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QPR fans have their say...
QPR fans have their say...
Friday, 20th Jun 2008 10:29

Six QPR fans talk to LFW about the fixtures, the cup draw, potential signings and the European Championships.

As ever thanks to our message board users for volunteering, anybody who wants to get involved next time should e-mail loftforwords@yahoo.co.uk. In the meantime here's what Bradley Woodbridge, Dixie, Hoopstar, Mattnme, Platinum Andy and Tonto Cole have to say on the main issues of the week.

The fixtures are finally out and we don't have to go to Plymouth on Boxing Day! What do you think of the opening month and what other games stand out for you?

Bradley - To have Barnsley and Donny as our opening home games gives us a real chance of making our mark in the division. A good start is vital for us and we should be looking at six points in those games. Of, course, if we were to slip up in any of those games, pressure would pile up and this board for one would go into meltdown. Sheff Utd is a nasty fixture but it's on a Saturday so we should be there in numbers to cheer the boys on. See no reason why we can't go there and get the result. October is a stand-out month for me with Brum twice and tough away trips to Swansea and Reading so if at the start of November, we are in the mix, I'd be delighted. Also, if we were to be right up there come the end of the season, it's been documented already that our final game at Preston is only twelve miles away from our favourite destination - Blackpool. Imagine, sun, sea, beer and promotion in the bag...

Dixie - I think the opening month is a near perfect mix and challenge for us. As we saw at the back end of last season Barnsley are a team in decline and if they lose Howard as reports suggest they could be one for the drop. Jamal Campbell Ryce will probably have his annual game of the season against us but I am definitely expecting three points on the opening day. Sheffield United will be a sterner test and we have had mixed fortunes at Bramall Lane over the years. A reduced playing budget for the season ahead may hinder their promotion charge but they will still be a force on there day with the likes of Beattie and the ever improving Stephen Quinn in the team to cause problems. Doncaster will surely struggle from the off, having already lost the impressive Green to Derby I really can't see them being a threat to the league and at home we should take the points. A good start to the season by Donny will be essential if they are to avoid being this years Scunthorpe but one thing I am grateful of is that the fixture list says Doncaster twice and Leeds United is nowhere to be seen. Hopefully Bristol will still be suffering a play-off hangover and we can take advantage down there. Could be a case of second season syndrome as the illness is not just Premiership related and Bristol will struggle to repeat last season’s success even if they have one of the best managers outside the top flight in Gary Johnson. We took 4 points of them last season so confidence should be high on our trip to the West Country. Looking forward to local derby blitz at the end of November even if it will be tough on the wallet and on the pitch and of course the promotion party at home to Plymouth on the 25th April. A few long midweek journeys concern me but for once I’m looking at the fixture list and not cursing it as much as I have in recent years.

 

Hoopstar - Well, Barnsley at home 'should' be an easy start seeing as we beat them easily at HQ last season and with the rumoured signings we should be a stronger outfit on day one this campaign. Better than a couple of years ago getting Burnley away. Hopefully we can defeat them a la the way we destroyed Blackpool on opening day last promotion season. Sheff Utd away is a tough one, I went to the corresponding fixture last season and felt we could have turned them over then. They are a better team but it's the sort of ground where getting three points can be the difference between promotion and play offs, plays offs and seventh etc. It will be tough without Rowlands and Buzz that's for sure. Donny at home is again good and hopefully it'll be two out of two in the wins column by the end of August. I’ve tipped Bristol to really struggle this season so it will be interesting to see how we fare out in the West Country. If you want a points prediction then I'm going with eight. Victories at home, a scraped point in Yorkshire and a draw out of a game we should have won out near Wales . The games against Birmingham – pre-season favourites vs second favourites should be a good judge of where we are in October.

Mattnme - In many discussions I said I'd like us to start with Barnsley or Blackpool at home, so I'm more then happy to opening the season with Barnsley . Looking at the early fixtures I think most R's fans will be happy having Barnsley and Donny at home in our first three games. Given the missing players from the first few games this should be a great help to get early points on the board. Something we always seem to struggle with. The fixtures have been kinder to us more then in recent years so Charlton away is a bonus (my nearest game). I had set out three aways that I really wanted to do so it's a shame two of them are mid-week ( Swansea and Donny). I'll still do Swansea as a matter of pride.

Platinum Andy - The start of the new season has a reet strong South Yorkshire accent to it, with Barnsley, Sheffield United and Doncaster in the first three slots. Early season optimism, and beer and sunshine, should ensure a raucous atmosphere at the two home games, especially as both will be seen as eminently winnable. August’s two away games, against the Blades and Bristol City , will provide a more realistic preview of what the season is likely to bring. They’ll be dangerously full of confidence in the early season, but I believe we’ll see Bristol slip back to mid-table this time around. Sheffield United, on the other hand, have been quietly building momentum, and will give “free spending QPR” (which appears to be our new name), a real test. Verdict? Six out of six points at home, but just one from the other two. I won’t be unhappy with that, but expect the delusional fringe to use the very first dropped point of the season as a Dowie cudgel.

