Monday, 30 December 2013

Collective Psychosis

Nottingham Forest 2 Queens Park Rangers 0

Watford 0 Queens Park Rangers 0

  1. psychosis
    1. 1.
      a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.
      "they were suffering from a psychosis"

On three occasions this season I've been questioned by the same man who has told me that I don't write my blog often enough. He did it after the Watford game yesterday at the pub when I bumped in to him - flashing his phone in my face to show he had saved my blog as a home page and saying 'You don't write very often do you?'. If that's his sense of humour it isn't very funny and it made me wonder whether that's what it feels like when fans moan and tweet their players about how badly they are playing. It felt very much like some of these strange comments coming out of people's mouths at the matches right now, or on twitter that are in the vein of 'Austin, you're s***' and 'Austin, just can't score goals'. Really? I mean really? When we bought Austin we all beamed at the thought of an average of a goal per two games and with a record so far of 20 games played and 10 scored in the league I am really not sure he isn't delivering on that promise. And when I started this blog, I don't think I ever promised a weekly or a game by game match report...nor did I actually offer a match report at all. This was going to be purely and simply my own view of the game - sometimes commenting on the matches of the week or the day but more often than not, focusing on other things happening in my life that in some way relate to my love and support of QPR.

Twitter has been amusing of late. Sometimes personal messages between friends have been the most amusing. Messages like: 'Is it safe to go back?', or 'Don't look, it's just awful' or 'What a t***'. Seems that this latest spate of poor results for the Rs is making most of us react pretty wildly - some calling for Redknapp's departure, some asking for Adel to come back (really, replace one 'fat boy' for another?). Indeed we are, as @mcrae1000 (also known as Mr Shouty) has called it, undergoing a phase of Collective Psychosis. Because we are so upset about the recent results we're starting to search for answers in areas that are likely to destabilise rather than help our situation. And searching for answers as if we were fighting for survival in this league, never mind promotion to the next.

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Forest and Watford away games, and neither were pretty nor effective although the latter perhaps a little better than the former even if it it was boring. I tend to agree with most fans that a striker is needed but not because Charlie Austin is rubbish, but because we simply need more than one and right now we've got the leg of one (Zamora) and half of another (Johnson) as a second option. In theory Redknapp's decision to play 6 mid fielders was probably right given the situation but yet again there seems to be a little problem with some of the tinkering he is doing - why was Kranjcar forced to play up front when it is clearly a position he does not enjoy playing it nor is his forte? Could Matty Phillips have played that role instead, with a pace that we've been lacking in that area without Austin? Also, after all these games it still looks as if Simpson is frustrated and we haven't quite figured out what to do on the right side. I also can't quite figure out what is stopping us from playing a more attacking or aggressive game. Is it actually to our detriment that we have so much Premier League experience in a Championship club and is what they are trying to do far to intricate and clever for what we need? Or is it that they really are being casual and lacking effort? I am of the belief that it is the former that is the bigger issue and this is probably a huge learning curve for many players. What seems to have happened is that growing confidence in the results have made them much too delicate in the style of play. If I look back at the first Sheffield Wednesday game for example I was excited by the 'go get 'em' attitude of the players. Now they're passing back to Green and Benny way more than most of us would like. But, could it be confidence even at this level? If they have any respect for the other teams in the league perhaps it is. A conundrum indeed.

At this current point in time, and until I have huge cause for concern (i.e. the threat of relegation), I intend to laugh quite a bit and have some fun. And one thing that has given me a huge amount of mirth is this video I found on Youtube which looks to be some kind of 'Portrait of Niko Kranjcar' as part of a series of portraits of players for the Croatian team. It looks like it's fairly old as he looks slightly slimmer and younger, but it starts off with a visit to what may well be his favourite hairdresser.  I am not a speaker of the Croatian language but one can have endless fun guessing what they are saying as she 'brushes' his hair and when he subsequently messes it up on his way out. There is even a one-on-one interview with the hairdresser where I imagine she might be discussing his favourite shampoo and conditioner, or perhaps how it is so easy to cut his hair when he is such a handsome fella... Later on, we see him reading a book (footballers do read after all!). I can't make anything out apart from 'Pillars of the Earth' which is perhaps his favourite novel, and later there is a Q&A - with one question I was able to translate about 'cuticles and callouses'. Nice. What this has to do with football I do not know, but it is fabulous fun and I'm particularly fond of the whistling soundtrack in the background.

