This season we will be gathering the views from our opponents’ local press on their team, progress and hopes for the season. As we prepare to face Queens Park Rangers in a London derby at Loftus Road this Wednesday night, we have spoken to freelance QPR writer Tom Victor.
What was your view on QPR last season?
Last season was a bit of a mixed bag. Some impressive performances, but also the odd afternoon where the team felt like strangers. A big positive came with the introduction of some younger players into the mix, and a few of them have been able to pick up where they left off this time around.
How would you assess the club’s start to the season and transfer business?
Obviously four straight defeats to start the season isn't great in anyone's book, but QPR have started to look more like a team in recent weeks after adding to the squad. Transfer restrictions meant they've had to rely on loans and free transfers, but the new front two of Nahki Wells and Tomer Hemed have already looked like a partnership rather than just two 'name' strikers thrown together.
What have you made of Steve McClaren’s impact on the club and the team so far?
McClaren has been keen to stress the difficult situation he walked into, and it feels like fans were beginning to lose patience after the 7-1 defeat at West Brom in August, but we're beginning to see signs from McClaren of the coaching nous he showed earlier in his career. The opening goal at Bolton, in particular, was a rapid counter-attack straight off the training ground that saw the ball travel from one area to the other in a matter of seconds. McClaren seems to have been backed to bring in the right kind of players, so now it's time to see whether the recent form is just a new player bounce.
Who would you describe as QPR’s key men?
Wells and Hemed are a proper Championship front two, but the wide players who scored at Bolton are the ones who have the potential to do real damage. Ebere Eze will surely be keen to perform against Millwall after spending time with the club as a teenager, while Luke Freeman played his part in both goals on Saturday. At the back, Toni Leistner has been brought in as captain and has already done enough to earn himself an interesting ‘BFG’ chant within a couple of months of signing for the club.
Have you been happy with the recruitment, and where do you think the team needs strengthening?
Again, there's the caveat of QPR not being able to spend money in the window, but we've finally reached a point where they can name a full XI and subs bench with fit players missing out. It'll be a long season, and they may well need to add to the squad as legs get tired. Angel Rangel and Geoff Cameron are both the wrong side of 30 and more used to 38-game seasons, for example. Sebastien Bassong has been training with the club recently, and he could provide the cover needed at centre-back, but McClaren could still end up deciding he can rely on his academy players to plug any gaps.
What are the club’s targets for this campaign?
They will feel the current position of 18th is unrepresentative of the quality in the squad, but at the same time they haven't finished above 12th since coming back down from the Premier League in 2015 so some may prefer not to get ahead of themselves. It's a weird one, with a blend of relatively inexperienced youngsters and players who have won promotions in the past, but it feels too early to be making longer-term predictions.
Your score prediction for Wednesday night?
I can see QPR building on the last few results and eeking out a 1-0 win, which is something I didn't anticipate saying after watching them concede 10 goals in less than a week earlier this season.