Once again, I scoured twitter to find a fan of our opposition to see if I could get Huddersfield fans all the information they need before the game.
As you will read I struck gold, as Rangers fan Clive Whittingham answered my six questions brilliantly. Follow @loftforwords on twitter
1) After relegation last season, what are your expectations for the season ahead?
I think expectations vary wildly across the fan base. In theory we’ve got some very good players for this level at our disposal and have added one of the league’s top strikers to that in Charlie Austin. We’ve also got Andy Johnson back in the team after he missed almost all of last season with a knee injury and I think he’s still a cut above this league. So the talent is there and so is the money, not only from the parachute payments but also from our board – Burnley said they simply couldn’t get anywhere near what we’d offered to pay Austin. Throw in Harry Redknapp, who was strongly tipped for the England job not so long ago, and a very experienced coaching staff that now includes Steve McClaren and we seem pretty well set. Some fans do believe we’ll bounce straight back without too many problems.
But there’s a lot wrong at QPR. The dressing room was horribly fractured last season after the club brought in a number of big name players on colossal wages who cared little for the club and under-performed dreadfully. Those players were almost all past their best and we’re now finding that clubs stupid enough to take them off our hands and pay them the money we do are thin on the ground. It means we’ve got a large number of big name players on massive wages just sort of kicking around doing nothing – not playing for us and not leaving. Stephane Mbia, Esteban Granero, Julio Cesar and so on. The ones we have got rid of have often been on loan deals. So there’s a lot of work to do on the squad, a lot of bridges to build between players so that the team is together and united, and a lot of new blood that is keen to play for QPR and give it 100%. The malaise brought on by a season of just four league wins will take time to dissipate and no doubt clubs will see us as something of a scalp given that we’re ex-Premier League and prone to throwing money around. There’s a lot to do, and obviously the transfer windows and the stupid contracts we handed out while in the Premier League will hinder us in that. I anticipate a season of rebuilding and a high mid-table finish, but I’m almost always wrong.
2) is Harry Redknapp the right manager for the job?
Again, opinion is split on this. He arrived midway through last season when we were without a win from our first 12 league games and basically already staring relegation in the face. He was about the best appointment we could have made to try and turn the situation around but it proved to be beyond even his powers of resuscitation and we were relegated anyway – I place very little blame, if any at all, for that at his feet. Now I think we’re on a different course and require a different horse. QPR’s problems are all based around lack of infrastructure – we don’t have a training ground, the youth set up has produced just one player for the first team in the best part of ten years, the stadium is inadequate, the scouting set up is non-existent and so on. For too long QPR have just thrown money at players without getting the foundations of the club right. What we need is a manager who is going to address everything from top to bottom, look long term and mould the club in a certain way with a clear ethos on how the team plays and what the club is about – Gus Poyet at Brighton is a good example of a manager who did this sort of top-to-bottom job although I’m not sure I’d necessarily want him given what’s gone on down there. Redknapp is getting on a bit and wants to be in the Premier League, my fear is he just continues in the same vain as QPR have for years – layering six new signings on top of all the others in each transfer window and throwing good money after bad only to find that if we do get back to the Premier League, we don’t have the infrastructure to support it.
But then we saw last season with Wolves how dangerous this division can be for a relegated Premier League side. It’s all very well talking about long term this and strategy that but Rangers need a lot of work doing on their squad for the here and now and of course Harry is the ultimate wheeler dealer manager (but don’t call him that to his face). With the television money escalating in the top division QPR, and the rest of the Championship sides, can’t afford to be out of it for long. From next season we’re going to have a situation where the relegated clubs are coming into this league with enormous parachute payments, bigger than ever before, while the teams already here are under stringent financial fair play regulations. We’ve already seen the first example of what that will mean for the division with our Austin deal i.e. the relegated teams will be able to blow the existing Championship sides out of the water financially. You could easily end up with a situation where it’s a rarity for the promoted teams not to just be the three relegated teams going straight back up. So maybe we should be focusing short term on getting back to where the money is ASAP and if so then Redknapp might be perfect for the job.
Time will tell I guess.
3) Best player & why?
I think Andy Johnson is going to be brilliant this year unless his knee falls apart again and obviously Austin did well at this level last season. Junior Hoilett was hot property when we signed him from Blackburn a year ago but by the end of last season he was so fat and demoralised he looked like somebody who’d eaten the real Junior Hoilett and assumed his identity. He’s come back leaner, fitter and with renewed confidence this season and been excellent in both games so far. Personally, like Neil Warnock, I’ve always felt that Ale Faurlin is our best player with his ability to guide us around the park from the middle of midfield and do the physical nasty side of the game as well but he’s really struggled since he ruptured cruciate ligaments 18 months ago and while he’s been better this season than last he’s still a long way from his best.
4) which player is stealing a living?
I could write you a list. We’ve managed to shift on public enemy number one Jose Bosingwa who was absolutely dreadful last season while picking up £60,000 a week. He refused to sit on the bench for a home match early in the season and then got caught on TV laughing as he left the field when we were relegated at Reading. The QPR fans left him in no doubt what they thought of him in the last home game of last season where the abuse was so bad he had to be removed at half time after costing us two goals against Newcastle. So he’s gone, but like I say we have a whole host of players who we gave massive contracts to only to find out they were well past their best and we’re now struggling to shift them on. Esetban Granero and Stephane Mbia are still here but not even on the bench at the moment, Ji-Sung Park seems to be going out on loan, Julio Cesar likewise and so on. Of the players that are still here and are still playing Bobby Zamora is really struggling after a succession of injuries and, again, will be hard to shift on given his salary. Shaun Wright-Phillips has been abysmal for us for almost his entire time with the club. Joey Barton has behaved appallingly since he got here and spends his time these days angling after a permanent move to Marseille where he spent last season on loan. He’s starting at the moment and is a returning hero/unwanted gobshite depending on which QPR fan you talk to.
5) are there any Huddersfield players you’re concerned about?
Jon Stead. Scores against us religiously regardless of who he’s playing for or his form going into the game.
I really liked the look of Jack Hunt as an attacking right back during your promotion push but I know he’s struggled rather at the higher level and not exactly been winning many friends with his Twitter activity.
6) have you got a prediction for the game? If you get it wrong I’ll retweet it mercilessly
During the 2010/11 promotion season I predicted 48 league and cup games on LoftforWords and only got one score right all season. Considering QPR only lost five league matches that year I only had to pick between wins and draws really but I’m notoriously awful at predictions. Your first home game, against a newly relegated side, with Jon Stead almost certain to score makes me think it will be tough but we do have the quality to beat any side in this division if our minds are right. I’ll sit on the fence and say 2-2.