(video below viewable on desktop)

But seriously, who are we to question the job of the footballer? It's so easy for us to paint a picture of someone we think we know and respect. It's so easy to expect something from someone without really understanding what they have been asked to do, or what their actual intentions are. However, supporting a football team wouldn't be fun if none of us had an opinion. And so I say to you - Mr blog critic, thanks for reading the blog but if you don't like how often I write, go and find another blog to read. I never put a gun to your head and asked you to read it. But if you'd like to spend some proper time sitting down 'sans alcohol' and reading all 63 posts from the past two years I'd gladly do so with you. 

Thanks for reading the irregular blog,


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Dear Santa (2013)

Queens Park Rangers 0 Leicester 1

Dear Santa,

It's been just under a year since I last wrote to you. And I know I was a bad girl because I actually wrote to you after Christmas day and you were still kind enough to give us an amazing away win at Chelsea just after New Year's Day. I will never forget how special that evening was. I don't think I've ever been so excited watching QPR play in my whole life and I enjoyed watching Chelsea fans looking very miserable on the District line home.

But, alas. A lot has happened last year. As you know, we didn't manage to save ourselves. And all those horrid players who you tried to punish (Bosingwa and the Siberian training camp etc.) pretty much set up our downfall. By the time Harry arrived it was all too late. And as the world continued to turn and we saw Pistorius kill his girlfriend, Syria continue to suffer, a huge typhoon destruct the Philippines, and Mandela die...we have been rebuilding our team back in the world of the Championship in to something that is unrecognisable (really) to the team we traumatically supported in season 2012/13.

Santa, I can't imagine what it's like up there in the North Pole but I understand from records I've been reading that you basically you live in the North Pole with Mrs Claus, a few elves and the Easter Bunny who lives next door. I know this because he actually wrote to me last Easter after we beat Sunderland 3-1. But it must be a bit lonely up there when you haven't got many people that you can socialise with at the same level? I mean, with the Easter Bunny laying millions of eggs for probably half the year, and with Mrs Claus being obsessed with Eastenders I wonder whether it sometimes feels a little lonely? The reason why I say this is that this year has been an amazing year for me in that I've become pretty close to some very special people through QPR. And while I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends from all walks of life, I often feel even more lucky to have friends who are about as crazy as I am about the Rangers.

Today was a wonderful case in point. Today wasn't a great day for football itself, no. It can't be said that any of us were content with the result. My friend @gemcricketmad will not be happy for QPR that Barton was sent off, but she will feel vindicated as she truly believes he is a bad man and that it was only a matter of time before it would happen. I, on the other hand have, as fickle fans do, changed my opinion of him somewhat, and thought while it was probably deserved it was perhaps unfair in the grand scheme of life given his great contribution to the team so far this season. I fear that Barton is not the kind of person who would be on your good boy list but I beg you to re-consider as in my view he has done much good work for charities and important causes this season. And for me that is truly commendable.(Please don't however, give him his wish to go back to Marseilles in January - that I CANNOT allow). But back to the game today...while the first twenty minutes looked promising with both Kranjcar and Austin looking like they were firing on all cylinders, squirrel-gate appeared to have, not only stopped play for five minutes, but arrested any chance of any kind of momentum. In the cold, windy and wet conditions as I huddled in my five layers of clothing with rain p***ing down on my face I kind of felt this wasn't going to be our day.

But, there were other things that had been planned for today. That friend I mentioned earlier @gemcricketmad and I, had promised ourselves that we would make a big effort to make it to Loftus Road early to greet some of the players are they entered. Okay, I lie. We promised ourselves we'd make it to Loftus Road early to greet Niko Kranjcar and Charlie Austin. I know I know Santa, it's not very becoming of two ladies who are seriously in to their football to be ogling at two footballers. But I am telling you the God-honest truth that we're not sure there has ever been a more good looking team playing for QPR. And several ladies in the South Africa Road block C ladies toilet who overheard my conversation with @sandyhoops can probably vouch for us on this matter. I know it feels a little like we're turning on Buzz Lightyear (Julio Cesar) - and where is he by the way - has he asked for a transfer this Christmas?, but to be honest as good as he was it feels like he's a player from another era that most of us would much rather forget. To cut a long story short, here are the photos of us as blubbering wrecks meeting our 'idols' outside Loftus Road. Needless to say security asked us to move as we were actually standing in completely the wrong place - apparently we hadn't noticed the official 'meet n' greet' area. It's a good thing both chaps are really rather friendly and nice that they put up with two ladies who were about to melt in to the pavement outside the players entrance.

