Queens Park Rangers have been unpredictable in recent weeks and it seems that Ian Holloway’s men are destined for another bottom-half Championship finish. Can you sum up the last few months at Loftus Road?
It’s been a period of transition. There has been reduced finances this year and a lot of the transfer activity is now focused on getting the high earners off the books and bringing in young and exciting players who they can develop and nurture. What we’ve seen over the last few months, particularly since January, is almost a shift in the gears in the club’s internal policy; Darnell Furlong, Paul Smyth, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair are all players for the future and they’ve been slowly integrated into the First Team. QPR have been able to consolidate their position in mid-table but I don’t think the squad was ever really capable of pushing for the Play-Offs – on the flip side they had too much about them to be dragged into a relegation battle. The results over the last few weeks have displayed their inconsistency as Ian Holloway has struggled to find the right balance. He’s been looking ahead to next season but perhaps making too many changes in the process.
Prior to the last league meeting in November, you said Massimo Luongo was the player who made QPR tick; who would you say has been the standout performer of late?
Over the last few months, you can’t look much further than Matt Smith. His six-foot-seven stature means he’s not the most mobile player so in theory he should be relatively easy to pick up, but he constantly causes problems for the opposition. He’s a one-dimensional striker but that’s not an insult in any sense because he’s a player who has scored ten goals and provided nine assists. Smith has been a focal point for the attack, taking on the rough and tumble of the Championship to allow the younger players some time on the ball. He’s been the star man and if QPR are to get a result on Saturday, you’d think a lot of the play would come through him.
How are QPR likely to set up on Saturday afternoon?
There was a hint of regret from Ian Holloway regarding the amount of changes he made against Preston North End, but the impression I got was that he’s certainly not going to be ringing the changes for this weekend’s game. There might not be much to play for but it’s a West London derby - it’s about pride and it’s a fixture that means a lot to the fans. They’ve typically been lining up in a 4-4-1-1 and this would be my predicted team: Smithies; Furlong, Baptiste, Robinson, Bidwell; Manning, Scowen, Luongo, Freeman; Eze; Smith.
What’s your score prediction for the game?
I could see QPR getting something out of it. There’s very little pressure on the visitors and it’s going to be a high-pressure encounter for Brentford, as they need to keep the momentum going to try and reach the Play-Offs. I’m going for a 1-1 draw.
For the full chat with Phil plus exclusive interviews with Marcus Bean and Neal Maupay, pick up a copy of BEES matchday programme on Saturday for just £3.50.