QPR- One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

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“You don’t support QPR for the good times. You support QPR because it’s QPR, not because you are going to win trophies.”- Marc Bircham.

If QPR fans have learned anything in the last 5 years, it’s that it’s never an easy ride, but at the same time it is never boring. Since February 2006, there have been 21 different managers at the club under chairmen Richard Thomson, Flavio Briatore and Tony Fernandes, representing just under half of the total managers the club has had in their 134-year history. 3 calamitous seasons in the Premier League in the last 4 years has led to financial trouble and a current position of 16th in the Championship. The appointment of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink at the beginning of December gave QPR fans fresh hope of a revival and yet another new era, after an indifferent start to the season under Chris Ramsey and Neil Warnock, but he is without a win in 6 games. This article will focus on the appointment of Jimmy Floyd, the Christmas period, the January transfer window and a preview of the FA Cup tie at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest.

It hasn’t been an easy 5 years for QPR fans…

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was appointed QPR manager on the 4th December 2015 after QPR’s 1-0 win at Reading. He brought with him his assistant manager, David Oldfield from their old club, Burton Albion. Out of the 92 managers in English professional football, Hasselbaink is just 1 of 2 (the other being Brighton manager Chris Hughton). The number of black coaches in the English game has been a hot topic for the media, and when asked if he felt he had extra responsibilities as he is a black manager by talkSPORT, he responded, “No responsibility whatsoever. I’m a big believer that I got this job because I did well at my previous club and that I am the right man for it – that’s why the club has given me the opportunity. I am black, that’s not going to change. I am proud to be black and that’s also not going to change. That’s how it is.” Quite why there is a lack of black managers in English football has yet to be determined, whether clubs genuinely do discriminate against them, or black people don’t apply through fear that they’ll be rejected because of the colour of their skin, whatever the reason is, things need to change.

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has taken on just his 3rd managerial job

The Christmas period is historically a difficult one for clubs in England, with there being 4 games in 2 weeks, and 2 in 3 days. QPR have found this period difficult in recent years, with fatigue playing a big part in that. This season, QPR faced a trip to Ashton Gate to play Bristol City, before a tricky Boxing Day trip to East Anglia to face Ipswich, which was followed by consecutive home games against Huddersfield Town and Hull City. Charlie Austin was a notable absentee during the Christmas period, but his absence was not particularly felt for the majority of the game in Bristol, with Junior Hoilett opening the scoring before the hour mark. They could not hold on to the lead though, with Robins striker Aaron Wilbraham equalising with 10 minutes to go. A week later, the Hoops made the trip to play off chasing Ipswich and took a shock lead 4 minutes into first half stoppage time through Junior Hoilett once again. QPR’s failure to close out the game once again proved even more costly, with Jonathan Douglas equalising for Town with 13 minutes to go, and captain Luke Chambers won it in the 92nd minute for the hosts. QPR had the chance to redeem themselves 2 days later at home to struggling Huddersfield. Despite being second best for most of the game, the Super Hoops went ahead with 10 minutes to go through Seb Polter, however yet another late goal denied the home side when Nakhi Wells’ free kick 4 minutes from time rescued a point for the Terriers. The first game of 2016 ended in another late defeat for QPR at home to Hull. Abel Hernandez put the Tigers deservedly ahead on the hour mark, only for Seb Polter to equalise for QPR with 4 minutes remaining. But, continuing with the theme of conceding late on, a calamitous mix up between Rob Green and Grant Hall let to Adama Diomande fortuitously scoring his first Hull goal to condemn QPR to their first home defeat since September 12th against Forest. It’s become clear during this period, that the main thing JFH needs to work on at QPR is game management, and player fitness.

Charlie Austin was a huge loss for QPR during the Christmas period

The January transfer window, for me, is a massive one for the club. Whether or not QPR manage to keep hold of Charlie Austin, a new striker is definitely needed, along with some creative players and possibly a right back or two, following the sale of Michael Harriman to Wycombe. No enquiries have been confirmed to have been made for any players from QPR but the old rumour mill has been spinning regarding incomings and outgoings. We’ll start with the outgoings, and the most talked about potential departure from Loftus Road, Charlie Austin. Whilst the striker has said that he has no intention to leave the club in January and he is happy to stay, clubs like Aston Villa, Newcastle and AFC Bournemouth have been reported to be plotting bids. Crystal Palace were heavily linked with a move for Austin in the summer, but Alan Pardew said in a press conference this week ahead of their FA Cup tie with Southampton that Palace are not interested. Rumours have also been flying around that Big Sam is interested in bringing Sandro and Steven Caulker (currently on loan at Southampton) to Sunderland. According to Sky sources, Sunderland have actually made an approach to QPR and Southampton over signing Caulker. Regarding incomings to W12, there have been rumours that QPR are interested in taking Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish on loan. The club are also reportedly interested in signing Patrick Bamford from Chelsea on loan, and Dwight Gayle from Crystal Palace on a permanent deal.

Jack Grealish has been linked with a move to QPR in January

The Hoops will still be without main striker Charlie Austin as he recovers from an injury sustained in training after the 2-2 draw with Brighton in December, while James Perch, Clint Hill and Jay Emmanuel Thomas are all still injured, Sandro will be touch-and-go right up to kick off. Jamie Mackie is in line to start against his former club after returning from injury from the bench against Hull on New Year’s Day. Ben Gladwin has been recalled from his loan at Swindon Town. Jimmy Floyd is likely to name a rotated squad with a trip to Blackburn Rovers and Rotherham United on Tuesday and Saturday respectively coming up, so Alex Smithies is likely to start, while Ben Gladwin, Seb Polter, Jamie Mackie and Massimo Luongo are all likely to feature. The statistics are all against QPR this weekend, as they have not won an FA Cup tie without needing a replay since January 1997 when they beat Barnsley 3-2 and have not advanced past the Fourth Round since the 1996/1997 season. Also, and probably most importantly, QPR have never beaten Nottingham Forest in a competitive game away from home. With two away games against Forest this month alone, there is an extra incentive for the QPR players to put in a good performance this weekend in Nottingham. Oh, and QPR and Nottingham Forest have both been knocked out at the Third Round stage of the FA Cup 46 times each, which is the joint second highest in history, behind Plymouth Argyle who have been knocked out 49 times. Something has to give in the East Midlands on Saturday.

Last seasons FA Cup debacle was a 3-0 home defeat to League One Sheffield United

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