Posts Tagged ‘QPR’

Football

Review of the Premiership part 4: Everyone else, West Brom to QPR

By Stefano on May 22nd, 2013

Simon Poulter of What Would David Bowie Do? rounds up the season

West Bromwich Albion (49 pts, GD -4) 8th

OK, to be third at the end of October was the sort of start Baggies fans could have only dreamed of. And we have been there before with unfancied sides enjoying the nosebleed reaches of the table within the season’s first three months. To end eigth may be disappointing, but put into context, not to be sniffed at either. Steve Clarke is still learning the art of management, and learning how to deal with player fallouts like Peter Odemwingie’s ridiculous show-up at QPR (which he must be relieved about now…), which suggested an unhappy dressing room.

Swansea City (46 pts, GD -4) 9th

Roberto Martinez, Brendan Rogers and, this season, Michael Laudrup have made Swansea a team to keep a close eye on. Though never realistically likely to bother the upper echelon – for now – this term Laudrup (and a ball boy) helped them to the League Cup (their first trophy in 101 years) and produced a Top 10 finish. The signing of Michu was a big statement of a club with a very healthy attitude to development and, although the final third of the season didn’t bring quite the same momentum of results as the first two-thirds, Laudrup has established himself as yet another Swansea manager with a future, and the club, an even better attacking package than ever before.

West Ham United (46 pts, GD -8) 10th

For a side connected, it would seem, by bungee rope to the Championship, Big Sam has instilled some stability – not to mention restored ‘Ammers’ customary robustness on their latest return to the Premier League. Tenth place may appear like the mid-table mediocrity Coventry went season-after-season pursuing and securing, but it reflects their solid home form (which took points off the two Manchesters and Chelsea) as well as their somewhat weaker performance on the road. The departure of Carlton Cole might indicate a bigger clearout by Allardyce, but the first priority must be pinning down Andy Carroll.

Norwich City (44 pts, GD -17) 11th

Chris Hughton’s dismissal from Newcastle in December 2010 still sticks in the craw of many, so it appeared that his appointment to Norwich, succeeding Paul Lambert, promised to be the sort of “good guy lands good club” story. And so it has proven, sort of, with Norwich pulling off creditable home wins over Manchester United and Arsenal, and, despite some relegation wobbles, coming to a halt in 11th. Norwich fans will want more, of course, or at least less hovering around the Championship trap door that has detracted from their game, but the potential for Norwich to be a top half player is there for their taking.

Fulham (43pts, GD -10) 12th

We all love Martin Jol. Big old Anglophile bear of a manager. We all find his “…and ah think…” interviews endearingly frank, which is no great surprise from a Dutchman. The trouble is, Fulham have hardly progressed under him. His squad has aged and even with Dimitar Berbatov/Andy Garcia in the ranks, Fulham have failed to look anything more than mid-table pedestrians. Jol may pay the price for this, with an unsettled Gus Poyet at Brighton possibly considering the ‘other’ west Londoners his next career development platform.

Stoke City (42 points, GD -11) 13th

No vintage season for Stoke. Not so long ago they were the Premier League’s Awkward Squad, possessing the disruptive ability to bruise the egos of clubs with bigger purses and bigger reputations. This time around they’ve looked less than average at times, prompting questions about whether Tony Pulis had taken them as far as he could. Developments, yesterday, at the Britannia Stadium said that they had. Sir Alex Ferguson lasted 26 years at Manchester United, the result of a perfect storm of club, finances, players bought and players brought through. Tony Pulis lasted just seven years by comparison, but even that is a lengthy stay in this day and age, when simply establishing your side as a Premier League fixture isn’t enough. Directors want more, and the supporters want even more in the way of team development..

