The Thursday Preview: QPR Vs Doncaster
What the hell is going on at QPR? Rangers’ now disbanded front-five was the subject of a post of a little under 10 days ago, but their decline has been such that the arbitrary roulette of The Thursday Preview has dumped Newcastle’s St James’ date with Preston in favour of Saturday’s game at Loftus Road.
Just one game, a scrappy 1-0 defeat at Coventry, has been played since Lanterne Rouge’s post, but the question mark surrounding the club’s management is still a real thorn in Rangers’ side. It’s reared its head over the past few days, but after several rounds of mixed messages the situation seems no nearer to resolution and Mick Harford remains in the Caretaker’s role. ITV commentators practically announced that Neil Warnock would be on his way to West London after Palace’s Cup tie on Sunday, but no such move has been forthcoming and it’s been reported that the players, led by Lee Cook, have “put paid to Neil Warnock becoming the Hoops’ fifth manager this season” by “pleading” Harford’s case.
Something seems amiss. Harford has led the Hoops to just one draw in six league games which tallies quite nicely with his forgettable stints at Rotherham and Luton, leading me to wonder why the players would go to such lengths to protect him. Should it be true, one reason might be the dearth of alternatives available to Flavio Briatore and the board. There’s all sorts of reasons for Warnock being out of the question, fellow firefighter Alan Curbishley would probably be too expensive, and the ascension of Dennis Wise, Lothar Matthaus or Ian Dowie would induce a sharp pain in most fans’ stomachs.
In a Henry V at Agincourt stylee, Harford has sounded a battle cry ahead of Saturday’s game against Doncaster, but do his troops possess the appropriate puff? A few months ago they were playing triangles, tipping and tapping it at every opportunity, but now it sounds as though they’re being asked to launch a full-scale attack and get physical. Maybe I’m reading into Harford’s comments a little too much, but with sixteen games yet to play and an attack consisting of artisans Akos Buzsaky, Lee Cook, Alejandro Faurlin and Jay Simpson, Harford’s Plan B appears misguided.
Fans have complained of a leaderless and disjointed squad that contains too many loan players. Such a predicament can be contrasted with the Utopian set-up at Saturday’s opponents Doncaster where manager Sean O’Driscoll commands respect and admiration by the bucket. A brief dalliance between O’ Driscoll and Burnley, and the realisation that they probably can’t afford to buy their on-loan goalscorer has reminded the Rovers faithful that the rug might be pulled some time soon, but fans remain inspirationally optimistic. If Coventry are being touted as play-off hopefuls then Donny, seven points behind sixth place, should be counted as top 6 probables. Along with Swansea and QPR of Autumn 2009, Rovers have been the league’s dilettantes, but a resilience has been displayed over the past three games that may indicate they can push on in earnest.
Seven points and three clean sheets have been yielded in that time and O’Driscoll will no doubt be aware that this is a very good time to play QPR. For every one of QPR’s puffed out chests and rolled up sleeves, Donny will have a pattern of play reliant upon speed of thought and an almost effortless coordination. That’s not to say that Rovers aren’t susceptible, after all I saw them lose to my hopeless lot back in November, but I’d be very surprised indeed if they were to return to South Yorkshire empty-handed should Harford remain in the dugout for QPR.
Other previews: LoftForWords; Viva Rovers.