Living and drinking among the fake hoops of Berkshire, the two fixtures I quickly sought were the Reading ones, followed for family reasons, by Watford . Not as keen as some on Charlton away on Boxing Day as I don’t much fancy the traffic crawl across the grey suburbs of South London . Better than Plymouth , but an ideal world for me would have seen a trip to somewhere like Southampton or Reading . So be it.

Final day of the season away at Preston ? Interesting. I was there when we lost 5-0, on a humiliating afternoon that for many of us marked the end of the Gerry Francis/Iain Dowie era. The abiding memory I have of that afternoon is shrieking my dissatisfaction at Francis and Dowie as they trudged off the pitch at the end. Francis, as was his habit, stared at the ground, but I well remember Dowie with his head up, staring me in the eye as he passed within feet of me. I don’t mind saying that although I despised the pair of them at that moment, Dowie retained a sort of dignity while under fire that made a real lasting impression on me. I’ve never forgotten that look, and the pain in his eyes. How very fitting if I’m there again, this time cheering Dowie to the heavens as we celebrate promotion.

Tonto - The two home games, on paper, couldn’t be much better. I would be disappointed if we didn’t pick up a maximum haul from those two. In contrast the two away games look more difficult, Brizzle made it to the play off final and Sheff Utd ended the season like a train once they got rid of the worst manager ever. Hopefully Brizzle will get second season syndrome coupled with a play off final hangover, but I’d be happy with a draw from these games. The fact we don’t have to go on the longest journey ever on a Boxing Day is a plus, and two away games at the beginning of February means I’ve already started planning my skiing holiday.

Swindon Town away on a Tuesday night in the League Cup - a disaster waiting to happen or an ideal chance to banish recent bad memories and get on a good cup run?

Bradley - First of all, this game is a right stinker. Defeat written all over it. Would be quite happy to play the reserves and forget all about it really. The league is all that matters to me this year and this game is a distraction. Of course, if we went there and won two or three nil I'd be happy and getting excited at a chance of a big side at home, but sadly, it smacks of a loss at a shithole of a ground. Let me know when it's over.

Dixie - Regardless of whom we drew in the cup there would be a sense of doom and gloom given our cup failings in the last decade. Last season seemed a perfect opportunity to banish recent ghosts against Leyton Orient at Loftus Road. Unfortunately it wasn’t and it was the firsy of many an inept performance of the R’s under Gregory at the beginning of last season. Apart from our games many moons ago in the Premier League against Swindon, where we were most charitable, the memories are happy ones on the whole when I think of them. The 1-0 win thanks to Rowly’s early effort at a packed Loftus in our promotion season and the last minute Langley winner spring to mind. Both teams are at very different stages from the last time we met and I don’t think there is too much confidence that Swindon will be promoted to the second tier at the end of next season. Their squad is full of players with the “Could of been tag” firmly stuck to them and a bit of an unproven or experienced manager in Malpas. Hopefully with Dowie’s cup credentials of last year we can brush them aside and go on a little run. One thing for certain thank God it’s not Northampton Town………

Hoopstar - Let's just say I'll certainly be pleased if the proclaimed new era can bring with it a cure to the embarrassing League Cup defeats. Things are far brighter now then they were when we were outplayed by Orient last season. Our performances in the cup over the last decade or so has lessened my attraction to the only trophy we've ever won and miserable nights in Northampton etc. have all but killed it. Dowie seems to like it though and knocked Man Ure's reserves out last years with an inferior Coventry side. Who knows a victory at Swindon and I might cheer up a bit about it all.

Mattnme - Everytime we get a new manager I think this is the time we will end our cup hoodoo. I've given up on that one especially as we've not the best record at Swindon . I'm never that bothered about the cups because I'd rather see us do well in the league. Changing times at Rangers so we might do well in both but I'm not holding my breath.

Platinum Andy - They will be up for it, and we have a dreadful cup record in recent years, but this time I’m optimistic. It’s a short drive for me, so I’ll be at the match, and expect to see a QPR side fired up by a convincing win against Barnsley . I’m not a believer in omens or historical precedent, and just because we’ve failed so resoundingly in both domestic cups for so long, doesn’t mean it will continue. It has to stop somewhere, and with a new side, why not this year? It’s pointless trying to predict cup fortunes at the start of the competition as so much rests on how the draw goes, but with the new blood in the team, I see no reason to be anything but hopeful and confident about this game, and our chances of making progress in the competition.

