Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

QPR 1 Plymouth 1

A "just about OK" game in terms of everything really, result, performance and entertainment value. I missed the first five minutes after an unexpected queue at the gate, during which Dexter Blackstock missed another one-on-one. The game chugged along until Lilian Nalis scored a soft goal for Plymouth, two headers from a free kick that were far too easy. Martin Rowlands was almost put through for Rangers just on half time but the visiting keeper Lee McCormick was quick off his line to block.

Rangers, as ever, looked a bit more lively attacking the Loft and Lee Cook found some space away from his attacking role to put a couple of dangerous crosses over from the left, the second of which found its way to Gareth Ainsworth, whose shot was deflected narrowly wide with the keeper stranded. Now for a bit of foreshadowing. The Camel had jetted in from Atlantic City in time to make the game, and despite flagging a little from the jet lag second half, Keith has an uncanny knack for making things happen sometimes. This time the catalyst was an impassioned (and entirely justified) rant about how goalkeepers are over-protected and always win the decision on free-kicks. So, Rowlands put the resulting corner right into the mixer and there was a massive bundle in the six yard box. With just about everyone expecting a foul against the keeper to be given, Lee Cook blasted the ball into the net. There was a loud, uncertain cheer (if you can imagine that), and after about 3 seconds this became an even louder, amused cheer when the referee signalled a goal.

It was a heck of a scramble and I certainly couldn't say who fouled the keeper so who knows, maybe it was OK. It was just one of those situations where you always expect the foul to be given. After that, Lee Camp made one save from David Norris but it was mostly Rangers, especially once Nalis got himself sent off like an idiot. Ryan Giggs would probably say "That's the French for you", but I'm going to stick with idiot, irrespective of creed. Kicking the ball away half the length of the pitch when you're on a yellow card is not the considered +EV move. Rowlands scooped over from a flick-on, Blackstock couldn't quite latch on to a couple of headers, subsititute Paul Furlong brought another good save from McCormick and Furlong's injury time strike was correctly ruled out for offside. Chop chop.

A win would have been nice but that's two games drawn that we might have lost a month ago, and the table would look much, much worse for Rangers with two fewer points. The next two games are also against mid-table opposition (Ipswich away and Sheffield Wednesday at home) so let's hope to pick some more points up there.

Monday, February 19, 2007

News From The Front

There's a fairly detailed report on the QPR website of a meeting between representatives of the club and various supporters' groups, and also an official statement from the chairman. Basically everyone is denying that John Gregory is about to jump/get the push. While the result at Southend was a shocker, as was the performance by all accounts, I would still be extremely surprised if there was a change right now. Only two weeks ago, after the Burnley game, Paladini gave a long interview where he was very positive about the work Gregory was doing to move the club forward, and from my point of view I like the signings he has made so far and he at least deserves till the end of the season with those players.

Quite apart from anything else, who could we replace him with right now ? Almost any manager who is available right now has, by definition, failed in his latest job. The Star mentioned Joe Kinnear which is surely a joke ; Kinnear has been out in the cold since his disastrous spell at Nottingham Forest who, as it happens, were in a very similar position to that of QPR now when he took over. I have to say that I have warmed to Gregory since his arrival, I think he's had a huge job to do and he's making a decent fist of it. Having said that, I haven't seen any of the away games, 8 defeats on the spin away from home now, and Leeds away on Tuesday is another big game that I'm not holding out much hope for. Still, Hull, Barnsley and Southend were all "must-win" games that we lost, but the sky hasn't fallen in yet and we're still above the dotted line of doom, if only just.

In other news from that meeting, apparently QPR received threats from the triads in the wake of the now infamous Kung Fu Fighting. By the way, if you can't be bothered signing up to You Tube for this, you're not missing that much. Anyway, triads, cool, bring it on ! People should chill out over this kind of thing. At least our players were pulling together in a scrap, not hacking at each other with golf clubs in the middle of the night.

Another thing that hadn't occurred to me was that Rangers are due some more money from the Danny Shittu deal, £250K more if he starts two more games, and I'm sure Watford won't pull any stunts that sometimes happen in these cases with the position they're in and their recent upturn in form. Rangers are also due half a mill in the (fairly unlikely) event that Watford stay up, then again it's not impossible. As soon as Betfair goes back up I'm going to close out my Watford-to-go-down bet just so I can funk them properly to stay up. We could really use half a million right now, if only to keep the taxman off our backs. I might give the Hornets a better chance of survival than Charlton or (particularly) West Ham right now, and they host Wigan on Tuesday in a huge game.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Growing Old Together

I read a quite remarkable statistic on Football365 today, towards the end of an opinion piece about bringing back standing sections :

"just 9% of match going Premiership fans are under 24 with the average age of fans being 45"

That shocked me. Could it really be true ? It seems like it is :

Football Fading To Grey (January 2005)

I used to think that it would be time to stop going to football when I was older than all the players. That time is almost upon me. Surely Sheringham and Hessenthaler are going to chuck it in this summer and that will be that. However, it seems like according to this data I'm still a youngster, at least in Premiership terms.

