Season Preview - Clive Whittingham
Clive Whittingham of loftforwords.co.uk gives his views to Vital QPR about the impending Championship campaign.
How do you rate Rangers performance last season?
Slightly below par but not the complete, unmitigated disaster that some are making out. It is worth remembering just how bad the team was when the board took over and that the plan is supposed to be to build over a number of years.
With that in mind survival in the first year and mid-table consolidation in the second is a reasonable first 18 months for the new board.
This is however clouded by a number of key mistakes made by those in charge last season with managerial appointments, managerial terminations, dodgy signings, long contracts given out to mediocre players, ticket price rises, further ticket price rises and several PR disasters culminating in the cringe-worthy moment at the Sheff Wed game where a long, rambling statement from Briatore was read out over the public address system to boos from the crowd.
That was embarrassing to be honest, and a genuine low point in my time as a fan of the club.
What was your stand out moment?
I enjoyed the win at Norwich. A real backs to the wall effort with ten men and a great win. Kaspars Gorkss came roaring back from a tough start to life at Rangers with a man of the match display, we scored after the sending off and could have had a couple more and then defended brilliantly after half time.
That was the first time Radek Cerny looked like a half decent keeper as well. At that stage I really thought we were onto something with Dowie - he had the defence organised and we seemed to have enough going the other way with Ledesma, Blackstock, Buzsaky and Rowlands. Sadly two of them faded, two of them were crocked and Dowie was harshly sacked.
Apart from that the 3-2 home win against Preston was the one genuinely high quality, entertaining game of the season and the Sheff Wed comeback was a good laugh living in Sheffield myself. Plus the obvious Birmingham and Wolves games.
How do you feel about the appointment of Jim Magilton?
I've been happier let's put it that way. My other half is an Ipswich fan so I see plenty of them and while he does at least like his teams to get the ball down and play a bit that's about the only positive I can think of.
We've already had our first 'irons in the fire' interview regarding transfer targets, Ipswich seemed to get one of those a week when he was there and he took an age to nail down any new players - he spent 18 months talking about David Nugent and never got near him. He fell out with a lot of his players there, loaned out promising youngsters while playing old cloggers like Ben Thatcher, spent a lot of money on a team that was only slightly better off than ours last season and so it goes on.
Seemed to apply for every job going in the summer and got nowhere. It's a real bottom of the barrel appointment for me. I cling to the hope that as he is not afraid to play attacking players in the middle of midfield, or certainly wasn't afraid to do it at Ipswich, we may be able to make his tactics work better than Ipswich ever could with people like Buzsaky at our disposal. Can't help but think he won't last the season though sadly.
Do you feel Rangers have strengthened adequately?
Not as it stands. We were poor up front last season and have now allowed Blackstock to leave. I think Taarabt is probably going to play up front more often than not and in my book he is better than Blackstock so that's a positive.
Even if we do sign Pellicori as well we are still one good striker short in my opinion - we still don't have that out and out goalscorer. I'm not adverse to the DJ Campbell rumours and I think he could be a real hit at Loftus Road although I think I'm on my own with that one.
I actually think selling Blackstock for the money we got is a decent bit of business, I didn't rate him as highly as some, but it's only sensible if we replace him and add to the strike force. Nottingham Forest scored eight more goals than us last season and have this summer added McGoldrick, Blackstock and Adebola to Tyson, Earnshaw and Garner.
There's a little bit of everything there while we're still lacking. If Taarabt and Pellicori do play up front and are great successes then we should go quite well. In true 'QPR fans are never happy' style I would say we are still short at full back on both sides, even if we do get the Ramage from the end of last season rather than the one at the start who I presume was somebody who tied the real Ramage up in his house and lived his life for six months. I'm not a Borrowdale fan.
Who will be the key player(s) for the R`s this season?
Well we will have two key groups. At the moment we're relying on Taarabt, Buzsaky, Vine and Pellicori to provide us the goals we were sadly missing last season.
If they fail to do so then it is all going to be on Kaspars Gorkss, Damion Stewart, Matt Connolly and Radek Cerny again. Those four were superb last season and will need to be so again if we do not improve at the other end.
Where do you expect the R`s to finish this season?
At the start of this week (July 20) with Blackstock going and only Pellicori and Faurlin coming in I would have said eleventh again. Now I'm starting to be a little more optimistic. There are a lot of ifs - if Taarabt, Buzsaky, Vine and Helguson stay fit, play well and score goals we should be able to push on a couple of places, if Faurlin turns out to be a world beater we may push for sixth, if the defence plays as well again we may make the six. At the moment, if forced, I'd say eighth.
Championship - Who will be…
Champions: Sheff Utd - strengthening well and will score plenty of goals if they get hold of Ched Evans. Money in the bank from the Naughton and Walker sales to provide a useful war chest. Not a fan of the manager but I'd fancy myself to have a good crack at promotion with their squad. Ipswich to run them close.
Overachievers: Peterborough - while I don't expect them to do much away from home they have some exciting players, a good young manager and have added Tommy Rowe from Stockport who I was very impressed with last season. London Road will be a tough place to go.
Underachievers: If the goals don't come it could well be us again. Barnsley, Plymouth and Scunthorpe are my bottom three at the moment with Watford to struggle also and Doncaster must beware second season syndrome, especially without Wellens.
Young Player to Watch: Tommy Rowe - Peterborough. Terrific young winger picked up from the cash crisis at Stockport County. On the evidence of last season few Championship players get near our own Adel Taarabt.
Top Goalscorer: Ched Evans at Sheff Utd.
You can visit Clive`s Loft For Words site by Clicking Here >>>
Many thanks to Clive for taking the time to contribute
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