Tonto - I have a good friend who’s a Swindle fan, and the trash e-mails have started already, although its more a case of ‘my teams going to lose because we’re rubbish in cups’ rather than who’s going to win. I’m going for a dull 0-0 and penalties compounded by the last train for London probably leaving before the penalties have finished. At least we aren’t so desperate for a good cup run to keep up the cash flow this year.

Still just the three players signed but Kaspars Gorkss surely soon to follow and Bobby Zamora, Lee Cook, Wes Hoolahan and Ched Evans all linked - which of the rumoured signings excited you the most? Where does the team need strengthening?

Bradley - Personally, I like the players we are linked with. Zamora would come with experience and ability in this league and would lead the line well whether it's Dex, Vine, Dave or whoever partnering him. Evans is a player I rate highly and would love to see him here although I wouldn't want us to break the bank for him. Get him in on loan so we can really check him out just to make sure we suit each other because the last time I got all excited about a youngster that arrived with potential was Ben Sahar and we know what happened there. The Cook situation is getting weary now - one way or another, sort it out now. Would be happy to see him back but will he be the same player? Really hope so. Of all the players linked with us, Watson is the player I really want us to get. He's top drawer this season and a player we could really build a team around. Would also weaken Palace somewhat which would be handy.

Dixie -I have to say being linked with Ched Evans is exciting for me. He scored some excellent goals for Norwich last year and took his debut goal for Wales very, very well. With the service he could receive next season from the level of players at the club, he could easily be this mythical 20 goal striker that we seem to so desperately need. Upfront definitely needs to be added to with only Pat, Dex and Angelo to be called upon at present thanks to Vine’s injury I think a loan with an option to buy would be the best bet just incase things don’t work out but the boy oozes class and composure when I’ve seen him. A fully fit flying Lee Cook would be nice for the natural width Dowie was chatting about and snaring Ben Watson from Palace would be a coup to annoy the hell out of Simon Jordan. It’s all a bit different from the John Curtis’s and Nardiello’s signing this time last year.

Hoopstar - I don't understand the negativity of some of our lot about the situation. Alberti is, admittedly, an unknown potential but Cerny and Ramage are both very good Championship signings. I’m half Geordie and that side of my family tree are all avid Newcastle barmies so get to a fair few games when I’m visiting. I remember being impressed by Ramage and my uncle, one of the country's great cynics, even liked him and wasn't best pleased at his departure. I liked Mancienne but he didn't want to play right back while it's Ramage’s favoured position so will be nice to have a proper right back in the side. He's ugly and tough as sin which helps in this league. Zamora is exciting for me - his overall link play will make for great watching if he sets up an understanding with Buzz, Rowly and HOPEFULLY Watson. The gingernuts would be the perfect signing for me - piss off the Palace (my least favourite of clubs bar Chelsea ) and the complete Championship midfielder. Him and Rowly pulling the strings is a central midfield you wouldn’t swap for too many in this league bar Muamba, if he stays, and Carsley at Brum perhaps. Evans also an exciting idea and a fit Cookie back would mean we'd be seriously strong in the overall midfield department although Buzz does seem slightly wasted playing on the right. Whatever does happen it's been an amusing distraction to the working day to glance at WATRB from time to time and read whatever wild, and 95% of the time inaccurate, predictions are being made.

Mattnme - It can be difficult to keep up with all of the players we are supposed to be interested in but of the ones that look to have a bit of truth I'd say the return of Cook and Watson and Zamora and and and and…

Platinum Andy - Ched Evans, like Figo and Zidane, seems like wishful thinking to me, and Gorkss I know little about. Of the others mentioned, and at the risk of being lynched, I feel more excited about Hoolahan and Zamora than Cook. We all like Lee, but this makes us sentimental. He has barely played for a whole year, and I think it could take him some time to get back to previous form. Do we have the patience for that in a season where expectation is so high? I prefer the stamina and enthusiasm of Hoolahan, who would hit the ground running – something he does an awful lot of. Zamora has never quite fulfilled his promise in the Premier League but a step backwards could be just right for him and us. He doesn’t feel he’s been given a fair chance at West Ham recently, and a move across London could wake him up again. I could see him grabbing the opportunity to bite back at his critics. He has a proven eye for goal, and his experience at Tottenham and West Ham can only have sharpened him for the game at our level. A combination of Zamora and the much-dangled Kevin Philips, along with Buzsaky, Vine and the pace of Agyemang, could turn QPR into a goal machine.

