Sunday, 21 September 2014

In and out of love

Queens Park Rangers 2 Stoke City 2

Do not read this blog post if you aren't going to take it in the humour in which it is intended...for it is very much a light-hearted take on of being a QPR and Niko Kranjcar fan!

It's no secret that I'm a self proclaimed Niko Kranjcar 'groupie'. But I'm certainly not the only lady who feels this way. I feel blessed to be very close to @gemcricketmad who has also fallen head over heels for the baller of a Croat. The groupie world is certainly not a lonely place when it comes to this QPR player. And his re-signing on transfer deadline day sent many of us in to a massive Niko frenzy.

Frankly, it's a good thing he is around because he is truly the 'stardust' in what is currently a team with an extremely leaky defence and an obsession with playing Rio Ferdinand in every game for the full 90 minutes. And after seeing both Spurs and Man U lose to 'lower level' teams today the nerves are kicking in a little bit about the next few horrifically challenging games we have. So far, Niko has provided that little bit of magic and creativity that we should be seeing from a handful of players at the very least (injuries for Barton and Mutch certainly not helping). And after yesterday's stunning last minute goal I believe there are several men who might be experiencing the effects of serious man-crush (some hilarious tweets circulated yesterday such as: #iwanttomarniko by @qprsludger).

I was worried at the end of last season. I always said that if Niko left QPR, the love affair would be over. That would have been difficult to do but...QPR always comes first. And, after all, the reason why it's so much fun to support him is because he does play for the Rangers. And now that he is back and obviously enjoys being with us (although frankly I am not sure I know anyone, Ukrainian friends included, who wants to be in the Ukraine), it's just a bonus isn't it?

But it wasn't always that way with Niko and several fans are eating their words about his weight, his technical ability, his tactical know-how and his fitness. Over the summer break a good article was published titled What's Next for Croatia's Forgotten Genius? Some points in there that were interesting around Niko's self-awareness about this lack of speed. I also managed to get a translation of a video that I posted in an earlier blog (Collective Psychosis). Apparently in one scene he says something about the fact that every day he weighs himself and hopes that he has lost 100 grams as he has a trouble managing his weight. With Niko- the self-awareness and humble nature is a huge reason why he attracts the so many (apart from his strikingly good looks of course).  When my friend Gem welcomed Niko back yesterday 'on behalf of all female QPR fans' he shyly smiled and said 'it's great to be back'. Awwww.

But seriously, is he a forgotten talent, or is he too injury prone and too slow for the Premier League? For if he were truly a genius footballer would he really being playing for little ol' Rangers? It's a fair question to ask. But I'd say at this stage it's too early to tell and it would be great to see him consistently perform this way. But he saved our bacon yesterday - by far QPR's man of the match by (according to several twitter quotes) a 'country mile'. And he did lose the weight over the summer period and he did get fit. No, he's not that fast but I have some empathy for him. I've been a gym goer for years, and I love running and swimming. But no matter how hard I train I have always had and only ever will have just one pace. It's frustrating but I try to make up for it with pure enthusiasm!! Hardly a comparison point I know with one quite so skilful.

I guess it is just so very easy for us to pass judgement on players and their fitness levels and weight sometimes we don't even look at ourselves closely enough. And for that matter, sometimes we're just a little bit biased about one player over another? I mean - did anyone notice how Adel came back with a bum bigger than mine? Gem was certain that in pre-season training he was wearing a tummy control pair of pants.

On the other hand, does it really matter whether he isn't the fastest or best midfielder in the world? We are just QPR after all, and to have a player as good as he is want to come and play for us, is surely only a good thing. The days of  monobrow and such like are surely behind us now.

As I finish this post, I see that wins today for teams around us have moved us to the bottom 3 of the table. It's early days but I hope and pray for a bit more magic from not just Niko but others in what should be a pretty talented squad. One thing's for sure though, Niko will one day be gone, but QPR will always be in my heart.

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