Posh have started the season with two victories, and they will be looking to make it a hat-trick as they travel to Sky Bet Championship side Queens Park Rangers tomorrow.
Heading into the EFL Cup First Round tie, these two clubs have had very different starts to the season. Posh have beaten Bristol Rovers and Rochdale 2-1 and 4-1 respectively whereas Steve McClaren’s side have lost their two opening fixtures.
The EFL Cup is well-known for upsets, but many managers view it as a midweek inconvenience and instead choose to rotate the squad, offering the chance for promising youngsters and squad players to be given a run out. After two defeats in a row will McClaren want to claim his first victory of the season and stop the rot by fielding his first eleven?
Ahead of this juicy cup tie we spoke with a QPR fan page, LoftforWords, for an insight into the West London club.
Here is a look at what they had to say about their club’s history in cup competitions:
“QPR’s cup record in the modern era is absolutely abysmal to the point of embarrassing. In the FA Cup, especially, we are biblically bad. We’ve recently overtaken Plymouth Argyle for the most first stage exits in the competition, and haven’t been beyond the fourth round, or won a tie without the aid of a replay, since Trevor Sinclair’s bicycle kick.”
“Our League Cup record is only marginally better. Again, we seem to pull the same teams every time (Swindon and Northampton alternating) and more often than not we’re beaten in either this round or the one after by a team from the division below. We lost 4-1 to Brentford last season in round two, and then working back from there we’ve had early round exits to Sunderland, Carlisle, Burton, Swindon, Reading, Rochdale, Port Vale and on and on it goes.”
“We view this with a mixture of apathy and dread and, as you’ll see from the almost completely empty stadium tomorrow night, most people have just stopped bothering attending it all together. It’s a terrible shame. It’s the only major trophy we’ve ever won and we’re now contributing to the devaluation of it. We’re never going to win the Premier League, and we’re struggling to even compete in the Sky Bet Championship, so why we toss away our place in this so freely every year I don’t know.”
Speaking about the team, the QPR fan page expect a relatively strong XI to be named.
He said: “There’s not much to rotate to be honest, and after starting with two defeats you would think they’d want to try and put a win on the board just to get a bit of confidence going. I’d expect Grant Hall, who’s an important defender/defensive midfielder for us but has been out for a year with a bad knee injury, to try and get 45 minutes under his belt, and our promising young keeper Joe Lumley might get a start.”
“We’ve got three talented youngsters who play behind the main striker in a 4-2-3-1 set up – Ebere Eze, Paul Smyth and Bright Osayi-Samuel. Eze is a sort of maverick number ten playing in a free role and the other two, signed from Linfield and Blackpool respectively, have got a lot of pace and threat down the flanks. We’re basically hanging the whole season on those three.”
Former England, Middlesbrough and FC Twente manager Steve McClaren was appointed over the summer to replace Ian Holloway at the helm. McClaren has had a bit of a mixed career, and perhaps his most famous moment is the “wally with the brolly” incident. We asked LoftForWords how this appointment went down with fans at Loftus Road:
“Steve McClaren is popular at the club after a previous coaching spell, but it was a very different time then with loads of money being spent and a squad full of talented players,” he said.
“The idea that we get a coach in to improve the kids we have and build them into a competitive team and then sellable assets is sound in logic, but proving difficult in practice.”
It seems that McClaren’s appointment has split the QPR fans, but not quite as much as Ian Holloway did during his time at the club.
We asked LoftForWords what their verdict on Holloway was, and here is what they had to say:
“Holloway was brought in to reduce the size of the squad and the wage bill, move senior players on, blood the talented youngsters we have coming through, and keep us competitive in the Championship while doing it. He did all of that so you could say his sacking was harsh. However, his erratic behaviour and wildly fluctuating team selections rubbed people up the wrong way and wasn’t seen as helpful to a young squad, and our chronic inability to ever win away from home didn’t ever look like it was close to being solved, so you could say it was job done but time to shake hands and move on.”
Rangers have started the 2018/19 season with two disappointing results, most notably a 2-1 home defeat to Sheffield United following a 1-0 loss away at Deepdale to Preston North End. Neither of these teams have been tipped for promotion and the loss to the Blades on home turf certainly raised a few eyebrows. We asked how they felt about the start to the campaign:
“They were tough games to start with, with both teams massively underrated by the bookies this year, and we’ve lost a lot of senior players from the team over the summer without much by way of replacement. We kicked around sixteenth all of last season but since then we’ve lost our outstanding goalkeeper and both the centre halves in front of him, as well as the captain and several big characters from the dressing room. It’s a big ask to try and do the same again with less at your disposal. I predicted sixteenth again before we started and I’d bite your hand off for it if you offered me it now.”
