Writer: J P Fear
Date:Tuesday September 23 2008
1. So how is the season going so far?
The season so far has been quite promising in some aspects as we continue to play our way into contention in the Championship, evidently however we still cannot seem to shake those minor but important pitfalls that have dogged us in previous seasons.
Loftus Road is becoming an absolute fortress with no side of whatever stature relishing a trip to W12. Away from home QPR are a very different prospect, only picking up two wins on the road since February, so its fair to say the season so far has promised much and delivered to an extent - but there are still things that Rangers must brush up on before thinking about the top six.
Our summer dealings had me a tad worried that we weren`t going to achieve our potential, but Dowie and his team of scouts have found a selection of versatile performers in a relatively trimmed squad. Looking at the situation as it stands I would like to see us push for a play-off spot beyond the top ten prediction I held at the start of the campaign.
2) What is all the talk of QPR becoming a 'boutique football club' by Flavio Briatore? From an outside point of view, that doesn't appear to show much respect or understanding of what football is all about?!
The most worrying aspect about the whole thing is I cannot afford to shop in a boutique! - Don`t make my football club into one please. In all honesty we knew these were his plans from the offset.
He`s not a football man, he`s here to make money for himself and his investors and he will do that using the model you suggest, a 'boutique club`. The issue a lot of fans have is will they be priced out? Well if we`re looking to do something similar to Monaco where relatively small stadium is packed with wealthy people, there is certainly something to be concerned about.
But as I say, at the end of the day Rangers were in financial bother, and despite how often he likes to remind us, it still reigns true, his money helped save the club. It is my concerted opinion that sporting director Gianni Paladini has the fans best interests at heart, but if Briatore says jump, he says 'how high`.
Admittedly he shows absolutely no respect for the supporters and that is a worrying factor for myself. He has openly told supporters he doesn`t care what people who pay their £20 (ahem!) think. I use this line a lot, but I hope it doesn`t end up with the scenario of there is a party in my house, and I`m not invited!
3) Where did it all go wrong for former Villa boy John Gregory and how much better do you think the current man in charge, Iain Dowie, will do? Is it all about the funds now available or will the manager get time to gel a team together?
I would like to take this opportunity to thank John Gregory for everything he did at Loftus Road in his period in the club. He instilled a real belief in the club that we would stay up, and we did, creating some of the most memorable atmosphere`s I`ve heard at Loftus Road in many years.
It really began to go wrong at the beginning of the 2007/08 season, when he signed players that simply were not good enough to be playing in the Championship. This factor combined with some poor results on the field and the inability to learn from the mistakes he`d previously made cost JG his job.
The new owners meant business and it was only a matter of time before enough was enough and Gregory bit the bullet. Playing Zesh Rehman and Stefan Moore against West Brom was asking for it, and a 5-1 pasting infront of the Sky Camera`s did for him.
He will never be forgotten by the Rangers crowd for the great things he did as a manager and as a player, and he will be welcomed back to W12 with open arms should he return as a guest.
4) If you could have one Villa player, who would it be and why?
Aston Villa is a team that holds a certain rarity for me, a side that can field eleven English players, which is commendable in this day and age.
Gabriel Agbonlahor`s lightning pace and an eye for goal makes him such an outstanding talent and I would love one day to see him in a Rangers shirt, and if our illustrious owners promises are to be believed that may well happen.
Another player who cannot go without a mention is Gareth Barry, he has come on leaps and bounds in recent years after being left out of the England set-up for some time, and his array of passing and versatility make him such a valuable squad player.
In truth there is a whole 1-11 of Villa players I would have in and around the set-up at Loftus Road. Young Nathan Delfouneso could be one to watch out for in future years if the rumours are to be believed.
5) Who should Villa fear in your team?
Should the respective players be on form, they shall certainly give Aston Villa alot to worry about, for my mind we have got one of the best midfields outside of the Premier League and playing to their true potential will be formidable opposition.
Daniel Parejo caused a stir in the summer when he joined the R`s on loan from Real Madrid, he is a creative central midfielder who seems to find space where there is none. His vast array of passing and accurate shooting from distance may cause a few problems to Villa.
Another is Emmanuel Ledesma, a left footed midfielder, he plies his trade on the right wing. Another loanee this time from Italian outfit, Genoa, Ledesma has already bagged a hat-rick in this competition against Carlisle. His trickery and skill, combined with some excellent set-pieces and an eye for goal will no doubt give R`s fans some comfort going into a difficult fixture.
We are bit light up front, as Dexter Blackstock marauds the front line on his own - but he is ably supported by the two mentioned above, along with them Akos Buzsaky, Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood, Martin Rowlands, the options are endless going into this fixture.
6) What, if anything, do you think of Aston Villa and Martin O'Neill?
I have always held Martin O`Neill in the highest of regard as a manager. He learnt from the very best in Cloughie and he in turn is continuing to prove what an excellent manager he is.
In Aston Villa he has chosen a sizable club, that should be winning more trophies and he evidently saw this as an ideal challenge picking Villa out of many offers he was undoubtedly presented.
Villa are one of many teams that are sitting on the European periphery, and with the money that Randy Learner has pumped into the club, they should be a sure fire bet for a UEFA Cup spot - but more importantly should go out to win trophies like these, the League Cup.
For all of O`Neill`s management experience, he does like to pay the extra money to buy British - don`t get me wrong I admire his stance in paying for home grown talent, and as I`ve mentioned is extremely refreshing in the modern game. However there are better players out there from beyond our shores, and O`Neill could be buying British to the detriment of Villa with figures of £12m being banded about for James Milner, whilst being undoubtedly a young talent, may be a tad inflated.
7) Do you come to Villa Park with any confidence or do you think we'll be too strong for you after our cracking start to the season?
It is quite the conundrum really. Aston Villa have got off to a decent start, as have QPR, but I feel that league form counts for nothing going into a one off game, where it`s winner takes all.
The players that you have at your disposal should see you through over 90 minutes, however there are a number of match-winners in our side that can turn a fixture on its head in seconds. So whilst it is my belief that Villa will certainly be favourites, count Rangers off at your peril!
I was there the last time the two sides met in the League Cup and to be frank you were a cut above, only Olof Melberg and Thomas Sorensen`s almighty cock up managed to give us a goal, but moments of class did for us in a game I never really felt we were capable of winning.
This time round there are a mixture of different emotions, and I am certainly more confident we can cause an upset this time round. Optimism was never my strong point - I`m a QPR fan after all, but I still think there is something there for us, and I hope Rangers can back my point up on that one.
8) Go on then, lets have a prediction, how do you think the tie will go?
I think it may go all the way to penalties, we certainly won`t keep a clean sheet as pace will be the key to unlocking our defence, and Villa have that in abundance. But our ability to play excellent football may well be the key in giving us a fighting chance at Villa Park.
Above all I hope for a good entertaining affair, between two sides that know how to play good football, and of course I hope for an upset - it is a cup competition after all!
I am going to say 2-2 after extra time, and Rangers to win on penalties, and from a pessimist that is the best you`re going to get!
With thanks to Boxer at Vital QPR >> Click Here
Date:Tuesday September 23 2008
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