Southampton (41 pts, GD -11) 14th

Much like the Little Britain sketch in which serial ASBO collector Vicky Pollard complained that she didn’t have a “brahn baby” like every other girl on her estate, Premier League clubs could be forgiven for missing out on the phenomenon of being taken over by a mad but wealthy foreign owner who promptly goes about creating dysfunctionality like an unwanted outbreak of acne in adulthood. Thus, Southampton acquired their very own sugar daddy, Markus Liebherr, who subsequently established Italian banker Nicola Cortese as club chairman, and then they set about securing Saints’ long-term future. Keeping Nigel Adkins in place as manager maintained at least two seasons of stability at the club with renewed ambition, but his generally-deemed unfair sacking in January, suggested another foreign owner gone nuts. But unlike, say, the Di Matteo/Benitez transition, the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino has at least endeared the fans, especially with the team’s adoption of attacking football. What won’t go down well, inevitably, is a precarious bottom half finish, with that term “safety” being a more acceptable term than “almost”.

Aston Villa (41 pts, GD -22) 15th

Villa have had a truly baffling season. From Premier League staples, they started taking on water quite ominously. The 8-0 Christmas defeat to Chelsea – a fixture that normally gives Villa rich pickings and damns the incumbent Chelsea coach to an Abramovich payoff – was a low point from which they only just managed to recover in the nick of time in the final two weeks of the season. That said, Paul Lambert is in the luxurious position of having a club owner who recognises that his manager is trying to build a young new team. It will take time, as the disjointed performances this season have exposed, but in Christian Benteke they have a precocious talent to build around or behind. For now, 2012-13 may simply be a season for Villa to draw a line under and build on.

Up and down the land, the final day of the 2012-13 season was notable for its so-what results, the odd last-minute escape and a handful of retirements. Of them all, none were more poignant than that of Stiliyan ‘Stan’ Petrov, the Villa captain diagnosed with acute leukaemia – “this crazy thing” as he calls it. Football wishes him every success in continuing to fight it and fight for those who also have it.

Newcastle United (41 pts, GD -23) 16th

How Newcastle ended up 16th (and that could have been a lot worse) from their fifth-place finish last season is an abject lesson in how easily – and quickly – it can all go wrong in the Premier League. No sooner had the club tied itself to Alan Pardew for a six-year contract, than the points started dropping like Christmas tree pine needles on Boxing Day. Another club which hasn’t been without its own form of owner meddling-induced madness, Newcastle’s bright start almost ended in relegation, the football equivalent of the office lift’s cable snapping. The New Year influx of young French talent may have been good news at the time, but their apparent failure to gel appeared to be major factors in the telephone number-score defeats inflicted in the second two-thirds of the season.

Sunderland (39 pts, GD -13) 17th

If this season’s verdicts seem to draw mainly on the instability of so many clubs, then it’s no accident. Managerial firings well into the season have now become so commonplace that we’re pretty blasé about them. The sight of Martin O’Neill – arguably one of the most respected gaffers in the game – struggling to arrest Sunderland’s slide with a squad seemingly lacking any of the passion and nuclear reactor-like drive of the Northern Irishman was a pity. So what do they do next? Bring in a manager with no Premier League experience and a historic sympathy towards fascism. Not since the FA bungled their attempted appointment of Luiz Felipe Scolari as England coach has a managerial arrival been such a PR disaster. To his credit, Paolo di Canio kept Sunderland out of relegation – just – but only by coming second in the ‘mini league’ fighting for Premier League survival in the lower reaches. In the process, it would appear, di Canio has applied his own version of tough love. Time, and next season, will see whether his approach has been the right one. For now, this season has to be marked down as a very poor one for Sunderland.

Wigan Athletic (36 points, GD -26) 18th Relegated

Yes, yes, yes. It was all very Hollywood to see Wigan beat Manchester City in the dying seconds of the FA Cup Final. Yes, yes, yes, we Brits love an underdog. Roberto Martinez is one of football’s most likeable and erudite managers, and Dave Whelan, apparently, one of those old school, local-boy-made-good chairman (unlike that porky upstart across the country at Newcastle…). But, romance aside, Wigan left it too little too late to fight themselves out of the drop. Always a good side to watch, always – by reputation – a good side to play for under Martinez, it just didn’t go right this term. When they had to dig themselves out of trouble, the response was brilliant. Just too late. If Whelan can keep Martinez, and the core of the squad, they’ll be back.

