The International break has broken and it's back to feeling underwhelmed, sad and desperately trying to justify our existence. THAT'S RIGHT! The Championship is back. Jon Rogers speaks to QPR fan and Q Magazine Editor Ted Kessler about crazy owners, butter knife self harming and he uses the word pizazz twice.
Jon - So! COO_PEE_ARR. I remember a time where Tony Fernandes was marched around Norwich City when he was looking to spend his pocket money. A decent man, but did we dodge a bullet? Basically, if it was six years ago, and you have the choice, would you have taken his investment?
Ted - Are you asking to choose between sticking with Flavio Briatore six years ago or twisting with Tony Fernandes? Between an unlovable narcissist millionaire with zero affection for QPR, and a cuddly narcissist millionaire with zero affection for QPR? Hmm. I'd have stuck with FB then and I'd stick in retrospect too. Briatore was a hair-trigger madman who had open disdain for QPR's fans and history.
However, he had just stepped back far enough for us to be promoted under Warnock and had Amit Bhatia looking after the club during that campaign - a capable, smart man who was married into the Mittal steel billions and therefore alright for the bills. The worst that would have happened was there would've been a boardroom fight between the Mittals and Briatore and Briatore would've lost. Instead, Tony Fernandes rocked up having been just rebuffed by West Ham and spraying his very private Malaysian cartel's cash around, saying all the right things and then doing the wrong things, again and again and again. The man is a berk but the prize for him and his mates is not really QPR: that's the key that unlocks a new stadium, venues, housing and commercial development a couple of miles up the road at Old Oak Common, based around HS2 and the largest redevelopment in London since Canary Wharf.
So they absorb losses, relegation and what-not because that will dwarf anything less lose or win at Old Oak. No, the real time travel for me would be back to 2004 when post-administration, for a few glorious months, we had a QPR fan as chairman, a QPR fan as CEO and Gianni Paladini hadn't wrestled control from them in the most underhand, despicable manner. But then he did and we are still paying for that loon now. Ironically, Ian Holloway backed Paladini at the time and it cost him in the end. So he's come full circle.
Jon - I'll take that as a no. I must admit I enjoyed the QPR Movie. and what a headcase Flavio Briatore was. From a neutral point of view of course. Seeing him muttering and screaming aggressive and offensive Italian after someone misses a one on one - was entertaining. So that's the past, let's focus on the present. How's the season going on a scale of....whatever you want to measure it in?
Ted - At the start of the season I thought we'd be mid-table - which we are - as we're in transition with new players, many from abroad. I like the squad but it's not really gelled it properly yet. However, Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink's football was quite attritional and playing one up front at home did not go down well with the natives. In fact, not much he did went down well. QPR fans for better or worse like a bit of pizazz about their managers and JFH lacked all pizazz. Losing 0-6 at home to Newcastle and 0-2 to Brentford (which some how felt worse) pretty much did for him. The atmosphere has been musty, depressed and gnarly. It had to change after Brentford and so they changed it. In typical Rangers style, they went in completely the opposite direction from a dour, methodical Dutchman and pressed the Ian Holloway button. Unfortunately for Norwich I think that means we'll be really up for Saturday. But we're not very good and really, Norwich should win.
Jon - Hm. That feels a near carbon copy of our season. Despite being fourth, our football has also been utterly disappointing for the level of players we have. No clean sheets in something like a hundred and thirteen games, and we've only beaten one team in the top half. OR SOMETHING EQUALLY FRUSTRATING.
Did this Holloway button spurt out an mp3 of "LABRADOR, JAM-JAR, TRAMPOLINE" as you pressed it? Bet it did. What's your take on Mr Holloway? Never go back, yeh?
