Sunday, 3 February 2013

Big club, little club

Queens Park Rangers 2 MK Dons 4

Queens Park Rangers 0 Manchester City 0

Queens Park Rangers 0 Norwich City 0

Last night I experienced what can only be described as severe QPR depression. For the first time in a long time, I could not think positively about the club for more than a minute. Even for the whole of last season I did not feel this way. It was a hopeless feeling. When I got home, I resorted to making lasagne to keep my mind occupied, opening a bottle of red to attempt to drown my sorrows and then switching to Splash and The Following on TV to attempt to compartmentalise my feelings.

Why did I feel this way? QPR are still bottom of the table. Truth is, we would have been even if we had won yesterday. QPR are still unbeaten in the league this year. Truth is, we were thrashed by MK Dons so I still think there is a problem. And we've just signed ourselves a fantastic central defender in Chris Samba. Truth is, I am still nervous about the decisions being made by the board.

Because our season start was so bad, and the positive momentum has come too late, yesterday's draw felt as bad as a loss for me. Taarabt not scoring the penalty didn't help. It felt as if we were doomed even if a little bit of luck tried to shine upon us. And now, given that the clubs around us are winning and pulling away, I really must honestly come to terms with the possibility that we are doing down. Yes I know that before Christmas I had written that I had already resigned myself. But I suppose our win against Chelsea and the QPR PR strategy has provided me with a false sense of security. And frankly I am a little angry that I have allowed myself to be carried away with this tide of spin.

Yet again, last Thursday we found ourselves getting sucked in to transfer deadline day. We enjoyed poking fun at Odemwingie, and revelled at the envy of other clubs when we signed Samba - following on from our Remy buy a few weeks earlier. And while I think they were good buys- and according to Fernandes we can afford them - I honestly wonder whether we are now thinking too short term vs. long term. Is all this change yet again really good for our club and it's own heart? Fernandes, as the face of the club, obviously has his charms in persuading players to join us but the money is not all his and big decisions are obviously being made by the shareholders. Yes, some of these are risky but I do believe that they have probably done their sums. So, I don't think this is going to be another Pompey situation- at least not quite so quickly. But I do worry about what QPR stands for, and what all these events do to the personality of our club which means so much to so many people.

This week's QPR Podcast featured a great song by Owen Parker called 'Because we're Queens Park Rangers' which you can listen to here: Because we're Queens Park Rangers. I think all QPR fans can relate to the lyrics. In his dulcet David Greyish tones he sings:

I can take the constant disappointment
Guns in the boardroom
Anglo-Chinese diplomatic situation

I can take Tango & Cash
Monaco-based banks
Striker after striker
Drawing blanks

But what makes me sick
Is when you put on that shirt
And don't give a s**
Collect your cash
Speed home metal to metal
Then spend all evening polishing your Champions League medal...
(copyright Owen Parker)

His lyrics, and the staccato style in which he sings the punchy verses, are reflective of what is now becoming the paradoxical monotony of controversial events that surround our club. And while we can all laugh at the song's humour in my depressed QPR state, I wonder whether it would just be nice to go back to being a fairly middling Championship or League One club. Then again, half of the events he describes happened before we were even promoted to the Premier League. So are we simply a club doomed because of the simple fact that we are a London based club that exists in a prime area of London which will always be of great interest to investors and people with money?

I have often written about the fact that what makes QPR special is the fact that it is by and large a family club, with a family atmosphere. I suppose that as fans, we have always assumed that a family club means a small club. After all, how can an atmosphere or an organisation be intimate, like a family, if it is so big? Tony Fernandes said something interesting in that Telegraph interview: 'We, QPR, have to move out of the small club syndrome and for constant security have to build a bigger stadium, a better infrastructure.' I can imagine there will be some QPR fans who will argue with this. After-all, we are small club aren't we? isn't that the reality? We aren't a West Ham that can easily pull in 30K+ people for Championship matches, it wasn't so long ago when we struggled to get 13K to the ground even though we were a fairly decent Championship team. Last week even saw a bit of debate between fans on twitter as to the number of 'hardcore' QPR fans, based in London, outside and abroad...Ranging from 15,000 to 60,000....Still, neither of these numbers come even close the other big global brands that have been doing this 'international expansion' thing for years. 

On the other hand, we don't really have a chance in Premier League football if we do not make some big decisions. I think that we probably didn't have to make so many ridiculous signings last January nor last summer - other clubs who were 'on paper' worse than us did not and have been able to nurture their squads more organically. But because we have started down that road, we're a bit stuck and probably don't have a choice to be proceed as we started. Fernandes said that 'We inherited a squad where every single player who has left is no longer playing in the Premier League, doesn’t that say something?' But I would also argue that I am not sure that many of the Premier League players we have acquired have a future in the Premier League either!!! 

Whichever way I turn I feel bewildered by it all. But what I can say for sure is that recent history has shown us that this level of instability has done us little good. Will it help us to survive? Unlikely, but maybe. And even if we do survive, how many more players do we bring in this summer to start the cycle all over again? I am so afraid that we keep working on the roof when we haven't even finished on the foundations of the house. So...perhaps relegation will actually do us some good? Yes, we're going to lose our on a shed load of money and we're going to lose some big players. But maybe we'll get a semblance of our old club back and we can start looking at our Youth Team again for talents like Ehmer, Harriman and Doughty. 

Do I care if we become a big club or a stay a little club? Not really. I believe families can still be big and loving, and by the same token our club can still be a family club even if we expand. But frankly we're no where near close to that stage yet and I think we can cross that bridge when we come to it. 

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