Reading (28pts, GD -30) 19th Relegated

Have I mentioned dysfunctional clubs already? Oh well, have another one. Same story, promoted, start to flag, didn’t invest, replaced the manager with almost a clone of his predecessor, and still found themselves going straight back down to the Championship. Sadly, Reading’s Premier League season was simply one of underachievement, and they paid the price.

20th Queens Park Rangers (25 pts, GD -30) 20th Relegated

Manchester City and Chelsea could easily look down the cliff face that is the Premier League and see QPR losing their grip and plummeting back to the Championship. While QPR’s equally minted rivals have an infinitely stronger tenure on their elite league status, QPR’s season has served as a stark reminder that, no matter how much money you throw at the problem, and even bringing in Harry Redknapp to work his Houdini magic, if you don’t have your playing assets kicking the damn ball in the right manner, you will get sucked out of the top flight as fast as you were blown into it on a gilded magic carpet.

Things were a mess when Redknapp walked into Loftus Road, as Mark Hughes’ heals were seen skidding off into the distance. Hughes, yet to truly demonstrate the same managerial form he had running Wales in his first coaching job, left his successor in November with a team who appeared happy to slide inexorably towards the Premier League exit, while continuing to cash Tony Fernandes generous cheques. Jose Boswinga – a flash-in-the-pan right-back at Chelsea – took on the mantle of representing best QPR’s mercenary player profile, with his ridiculous refusenik stance showing that Redknapp had, like Lee Marvin in The Dirty Dozen (and forgive another war movie reference), been handed the worst of the worst.

While it may seem generous not to blame Redknapp, blame for result after lurid result must be placed squarely on the players’ shoulders. For once, the accusation that a team gets a club relegated, not the manager, has been proven correct. If Fernandes has the ability to do so, he will let Redknapp rebuild in the Championship, while ruthlessly discarding those who patently don’t want to be at QPR, haven’t wanted to be there, and shouldn’t be there any longer.

Article originally published here.



Football

Arsenal update: news on QPR targets from Harry and Arsene

By Stefano on May 3rd, 2013

Arsenal travel to QPR on Saturday and as Arsene Wenger has reiterated today they only have one thing on their minds – winning three points.

Maybe afterwards though Arsene will sit down for post match cuppa with Harry and talk about the future of several QPR players.

The most obvious one is Julio Cesar who seems to have emerged as Arsenal’s number one goalkeeping target.

Wenger is clearly keen and Cesar wants to leave. But Harry is obviously angling for as big a fee as possible. He told Sky Sports

“He’s a top, top goalkeeper. There’s no doubt about that. He’s a Brazil international so for him to play in the Championship next year would be difficult. I can understand that.”

“But he’s a good goalkeeper. It would take a good offer. How this game works is you buy players and those who don’t do well, you’re stuck with them but those who do well, they think they’ll walk away for nothing.

“You’ve got to get what you feel is value for him. He’s going to cost decent money if anyone wants to buy him. He’s a good goalkeeper.”

Wenger might also have word about Loic Remy. Wenger said of him today at his press conference.

“I’ve known him for years,” said Wenger. “He is a very efficient striker.”

He may only cost £8 million too. If Arsenal fail to qualify for the Champions League then he may end up rivaling Frenchman Olivier Giroud in leading the line next year. If Arsenal do grab a CL spot then he could be teaming up with Stevan Jovetic.

Then there’s a certain Chris Samba too.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

.



Football

Arsenal update: Julio Cesar, Loic Remy and the QPR smash and grab

By Stefano on April 22nd, 2013

Even the optimistic of Rangers fans knows now that their team is down and will be playing Championship football next season.