It wasn’t so long ago that QPR were playing in the dizzy heights of the Premier League, but relegation has taken its toll on the club who have not posed a major promotion push in what seems like a age. It is not uncommon for former top flight sides to find themselves dropping down to League One, most notably Southampton, Leicester City, Leeds United and Sunderland.
So what is it like to be playing against the big boys and could QPR find themselves back in the big time or following others down the League One?
“We feel about as far away from promotion as ever at the moment. It wasn’t a great experience because you’re essentially just there to try and get ten wins and seven or eight draws together as quickly as possible, secure seventeenth place and get yourself off on holidays – with both the cup competitions seen as an unwanted distraction. Harry Redknapp publicly admitted that he saw all the away games as “bonus games” because all the other teams had better players than us, and we lost all 12 of the away games he was in charge for away from home in 2014/15 – at £54 and upwards for a ticket each time.”
“We had some fantastic moments up there, beating Spurs, Arsenal, Liverpool having been 2-0 down and so on, but we wasted a great opportunity to build our club for the next generation. We spent all the TV money, all the prize money, all the money the board put in, on footballers and their agents that thought they were better than they actually are. We went from sort of everybody’s second favourite team to being “everything that’s wrong with football”. We saddled ourselves with horrible people, on huge contracts, who didn’t give a stuff about us, and we got relegated twice in three years. It’s the only place to be if you do it properly, but if you don’t it’s an expensive and soul destroying experience.”
Like Posh have in Darragh MacAnthony, QPR have an owner who sometimes divides opinion but is very vocal on social media and regularly communicates with the fans.
Here is what the QPR fan page had to say about their owner:
“Tony Fernandes is the front man for the Tune Group which own the club and does all the speaking, tweeting and interviews for the board and we maybe hear from him a bit too much.”
“Nobody can argue that it’s gone well. A new training ground development has become mired in NIMBY red tape and while that’s no fault of the club’s it does mean that we’ve spent the thick end of £500m to go from being a newly promoted Premier League club when they took over to a club struggling to stay in the Sky Bet Championship now. They’ve made some colossal mistakes, by their own admission, and the club is now in the long, slow, drawn out process of recovering from those mistakes and FFP breaches, getting back on its feet and being run sensibly.”
“Opinion is split between them being completely incompetent and needing to go, or simply being naïve and having their pants pulled down by unscrupulous agents and tosspot managers like Hughes and Redknapp. The one thing you can say for them is they pay for their mistakes themselves – they’ve converted most of the debt accrued into equity, so the club isn’t massively in debt despite haemorrhaging money on their watch.”
Like so many Posh strikers before him, such as Dwight Gayle and Britt Assombalonga, Conor Washington secured a big money move away from the club, moving to Loftus Road after impressing under former Posh boss Graham Westley. However, Championship life has proved tough for Washington.
“It has not gone well. You want it to work for him, because we desperately need a goalscorer and he seems like a good kid who works hard, but it’s getting towards the point now where it would be best for both parties to go our separate ways,” LoftForWords said.
“He’s had ample first team opportunity, and the early excuses about Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink flogging him to death as a lone striker weren’t applicable when Ian Holloway took over. A couple of times he’s gone on a little run and you think he might be getting it, and he scored twice on the opening day of last season to make you think it might be a big breakout year. But the Championship looks a little bit much for him overall.”
We then turned our attentions to the free scoring new look Posh team who have started this season emphatically, even without last seasons top scorer Jack Marriott, and how tomorrow’s fixture may pan out.
We asked LoftForWords which Posh players they feared the most ahead of tomorrow’s game:
“You’ve signed a couple of lads who’ve spent time with my two former hometown clubs – Siriki Dembele from Grimsby and Ivan Toney who spent most of the last two seasons on loan at Scunthorpe. I’m interested to see them both again – Dembele looks like a raw talent, Toney always feels like he’s on the cusp of being a decent player without ever quite getting there. Other than that, the obvious Marcus Maddison who looks Championship level to me, and I think Godden is a good signing from Stevenage”
Tomorrow’s game is a difficult one to call, but that didn’t stop LoftForWords from having a go:
“History tells us we’ll lose 2-0 or 2-1 in front of five men and a dog. It really depends how seriously you lot are going to take it. Fingers crossed we get that first win on the board, which we could well do if we can get our exciting young attackers on the ball and running at your defence.”
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