Date:Tuesday November 3 2015
Vital Derby looks ahead to the visit of Queens Park Rangers later today with the help of Vital QPR editor Boxer..
Vital Derby looks ahead to the visit of Queens Park Rangers later today with the help of Vital QPR editor Boxer. So, without further ado....
How have the side adapted to life back in the Championship?
It's been very hit and miss - and plenty more of the latter of late. Chris Ramsey has been tasked with an overhaul of our footballing philosophy, but rapidly realised that honest intentions of blooding young players and binning the money-men in principle is an admirable pursuit - but in practice is far harder to implement. Rangers have been living from transfer window to transfer window, none more so than under Harry Redknapp, who despite telling the world that the chairman 'had his trousers pulled down' over certain deals - continued to write blank cheques to injury prone players. No surprise therefore that Ramsey found the practice of blooding youth difficult.
The club appears to be in flux as to where it sees itself. We had been reminded on several occasions that this is a season - or maybe more - of consolidation with younger players. Supporters were by and large accepting of this, albeit some did not believe that Ramsey was the right man to carry out the task. The issue comes as high profile players such as Charlie Austin, Sandro and Leroy Fer all remained on board, and the latter in particular talking up the club's chances of promotion, rather intimating that it would be failure not to return at the first time of asking. Despite batting it away - even after retaining these players - Les Ferdinand has now conceded and raised the expectation, supporters are thus less forgiving of recent selections, tactics and results and the club finds itself in a state of upheaval and unrest once more.
The season itself has been fairly unremarkable so far - some better away performances than we're used to, but ultimately we look as though we'll come unstuck against an organised, disciplined team with a bit of flair. I would put Derby firmly in this category which is why I rather travel in trepidation.
How big are the changes to playing personnel compared to last season?
Not as big as one would have hoped necessarily. Evidently Harry's loans have returned and the never-ending contract of Shaun Wright-Phillips came to a thankful conclusion, along with the release of Joey Barton - one that divides opinion to the day. There was a thought that younger players would be drafted in, whether from our youth system or from pastures new - we have however found ourselves in the situation where Paul Konchesky is the preferred option at left back, Clint Hill is still the best central defender at the club and Karl Henry starts regularly in the heart of midfield - when in truth he would have probably been released in the summer had he not exercised an extension.
As per, it is a well meaning philosophy to boot out the elderly and high-earning under-achievers, but we've sacrificed this in order to try and stumble and stutter towards a top six position and a promotion that we will be highly unlikely to fulfil.
Who is your danger man?
It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that Charlie Austin is the threat of note. We have missed him as he remained side-lined since the Fulham debacle, but now there is a hope that he can continue to produce rabbits from hats and force Rangers back into some positive results and form. Other than that Tjaronn Chery has his moments as does Matt Phillips, but these have been all too fleeting in a season played out in a malaise thus far.
And who do you think you need to watch for The Rams?
Chris Martin for same reasons - a real talisman and has the ability to score goals but bring others into play. I won't fall into the trap of saying Darren Bent is a world-beater, but his experience will undoubtedly count for something if he's called from the bench. Andi Weimann I've been a big fan of in recent years and he looked very lively whenever we played Aston Villa in recent times.
What are you expectations for the season?
Mid-table and nothing more in my opinion. We do have some talent at our disposal but there's not really a team ethic that maybe QPR sides of the past - notably Neil Warnock's Championship winning side - have managed to foster. We're reliant on individual talent rather than a flexible tactical approach, and for that reason I think we'll come up short of the playoffs. Unless of course something happens between now and then on the managerial front to alter things dramatically.
And finally what is your prediction for the match?
We normally play ok at Pride Park - the last fixture withstanding. We seem to thrive on a wide surface with room in behind, but I don't think we have the kind of players now to exploit that to its fullest. We have every chance of scoring a goal but our defensive record is about as poor as it gets - and this doesn't look to be getting resolved any time soon. For that reason 2-1 Derby seems an honest reflection of what I expect to see.
Date:Tuesday November 3 2015
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