Posts tagged ‘Premier League’


Queens Park Strangers

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

Queens Park Rangers are back in the top flight, but Duncan Barraclough isn’t sure who he’s watching any more

Les Ferdinand almost scores v FAC Les Havres Oct 1987. Picture by Ariel Friedlander

What is strange about being a QPR fan is that despite the agonisingly dreadful ride, you stay loyal to your club because you love it and you love supporting it. Once it’s in your blood, it leaves you permanently tinged with the blue and white. Despite often feeling that you need some kind of colonic flush to get over it.

Equally strange has been the return to Premier League football of my beloved club, after some 16 years of lower league exile. During that time we have had near administration, crippling debt, guns being waved about in the boardroom, and promising youth players tragically killed. The some multi-millionaires bought us, quickly turning themselves from heroes into villains with how they administered the club. And that’s just the half of it. Let’s not forget that my club was a founding member of the Premiership and, that season, London’s top-placed club, above Chelsea in particular. More recently a fly-on-the-wall documentary highlights just how haphazard the innards of my club had become. Strangely enough, a manager who polarises opinion, Neil Warnock, took the helm. Even stranger since then, a convincing Npower Championship title win, followed this season by a very QPR plummet down the league table. QPR face familiar territory, which to many other club’s fans might seem strange – another chance to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. This season, Premier League survival would have been enough for any Rangers fan to be celebrating. Long will we celebrate the 1-0 victory against Chelsea. A strangely hollow victory it will be if we go down.

I now go to Loftus Road, or places like Ewood Park, and watch a bunch of Queens Park Strangers playing in the QPR shirt. Players who on paper would represent a mid-table team – but on grass, fail to connect at all the crucial points. The team lacks incisive leadership – and a sense of pride in the badge it plays for. What it has in tweets, it lacks in tenacity. Red cards are almost as common as poor performances for QPR these days. I can count on a few fingers the number of Rangers players on the pitch who show pride in what they do.I want to appeal to my new Queens Park Strangers, in our dire time of need. It’s not too late for them to pull it out of the bag – and being QPR, it would be strangely appropriate. The players have not gelled in a disjointed team, yet they play in a shirt which bears my club’s crest on it, and it is that club which pays them the wages for them to afford their luxury pads, private number plates and pretty model-like arm companions.

I want to remind them that despite these trappings they are still  human – that it should not feel strange or business-like to play for QPR – it should feel committed, passionate and just as loyal as the club’s supporters are.

Duncan Barraclough is a lifelong QPR fan. When he isn’t watching the Super Hoops with his QPR mascot son, you’ll find him in Cheshire, or just travelling the globe in the name of ‘work’.


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The Premier League: reasons to be cheerful

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

So here we are, the Premier League, fantasy football and all that. But after six games is it possible to make any hard and fast predictions? Well hold onto your scarves ‘cos I’m gonna give it my best shot. Using my completely unscientific ‘Reasons to be cheerful’ accreditation system, this article will attempt to provide some pointers as to how the season could pan out for all us promoted sides. And I’ll try to do it without being sarcastic.

Original reason to be cheerful: Ian Dury

QPR started off last years Championship campaign steadily, maybe even a bit slowly, but once they got up to speed properly (from game eight onwards), they never really looked back (I’m ignoring all the off field stuff). And the same can be said for both Swansea and Norwich. Do these facts help shed any light on how we’ve all started in the Prem? If I were Homer Simpson I’d probably answer “Meh”.

What we can definitely say is all three sides enjoyed fair to middling starts last time round. However, I’d describe the advent of Swansea’s Premier League campaign as more fair than middling; whilst Norwich and Rangers have only one and two points less respectively than they did at this stage last season. So using last season opening six fixtures as a barometer I award the following points on my patented Heath Robinson’d table:

Reasons to be cheerful: overview of first 6 results

  • Norwich 3
  • QPR 3
  • Swansea 1

Barton gives his reaction to the cost of tickets to see QPR play at Loftus Road this season

Onto the most sexual part of football: goals. They’re proving harder to come by for QPR and the Swans, however, we, as in Norwich City, have only scored one less than in the Champs at this stage. On the other hand Swansea, despite huge efforts, had to wait until their fifth game to score and then did their best to make up for lost time by wanging three past West Bromwich Albion. A team, it should noted, that Norwich had just played and barely made their keeper break into a sweat. Nevertheless, for goals scored City are comfortably in the black at the moment averaging just over one a game to the Swan’s and R’s a little under one a game.

Reasons to be cheerful: goals scored

  • Norwich 6
  • QPR 4
  • Swansea 2

Barnett demonstrates the running teapot dance move to teammate Morison having scored verses Sunderland

Blackpool’s first six games in the top flight equated to two wins from their opening six games, same as QPR and Norwich, whilst conceding 14 goals!  Not quite the storming start many have claimed and reason for Norwich, QPR and Swansea to feel quite pleased with their efforts thus far. However, Rangers are yet to play one of the ‘Big Four’/’Big Five’/’Big Whatevers’ and I have to take this into account.

Conceding though, as Blackpool found, is fairly easy and usually quick and painful. Norwich had a propensity for leaking goals last season and that’s been carried forward this season (albeit mainly from the penalty spot until Sunderland). Last season this levelled itself out by the simple fact we normally scored more. Unsurprisingly the Ossie Ardiles model, as thrilling as it is, probably won’t work in the Prem. However, both Rangers and Swansea have already had a couple of clean sheets – sound reasons for optimism. But as I keep saying, until Rangers play one of the ‘Big Ones’ I can’t grant them maximum pointage. Tough love people.

