Wednesday, 16 January 2013

#19 A Glimmer of Hope

After a dismal Christmas that culminated with QPR ending the year on only ten points, seemingly staring relegation in the face, we are now two league games and a cup game in to the new year and remain undefeated.

Celebrating going one up at Chelsea
We began the year with the daunting task of visiting a free scoring Chelsea at the Bridge and after our disappointingly poor showing against Liverpool few people could see anything less than the kind of hiding they gave us there last season. Nevertheless three thousand plus R's made the short journey having splashed out ridiculous amounts of money for a ticket at a time of the year when money was tight and they were deservedly rewarded with the shock result of the season as "Little Old" QPR beat the European Champions on their own manor. R's fans every where were jumping around in delirium even though we remained bottom of the league, it didn't matter, we had beaten Chelsea. In fact they have not scored against us this season and we have taken four points off them. More importantly, it was an enormous turning point in the epic journey that our players have embarked on in their quest to secure our premier league survival. This result meant so much to everyone that is QPR (fans, player or staff) and you could see it on their faces at the final whistle. The travelling R's had been in magnificent voice all night and the players revelled in it as, at long last they were able to give something back to the loyal R's fans. Wright-Philips was our goalscoring hero on the night, eventually breaking his premier league goal scoring drought (after over nine hundred days) but disappointingly did not celebrate his goal due to some misguided respect to his former club. It was quite fitting that he managed to score here tonight, as he was having a shocking game till he scored, but that's football and that's three points that nobody had counted on us achieving and can be offset against the points we expected over Christmas. More importantly, Harry sorted out the shambles from the  Liverpool game immediately and although we nicked the win we thoroughly deserved our clean sheet as every one worked their socks off as a cohesive unit, finally getting all eleven players to put an effective shift in. Much as we all love beating our foes in SW6, we've still got to build on this result to turn this disaster of a season around, so our feet must remain firmly on the ground.
Next up was WBA at Loftus Road in the cup and an unsurprisingly low attendance. Considering the two home games over Christmas followed by Chelsea away and the clubs insistence on charging silly money for tickets to this game, you would have thought they would have learnt from Chelsea in the cup last year. The game itself was quite uneventful and was never going to meet the euphoric levels of our shenanigans at Stamford Bridge days earlier. It did give Harry a chance to blood new signing Tal Ben Haim as well as have a look at returning loanees DJ Campbell and Bothroyd. Ben Haim had a solid game although he was asked to play at left back as a right footer and Bothroyd had a brief outing without doing very much and I cant see Harry including him in the squad of twenty five at the end of the month. Campbell who has been scoring freely whilst on loan at Ipswich, didn't get much of an opportunity as QPR's second half dominance failed to produce any clear cut opportunities for Campbell to capitalise on. The R's early second half dominance eventually petered out and they conceded a silly goal late on, but Dyer equalised for the Hoops in injury time to secure a replay at the Hawthorns. Dyer was subsequentley released by the club before the clause enabling them to do so expired, as Harry started to shuffle and make room for his twenty five man squad for the end of January. Harry's motives I suspect being Dyer's lack of availability due to injury and he didn't want to risk a place in the twenty five. Not a bad player, shame we didn't see much of him and I wish him well, but right call from Harry I think.

Following the cup game news began to break that our dependable centre half Ryan Nelsen had accepted the managers role at Toronto FC in the MLS. We are still unsure as to when Nelly will actually leave the R's, but I'd say it is unlikely to be before we have a replacement. Sadly some R's fans have been slating him and seem to have forgotten he was the only one to lead the team during the dark days of the previous manager. Nelsen signed for QPR as a squad player, but he has ended up being our first choice centre half and has arguably been our best player this season. The 35 year old Kiwi has openly said that his ankles and knees are made of glass and I'm amazed we've got this many games out of him. He has played through illness and given his all to the cause of QPR and I wish him well.

Dyer late equaliser before his exit from QPR
Further transfer speculation involving QPR is the continuing tug of war with Newcastle over the signing of Loic Remy, (I doubt very much if R's misfit, Joey Barton, has done much to sell the club to Remy, in fact he's probably encouraged him to go to the Toon.) whilst we continue to be linked with M'Vila and are currently preparing an improved bid for Peter Odemwingie. At the time of writing, it looks likely that we will also secure the services of Jake Livermore on loan for the rest of the season. On the players out front, Cisse is being linked with a move abroad and rumours are surfacing that Chelsea are interested in Mbia.

Away from all the transfer rumours, QPR welcomed Harry's old club Spurs to Loftus Road on Saturday and a very good performance from the R's earned a creditable draw. Harry got the troops to turn out another hard working and organised performance, as the R's managed to secure their first consecutive clean sheets in the premiership. Onuoha and Fabio occupied full back roles alongside captain Hill and Nelson, with this back four configuration seeming to be our most successful combination and Onuoha had a good game and looked settled in the right back role. However, it was the collective work rate of the team that earned this result and is the reason behind the good start to the year. Cesar made a few outstanding saves, proving his claim as first choice keeper. Wright-Philips recent form continued in so much as he's not as bad as he has been, but he is still not good enough or the answer. QPR's three best chances fell to him, but he failed to convert and I can't help thinking that the likes of Campbell etc would have put at least one of those chances away, which is what we need to to if we want to stay in this league. By the end of the day other results were not kind to us, but our last two games have produced four points when those around us were expecting us to achieve none.

Bothroyd scores to secure cup win
I was going to finish with the Spurs game, but I have waited for the cup replay at WBA. Another thousand odd faithful QPR travelled up in the freezing conditions to the Hawthorns to be rewarded by another QPR victory away from home. Harry made six changes to the side from Saturday starting both Cisse and Bothroyd. Cisse was pretty woeful in the freezing conditions and was replaced by Wright-Philips halfway through, but Bothroyd seized his chance and produced arguably his best performance in a QPR shirt and nodded in the winner to put the R's into the last 32 and a home tie with MK Dons. Green is reported to have made some fine saves and more importantly the collective effort of the team that Harry put out replicated the ethos and work rate of Saturday and it would seem our Harry has got through to his players and they are beginning to deliver. Many had thought this fixture to be a non event and one we could do without, but the victory has made me feel good and the all important momentum has continued as we find ourselves unbeaten in four games in 2013. Of these four games we have conceded only one goal, had three clean sheets and surprisingly our goalscorers were Wright-Philips, Dyer and Bothroyd. In 1982 we won a 3rd round replay that no one fancied up at Middlesboro after a late equaliser in the home tie, and that year we got all the way to the final, you never know we might have a good run in the cup this year.

Loic Remy signs for QPR

Finally as I complete this blog post, QPR have just confirmed the signing of Loic Remy from Marseilles (No thanks to Barton,but big thanks to Fernandes and Mbia) and the signing of M'Vila is looking imminent. Bottom of the table and people still want to sign £or u$. Here's hoping these guys love the club and deliver.

Next up is West Ham away this Saturday, who will have one day less to prepare as they have a replay at Man U to negotiate and a number of injury worries. We need to get at least a point from there. In Harry we trust, thanks for the nice start to the new year and thanks for giving us a glimmer of hope.

Come on You R's

The Bush Ranger

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