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Queens Park Rangers v West Ham United

Filed: Friday, 24th April 2015
By: Preview Percy

Preview Percy. If ever there was a person you shouldn't give your bank details to....

Next up we traipse across London to Shepherd’s Bush in the Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham where our hosts at Loftus Road will be Queens Park Rangers. Kick-off is 3pm on a Saturday, a revolutionary concept that might just prove popular amongst supporters. I’m surprised nobody thought of it before.

There are engineering works in the environs with there being no Central Line west of White City, so should you live on the wrong side of town bear that in mind.

Our hosts are in a wee spot of lumber at present. They are second from bottom at the moment, their -21 goal difference keeping them above Burnley whose tiebreaker currently sits at -25. They are two points behind Leicester and Hull and a further point behind Sunderland, although crucially they have played a game more than all three of those teams. Time to fret a bit then.

For much of this season they were managed by some chap called Redknapp whose main claim to fame is that he is the father of that idiot of the same surname who comes on and trots out complete twaddle at half-time on Sky. Redknapp senior quit the club at the beginning of February this year, citing a forthcoming knee operation as the reason for his departure.

Now I’m not saying I disbelieve him but if there is anyone out there who actually bought that as an explanation, would you mind awfully emailing me with your bank details as I have a business proposition I’d like to put your way involving some funds some guy in West Africa has sitting in a bank account formerly owned by someone with the same surname as you. Let’s put it this way, as an excuse it was about as believable as “that money was just resting in my dog’s bank account”. Indeed subsequent comments from the not at all a tax dodger himself suggest that all was not hunky dory behind the scenes.

The hot seat is currently occupied by the well-mannered Chris Ramsey who is being aided and abetted by former Hammer and not at all a kid’s programme garden vandal Les Ferdinand. Ferdinand currently has the role of “Director Of Football” at Shepherd’s Bush, though quite how this differs from the title “Head Of Football Operations” that he was given when he arrived at the club back in Autumn you’d have to ask them.

Ferdinand’s role has not extended as far as indulging in a spot of nepotism for his distant relative Rio, who has hardly been over-utilised since his move from Salford in the close season. It’s not the brightest of records – they won two and drew one of the 12 matches in which he’s featured so far and he hasn’t appeared since the home defeat to Spurs at the end of March. Officially he has some sort of vague “muscular injury” from which no return date is recorded. That being the case, it is likely that he has kicked his last ball in professional football having announced his retirement at the end of this season. I have no idea what he is going to do in retirement but the prospect of his having a lot of spare time on his hands has certainly got the nations traffic officers salivating.

Barring accidents, one ex-Hammer we will be seeing on the pitch will be Rob Green. The fact that they are still in with any sort of chance of staying up is probably due in no small manner to some of the heroics he’s been pulling off between the posts this season. It was therefore slightly unfortunate that his miskick in their last match against Chelsea a couple of weeks back eventually led to the visitors netting the only goal of the game in a match from which they looked like picking up an unexpected point.

Perhaps mindful of the financial Armageddon that could still be foist upon them by the Football League should they be relegated they didn’t exactly bruise the chequebook in the last window. In fact the only permanent deal involved the signing of someone called Ryan Manning from Galway United. As an 18 year old he currently resides in the “one for the future” file with his pitch time being spent in the reserves (or Development Squad if you really insist.

They also brought in a player on loan. Mauro Zarate hopped onto the Hammersmith & City line on a deal designed to keep him there until the end of the season. It’s fair to say that Zarate has not had the happiest of times since his return to English football. There is undoubtedly talent there – though this was tempered by issues with decision-making from the little I saw of him before his departure. You know the sort of thing, passing when you scream at him to shoot and vice-versa.

