In a new, (hopefully!) regular column, VitalQPR is taking the opportunity to discern the thoughts and views of opposition managers as they prepare to face QPR. How does the opposition see us? What special or different preparations do they make before facing QPR? Today we learn the thoughts of Bristol City`s Assistant Manager, Keith Millen.
In the absence, through ill-health, of Bristol City manager Gary Johnson, Assistant Manager Keith Millen has had to step up and take the Robins` training sessions this week ahead of their busy Christmas schedule. Johnson may not be well enough to travel with his team down to Loftus Road this weekend, although he has not been completely isolated from events ahead of our fixture, speaking on the telephone to Millen about tactics, the team and, yes, QPR – the opposition!
Millen admitted that the Robins` training sessions had been hindered this wekk by the recent inclement weather. The Robins have had to use indoor resources, such as their own gym and a local Astroturf facility, to ensure correct preparation for matches against not only Queens Park Rangers, but also Watford, at this festive time.
Ahead of appearing at Loftus Road on Saturday lunchtime, City players will be spending Christmas Day at home with their families – hopefully eating box loads of mince pies so that they are somewhat leaden-footed on Saturday!! (I admit, I`ll take any advantage for a QPR win this weekend!) Although Millen has anticipated my cunning plan: “We`ll be in at 6 o`clock at the ground (Friday evening) to do a bit of a jog and a stretch to get the Christmas dinner out of their systems and all the sweets. And then prepare for the QPR game. Do the set pieces and the shape; and then we`ll travel down about 7.30 to the hotel,” he admitted.
Millen discussed our recent change of management team from a QPR perspective: “Normally it`s a positive, he said. “Normally, players are trying to impress the new manager to get into the team. They had a draw against Sheffield United in his first game in charge and he (Manager Paul Hart) said he was pleased with them; so I wouldn`t have thought he`d want to change too much. But you never know” Millen observed.
“You don`t really know what the manager`s ideal shape is until you`ve been there for a few games,” he added. Though Millen didn`t elaborate as to whether that means it will make it more difficult for City to know our game plan, or not.
“We know they`ve got a lot of good players. A lot of talented individuals who on their day can be match winners, so we`ve got to deal with them,” Millen continued.
“But we want to go there and be more of a threat ourselves going forward. We`ve lost that attacking play that we want to try and achieve. So that`s what we are going to try and do on Saturday.” An interesting observation on City`s own disappointing form of late!
With regard to our home form generally, Millen had this to say: “They`ve got a decent record at home. They`ve had a few draws this year,” and this said with a knowing nod to the interviewer! I do hope that doesn`t mean there will be another team coming to Loftus Road with the sole intention of leaving with a point, like Sheffield United clearly seemed to do last weekend, in my opinion.
And then came the comment which has already created discussion on our board: regarding the fickleness of our crowd should things not go quite according to plan! In fairness, he had just been reminded that we`ve beaten the Robins in the last two seasons – at our place, that is – and he was squirming somewhat at the thought that this weekend could make it a hat-trick of Rs` wins (we hope!)
“I think they`re a crowd that will get on their backs if they`re not going well at the beginning. So I think it`ll be important that we start well – nice and strong, and solid. Last year, we didn`t exactly gift them two goals – one was a free kick – but we were well in the game 2nd half and we were disappointed to lose that one.
“It`s a tough place to go. It`ll be a decent crowd, Boxing Day, and it`s quite close to the pitch, so they`re right on you as an atmosphere. But we`ve got to look forward to going there without doubt, to try and win the game.”
We know the atmosphere can be intimidating at Loftus Road, being a small ground with the stands so close to the pitch – so let`s make Millen`s fears come true – and be the team`s “13th” man that opposition management fear so much!
Support the lads loud and clear and let`s hope this is a Boxing Day of QPR cheer!!
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