Whenever I couldn’t get to away games back in the 90s, the best way to find the score updates was either a call to Clubcall or Teletext. Clubcall was my usual port of call, where after three minutes of adverts you’d get live commentary of the game and have to hang on for several minutes before someone mentioned what the score was. I spent many a Saturday afternoon listening to matches on Clubcall, before my Grandad would go berserk after receiving his itemised and very expensive phone bill.
I always found Teletext quite exciting, waiting for the page to turn to see if we’d scored. Annoyingly it was also quite unreliable and would regularly show QPR as having scored when we’d actually conceded. Several times I’d celebrate seeing QPR were one up, only for a quick call to Clubcall to confirm we were really 3-0 down. I had a flashback to this recently, as I followed the match at Blackburn on my phone using the Sky Sports app. Technology has moved on from those times and I can now get minute-by-minute text updates of what is happening, and even watch the goals on my phone. So no more incorrect information coming through.
Well, that’s the theory anyway; but as I continued refreshing the phone, news came through we were 1-0 up through Conor Washington. The scoreline remained as that as the minutes ticked by, before it suddenly changed to us being a goal down. I was as confused as a Newcastle defender facing a last-minute looping cross into the box. What was going on? How? Why?
It turned out this was due to another ghost goal, after Washington’s header bounced a foot over the line but was not given; and obviously the poor sod who had been sent to cover Blackburn v QPR hadn’t noticed the goal wasn’t given.
So a frustrating afternoon for me and all QPR fans - and one that was very avoidable. Quite why we don’t have goal-line technology across the Football League baffles me a bit; the technology is available, so why don’t we use it? The argument seems to be the cost, which is a huge amount of money to clubs in Leagues One and Two - but surely if clubs in the Championship are willing to pay over £10m for players, they can afford the £250,000 to put in goal-line technology.
Really the FA and Football League should take the lead on this, and pay for all clubs to have it. That would be a lot of money - but still less than they paid Roy Hodgson to look confused by a long throw. Any club that then gets promoted to the Premier League and cashes in on the riches that follow would then pay back the money to the authorities; and a sliding scale could come in, so any clubs paying more than £5m on transfers can also pay for it themselves. The authorities in this country seem to have no intention to do this so these incidents will continue to happen and that defeat has left us in a bit of trouble still.
Holloway seemed to have turned a corner since the New Year, with some good results and excellent performances; but two defeats to sides below us mean we’re still going to be looking nervously over our shoulders for a little while yet. The main talking point in recent weeks has been the transfer window, which has meant another busy few weeks for the revolving door at Loftus Road. As with every transfer window, it’s impossible to tell if we did well or not in it until about a year later.
I still look back to Harry Redknapp’s transfer window after promotion in 2014, which looked great to me - on paper. We brought in an experienced defender, in Rio Ferdinand, who looked decent at first but his wife falling ill obviously had a big effect on him and he ended up being a bit-part player. We signed up-and-coming players with experience of the Premier League in Fer, Mutch, McCarthy and Caulker; plus Sandro turned up in his wheelchair. We also had Vargas and Isla, who looked good signings, and yet it all went so wrong.
Caulker and Jack Robinson remain the only two still at the club, and neither have had much of an impact. Fer is the only one still playing in the Premier League so, after waxing lyrical following that transfer window about the kind of players we had brought in, I think it’s best to wait before judging how we’ve done this time around.
On paper, though, Les Ferdinand’s pledge to return to the old QPR way of buying young, selling for good money, then replacing with a similar profile of player seems to be happening again. The pathway to the first team for players from the academy, he spoke often about two years ago, has also happened now - with Ryan Manning the latest to be given a chance and impress in the first team. The return of Darnell Furlong will also give hope to the other youngsters out on loan spells that if they do well there is a chance for them back at QPR, something that hasn’t been the case for a long time.
It was a shame to see Polter and Chery leave. Both have been at the club for a season and a half, and both did pretty well for us. I don’t really blame Chery for taking a massive offer from China, which will set up his family for life, and the club made a profit on both players. Sandro was also shipped out on a free transfer, after playing full 90-minute games just four times for us in the last 18 months. Safe to say, we’ve made better signings than him.
Incoming is an interesting bunch - but I’d be lying if I said I knew much about them. Luke Freeman comes in as the ‘good in League One, not quite adapted to the Championship yet' signing to replace Ben Gladwin. Matt Smith replaces Polter as the target man from the bench when plan A has gone down the toilet. Sean Goss replaces Sandro as either the new little Tom Carroll, afraid of his own shadow - or the new Michael Carrick, depending on who you believe. In reality, Goss made his first-ever professional appearance as a sub for us at Newcastle, so it’s probably a bit early to judge if he’s anywhere near as good as the usual hype suggests.
Also replacing Chery as the maverick midfielder is Ravel Morrison, who we remember from two years ago and has done very little since leaving us. A man who has had more than a few off-field issues but showed in his last spell with us if he gets his head right on the pitch he is far too good for this division; but it remains to be seen if he will get his head right. Lua Lua has also come in on loan to add a bit of flair to the attack, so overall we don’t look any worse off than we did a month ago after selling off some of our better players for good money and replacing them with the new generation. Let’s hope in a years’ time we’re not looking back at the likes of Freeman and Goss in the same way we now do with Jordan Mutch and Leroy Fer.
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