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Friday, September 08, 2006

Plymouth Look at QPR

Plymouth Rivals/Dave Pay - September 7, 2006
Can Waddock turn it round?

And again this Saturday's clash is more than likely going to be overshadowed by the fact that it will be one man against his former team. At least this is the last of all the friends reunited clashes for a while, and more focus can be placed on the actual football.

From the Argyle fans' point of view, the main priority will be to get a first home win of the season. And it's not often we say that once we have reached September. Mind you we don't often talk about being undefeated away from home this far into the season do we?

With just 2 wins from their six games so far, it would seem that this is the ideal chance to get that first win, but just as we saw against Sheffield Wednesday, football is not as straight forward as we would like sometimes.

With QPR in 20th place, Gary Waddock knows that an improvement must come soon otherwise he runs the risk of being replaced, even this early. Having just survived last season - okay pedants, I know it was by 8 points but it was only 1 place - the R's will not want another relegation battle this time round.

With a good number of players leaving and arriving throughout the close season it is going to take time for players to gel, but will Waddock have that time?

The biggest departure from Loftus Road was of course Dan Shittu's move to Watford. As well as his defensive attributes Shittu scored 17 goals in his not quite 5 year spell. At least QPR made a profit on the player, but will they rue the decision on the field?

Also leaving were Richard Langley, who went up the M1 to our favourite team, Luton Town. Georges Santos, who was rumoured to be a Holloway target, has moved south and joined Brighton, whilst Dean Sturridge has found himself in the Conference at Kidderminster. To complete the departures, Ugo Ukah left for Nuorese Calcio, who will be playing in Serie C2 - alongside Gianluca Festa no less. Nuorese do play in green and white though!

Temporary departures have been much less with Ian Evatt being loaned to Blackpool and another Holloway-linked player, Stefan Moore, off to the paradise that is Port Vale.

So who has arrived at Loftus Road? Well, the one we are most likely to recognise is a certain Dexter Blackstock, who moved from Southampton. So far he has played 4 times for Rangers and has yet to score, so will he notch his first goal for his new club on Saturday?

Making a much longer journey is midfield player Nick Ward, who used to play 'down under' for Perth Glory. Ward was keen to play on the European continent, but why he chose QPR - other than the fact that they used to be in the top flight - is unclear. Ward is looking to break into the Australian first team squad, having been one of the outstanding players at the 2005 Youth World Cup, so much is expected of him.

Also arrived during the summer have been Adam Czerkas - on loan from Polish club Odra Wodzislaw. Eguto Oliseh came from La Louviere, a Belgian club that plays in Green and White. They finished bottom of the Belgian top division but were refused a licence to play in the 2nd tier, so will be in the Belgian 3rd Division this season. They were also implicated in a match fixing scandal this year as well, although I don't think that any charges have yet been proved.

After that the arrival of Zesh Rehman from Fulham and Jamaican international Damion Stewart seem almost mundane. Stewart played for Jamaica at Old Trafford as England's pre World Cup hype grew to enormous proportions. Anyone part of a defence that allows Crouch to score at will can't be that good…

That's the ground troops, what about the manager? Waddock started his playing career at Loftus Road, and after 8 years went abroad to play for Charleroi in Belgium. On his return to the UK Waddock signed for Millwall before returning to Loftus Rd, although this time he did not play for the club. He went on loan to Swindon, before transferring to Bristol Rovers and ending his career at Luton.

After his playing career ended, Waddock was manager of QPR's youth and reserve squads before Holloway's alleged interest in the Leicester City managerial vacancy caused him to be suspended. Waddock, together with Alan McDonald, saved QPR, but was that because the bottom 3 were doomed from about Christmas?

If the newly promoted clubs defy expectations and manage to get a decent points haul it could be tough for Rangers this season. For a club that once missed out on the (old) Division One Title by one point, sinking back to Division 3 (as was) is not an option....

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