Throughout the second half of the 2018/19 season, millwallfc.co.uk will be analysing The Lions' opponents by taking a look back at their campaign so far. As Millwall prepare to take on Queens Park Rangers at The Den in another telling contest in the Sky Bet Championship, we take a look at the club’s results so far this season.
Queens Park Rangers went into 2018/19 looking to improve on last term’s 16th-place finish in The Championship. A new manager was at the helm in the form of former Middlesbrough, Newcastle and England boss Steve McClaren, with recruits arriving such as captain Toni Leistner and veteran Angel Rangel. Loan moves for Nahki Wells, Geoff Cameron and Tomer Hemed were secured late in the window, with a tour of Germany and matches against Hoffenheim among the pre-season schedule.
The season did not start in an ideal fashion for QPR, whose opening weekend 1-0 defeat at Preston was followed up by a 2-1 home loss against Sheffield United. The side gained respite in the First Round of the Carabao Cup, eliminating Peterborough 2-0 at Loftus Road. However, a crushing blow was soon to follow as The Hoops were thrashed 7-1 at West Brom having been level at 1-1 going in at half-time. A 3-0 home reverse by Bristol City kept the club bottom of the Championship, before securing the first points on the board with a 1-0 win over Wigan. A 3-1 Carabao Cup win over Bristol Rovers sent QPR into the Third Round hat to close August.
September served up five League fixtures, as well as the Carabao Cup Third Round. The first draw of the season – a goalless stalemate at Birmingham – was followed by back-to-back wins over Bolton (2-1) and Millwall, as Massimo Luongo and Ebere Eze scored in a 2-0 QPR win over The Lions. The month ended on a poorer note, losing without reply to Norwich and Swansea in The Championship either side of a 2-0 Carabao Cup exit to Blackpool. QPR closed the month in 19th.
A remarkable month of October took place for McClaren’s side, who impressively shot to seventh place and a potential Play-Off push after claiming 13 points from five games. A 1-0 win at Reading kicked matters off, before a home 1-1 draw with Derby. A second successive away victory at Ipswich was followed by claiming the scalps of Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, earning three straight clean sheets. Sneaking onto the cusp of the top six was to be the peak of Rangers’ efforts so far this season.
With just four fixtures across November, points were especially tough to come by. QPR were one of a handful of teams to stutter compared to the previous month’s positive form – picking up just one win from four – although they were to end the month in eighth. A first defeat since September came in the form a late 1-0 defeat at Blackburn, before restoring winning ways at home to Brentford with a 3-2 success. Consecutive 2-2 draws at Stoke and Rotherham – netting late levellers in both – added two further points to wrap up the month.
December began on a far from ideal foot for QPR, beaten in their first two League games. Starting with a 3-2 home defeat by Hull, The Hoops then let a surprise lead at Elland Road slip to go down 2-1 to Leeds. The successive losses dropped the side to 14th, but form improved as Christmas approached. Wins over Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Ipswich lifted McClaren’s men back into the top half, before closing off 2018 with a home stalemate with Reading. The West Londoners entered the New Year still two places outside the Play-Offs.
Only three Championship fixtures were pencilled in for January, albeit with the top two divisions beginning their Emirates FA Cup campaigns at the Third Round stage. New Year’s Day’s 2-2 draw at Aston Villa represented QPR’s last point until late February, as the team embarked on a seven-match losing League run. The Hoops did however knock Leeds out of the Cup with a 2-1 Third Round success at Loftus Road, and after defeats against Sheffield United (1-0) and Preston (1-4), they took Portsmouth to a Fourth Round replay following a 1-1 tie at Fratton Park. Rangers finished January in 13th position in The Championship. Idrissa Sylla was amongst a handful of players departing the club in the winter window.
In contrast to the previous few weeks, February represented a demanding schedule of games for QPR. Unfortunately for the side, they struggled to pick up any momentum and suffered six defeats from eight games in all competitions. After going down 2-1 at Wigan, QPR overcame Portsmouth 2-0 in the West London replay. One of the most thrilling contests of the season then ensued at Loftus Road as Rangers hosted Birmingham. With The Blues taking a 4-0 first-half lead, McClaren’s men fought back to 4-3, before Wells’ missed penalty in stoppage time denied QPR a memorable comeback. Further last-gasp heartbreak hit The Hoops at Bristol City, letting a half-time lead slip to lose 2-1 in the final embers at Ashton Gate. Unbelievably, it was to happen a third time as West Brom grabbed a decisive 93rd-minute winner to take a 3-2 victory from Loftus Road. The single goal defeats would be the curse of QPR throughout the month, as the side were also beaten 1-0 in the Fifth Round of the Cup by eventual finalists Watford. A 2-0 loss at Middlesbrough was then redeemed with a 1-0 win over Leeds to end the month – putting an end to the seven-game rut. QPR had however slipped nine places in two months, now sitting 17th.
Recent weeks for Hoops supporters have been frustrating, with the Leeds victory now representing the side’s sole win in 14 Championship games. The second West London derby of the season comfortably went Brentford’s way, the hosts coming out 3-0 winners at Griffin Park. A 0-0 home draw with Stoke was then followed by another devastating last-gasp defeat, as Rotherham’s 95th-minute decider saw them take three points from Loftus Road with a 3-2 win. Brief respite saw McClaren’s team recover from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Hull, before ending March with a shock 2-1 home defeat to a stricken Bolton outfit. The blank at Loftus Road was enough to cost former England boss McClaren his post, dismissed by the club as they sat just a handful of points from the relegation places having once looked to mount a Play-Off bid. First-team coach John Eustace took over management duties on an interim basis, but was unable to prevent a 4-0 reverse at Carrow Road against runaway League leaders Norwich in a baptism of fire for the 39-year-old. With QPR seemingly slipping to potential relegation outsiders – now just five points above the drop zone – the task for Eustace is now to scrape as many points to consolidate safety as possible ahead of plans for next season.