Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Skating on thin Hoops

Queens Park Rangers 3 Walsall 0

(+ a bit of Norwich City 1 Queens Park Rangers 1)

Having enjoyed an extended bank holiday weekend with family 'ooop north' it was nice to come back to Loftus Road at the end of it and watch the Rs win a cup match fairly comfortably. Watching together with a crowd of about 6,000 people all sat at the South Africa Road and Loftus Road ends, it almost felt as if we were transported back in time to our League One days. I know I'll be the only one who says this, but I actually quite liked the atmosphere last night. Only the hardcore fans were there, with a lot of people sitting away from their ST seats, the #qprtwitfam out in force and with kids still on holiday there was a lovely family feeling about the place.

I loved the banter with the Walsall fans. It sure was a strange sort of 'library', and sarcastic shrieks of 'oooh' when Walsall nearly scored made me chuckle. But while we supported our team with this kind of banter, the real subtext was our incredible fear of losing another cup game early on. Like most fans, I was hoping that we would stage a QPR upset, and actually win the match. And a few close-shaves, especially in the first half, had me with my head in my hands, my eyes behind my two hands, and looking up to the heavens for some help.

It was good to see though, that Hughes' intentions were absolutely clear. He was out to win this match, and not use it as some sort of 'practice round'. He made serious substitutions (although I have to say, as @sandyhoops mentioned to me during the game 'we don't look at the bench anymore and think s** we've got Zesh Rehman'), and with only 6,000+ people there I could hear him remonstrating animatedly at the team. He is under pressure without doubt, and so are the boys. OK, so we're only 3 matches in to the season but so far (as was the case last season) the new players are not living up to expectation, and I for one I am not sure if I buy the 'they need time to gel' theory. These guys train together every day and at this level I sometimes just have no sympathy for them. They shouldn't be using their Premier League or cup games to get in to the right team shape and neither should Hughes.

So, apart from the fact that I really wanted to call this blog 'skating on thin hoops'  because the hoops have been getting so thin over the years and I thought it was a good title, I wonder whether there is a case for saying the QPR management are playing a risky strategy making massive marquee signings, letting go of several players, and not fostering an atmosphere were players understand the history and meaning of the club instead of simply talking about the long-term plan of the future? Don't get me wrong, it's just wonderful that we now have the funds to attract big names like Park and Green etc etc, but having listened to what Lee Cook had to say a couple of weeks ago on the QPR podcast 'Open All Rs', the old atmosphere in the dressing room back in the day was something special with everyone playing for the shirt. Obviously we won't have people in the team who feel that way about playing for the Rangers, but surely players at this level have got to take it on the chin and stop looking so disjointed on and off the pitch?

I've been thinking a lot about how clubs ride on past glories. Look at Liverpool...a prime example of a club that will attract big players (and yet still don't perform!). I get it, QPR don't have the same glories to ride on, but we are a proud and loyal fan base, with a fascinating history that shouldn't be forgotten completely. And I guess I am a little sceptical about the mass exodus of old players, and the influx of the new because so far the results (ever since January 2012), have proved old players that have been through the challenges with us are the ones who have performed.

This all sounds a little bit negative after what was a decent win last night, but I'm still nervous about the future. I can't quite figure out what this 'long-term plan' is in terms of what and who we see on the pitch. Looking at last night SWP finally scored a goal outside a friendly last night, but he wasn't great for much of the game, Cisse was offside time and time again (as he was last Saturday against Norwich), and it was old boy Faurlin back from injury who made all the difference in mid field with his classy passing. We are also hearing rumours of some of the young players: Doughty and Ehmer pipped for first-team selection, but haven't seen or heard a peep from them (apart from front-covers on cup programmes!). Now, we are on the verge of signing top Brazilian international Julio Cesar as a second goalkeeper who no one is sure we actually need.

I am confused to say the least, and my hope is that we're going to see in the coming weeks a more fully fledged team really playing with pride for QPR and for the dedicated fans.

In the meantime, I pay homage to a couple of friends who have worn their own hoops throughout the years and the shirt which has changed over the years. If you like the idea, please tweet me your pics in the Hoops over the years and I will write another bigger piece on it.

I am still not sure if I like the new 'thinner' hoops but I am glad the logo doesn't look 'ironed on' anymore.  Some consolation as we look forward to a long, hard and no doubt exciting season.

You RRRsssss

For more on QPR's kits over the years: Historical QPR Kits

A great pic of @gmileham1's shirts

@QPRman2's selection of shirts over the years including this season's Air Asia one

The Hoops through the years courtesy of @QPRman2

@pinoyQPR in his Hoops back in the early 90s
@annieqpr in the Binatone shirt from 2003-2006

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