Having not got much of a look-in at the Boleyn, in what was to be Redknapp’s last signing for QPR Zarate upped sticks and, in what may or may not turn out to be a bridge-burning exercise (depending on who’s in charge next season), had a verbal swipe at the Manager on his way out, suggesting that Allardyce’s reluctant to select the player stemmed from the fact that he was a “Sullivan Signing”. Allardyce was not slow to respond to the jibe, claiming the player’s non-selection resulted from his not being good enough for selection, rather than for political reasons. Whatever the truth, the grass has not exactly been greener on the other side of town for Zarate however.

Rangers were apparently “shocked” at the player’s lack of fitness when he turned up at their training ground in January and, despite being placed on a special fitness regime, sightings of the player in action have been on the rare side. Strange really, after all it was most unlike Harry to sign a player who never plays.

Top scorer is Charlie Austin who has 17 in all competitions this term. There have been calls – mainly from postcodes beginning “W – something” it has to be said – for the player to be granted international status. However, I think he will in the long term prove to be a little short of the class required to perform at the top level. That sort of level usually means you are a shoe-in as far as Hodgson is concerned so it was a bit of a surprise when Hodgson didn’t pick the player for the squad – after all at any given time many of Hodgson’s squads look like competition winners picked to do some training so Austin wouldn’t look out of place alongside the likes of, say, Smalling for example.

They also have another ex-Hammer up front in the form of Bobby Zamora. It was his winner in last season’s playoff final that got them up in a match that even Redknapp was slightly embarrassed at having won, such had been Derby’s dominance. It wasn’t the first playoff winner he’d got of course – memories of that day out in Cardiff all those years ago come flooding back. Though he’s now in his 30’s and has been used more off the bench than as a starter in recent years, he still has a bit about him as evidenced by the marvellous finish he stuck away against West Brom the other week and he’ll need to be watched.

Us? Last weekend? Dreadful. As I sort of predicted, we sat back and gave them far too much respect so that late on and, even had we converted one of the chances we managed to create, it would have been too late for us to get what would have been an undeserved point out of the game. “We made it easy for them” claimed the manager which only tells part of the truth really. You have to ask why that was. The team appeared to go out in the hope of keeping the scores level for as long as possible and trying to nick something on the break. Now the 64,000 dollar question is whether or not those tactics were a) as per instructed by the management; or b) just a by-product of some form of inferiority complex brought on by coming up against a quadrillionaire’s plaything. If the answer is “a” I’d suggest that it was a major tactical error. The blathering about the need to keep clean sheets goes out of the window once a goal has been scored but we didn’t seem to change a thing. If the answer is “b” than it’s something that ought to have been sorted out by this time of the season. In either case it’s a situation that does not reflect well on the management – no matter how much time is spent blame-shifting.

One thing that was outside our control was the rather disgraceful spot of punditry from Sky regarding the clearly accidental coming together of Silva and Kouyate. I guess you kind of expect that sort of rubbish to spout forth from Jamie Carragher who, even for a Scouser, is a bit thick and is about as useful as a pundit as he was a player (clue: Zavon Hines used to give him the runaround). Similarly, since Glenn Hoddle probably thinks that Silva’s injury resulted from something he did something wrong in a previous life, you can usually discount anything he says. However, I had rather expected better of Niall Quinn.

It was almost as if Sky had prodded them to say something controversial in a “Bill Grundy/Sex Pistols” sort of way (an apt analogy as both involved someone geeing up a bunch of dumb chancers). Either the three unwise monkeys genuinely thought that Kouyate had gone for Silva deliberately – in which case they are even more stupid than I thought – or, more likely, they just wanted to appear controversial for the sake of it. Sadly, since their current involvement in football is at the periphery of the game, there is no chance of the FA actually using those “bringing the game into disrepute” charges (or whatever they call them these days) for the purpose for which they were originally intended, rather than their current use which is to prevent anyone from pointing out that our referees are dreadful.

Alternatively, it’d be nice to see Sky have the ar*e sued off it for libel (which, after all, is what took place there) but Carragher probably thinks that just means the little tag was sticking out of the back of his shirt, Hoddle will presumably not care as his punishment will only apply in his next life and any fine will be just small change to Quinn anyway. I don’t suppose Kouyate is all that bothered but the whole thing still leaves a nasty taste though.

