A big game for QPR - 10/04/2003
At this stage of the season it’s not particularly surprising to find the season’s really hotting up. Looking at Saturday’s fixture, QPR should fancy their chances at home to Luton but it’s by no means a certainty.
Last weekend QPR got an excellent 2-1 win at close rivals Cardiff, and I’m very confident that both clubs will finish the season in the top six, it’s cup football in the play-off’s and anything can happen. Luton are only a couple of places beneath QPR and have a good away record, so Ian Holloway will have them focused. What I will say is that they deserve to go up, and if they do, I’m sure they’ll more than hold their own in the first division. I’ve a tremendous amount of respect for Ian, he’s a genuinely hard working manager who enjoys his job and loves the club.
In expecting a gate of 15,000 or so – that's proof that QPR are bigger than the level of football they're currently playing at. Not so long ago they were finishing as the top London side in the Premiership, and although they’ve encountered some very difficult times, they’ve come out of the woods and can look forward to a positive future. After coming out of administration they’ve made changes and adapted well to the present financial crisis in the game. With a good backroom staff, stable finances and a good fan base, they also have a number of players who wouldn’t be out of sorts in the Premiership. Richard Langley, Clarke Kent, and Kevin Gallon are all very decent players, I’m particularly glad to see Kevin doing so well. He had a horrendous knee ligament injury in the mid 90’s which kept him out for a couple of seasons. But to his credit, he’s come back and is realising the potential that we all knew he had years ago. There are also a few more who’ve contributed well, and that’s why I’m confident that if promotion was achieved, they’d manage the step-up without any great difficulty.
In addition to fully contracted players, the club have done well to sign loan players such as Kevin McCleod (Everton), and Stephen Kelly (Spurs). I know that Theo Foley at Tottenham rates Kelly highly, he’s getting a chance at QPR when the alternative would be reserve team football at White Hart Lane. I like what I see of McCleod, he’s strong and can do well in the game.
Looking at Ian Holloway’s role, he’s assessed the situation and taken the initiative to bring in a few young and fringe players. It’s good business for all concerned as the players gain vital experience (and probably improve fitness), QPR benefit on the pitch. They usually contribute to the players’ wages – so the lending club save money, and QPR get a player they may not have been able to afford. It’s certainly a feature we’ll see more of, and it certainly worked well for Watford – with Michael Chopra coming down from my old club Newcastle and scoring an amazing four goals last weekend!
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