The Thursday Preview: QPR Vs Cardiff
In 2006-7, as the club I support was following up a majestic Championship title with an eighth place finish in the Premier League, I at one point overheard a couple of Sunderland fans on a train describe my cherished ones as “lucky”. It wasn’t the first time either. Opposing fans couldn’t quite believe what had been achieved with such apparently meagre playing resources; Reading were a flash in the wok for sure.
Still, this was a bright scarlet rag to a bull indeed and even the thought that the jealous are troublesome to others, but a torment to themselves, offered little solace – especially after second season syndrome set in.
But now, I find myself adopting the stance of those disdainful Black Cats. Take Queen’s Park Rangers. The outrage that met the very suggestion in a recent Guardian Football league blog piece that Rangers deserve to be mentioned in the same breath as the greatest ever winners of this league was pronounced and prolonged. We have recently started a series reflecting back on some of these mighty XIs and the list we have drawn up provokes purrs of nostalgia. QPR, for all their lack of defeats, probably don’t even match up to El Tel’s victorious 1982-3 side, even if the latter were aided by a plastic pitch; let alone the Newcastle of Keegan, the Ipswich of Ramsey and the Chelsea of Neal.
We convince ourselves that Neil Warnock is a purveyor of long ball tactics that Shaun Derry and Clint Hill are enforcers that operate outside the law and, in my fellow blogger Lloyd’s words, that Adel Taarabt has all the skillz but no end product. QPR will fall apart once the mud starts to cling to boots and the thermometers starts to crack: just like last season when Jim Magilton’s pleasing unit caved in horribly throughout the winter months.
As for Saturday’s opponents Cardiff City, it’s also easy to be contemptuous. A recent barney between my aforementioned colleague and Steve Gabb of the estimable Mirko Bolesan debated the fine tunings, indeed the very ethics and morality of the loan system. The Bluebirds’ laissez faire attitude towards the inland revenue has seen many a red bill tucked behind the mantelpiece at the Cardiff City Stadium and Craig Bellamy’s injury has seen him play only a supporting role. Jay Bothroyd’s international calibre has been called into question and we all muttered “told you so” under our breath as Forest plundered three points in Wales on Saturday.
But, we can’t have it both ways. We have given Swansea City fulsome praise this season, but the Swans are adrift of these supposedly unspectacular top two. Putting green eyed tendencies aside for one moment, we really need to follow the lead of The Seventy Two and admit that this coming Summit meeting will be the best showcase for the 2011-11 Football League thus far, just as Newcastle versus West Brom thrilled us last time out. These two aren’t where they are by accident but I’ll take QPR to deliver a potentially maiming blow with a tense 1-0 win.