Reasons to be cheerful: defensive performance

  • Norwich 6
  • QPR 5
  • Swansea 5

Unbelievable XXX hardcore fist pumping action from Borini versus WBA

Finally, perhaps we can gain some cold hard clues to the future by looking at the results against Wigan Athletic, the one Premier League side we’ve all played.  And let’s be honest, we all probably hoped to get something more than a draw. Didn’t quite turn out that way…

Norwich drew 1-1 at the DW Rugby Stadium, QPR lost and Swansea drew. Despite conceding a penalty (no surprises there), we were good value for the draw though Wigan were the stronger team by the end of the match. QPR went into the Wigan game on the back of a fine victory up at Goodison. Indeed if they hadn’t hit the post twice they could have been the first promoted side to record that most eye-catching of headlines: back to back wins. Swansea’s draw with Wigan was a two sided affair. They had the better of the first half but the second was Wigan’s. Whereas QPR were unlucky, Swansea enjoyed a big slice of Lady Luck against Wigan.  The Lactics had a penalty (well) saved and hit Swansea’s bar and post as they went for the win. So all things considered, a single point all round

Reasons to be cheerful: Wigan head-to-head

  • Norwich 7
  • QPR 6
  • Swansea 6

Wessi walking on water versus Wigan

Conclusions

Based on all this detailed empirical analysis my collated and triple filtered data suggests the following:

  1. Norwich will stay up but they must be tighter at the back or it could bite them in the behind big style
  2. QPR should also stay up provided they demonstrate some guile against one or two of the ‘Big Boys’
  3. Swansea could struggle. They need to score and win more games. And soon
  4. I find it impossible not to be sarcastic

All of the above are facts. Unless they’re not. I will report back in November to see how we’re all getting on and if my initial findings still ring even vaguely true.


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The beautiful game

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Rob Turner discusses the much used phrase ‘the beautiful game’.

Well this is it. Norwich City are back in the Premier League, alongside Queens Park Rangers and Swansea. My hope is that after the media’s adulation of Blackpool and Barcelona (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d type) there will be more calls to abandon long throws and kicking people in the mud.

I think people sometimes forget that football is called “the beautiful game”. This is not to say that the physical side should be ignored. Arsenal are an example of a team that has all the art but not always the grit required to fight for a result when it is needed. By contrast Manchester United arguably lost a big chunk of magic when they sold Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo. Nonetheless it was still enough for them to retain the title.

But again I ask people to be honest. Yes we all want to win and sometimes that means winning ugly. But I want to emphasise the sometimes. Football should be entertainment and it should be played in a way that people want to watch. If footballers are being paid wages on a par with movie stars, then let’s see some Hollywood stuff!

As a Norwich fan I still take pride that we remain the only English team to beat Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium, courtesy of a beautiful 40 yard volley from Jeremy (The God) Goss. However this was not the moment that I witnessed a few years ago. While many will think I’m mad for me it was a catalyst for something truly beautiful.

His name was Marc Libbra and I am not ashamed to say I had a small man crush on him. I’ve always been a fan of that Gallic swagger when combined with skill, whether it’s Descartes, Jean Reno or Eric Cantona. I was there in the stand against Manchester City when he hit THAT volley.

Why do I call it THAT volley? Because at the time Man City were cruising to the Premier League and we were destined for relegation. After that moment, there was the emerging thought that Norwich could be better. We then made the play offs and then after that became champions.

Granted after that for a long time it went wrong, especially when Fulham beat us 6-0 with a combination of beauty and brutality that would make Muhammad Ali tip his jaunty hat. It was not until Paul Lambert’s return that the inner beauty of Norwich was properly rediscovered and the result is there for all to see. His German coaching badges provided sophisticated tactics, bold attacking play and an eye for players who suited those tactics.

I don’t want Norwich to be the next Blackpool. I don’t want to be patted on the head and patronised. Neither I suspect does Paul Lambert. I want Norwich to be like Cristiano Ronaldo. Truly beautiful teams not only look good but they also beat people. And when you beat people you are inevitably hated.

Rob Turner

(Rob is a writer/producer for Polycomical. To find out more or how to get involved in the webcomic and cartoon project Reynard City go to www.reynardcity.com)


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Was it just a dream?

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Elvis recently

So there I was in a big American style taxi, with Elvis and Priscilla sitting in the back. We were on our way to see Norwich’s first Premier League match. Priscilla was wearing her wedding dress and Elvis was wearing my husband’s retro 1960s Norwich shirt. Wow. Who would have thought Elvis was a Canaries fan. And then I woke up.

The disappointment was crushing when I realised it was just a dream. For a moment it seemed so real – me, Elvis, Norwich City in the Premier League………


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NCFC spoil the QPR promotion party

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

It’s only a matter of time, I know, but it’s still amusing watching Warnock and the QPR fans bewilderment after they’ve raced onto the pitch to celebrate mathematical promotion to the Premier League only for the score to filter in from Carrow Road that Norwich have scored ANOTHER injury time winner, thus putting their celebrations on ice for another week: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/13189330.stm

I have everything crossed that we join them too.

By the way, if you’re a Norwich City fan and on LinkedIn my husband recently started a Norwich City fan page.  If you’re interested you can join up here: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3699374


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