me and charlieeeee

Gemma and the dreamy Niko

As I met my friends outside Loftus Road after the match, I'd almost forgotten the frustrating match against Leicester as meeting Charlie and Niko was still fresh in my memory and I was so proud of myself for not running away in shyness. Post-match I had an amazing lunch of fantastic authentic Italian pizza to look forward to with my QPR friends in Notting Hill and I was not disappointed. Lunch was full of laughter, jokes and banter. It continued to be cold, wet and rainy outside but I felt truly blessed to be with such good people.

Call me cheesy, corny, soppy...whatever you want. But at this time year I can't help but reflect on all the things that have happened in the past twelve months. Many of us work hard for a living and sometimes struggle to support ourselves, some of us have lost friends or family to another life, and some have struggled through our own illnesses and other difficult issues for lots of reasons with our own families. There are some fans I know well and there are others that I read about through social media who are going through such hardships. What I write does not provide anywhere near enough weight to the seriousness of such things. But what I can say is that it is the wonderful time spent together with my QPR friends that will always be the most special and happy of memories. And I am so sure there are many others who will say the same.

Santa, this isn't a note to ask for anything this Christmas. Because the truth is I know I am lucky and I have all that I need to make this Christmas one I will not forget. Perhaps you were smiling down on Gemma and I when we had arrived just in time to meet our favourite players. And while you didn't give us a win today...I know how you work (remember last year!), and I have a funny feeling we may turn Forest over on boxing day against all statistical odds.

Here is wishing you and everyone who reads this blog, a wonderful Christmas.

Lots of love,

PS. Please find enclosed a framed photo of Niko and a mug with Charlie's image on it for Mrs Claus in case you were struggling for gift ideas.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Chipping Away

Queens Park Rangers 3 Bournemouth 0

Queens Park Rangers 0 Blackburn 0

Blackpool 0 Queens Park Rangers 2

It feels like a lot has happened in two weeks. Following what was an an extremely disappointing performance at Doncaster Harry appeared to have heeded some advice and tinker a little with formation and tactics. We've also seen Carroll come back from injury, Phillips score us fantastic goal, a match with more than a two-goal lead, and Austin to continue to work hard for us up front and score us goals.

Many of us are saying it still doesn't feel as if we've left first gear. It is true, it feels as if, for all the pedigree we have, we're still lucky to win some matches. The football isn't always pretty either. But who are we kidding? No one ever said Championship football was pretty - in fact every time the lads try something fancy it tends to backfire and be overly complicated. And yet here we are, sitting at the top of the table.

The older I get the more convinced I am that in order to achieve your goal one must be consistently hard working. And by consistent I mean that dogged determination to keep plugging away and trying even when the chips are down and by whatever means required. And I suppose that's the way I see it in our struggle to do better as a club than we did last season. I hesitate to say 'our struggle to regain Premier League status' because the thought does still with me with fear as I remember the trauma of last year. But I have an ever increasing faith that our club is doing the right thing and building a real team of dedicated players.

The last few weeks also saw Tom Daley tell us he has a boyfriend. Personally I think it's an amazingly brave thing to do for such a young boy. I know so many people who are much older than Tom and they haven't the courage to tell their own family...never mind coming out to the wider public of colleagues and friends. I cannot imagine what a painful internal struggle it must be to hide who you are from people that you love or from the public if you live your life in the limelight. What I have found amusing in the past year as fans and footballers have debated the subject is that men tend to say something like 'Well, I don't care what they do in bed, doesn't matter to me - so why bother announcing it?' That's their way of saying they aren't prejudiced in their views but at the same time they sweep under the carpet a world which they do not wish to know about or understand. And I say to them, how would you like it if you could never tell anyone about your wife and how happy you are with her? It isn't just about sex but about identity, friendship and family.