Tonto - The areas that need most strengthening are left wing and striker, so these players could fill these positions. I worry about Cook’s knee and Zamora ’s attitude, but they would be quality players at this level. Hoolahan and Gorkss at £250k a pop would be tremendous value for money and I’m glad the club aren’t spending willy nilly for the sake of it and are still seeking out a bargain. The one which excites me the most is the one you haven’t mentioned – Ben Watson. I’ve always rated him ever since he got me to the Champions League Final on Football Manager. Seriously though with Buzz, Vine and Rowly all out until September, we need help in the middle of the park. Ched Evans is the one who excites me the least – the memory of the highly rated Scot Sinclair and Ben Sahar’s time at LR is still at the forefront of my memory. Besides I would rather we played our own youngsters like Balanta and Rose than someone else’s.

How are you finding the European Championships without England ? Who do you think will win it?

Bradley - I've been watching it purely because it's football and it's on the telly. Have only been excited by a handful of games - mostly in the group of death where Holland really look the business. They look worthy winners if they carry on their good form. No other side has really impressed me which annoys me because this is a tournament where England could really have dominated had it not been for that clown McLaren. Good to see France finish bottom with Makelele and Gallas failing to hide their embarrassment. God, I hate those two. Still, the tournament has filled the void and once it ends, it's only a short while before proper football is back and whether we see a team justifying the shocking price hikes or one playing in front of a half full Loftus Road...

Dixie - To be honest I didn’t think I would give stuff about the whole thing without England involved, but I have been pleasantly surprised with some of the most entertaining games at a major tournament I can remember in ages and some nice shocks along the way. Portugal and the Dutch have been a pleasure to watch and even some of the underdogs and less fashionable teams have had there merits. Individually Poldoski, Deco, Villa and Sneijder have been awesome so far. It’s so hard to nail on a winner at the moment with Portugal probably meeting Germany in the quarter finals and the Dutch possibly peaking too early. I’ll go out on a limb and say don’t discount the Italians at this stage for an outside bet.

Hoopstar - Never been big on the England front. The 1990 World Cup as a young un' was too much for me I fear and I’ve felt an emotional detachment to the side ever since (helped admittedly by the 1994 debacle) so our failure to qualify for the Euro's was a big ball of nothingness for me. Has been highly enjoyable watching the Dutch destroy the two teams that played in that awful game of football that was the last world cup final. My heart says the Dutch but you just fear their game will fall apart if they have to play someone irritating like the Germans. Despite their defeat to Croatia my head says Germany for the title. They just have that habit of winning that the far superior Spanish and Dutch sides don't. Ballack and Frings is a pretty good central midfield and they're strong up front even if that Mario Gomes is having a mare of a tournie.

Mattnme – The tournament has been far, far better without England . Partly because we don't have to live in the false hope that they might win it and partly because I think it has been a good tournament. I'd love the Dutch to win their football has been great.

Platinum Andy - The absence of England means the absence of trauma. No disappointment; no post-penalties stress disorder. But it’s like stopping drinking for a while. You feel better for an existence without hangovers, but some of the fun gets thrown away at the same time. Euro 2008 makes you realise how important fear is to the enjoyment of football. Without a sense of dread, it’s hard to feel truly engaged with the experience. But leaving aside Hornbyesque whimsy for the moment, there is something to be said for being able to take it or leave it. Something to be said for being able to sit back and enjoy a game without having to care too much.

Like every football tournament, Euro 2008 has been hit and miss so far. Let’s be honest, tournaments are always padded out with no-hope sides (making England ’s failure all the grimmer), and like the Champions League, it only gets really interesting once the knock-out rounds appear. Sudden death - great phrase - sums up exactly how the losing fans feel at the final whistle.

I suspect that most neutrals-of-a-certain-age like me want Holland to win. They are “one of us”. Beer-sploshing, roll-up manufacturing hedonists. And any football fan alive in the seventies will remember the ‘total football’ of Cruyff and the Dutch with affection; and a lingering sense of sadness that they didn’t collect the trophies their football deserved. Twice World Cup runners up, and something tells me that they’ll just miss out again this time around. Football rarely works out the way it ought to. This year’s Champion’s League final was a rare example.

Tonto - At the beginning I didn’t think I would watch very much, other than the Czech games (Mrs Tonto is Czech). But I’ve found myself watching quite a few games, only switching off if they are dull (Austria vs Germany for example). The Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish have all looked good and played exciting football, while the Greeks ‘anti-football’ got what it deserved. The surprise for me is how badly most of the ‘big guns’ have been – England didn’t even make it, while France are out and Italy are lucky to still be in. Germany have got through but mostly because they were in an easy group. I still have a sneeking position the Germans will grind their way through and the exciting teams will taste ‘glorious defeat’. Spain vs Germany in the finals and the Germans to win on penalties.

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How can any true Rangers fan want and say zamora better than we have at the Rangers? How will he improve us when hes done nothing anywhere else - Jason

 

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