Ted - Yeah. I mean, I was despondent when I heard he was on the shortlist. I loved him in 2004, but his last two jobs at Palace and Millwall broke him, he looked so happy on Sky: leave the past where it belongs. But his first impressions at QPR this time have completely changed my mind. He spoke with such passion and enthusiasm for the job, for the club, for what this all means and how he'll tackle it that I'm totally on-board now. Set fire to the map and let's fucking sail! He's got former midfielder, die-hard Ranger and king of banter Marc Bircham in as 1st team coach so we have a decent double-act. But I hope he employs a straight man too. He needs one: he did his best work with Kenny Jackett and Keith Millen as his number 2.
Jon - I think his appointment, might be the end of our manager. I can see the Loftus Road rocking (not too much, might fall over) and if you go 1-0 up - that's it for us. I'm sounding really negative and I'm normally crazy optimistic. So help us out, who should we be worried about in the QPR team? The player you go...Oh thank fuck he's playing...when you see the team?
Ted - I don't think we have that player yet. We have candidates in Chery who is a very skillful Dutch number 10 with a terrific free-kick, but only very sporadically sparks - Hoolahan's more consistent. Who else? Luongo can be good from midfield, and is so for Australia, but rarely for Rangers. Sylla up front is new to the league but seems to have a goal in him, often important ones. And we have a lively, direct winger in youth graduate Shopido but he's best in impact sub roles. It's all up for grabs in Holloway's first game - who knows who he'll pick, what the formation is. He may go crazy and recall glass man Sandro from the stiffs - I'd worry about that because he's the kind of bloke who can dial up a good game every two years and would do so on Saturday in the spotlight. One thing: we don't do new-manager bounce. Lord knows we've tried.
Jon - What about Norwich? Who's the one player you'll see and go...Oh man *sad face* (and you cant have Hoolahan, as you’ve said him!)
Ted - Bloody hell, off the top my head you have a load of midfielders and number 10s who would improve any team in the division and should be in the one above: Naismith, Dorrans, Brady, Howson, Pritchard...they could all out-play us. If I was a Norwich fan I would be wondering why we weren't pushing Newcastle a lot closer. It reminds me a bit of Redknapp's QPR who had the best squad on paper in the league and just about managed to fluke in the Play-Off final thanks to Bobby Zamora despite being rubbish. Is it a striker you lack? A leader? Or is it the manager suffering a ‘crises of confidence’? Looks like a tricky time, you don't want to go all Derby and fire a man when 5th then fall away totally, but at the same time - you have to go up with that squad, right?
Jon - Oh god. We're turning into QPR. The Harry Years are exactly how it is. The fans are split regarding AN. We want him to do well, but we aren't doing well. We should be going up. Our football, apart from the first game and odd sections of some games, our football has been turgid. Normally when you see a manager fired from a team who you think are doing well, you think...FFS, what is wrong with football? but playing badly and winning is one thing, losing and playing badly - Flavio Briatore thing - CAZZO SACCO!!
Any final thoughts, and a score prediction please?
Ted - So, big game for both clubs. Bigger than it looked six weeks ago for sure. We're going to go at it with all instruments playing at once, crash bang wallop, fans going Olly-mad: we concede early for sure. I can see us going 0-2 first half, Olly rips into them at half-time, tears streaming down his face, Bircham carving Q P R into his arm with a butter-knife. Sandro gets taken off, we go three up front and equalise in the last minute. A 2-2 draw that feels like a win to us and defeat for Norwich. What do you reckon?
Jon - I like the butter knife part. Quite Richie Edwards from the Manics. Seriously, do you know how bad it’s got? I would scrape my left testicle with a live scorpion for a 0-0. A NIL NIL!! Get this clean sheet hoodoo off our backs, start again, top of the league by Christmas Day. Sorted. I should be manager
Ted Kessler an editor at Q magazine, a long-time season ticket holder at QPR and the oldest swinger in town. He edited a book called My Old Man is available here. Which stars the likes of Paul Weller, Tilda Swinton, Richard Hawley and Johnny Ball, and is the last word in heart-rending paternal memoriese
He tweets at @TedKessler1