I still think we are a long way from changing some of these attitudes in the football world but there are lots of little things happening that seem to be slowly turning the tide. Numerous pieces have been written in the press and in both football and non-football related blogs. An article by Matt Dickenson in the Times suggested that Daley's act could 'inspire the end of football's last taboo'. There was also the controversial Rainbow laces campaign and the Football vs Homophobia campaign...But most recently I stumbled upon a twitter account @GayFootballerUK. @GayFootballerUK is an anonymous account apparently belonging to a 'Secret Bisexual Premier League Footballer. He has 362 followers only but the Huffington Post has also picked up on his account. He only started the account in late November this year and he has been greeted by Simon Thomas of Sky Sports News warmly whilst others have been intrigued by the cryptic clues about his upcoming matches, and any injuries he has.

Intriguing it is. I did wonder whether the account was a wind-up. But even for the most idiotic it wouldn't be funny. And if it were a wind-up one would imagine he would be doing everything he can to gain plenty of new followers, which clearly he is not. My hope is that it is genuine and that he gets as much support as possible whatever he decides to do. Perhaps if he has enough support anonymously it will make him the first Premier League footballer to ever come out whilst still actively playing.

For some, it's not news, no. But for others the issue is still a matter of life or death. This, along with all the other stories, is the world chipping away consistently at the issue. While I am sceptical about a Premier League footballer coming out any time soon, I am convinced that if it does happen, the world will be a better place for it.

Sunday, 1 December 2013


Doncaster Rovers 2 Queens Park Rangers 1

At work I am discovering the world of econometrics. Not an easy concept to understand but in basic terms an econometric model helps businesses to understand what, out of a number of variables, is driving results and return on investment. For marketers, this may be in the form of brand health or sales for example. Econometricians describe the process of modelling as something akin to baking a cake, where after receiving the data they then do all sorts of complicated mathematical things to understand what's driving what, and where there is a correlation.

With the way QPR are playing at the moment, I can't help but think about this concept of a cake. Across the social space, fans are debating about what the problem is - is it tactics and formation or is it simply attitude or effort? An econometrician would look at all of these things and try to understand which elements are causing problems for us. Although, of course - with having won almost all games, the combination of variables would currently be perceived as positive if indeed our ultimate goal or measure was to win games, and not just to play exciting football.

As I alluded to last week, the team does seem organised and regimented. People know their positions, but we don't seem to be playing out of them where I think we should be - when we've got a chance to take a risk, or run at the opposition and score goals. I would also suggest that the last two matches have seen a few players pull in more lacklustre performances: some fancy passes but just not ones that are dangerous enough for the Championship. Yes Niko, your bum looks great in the QPR shorts but perhaps a few more sessions down at the gym will improve performance? Playing with only one up front may also be taking its toll. While we have suffered a bout of injuries many players are back or coming back from them, and yet Harry has decided to stick with the past. This is so unlike the former Tottenham manager who we know likes to take a gamble and has always put forward an attacking team. Then there is the personal stuff we don't know about that goes on behind closed doors- were there players that had crap going on at home which made them lack focus yesterday, or did someone get annoyed that they were left on the bench and didn't start which got up everyone's nose before the match began? Who knows?

On the other hand, so far, this type of approach has allowed us to win by narrow margins. Until yesterday.

So, what is it that is going wrong out of all the possibilities? I would suggest an econometrician would be hard pressed to figure it out for QPR. They are right though, it is like a cake in that it's probably a combination of everything together that is driving this general malaise in football results as well as style of play. We do have one problem though. Econometrics also assumes that for all brands there is a base level of sales or results. This is the base level that continues to happen no matter what other variables or factors occur in time- that base level relies on ongoing sales, repeat purchases as well as the power of the brand. I am not sure that any club other than perhaps the Uniteds and Reals of this world can boast a base level of results. Most other football teams have too much volatility in their existence. However the one constant which has always amazed me and makes me extremely proud is the hardcore base level of loyal QPR fans. For such a small club we bring over 1,000 people for most away games and Fernandes and his team can rely on a near-sell out crowd for most matches. Unfortunately, good football results cannot solely rely on fans. .

I witnessed an argument yesterday at the Keepmoat. One person was claiming we were playing negatively, another was saying it might be ugly but it's winning us games. I agreed with both until we lost. And taking into account all of the above, we can't rely on a base level of play because frankly we haven't got it. I believe Harry has to take a bit more risk and use the players to their full potential. And that has to be not just in terms of formation, but in terms of tactics and in terms of who's playing and what ever the hell is motivating them. Everyone knows the best chefs are those that experiment with new ideas and ingredients, right?

Here is everyone before the match at a great fish restaurant in Doncaster called Fish Bits

Outside Fish Bits in Doncaster