After a mixed bag in pre-season, Rangers have started the season in a decent fashion – how do you think the first few weeks of the season have gone?
The overriding emotion amongst the QPR fans is that it has gone significantly better than everyone expected! It wasn’t the best pre-season at all and speaking to my colleagues, it was really tipped that QPR were going to struggle massively this season, probably not improving on last season where they finished 18th. The first few games of the season have been a lot better than that, with the club beating the likes of Reading and Hull and drawing with Sheffield Wednesday and no one was expecting that kind of outcome from such a tough run of games.
Loftus Road has been relatively quiet in terms of transfer business this summer, so do you think it’s a case of clearing out some ‘deadwood’ and consolidating this season?
Over the last few season it’s been highly publicised about the huge numbers of players coming in for huge sums as the club looked to buy their way to the Premier League and, when they got relegated, trying to get themselves back up there again. When you are making that many changes in the playing staff, it can only really unsettle the players that are already there. It’s almost as if they’ve gone with a completely different strategy; obviously they are trying to tighten the belts from a financial point of view, but they are also trying to slowly build things up, form a real togetherness within the team and ensure the team knows exactly how to play with each other. It does really seem to be paying off this season and the results are showing that – they’ve brought in three senior signings this summer but they all seem to have settled in well so far and proved why they were brought into Loftus Road in the first place.
Rangers haven’t got a great League Cup record in the last few years – given that tonight is a west London derby, will that change Ian Holloway’s approach?
To be honest, I don’t think so. In terms of Holloways approach so far this season, he’s been extremely consistent with his starting lineup. He got a little bit of stick last season for tinkering with his team, but so far in the Championship he’s kept a lineup that’s been almost unchanged, aside from changes enforced upon him. If you are looking at the first round of the Carabao Cup, he made nine changes going into that so I expect him to make something similar to that tomorrow, but the players who will be coming in are more than capable of competing. They are all players who will be knocking on the door of the first team so they’ll be using the game to stake their claim for a place in the starting eleven for the trip to Cardiff at the weekend.
Brentford’s season hasn’t got off to the best possible start, what are you expecting from the Bees?
Personally, I think tonight will be an extremely tough game for QPR. It hasn’t been the best start to the season but the general consensus, and from what I’ve seen as well, is that Brentford have maybe been unfortunate to be on the wrong end of some of the results that they’ve had so far this season. They’ll be more than up for the game as they’ll be wanting to put things right and, if anything, it means that QPR will have to be extra careful when they are coming up against them as Brentford will so determined to first of all get a win, but as well as that, make it against their fiercest rivals.
Which player should Bees fans keep an eye on this evening?
In terms of tomorrow night and for most teams, the player that you’ll have to watch out for is the new signing Josh Scowen. It remains to be seen whether he’s going to be playing but he’s settled into the team seamlessly; he’s a central midfielder but he sits right in front of the back four and the way that he breaks up play, starts the team on their counter-attacks but then, in the last couple of games he’s been showing his ability to go forward with the ball as well. Looking at him, you’d think he’s been playing at Loftus Road for years despite only making four appearances for the club and he’s a player that’ll certainly be key for QPR, both tomorrow and in the future.
If you could bring one Brentford player to Loftus Road who would it be?
For me it would have to be Ryan Woods, who I’ve seen at Brentford but also during his time at Shrewsbury as well. The impression that I got was that he’s such a little character – he’s a workhorse, he gets around midfield and though he’s only a small guy, he’s not scared to get involved in some of the rough-and-tumble that you find in midfield in this division.
Can I push you for a score prediction, please?
I think it’ll be a close one tonight but if I was to put my head on the block it would probably be 2-1 to QPR, though it may well go into extra-time.