Injuries? Well to the usual triumvirate of Carroll, Tomkins and Sakho we can now add Guy Demel who is showing up on the usual listings as “calf muscle strain” alongside the words “no return date”. When he signed his current deal Demel expressed the hope that he would still be around to play in the Olympic stadium. However, with that current deal expiring in the summer you’d probably get long odds on the likeable Ivorian still being about to play in the last season at the old place.

Nobody has commented on the Nene situation and there are worrying parallels with Zarate conundrum. There were strong rumours of disharmony in the camp between the manager and at least one of the owners a few weeks back. That difference of opinion was believed to have involved Nene’s arrival, a signing which is not said to have been met with the manager’s total approval. Of course it may be that , like Zarate is said to have done, Nene has not impressed in training. However, it is hard to believe that he can be doing so much worse at Chadwell Heath than, say Carlton Cole. Carlton “bless him” has hardly set the world alight over the past few weeks since Sakho became crocked (again) so one would have thought there might be a case to give Nene more of a chance than the occasional “go on then, rescue that” ten minutes or so which is all he seems to have been trusted with since he arrive. It’s a puzzler and no mistake.

Prediction? Well when you’re playing the way we are the last thing you really need is to be facing a team that is in dire straits. Which is what they are really. When you look at a run of fixtures the tendency is to look at what you might get points out of. Immediately after this they have to go to Anfield and The City Of Manchester stadium and they will probably not have budgeted for too much out of those matches. That will leave them with a final run-in of Newcastle at home and, intriguingly, Leicester away.

The bottom line is that, should they want to still be in with a shout of staying up come their visit to the National Space Centre, they will need to get three points this weekend. So once again it’ll all depend on what the mentality is when the players cross the white line. If we go out with the “must keep clean sheet and see what happens” ethos that seems to be default mode away from home I can see them taking full advantage and, since that seems to be the way things are going, I’m sticking the traditional £2.50 purloined from the Avram Grant Olympic Rest Home For The Bewildered’s “New Knees For Harry” charity collection on a 2-1 home win in the hope that I’m totally wrong.

Enjoy the game!

When last we met at Loftus Road: Won 2-1 October 2012 Premier League. Jarvis – a header no less – and Vaz Te were our marksmen whilst Tarrabt was on target from distance for the hosts. The match was notable for the fact that Mark Clattenburg somehow managed to dish out 11 yellow cards (8 to us) and a red in a match that scarcely had a challenge in it.

Danger Man: Bobby Zamora – many have touted Charlie Austin for England on the strength of his exploits but I’m not convinced of his international credentials. Even though the work experience girl with an inappropriate number of rings through her lips tells me that Austin has been involved either as scorer or assistant for 55% of their goals, and though Zamora may be coming towards the latter years of his career he’s in decent form of late and of course the “law of the ex” tilts the scales in his favour. And I’m awkward of course.

Referee: Mike Jones along with his namesake Dean, the living embodiment of all that is wrong with the so-called “select” group. Called a “p*ick” by one of his own former linesmen of my acquaintance, he’s one of those who seems to think that match results are not valid unless he’s had some input. See his handling of that FA Cup Quarter Final up at Stoke a few years back when he should have been given the £20k fine that Avram Grant picked up for pointing out that his performance had left a lot to be desired.

Daft Fact Of The Week: QPR have moved grounds 18 times in their existence and are looking to make it 19 over the next few years. Their prior moves have included no fewer than three spells at their current Loftus Road pad, the most current of which commenced in 1963. They spent the season prior to that playing at the old White City Stadium which, incidentally, staged the Uruguay v France World Cup Group match in 1966. The game was moved there because, incredibly, the people who owned Wembley at the time refused to cancel the greyhound meeting that was taking place on the same night!

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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