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?