Wednesday, 10 August 2016


Queens Park Rangers 3 Leeds Utd 0

How wonderful it is to start a season with a win- and not just any win but an emphatic 3-0 one! I chuckled when I saw Polter score as I am surrounded by opposing views on the man. My father hasn't been convinced that he is the ticket for several months now, and my mate Gemma has considered plastering his name on her son's shirt this season. Serious stuff. Personally I think he represents what  QPR appears to be becoming: hard-working, positive, competitive and passionate about the club's values. Last night's @qprpod spent a good bit of time discussing his calves and how fit he appears to be, but as per Steve's comments, it isn't just Polter's calves getting a run-in but the whole team's fitness level. And this appears to be making a significant difference. 

Fitness matters a lot in this league - more games, more often, less quality football so more aggressive and physical play. This is obviously a massive priority for JFH who has now had time to get the team to the level he wants it to be. I suspect that (in part) this is what allows us to be competitive.  'Competitive' is a word he uses a lot in his interviews. It's not very original and sometimes you wonder what is really behind it when managers say that want their team to be competitive, especially when it's the answer to the question of what the target is for the season. I mean what the hell does competitive actually mean? Does it mean it doesn't really matter if you lose as long as you try? Does it mean you want to get to the top and be promoted? Does it mean you want 6th place? Does it mean you want 17th place? More often than not I feel like it's a cop-out of an answer. 

Having said all of that, 'suffer' is also a word JFH likes to use in interviews, and it's made me think a lot. He mentioned it even during the post-match interview last Sunday in the context of the latter parts of the game. He was reported in Get West London  'you learn thing about your team (sic)' as a result of suffering. I like this thinking because, as much as it sounds  little negative, it is a realistic approach at the task ahead. Not just for one game, but for the whole season. It simply is no exaggeration to say that the Championship is one of the toughest leagues in the world. It truly is a marathon and not a sprint. And perhaps within that context, the words 'competitive' and 'suffer' don't feel so out of place. Because actually, you've got to look at each game individually and not get carried away. Nothing is certain and unlike the PL where one can generally (I say generally given last season's surprise) predict the top 6, it can be a right lottery back in the bruising Championship world. There simply has to be an acceptance that there will be tough times as well as easier times, but that the approach to managing those tough times that will the key to success. 

I also like the fact that it also aligns with my view of the player Polter has become. He has moved country, learned a new language, obviously trained to an extremely high fitness level and shown his passion (not always too cleverly). And I am sure these things have not come without difficulty and just a little bit of suffering. On a lighter note though, he isn't very trendy and I am not sure about his haircuts or dress sense. He's also a little goofy on his social media pages. All in all he doesn't appear to come with the typical footballer mannerisms we fans have become so used to since we started to splash out on underserving players. 

Perhaps he will become a QPR hero after all?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Remember Love

A season preview from afar...

Well hello there everyone. It feels like a lifetime since the end of last season especially now that I am living abroad. I've been asked by several friends to keep up with the blogging, so I will do my best to do so even though I won't be able to watch every single game.

Not working for the last 4 months has been a very strange feeling, but it's probably the best (and luckiest) decision I've ever made in my life. As per previous blogs, it hasn't been the easiest settling in but things have improved now that I am now doing all the things I want to do - helping others, enjoying music and travelling the country and Asia.  Nevertheless, I know that this coming week is going to be a little more painful because the new season starts and I will long for Loftus Road and I will miss my friends even more. I'll miss the cheeky Nando's, the walk down South Africa Road and picking up AKUTRS, a drink and/or a boogie at the Springbok (which I hear is now closed!), a Tequila at Habanera,  a hug of joy after a win or a hug of commiseration with my footie friends...Sigh. What have I left behind?

For those long time readers of my blog, you will know that 2015 was not the greatest of years. In truth, 2016 didn't improve a lot for many of my friends or family either. A big shock for me happened when one of my best friends was struck with Influenza in March and it was really touch and go at one stage. It was only the day before I had left for the Philippines that she was finally out of her coma and began to talk again. I feel blessed to have been able to witness it before departing. I am also happy to say that after four months in hospital she is now healthy and at home!

My late mother used to tell me that what was important in life was not all the events that occurred or happened to you but the way that you dealt with those events. Perhaps a nice way of saying 'shit will happen,  deal with it'', but I like to think nowadays that it simply it re-iterates the old saying 'Life is a journey, not a destination.' And through all that has happened these past 18 months, my brother has been giving me some great meditation tips. He came to visit me here last month and I was so pleased to see him. One morning, after a pumped up gym session we had a 15 minute meditation session.  As  'new age' as it seems, I learned a little something about just taking the time to simply breathe, love yourself and, love others and EVEN love someone who may be a stranger. Like that person who annoys you because she keeps spelling your name wrong at Starbucks, or the lady who never serves you at the bar, or the man who doesn't stand up for a pregnant lady on the tube. I am sure there is a much more intelligent reason behind this meditation but for me it just signifies that sometimes it is better for your health to just let go and remember love. And if perhaps you are a little lost, you might just find love for yourself.

It was interesting listening to the latest QPRPOD today and the difference in opinion between Clive and Paul- one believes that this pre season, we are being pragmatic and the other believes we are not being ambitious enough. We've got a Championship now full of massive clubs having come up from below as well as those relegated from the PL. We've got a few important players but nothing ground-breaking and we're still without a new striker in sight. It's been a pretty low-key pre-season (perhaps the one we've always wanted?). With this context and having seen last year's wild and unexpected Premier League result I suspect what we will find that this season one of the toughest to predict. So whilst I love the banter, the arguments and the varying ambitions amongst the QPR fans...I am going to resign myself a little to fate and let go and remember love (or at least, I'll try!).  So what if the third kit isn't great, so what if Polter will be our hero next season, so what even if the lower loft is still the family stand this season? Blah blah blah.

On that note, this week I will be embarking on a journey with a group called Dream Big Pilipinas which focuses on transforming under-privileged children's lives her in the Philippines through football and education. In a country which is obsessed with boxing and basketball I am super excited to see the work that they are doing and hope that I can help them in some way. Take a look at their website and love a little.

I'll be watching on Sunday night from here, with hopefully not too many tears in my eyes.