It is a sad ending for a side brimming with talent that just never seemed to play together well and get any momentum going.

Already the vultures are circling and among them is Arsene Wenger. So far the Gunners have been linked with – at a push – four Rangers players, yet how many of them make the move across London depends I think on what happens in Arsenal’s next four games. Qualify for the Champions League and it is possible that none will make the transition. Fail to finish at least fourth and one, maybe two could be on their way.

Of the quarter the most likely to move is almost certainly striker Loic Remy. He has been a long term Wenger target and if he can be secured on a cut price deal Wenger may see him as a replacement for Nicklas Bendtner who is certain to leave this summer. He might end up being Arsenal’s third choice striker behind Giroud and AN Other, but I think this could be a win for everyone.

Next up would be stopper Julio Cesar who is being linked with a move to Arsenal by just about everyone at the moment. I guess he is behind Valdes, Reina and Mignolet in Arsene’s wants list, but he is a quality keeper who has a fair bit of practice this season.

The Samba to Arsenal rumour has gone a bit quiet of late, but I think he would be an obvious choice were Arsenal not to make the top four. QPR will need to offload him and he would certainly add some steel to the Arsenal defence. His form this season has been erratic and he apparently isn’t liking life in London, but he would still be a worthwhile addition to the Arsenal squad, if the team can get his wages down a bit.

Finally Wenger was once a big fan of Junior Hoilett. Can’t see that one happening though.



Football

Remy? Samba? Are Arsenal sizing up a raid on QPR in the summer

By Stefano on March 21st, 2013

So will QPR escape relegation this season? My heart says yes, but my head thinks they might be heading for the drop.

And if Rangers return to The Championship there might be some significant plundering for Premiership managers on the hunt for a bargain or two, and Arsene Wenger is likely to be first in the queue.

QPR have three players that he has chased with in the past and they could significantly strengthen the Arsenal squad for not an especially huge outlay. And they would probably all sign for The Gunners even if they don’t have Champions League football next season.

Arsenal’s interest in Christopher Samba is well documented. And I think that he could well be the player the Gunners turn to if, as expected Ashley Williams, arguably the team’s number one target joins his ex-boss at Liverpool. His wages might be an issue, but possibly less of one if as expected Arsenal junk their strict wages policy.

Then today The Daily Express is reporting that French striker Loic Remy has a clause in his contract that will allow him to walk if QPR go down.

The paper says that Remy could be available for as little as £4million. The player has scored three times in his six appearances for Rangers and has a reputation from his days in France for being an energetic and deadly finisher.

Arsenal have a trio of strikers – Park, Bendtner and Chamakh – who will leave in the summer and if Wenger does opt for his number one target Stevan Jovetic, he will still be in the market for an out and out striker. Remu would certainly fit that bill.

Finally there’s Junior Hoilett, a player who has had a chequered career at Rangers but is still young – he is 22 – and Wenger (who has expressed his admiration for the player in the past) may feel that he could do a job for Arsenal.



Football

Should Arsenal have signed Chris Samba?

By Stefano on March 4th, 2013

Arsenal lost a vital game yesterday largely because of the inability of their two centre backs (and Nacho Monreal who was culpable on the second goal) to track players making a run behind a high line.

Maybe Arsenal midfielders, especially the increasingly immobile Arteta, should take the blame too.

The defeat is all the more painful because until the Bale goal the Gunners seemed comfortable and were controlling the game.

Yet Arsene Wenger seems to be reasonably content with his line up of centre backs. He had plenty of opportunity to strengthen in the window, especially after letting Djourou go on on loan, yet apart from vague whispers that Arsene would make a summer bid for Mats Hummel, it was eerily quiet.

There is one player who moved in the window who would have seriously strengthened the team’s defence – Chris Samba. Wenger is clearly a Samba fan and has allegedly been mulling over a bid on more than once occasion. Yet even though Samba was angling for a move from Anzhi Makhachkala it was QPR’s Harry Redknapp who got in first and secured the player.