Isn't that sad ? I think it's awful. What's going to happen 10 years from now ? Well, does anyone involved with the Premiership care ? And I don't absolve the Championship either, all of whom are fixated on shoving their way up to the trough with the rest of them. It's all so short-term. I'm seriously considering seeing this season out with QPR and then throwing my lot in with Enfield Town. At least then I might be doing something for the local community.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Anything To Forget

I have to do something to take my mind off the grisly events of last night. I could go to Barnet today but it looks a bit cold. Am I hardcore or what ? Yes, what. So, I'm definitely going to have a few bets. Now I spent all of 3 minutes picking these out so they're obviously quality :

Back Reading (H v Aston Villa) @ 2.24
Lay Everton (H v Blackburn) @ 2.18
Back Portsmouth (H v Man City) @ 2.16
Lay West Ham (H v Watford) @ 1.92
Back Barnsley (H v Colchester) @ 2.60
Back Barnet (H v Accrington) @ 2.00

I offer no explanation, no justification. Take them or leave them. There, that's better ... 5-0 to fucking Southend ! Oh bugger, I remembered. While I'm here, I'm not backing it myself, but bet the farm on Leeds to beat QPR on Tuesday. Or if you don't have a farm, lots of money.

Update : Leeds-QPR is Tuesday week (20th), sorry.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Misleading Headline Joke #4425

Monday, February 05, 2007

Newton's Law

I was just reading the Guardian Sport in the gym. As a reporter bemoaned the lack of quality on show in the Watford-Bolton game, he said "It was only the influence of Newton that kept the ball in the same parish as Vicarage Road". This threw me. Did Watford sign Shaun Newton without me realising ? Have Bolton introduced a kid called Newton from the youth team who shows a touch of class ? A quick check of the team line-ups and four re-reads of the relevant paragraph later, I realised he meant Isaac Newton. Had it not been for gravity, the ball would have found its way into orbit, although you could probably say that about most games. Er, no, you can't orbit without gravity, you would just zoom off into space. It's an amusing concept. Imagine a Ronaldo dive in zero G. All in all though, the day a football report thoroughly confuses me by being too highbrow and scientific, that's the day I worry that I'm losing it.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

QPR 3 Burnley 1

I don't think I can claim a full prediction victory here as it was at least one goal short of the "battering" I mentioned on Friday, and predicted before the game "if we get an early goal". After Sampsa Timoska made a last-ditch saving challenge early on, the goal arrived when Adam Bolder broke up a Burnley attack and sent a fine pass out to Lee Cook. Cook took it forward and, with the defender backing off, fired off a low drive that was a goal from the moment he hit it. One minor frustration with Lee Cook is that he ought to score more goals, he's definitely capable of doing this much more often.

Five minutes later though Burnley equalised, McCann finding the corner with a free header. Rangers had generally the better of it without creating too much, until 10 minutes into the second half Dexter Blackstock scored a very good goal, Cook's corner wasn't his to even win by rights but he burst in between two defenders and bulleted a header into the roof of the net. From this point the home side looked very solid, new signings Bolder and Danny Cullip calmed it all down, and most importantly passed it out of defence instead of lumping it away when Burnley threw on two more strikers. Steve Lomas made the game safe when he trundled into the six-yard box to meet Martin Rowlands' corner unchallenged, a poor goal for Burnley to concede but we'll take anything that's going.

With the new signings and the return of Rowlands and Ainsworth, Rangers looked a much more solid outfit, even bearing in mind that the opposition hadn't scored a goal for six weeks. Blackstock had a fine game in an unfamiliar formation, and Cook is back to his best. Other results went well and if this standard is maintained, we shouldn't have too much of a problem with the rest of the season. Burnley will be thankful that they amassed a decent haul of points in the first half of the season because they offered very little going forward. Akinbiyi looked off the pace and Cullip dealt with him very comfortably.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Living In The Moment

QPR take on Burnley tomorrow in the wake of yet another away defeat at Barnsley. This result leaves the Super Hoops in the dreaded bottom three, with the two teams below them, Leeds and Southend, both winning away to pull themselves ever nearer. And yet I am strangely upbeat about tomorrow's game.

For a start, I have a funny feeling that Rangers aren't just going to win a game soon, we're going to batter someone. Although this was slightly diminished by hearing Zesh Rehman say exactly the same thing on the website. I think that Bolder and Cullip are both good signings, certainly in that they are very much the type of players we need - experienced (but not past-it) professionals with a good reputation for being solid, consistent competitors at this level. Whether they are the actual players we need we'll just have to wait and see. I have seen Cullip play a couple of times for Brighton and IIRC he impressed.

Mainly though it's thinking about what is, really, the worst that could happen. I suppose the absolute worst is that the club could go bankrupt and fold completely. Even if they did, no doubt someone would start up some kind of AFC Wimbledon equivalent which might be a lot of fun. We'll call that the three-sigma worst case. The two-sigma worst case would be some kind of catastrophic descent through the leagues, along the lines of Oxford United. The one sigma case at the moment (which equates to about a 30% chance) would be relegation and another 2 or 3 seasons rebuilding in League One. We've been there and it wasn't that bad, there are compensations compared to scuffling around the arse end of the Championship.

Que sera sera. If this happens, it happens, and there's going to be fuck all I can do about it. Naturally this would mean that the better players, such as Cook, Rowlands, Jones etc., would have to be sold. In which case it's probably a good idea to appreciate them to the fullest while they're here. And whatever happens, no player lasts forever. There's hardly any point in sitting in League One next season thinking "God I wish we were in the Championship" if we don't enjoy being in the Championship while we're here, because we're so worried about relegation. Live in the moment. There are 16 games left, let's have a go and see what happens. Bring it on.