Saturday, 7 February 2015

Hostage Situation

Stoke City 3 Queens Park Rangers 1

Queens Park Rangers 0 Southampton 1

It's coming up to the tenth anniversary of my mother's death. The exact date will be two days before the trip up north to Hull. Time has flown since then it feels like it was only yesterday when I decided to pack my bags and move my life to the Philippines to take care of her while she was ill. And I remember so well the strange feeling of freedom to be able to make my own decisions at that point -early working life in London made me feel like a hamster in a cage and I was lucky enough to find the opportunity to work in Manila as well. It was a great chance to learn and to challenge myself. But little did I know when I came back to London in 2005 after she died, how much I'd let myself be a hostage in my grief for such a long time. It has only been in recent years that I have finally felt the ability to be able to move on and QPR has been a huge part of that. 

I am reading a book called 'Hostage at the Table' by George Kohlrieser. It's a business/leadership book about overcoming conflict and influencing others to raise performance. At least, that's what the cover says. Kohlrieser, a psychologist by profession, used to help the police in hostage situations. And in the book he uses real-life examples of hostage negotiations to illustrate points around managing general conflict issues in the work place. In a nutshell the theory is that we can make ourselves feel like hostages to our own situations, or sometimes others can take us hostage. There are a number of ways that can take us out of that feeling but ultimately, it is within our power to either survive (i.e. Stokholm syndrome), or take ourselves out of a situation with positive focus using mind's-eye. It's a fascinating read. As you read through the examples the lessons do seem so obvious. For me though, knowing the answers doesn't always make problems easy to overcome. And of course, I can't help but think about this in the context of our club and what is happening right now. 

What a few weeks it has been. We had a strange 2 week break, followed by an inevitable loss event-less transfer deadline day and then the resignation of Harry which, with hindsight, seemed bound to happen. Before that point, it seemed as if the primary thing that was keeping QPR hostage was this awful inability to win away. We were all so annoyed with Harry when he used the 'knee' as an excuse but I have a feeling that we would have found fault in anything that he would have announced. Redknapp, in the end, had to take himself out of the hostage situation he had built himself in everything that he was or wasn't doing to manage the team appropriately, leaving the rest of us still hoping the team wouldn't continue its current poor form. 

Like many I was excited about today. I enjoyed Chris Ramsay's press conference yesterday. It was refreshing to see someone a bit bubbly and humorous. I was hoping that a cloud would have been lifted especially when I saw the team sheet - one with real pace and some creativity. Although, there was one thing sorely lacking and that was another striker to partner Austin who once again looked rudderless and alone and who once again had to sit back and defend along with the 5 other defenders already on the pitch!

I enjoyed a lot of the game and I honestly believed that perhaps we would be the ones to nick that goal in the dying minutes. I have this superstition that if one of the ST holders that sits near me leaves before the end of the match, we have a good chance of scoring a goal. This happened today so I was really hopeful right until the end. I really wanted it for the team, more than for me- if that makes sense. Because now that I'm reading this book, I'm petrified that they have put themselves under this cloud of the fear of losing even at home because of what has been happening away. I suspect it's a little bit like that feeling that you get sometimes when it comes to relationships - where you have this huge fear of failing or losing that person that you simply aren't able to move on and enjoy it for what it already is. I can't imagine how awful it must feel to be trapped in that way, or to not be scoring goals (it's now been quite a few games since Charlie scored...). 

I suppose the truth is that there are no magical answers or solutions. Some say the problem we have is indicative of deeper problems off the pitch in the club and it's operations. But do we honestly believe that a change of owners will make things better just like that? Are we not also guilty of placing blame on one easy target simply because we are unable to articulate clearly what we would do if we were actually in charge? It's true, there are issues in so many levels, and Neville's article on this published a few weeks ago points to some of these. Trevor Sinclair also talked about something being 'fundamentally' wrong with QPR but even he was excited about the match today as we saw from his tweets today. A few weeks back he said: 'When I was at QPR it was a family club with a fantastic tradition of developing lower league players and I'm not seeing that anymore.'. He's right, we have now lost that tradition of developing lower league players...But I'd challenge him on QPR no longer being a family club. 

We do have our problems even within our own fan base, as I mentioned on the QPR Podcast earlier in January it sometimes feels like we're a little disjointed and for such a small club we do have so many supporters groups. But despite the different opinions and some of the petty warring that we see, we're still at the heart, fans who aren't in it for the glory hunting or just for the wins. We're in it for the passion, for the friends and the family that we have made around us. You could argue that we've all made ourselves hostage to a club where we give so much and yet where it sometimes seems we get so little in return. 

Tonight I'm 'unrecording' Match Choice, and I doubt I'll be watching Match of the Day. But I'm still thankful that QPR has been an anchor in my life when sometimes everything else has felt tough. But, as my neighbour Terry sitting next to me said today 'Even if all other 91 clubs decided to make entry to their games free I would still pay to come and watch QPR'. 

Kohlrieser talks about something called a 'secure base'. Something we can hold on to in times of trouble and conflict. For all the problems I think we've got one, and it's time that our players believed that too. 

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