Sunday, 30 November 2014


Newcastle Utd 1 Queens Park Rangers 0

Queens Park Rangers 3 Leicester City 2

I've had the pleasure of a stay-cation this past week. It's been a chance to recharge the batteries, sort out some life admin, catch up with friends and family - and enjoy a little football. Not enough credit is given to simply taking time off as most of us in the Western world are so used to jumping on that plane for a holiday in the sun. Many of us are spoilt and forget how lucky we are. Nevertheless, if you can honestly switch that blackberry off and pretend to yourself at least for a few days that you've got no reception, staying at home is a low-risk holiday.

Mine started with an early morning and a 7.30 train ride from Kings Cross to Newcastle. Arriving at Kings Cross at 6.30am I panicked when I saw that M&S was still closed but was delighted when it opened at 7am for my obligatory pre-train ride beer and wine shop. It was a great train ride up with some of my favourite QPR pals, for whom waking up that early is worthwhile. As for the match, while a point would have been a preferred earning, it was always going to be a big ask to beat Newcastle in their current form. I had promised myself when I visited Newcastle nearly 3 years ago, that I would never go again as you are so far from the pitch and it's a long way to go for a 7 storey hike up stairs and a view of Bergen but the time with friends was an opportunity not to be missed. As for the performance, I continued to take heart from QPR's continued persistence and fighting spirit. I know I know I know, it's not just about the performance as we need the points. But I honestly believe that for what we need to do - which is ultimately, to survive, the wins will come. To use a cliché we must 'take the positives' in order to turn things around eventually with points on the board.

Perhaps it's because I've been influenced by this book I mentioned a few weeks ago called Good to Great - a book that sets out some key principles around how to make good companies great companies. In its final chapters there is this concept of a flywheel. It's about continuously pushing a big heavy wheel, inch by inch...then turn by turn...then eventually the wheel is able to move and push forward on its own momentum. So, with each turn the 'flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort'. I think of this when I think about how the football fans are extremely good at panicking and moaning about a marginal loss away from home. Call me an optimist but I was a little shocked by several people claiming that the Newcastle match was the worst football they've seen the team play in ages. Really?

I do think that sometimes it behoves us to just give the players a little bit of a break - to take a step back, take a deep breath and take everything in to account. And, in some ways, I feel vindicated by the result against Leicester City. The fans and the players all felt that the hard work, grit, determination paid off and won the game for us. With Sandro and Zamora both sadly out, it was good to see Kranjcar being given a chance to play, and add some creativity to a creativity-less mid-field (and didn't he look pretty with his new haircut and shave?). Having Barton back is also encouraging for the team spirit and Henry continues to perform unexpectedly well - perhaps a dark-horse contender for player of the season? Something tells me though that our striker hero Charlie will be the one to gets the plaudit. I think many thousands of QPR fans (men and women) would happily plant one big soggy kiss on those lovely lips of his.

On the one hand, I do agree that what separates the winners from the losers, the great from the the desire and the will to win. So I can see (grudgingly) why that the result at Newcastle may have felt like wasted effort, or like it was due to a lack of desire. But on the other hand ambition comes in many forms, and it is the definition of that ambition that can sometimes be a little hazy. We have to remember that it is a long season and that there is a job to be done that spans far beyond one match, or even one season for that matter. I am hopeful about our flywheel, but it has probably only completed one turn so far.

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