.

    The fact people tell the truth about our club shows how much they love it it really is as simple as that.

  12. The thing is us fans will still be here next season , and the season after that . Can our Joey say the same ?
    And the only riposte to Sandy from our captain that will be accepted is to start winning points and doing a hell of a lot better than we’e witnessed so far. The ball is in his court.

  13. Barton tweeted last night that I didn’t offer any solutions. Why should I? That s not my job! My job – as is all of ours – is to support the team (which, as I’ve said, I have done loyally for nearly 40 years – home and away).

    Joey’s job is to put it right on the pitch and help, by being a motivating, fighting captain, the rest of the team put it right on the pitch.

    What any of wouldn’t give for Joey and the squad to make me eat my words – starting with 3 points on Wednesday night.

    You are right, Chris – that is the only riposte from JB that will be satisfactory!!

  14. A great read Sandy, well said.

    What Barton has to say about anything, holds no interest for me whatsoever.

  15. We didn’t beat the teams around us to stay in the top flight.

    So we now have to beat proven Premier League teams to stay up.

    Right now – through a combination of dire defensive displays against sides we should have beaten easily, ‘star’ signings who are overpaid and underperforming, and much more than our fair share of bad luck – QPR are one of the worst three teams in the division.

    But if we do manage to turn things around to stay up, the Premier League is clearly where we deserve to be.


  16. fantastic article Sandy, As a supporter for 40 years I have never seen a more disruptive footballer? than Joe Barton at the club. If he spent more time concentrating on his football rather than Twitter he might actually be a half decent player. SWP gives 100% but has not fulfilled his potential. Mackie and Busacky are far better options when we need fighters to get us
    up the table. cummmon you rsssss

  17. fantastic article Sandy, As a supporter for 40 years I have never seen a more disruptive footballer? than Joe Barton at the club. If he spent more time concentrating on his football rather than Twitter he might actually be a half decent player. SWP gives 100% but has not fulfilled his potential. Mackie and Busacky are far better options when we need fighters to get us
    up the table. cummmon you rsssss

  18. Very well said , you have summed it up perfectly . I have absolute faith in the board as they are the most important people involved in the ‘ new ‘ queens park rangers we have at this moment in time .The players will keep coming and going as will managers but as long as we have Mittal , Bhatia , Fernandes and Beard in place we are in a fantastic position . Fair play to the other two sides that came up though as they fully deserve to be in the league next season . We will come back stronger than ever though , maybe not at the first attempt but we will be back . THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT !!!!

  19. Thanks for a well-written analysis.
    I’ve also been of the opinion that it all started to go wrong from day one for us when Flavio and Bernie tied tight knots around their purse. But one has to remember that the promotion team would not have made it over the course of the season. In fact, if you look at our record after New Year 2011, the team played with the form of a mid-table team – we only got promoted because our start of 2010/11 was so good.

    We all have our differing views on who should or should not be picked but the fact remains that the pre-season preparation did not go as it should when a promoted team prepares for the Prem. We are now merely looking at a garden devoid of flowers because we didn’t plant the seeds when we should have.

    I’m going to support the team (whoever plays) and enjoy every remaining game as much as I can and if nothing else, every additional goal in the PREMIER.

    Remember the days of Vauxhall Motors?

  20. Well done to my neighbour Sandy in the South Africa Road Stand. Terrific article agree entirely, as all R`s fans know our club rarely do things the easy way so I content
    myself with the thought that by this time next year we will be flying in the championship gain promotion and re-enter the Prem stronger, more prepared, and to paraphrase Del-boy ” next year Rodney (Marsh of course) we`ll still be owned by millyonaires”.

    PS I don`t tweet but has JB got round to tweeting to Sandy that she is only a woman and knows nothing about football?

  21. I agree Sandy.

    I have been a QPR fan for 30 years growing up and living in Canada. It was so exciting to be back in the premier league this year so I could take in all the matches on TV as we rarely get a Championship league match.
    I really though Joey would be a good addition to the squad, but he has been nothing but a blundering fool out on the pitch. His lack of leadership is poor, clearly evident by his lack of marking on Bolton’s second goal where he watched his mark walk in to finish as well as his performance against liverpool. As a captain leading your troops into battle you need to be doing everything from pure grit tackling to making a decent corner kick. At least Cisse backs up his talk with action. Take a lesson JOEY.
    I love the team and hope they can stay up. I would love to get to England to watch my first live match!
    QPR Canada @jardath on twitter

  22. A brilliant piece Sandy, and I think many feel the same way.
    The bottom line is win, lose or draw, this our team, our football club, our Queen’s Park Rangers.
    Nothing, no one, can ever change that.

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