Dave Barton from queensparkrangersfc.com is the latest to give Vital QPR an insight how QPR will fare in the coming season.
What inspired you to follow the R`s?
QPR was my local team and my dad took me to the last game on grass around 1981 and I was hooked from then on. I loved the kit which was so unique and the number 10 shirt seemed magical with Stainrod and later Byrne just having something a little different about them. Everything about QPR then seemed new and exciting from the plastic pitch to the electronic scoreboard to the way we played. We sat in the upper loft which was the family stand then and in the 80`s they had a Panini sticker swap shop which I loved. I also loved the fact that players seemed able to hear and react to what the fans were saying and the place felt like a second home, a mate of my dads winding up Tony Galvin to the point where he looked up at us and gave us the V sign after another cross flew into the loft was strangely rewarding, if that happened now the player would probably be banned.
The best moment you`ve seen following QPR?
So many to choose from. The obvious ones in recent memory were promotion at Hillsborough and the playoff semi final against Oldham. That day at Hillsborough was amazing, I was confident we`d go up but also very nervous and when they got back to 2-1 that was the longest ten minutes or so of my life, I was sure we`d blow it until Chris Carr got the own goal and the celebrations from them on were fantastic.
The Oldham game was just a night I`ll never forget, the celebrations of Furlongs goal and that save from Chris Day, what a night. That era we were not the best footballing side in QPR`s history but it felt as if we were all in it together and that we really had achieved something special.
Going back further I was too young to appreciate them at the time but beating Chelsea 6-0 was fantastic, the 5-5 draw with Newcastle and winning 4-1 at Old Trafford, I still regret not going to that game. The 2-2 draw at Liverpool to get to the Milk Cup final was also very special. Back then teams just did not leave Anfield with anything other than a good hiding so to score two goals and get the draw we needed was an amazing result.
The worst moment you`ve seen following QPR?
The Milk Cup Final in 1986. From the moment we got to the final I was on a massive high and couldn`t wait for the final. We left early to go to the Sun on Askew Road, it was full of QPR and we were all so excited by it all. We got to Wembley and shook hands with some Oxford fans wishing them well but laughing to ourselves that they would need it as we were going to hammer them. This was a team that had beaten Liverpool, Chelsea and Nottingham Forest to get to Wembley and we had just thrashed Chelsea 6-0. What followed was the most depressing afternoon of my life. Rangers were absolutely rubbish and lucky to only lose by three goals. We had a party in the Sun afterwards that was good but I knew even as a ten year old that we would never get a better chance to winning a major trophy. Still to this day I have never been able to watch the game again.
The best era to watch the R`s and how it compares to now?
As a fan from February 2003 to May 2004 was very exciting going for playoffs and then automatic promotion but some of the best football I`ve seen was in the early 1990`s. The 1989/90 season when Don Howe took over we were just brilliant to watch. Parker at the back with Bardsley bombing forward. Wilkins pulling the strings and Barker getting the goals plus Sinton on the left and Wegerle tearing teams apart. One game from that time that sticks out is home to Spurs a few weeks before Gazza and Lineker almost won the World Cup we made them look like useless in a 3-1 win.
That really was a great team to watch and then the like of Clive Wilson and Les Ferdinand made us even better. Although we went on to finish fifth in the Premiership I don`t think I`m alone in thinking we underachieved with the players we had.
What did you feel about the appointment of Iain Dowie?
Mixed feeling at first but now the dust has settled I am quite happy with him. We need a manager who will get the team organised at the back and hard to beat but also someone who will allow the creative players the freedom to shine. Not an easy task but I think Dowie has shown in the past he is capable of doing this kind of job. I hope the fans get behind him from day one of the season as he`ll have no chance without the backing of the supporters.
Have the R`s fared how you expected in the transfer market?
It`s all been very quiet so far. I can`t say I am excited by any of the players we have brought in. Cerny is a good keeper but not sure we needed another keeper. Ramage sounds ok but I`ve never heard of the Italians or the Argentinean we brought in so hopefully they will be ok.
In an ideal world I`d like to have seen us bring in Cook, Shittu and Ched Evans but at the moment that doesn`t look likely. Ben Watson would be a good buy if we can get him but at the moment I think I was more excited when we signed Camp, Walton and Mancienne last year than what we have come up with this summer. Still very early though so I`m hopeful we`ll add some quality soon.
Who will be the key player(s) for Rangers this season?
For any team to do well you need a good spine so ours will have to do well for us to have any chance so a fit Fitz Hall and Lee Camp will be important. Martin Rowlands is obviously our key player in midfield. If we can get him fit and playing 30+ games then we`ll have a good season. Most teams in the division are very similar so I think having a player with magic to open up a defence will be crucial and if Buzsaky and Vine continue where they left off last season then they will be vital for us. Dexter Blackstock is also worth a mention, if he can get off to a good start I think he could well be the 20 goal man we keep talking about.
Where do you expect the R`s to finish this campaign?
With the current squad I expect we`ll finish in the top ten a little short of the playoffs. We have the ingredients of a good side at this level but I thought we switched off for the last month of last season and were playing well within ourselves in most games but still getting results. If we can get off to a good start and add some real quality to the squad then a top six place is something we capable of but at the moment I`m airing on the side of caution and think top ten would be a decent effort.
Who will be?
Champions: Birmingham City. Hard to look beyond them they have good players in Larsson, Phillips, McSheffrey and McFadden, they know how to get promoted and should be too good for this division.
Overachievers: I think Nottingham Forest might do well, they have momentum with them after promotion and in Earnshaw and Cole have strikers who know how to score goals.
Underachievers: I`ve a feeling that may be us as we seem to be expected to win the league by Easter and I can`t see that happening. Away from us Plymouth look like a club in trouble as do Southampton.
Young Player to Watch: I`m sure other clubs have rough diamonds ready to shine but who cares about them, it`s all about Angelo Balanta. I think with a full pre season and a run in the side he could be a bit special or he could be the next Shabazz Baidoo.
Top Goalscorer: Hard to look beyond Kevin Phillips at Birmingham and Earnshaw usually does well in the Championship but I`ll go for Ebanks-Blake who looked a different class for Wolves last season with Kevin Doyle close behind him if he stays at Reading.
To visit Dave at queensparkrangersfc.com click here.
Previous Season Previews:
Ben Kosky – Kilburn Times .
Clive Whittingham – Loft For Words.
Simon Skinner – QPRnet.com.
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