Samba’s reputation, even after playing several weeks for a struggling side, is such that Zenit St Petersburg made an offer for the player which would have meant that QPR made a significant profit on Samba.

According to the Daily Star Redknapp was left mystified by Arsenal’s failure to land player

“When he was sold, I could never understand why Arsenal did not sign him that time,” he said.

“He is everything you need. He is quick, he can play round his feet.

“He is a proper centre-half. He could play anywhere in this country and for all the top teams.”

So is Harry mischief-making? Or does he have a point?

One one level Wenger would never have matched the wages that Samba is currently earning at QPR – unless that is he saw Samba as vital to the side and that he would make a difference in securing Champions League football.

For me Samba has three advantages over Per Mertesacker. Firstly he has as much, if not more, presence, especially on free kicks and corners (in both boxes). The ball just seems to ping off his head. Secondly he is much faster and more mobile that Per Mertesacker – lack of speed being the German’s Achilles’s Heel. He is also more precise in the tackle than his German counterpart – though I think from a positional point of view the German has the edge.

Lastly he is a leader – and Arsenal are perilously short of leaders.

He is 28 years old, has 4/5 good years left in him, has load of Premiership experience. He is another signing that would have been worth the cash in the winter window, or maybe if QPR go down.



pick of the blogs

Are M’Vila and Remy good value, great snowball video, World of Warcraft theme park pics and more

By Stefano on January 16th, 2013

Top stories from Brandish and our pals

Great video of weatherman getting pelted with snowballs

The runaway train that ended up smashing into a block of flats

QPR’s big splurge – why M’Vila and Remy might not be that good value

Ten footballer who also wrote books – and there are a few suprises

15 African players who have set The Premiership alight

Sad about HMV? You might need this – a handy Google Map of the UK’s independent record stores

2013′s most important gadgets so far

The World of Warcraft theme park – yes it actually exists

 



Football

Who should start on the wings for Liverpool against QPR? Sterling, Suso or Downing?

By Stefano on December 28th, 2012
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Raheem Sterling’s impact for Liverpool this season has been highly impressive, but the young winger desperately needed a break from first-team duties. Signs of fatigue were creeping into Sterling’s game in recent weeks, while the psychological impact of being thrust into the media limelight can’t be underestimated, especially for a youngster that has shown signs of indiscipline. Constant speculation about his new contract didn’t help matters.

But now, Sterling is fresh having been only a substitute in the matches against Fulham and Aston Villa, and his new contract was signed last week. Brendan Rodgers will want to rotate his side after the disappointment against Stoke on Boxing Day, and Sterling is the obvious player to come into the side, providing a burst of pace and energy on the flank.

But if Sterling plays, which winger should Rodgers drop? Stewart Downing was quiet against Stoke, but was genuinely excellent against Fulham, and deserves a run in the side. Suso, meanwhile, was relatively quiet in both matches, and like Sterling, shouldn’t be overplayed at this early stage of his career. Rodgers has been determined to protect the young Spaniard: he’s started eight matches but hasn’t completed the 90 minutes in any, and will probably be rested against QPR.

Sterling and Downing can both play on either flank, but the former should get plenty of joy against QPR left-back Armand Traore, who is talented technically but woeful in a position sense, leaving too much space between himself and the centre-backs. Sterling’s decision-marking isn’t yet up to the required standard, but if he skips past Traore, he’ll have plenty of time to decide what to do next.

This post courtesy of Pick Our Team is by Michael Cox. PickOurTeam is a new type of football community giving fans an opportunity to have a meaningful say on the formation and selection of their team. PickOurTeam is the voice of the fans – collecting views on who should play where and ratings on how the players, manager, and referee perform each week. Every match the findings are compiled and presented back to the fans. The article was originally posted here.




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