Despite His White Boots

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

Thursday, December 10, 2009

You Know What ?

To hell with them all. Specifically at QPR, where I don't care who's to blame or what really happened, the fact is they're all being paid fortunes, of our money, and they can't get the job done without poncing about in strops and sacking each other every half a season, while clubs run on a shoestring like Watford and Blackpool put them to shame with their character, team spirit, togetherness and work ethic right through the club (not just the players).

And on a broader level, I've already invested far too much of my time on people who don't even know who I am. I mock the celebrity culture and how people seem to care about "celebs" who wouldn't give them the time of day, and yet I do it myself, spending far too much of my time thinking about footballers or poker players who, for all their faults, certainly spend 0.00000% of their time thinking about me or anyone like me.

I'm probably going to close this blog down in the New Year. I'll just give it a couple of weeks as I have a lot of previous for changing my mind .. but I hope I'll stick to this one. If I devoted that time to thinking about friends and family instead it would be better for me and everyone around me.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Alternatively ...

... they could suspend the manager amidst reports of manager and players throwing head-butts and offering each other out. Jesus, what a laughing stock.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

What QPR Should Do

I read this on the BBC website today. How many times have we seen this kind of story about QPR ? I'm not going to comment on individual players, as my sample size of 2 games this season is probably unfair, but I've seen enough of the way the club has been run let's say post-Holloway to be able to make more general comments. What QPR need to do is to stop being so fixated on promotion and try, in a Zen-like way, to properly attend to what they're doing step by step. Basically, build a team, try to play good football and see where that takes you. It might lead to promotion. It might not. If you get it right, that won't matter so much, but you'll still have a better chance of achieving the goal anyway. So here are my proposals :

1) Most importantly, enough with the loans. I don't see the point of Helguson being at Watford (with QPR still paying half his wages) while Simpson is here, Ephraim being at Leeds while Watson is here, Balanta kicking his heels while Tarrabt is here, and so on. Now the players who are currently here on loan probably are a bit better. But not much. And they can't possibly be as committed. Any medium-term improvement in these players, particularly the younger players like Tarrabt and Simpson, is of no benefit to QPR. Bringing in a player on loan should be a last resort. Chuck some young players in, see how they get on. Give your squad players some game time. They might surprise you. One sole exception is if you're thinking about spending big money on a player and there's an option to "try before you buy", then absolutely, make sure he has the character and the commitment. If that's the case with Watson, then I'll make an exception for him. Even with the players currently injured (Connolly, Cook, Rowlands, Mahon), Rangers could put this team out with no loan players : Cerny ; Ramage, Stewart, Gorkss, Borrowdale ; Routledge, Leigertwood, Faurlin, Balanta ; Buzsaky ; Agyemang. And still have Vine, Helguson, Ephraim and Hall on the bench.

2) Enough with the foreign players. I can't think of a single one who has been value for money post-Holloway [2]. Faurlin looks OK but cost a fortune. Ledesma was hyped to the stars and played about two good games. At least that was two more than Parejo managed. Instead ...

3) If you're going to spend decent money, bring in leaders. We need one leader who knows this division in defence, in midfield and in attack. It's unfortunate that both Rowlands and Mahon are injured at the moment, as they fit the bill. But we have no leader in defence and no focal point for the attack. The lack of leadership in the side was brutally exposed by Middlesboro on Saturday as QPR fell apart in the second half. Meanwhile if there's one thing the fans can do it's stop moaning at players like Mahon when they misplace the odd pass. Everyone can't play this tippy-tappy boutique football, you need someone to dominate the opposition physically and we as fans need to accept that these players at this level won't be as good technically.

4) Build your squad by taking punts on young players from lower divisions. You only need one Michael Kightley or Jack Rodwell to pay for all the ones that don't come off. Give them a chance when the squad is needed rather than bringing in another loanee on big wages from another club. It's not that long ago that QPR saved their season in the top-flight by bringing in Darren Peacock, Rufus Brevett and Andy Tillson from lower divisions. One was sold for £2.5 million profit [1], one was a good servant to the club for many years and OK the other didn't work, big deal.

5) Cut admission prices and cut wages accordingly. Alright we're stuck with players on big wages. If they don't merit them, ship them out. Explain the situation to the supporters, we're not complete idiots, and the goodwill generated by not asking anyone for more than £25 to watch Championship football will go a long way. Sign players on shorter contracts but promise them they will be extended if they do well (and of course keep those promises). OK, sometimes a player might do well and move onwards and upwards when his contract expires causing you to miss out on a fee - swallow it. It's better than paying players off for long contracts or having uncommitted players hanging around drakking up the dressing room because you can't afford to pay them off and no one wants to buy them.

6) Give your manager more time and let him get on with it. Every manager since Holloway has been constantly looking over his shoulder. The immediate pressure to get results has often mandated paying over the odds for transfers, bringing in too many loan players, not giving youngsters a chance, etc. Invariably the axe has fallen medium-term anyway, and so a new manager comes in who wants his own players and his own system. Managers should only be changed mid-season if the team is absolutely falling apart and/or in imminent danger of relegation IMO.

7) Invest more money in youth system obv, do I even have to explain this one ?

Do those things, build a team, be honest with supporters and do the best you can. I'd buy into that and I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of fans would too. Unfortunately I have no confidence whatsoever that the current owners are prepared to do any of these things.

Cliff notes : Why would any QPR manager even try to build a team with a view to being stable and successful in 3 years time, when he knows he won't be there ?

[1] Many people, myself among them, date the start of the club's decline to the sale and non-replacement of Darren Peacock.

[2] Buzsaky is an exception but remember he had already played 100 games for Plymouth. I'm talking about players with no experience of English football.

Despite All My Rage

... I am still just a rat in a cage. Victoria Coren made an interesting point in an interview she did recently (there's a link to the interview in the blog). When asked if poker was addictive, she said that it wasn't because you have some control over the outcome, whereas blackjack and roulette are far more addictive because (card counting aside) there's basically nothing you can do but put your bets down and hope.

It had never occurred to me that this is a big part of why watching football is so addictive too. It's the random jolts of pleasure and pain. Say you have your lab rat in a cage with a button to press. For a while, it gives out food. Then it gives an electric shock. Pretty soon the rat will stop pressing it despite the fact that it previously gave out food. Now you take another rat and give out food/shocks randomly for a bit. Then switch to just shocks. The rat will keep pressing it forever. This is fact by the way, scientific fact [1]. In football, not only do you have your random wins and losses, you can watch the game and have your pleasure/pain hits of goals for/against, and then you can watch all the games funking for someone depending on how you bet or just how much you hate each particular team/manager ... it seems endless.

I'm trying to wean myself off it, basically. The best way is to just go and do something else when the games are on, and see how they turn out afterwards. It's not easy on a night like last night when I was sat at home with no other games on, and on Saturday I was actually at the game (having rashly pre-bought tickets for 4 games throughout the season) suffering every kick. Maybe I'd be singing a different tune if I'd been at a couple of the games where QPR whacked someone else for 4 or 5 this season, instead of the only two home defeats (bok), then again it's just another peak or trough in the endless graph. It's pretty annoying that on Friday and Monday afternoon I played a great round of golf (2 out of my best 3 ever), only to allow myself to be knocked off my cloud because one team of over-paid hired guns lost to another, and I think, for me, it has to stop.

[1] By which I mean I read it somewhere and it suits my argument.