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Thursday, August 15, 2013

QPR Report: An Ipswich Town Fan Perspective of Ipswich and QPR - On and Off the Field


- See Additional Past QPR vs Ipswich Photos/Programmes - From the Bushman Archives



- QPR's Greatest Captain


- 26 Years Ago Today: QPR Win Season Opener at West Ham, with Paul Parker, Mark Dennis, Kevin Brock and Dean Coney Making their QPR Debuts

- 43 Years Ago: Frank Saul Makes his QPR Debut (and Ex-QPR Mike Kelly makes his Debut for Birmingham City) as Birmingham Win Season Opener vs QPR

- Birthday Today for Georges Santos - First Signing Ian Holloway Made after Winning Promotion out of "Division III")

- Flashback Six Years: Former QPR Chairman Bill Power Speaks Out and Poses Questions About QPR Takeover Developments-

- Ex-QPR Youth Goalie, Liam O'Brien Trialing with Brentford

- 45 Years ago Yesterday: QPR's First-Ever Away Game in Division I

- Four QPR Birthdays Yesterday: Karl Ready, Martin Allen, Andy King, Dave Metchick

- Why Soccer (Football!) Teams Score Fewer Goals than 100 Years Ago


2 1/2 Years ago, Ipswich Town Fan (and at the time, Ipswich Town Rivals editor) Darren Campbell very kindly gave his view of Ipswich and QPR....Now no longer editor of the website, but still very much an Ipswich Town Fan, Darren Campbell offers his updated perspective. Many thanks to Darren (and good luck to Ipswich - after Saturday's game)

Q and A With Ipswich Town Fan, Darren Campbell

Do Ipswich have one (or two) special rivals? Is it an equal two-way rivalry? (I'm assuming it's Norwich. And that Colchester don't factor in)

Norwich City is the big one (the ‘Old Farm’ Derby, as some call it) though we haven’t had the opportunity to play each other in the past couple of years owing to the regretful situation that the ‘Budgies’ are in the top flight nowadays. It’s probably just as well, given our last two games against them in the 2010/11 season saw us get tonked 4-1 away and 5-1 at home! Some have been hoping Norwich will come back down soon, though I’m not one of them; I’d rather see us both in the Premier League gaining more exposure for what in my experience has always been an entertaining derby. Having said that, I wouldn’t want the exposure if it turned out like those last couple of meetings!

Colchester United and Southend United are also considered ‘East Anglian’ rivals of sorts, but they don’t have the same ferocity because historically we haven’t spent long enough in the same league. Usually the only time we play them nowadays is in regular pre-season friendlies, though we were all in the Championship together for one season back in 2006/07. I think Colchester fans take their rivalry with us more seriously than we do – they certainly enjoyed beating us in the league that year.

In recent years, the regional media has also sought to build up a bit of rivalry between us and Peterborough United. Even though it’s over 80 miles from our ground to theirs, they have been one of the shortest trips for us outside of London in recent seasons and we have had to play them in both league and cup on several occasions over the past few years. It’s been spiced up a bit by the fact that we’ve often been battling with them against relegation recently, plus we’re still hurting a bit from the embarrassment of when they spanked our nine men 7-1 at London Road two years ago, live on Sky TV! Not something we’ll have to worry about this season though.

What do you think of your current manager? What did you think of his predecessors?

Quite possibly the most qualified manager to take up the Ipswich Town job for a long time. Beyond a few complaints about his playing style or areas we may still be needing improvement, you won’t hear many Town fans have a bad word to say about Mick McCarthy.

In case you’re not aware of what has happened at Portman Road in the last couple of years since we last played you, here’s a summary: Ipswich’s last trip to Loftus Road came shortly after Paul Jewell had taken over from Roy Keane. Keane’s reign had pretty much been 20 months of misery before he was sacked midway through the 2010/11 season with us worrying about relegation, but Jewell steadied the ship significantly for the second half of that campaign. I was there at Loftus Road when we lost to you on a cold Tuesday evening in February while you marched towards the title, but I felt we held our own pretty well for the vast majority of that game and there was no shame in the defeat.

Hopes were high that we would subsequently flourish under Jewell’s leadership, especially after a summer in which we brought in plenty of new faces, the likes of Michael Chopra, Jimmy Bullard and Lee Bowyer among them. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a false dawn. Despite being in the playoff places at one stage in October, 2011/12 quickly descended into another relegation battle. Defensive frailties were the hallmark of Jewell’s time at Town as big defeats – like the aforementioned thumping at Peterborough – became a regular occurrence, while the big name signings never delivered. (Chopra indeed was probably the worst of them, bringing us significant off-field troubles and without scoring enough on the pitch to make up for it. Plenty of fans were happy to see him booted off to Blackpool this summer.) When we subsequently started the 2012/13 season still shipping goals like nobody's business and with just one win from our first 13 matches, Jewell left the club in late October with us 5pts adrift at the bottom of the league.

Given that we only had 7pts after almost a third of the season had gone, I think our fans are still feeling something of a sense of amazement that we didn't end up getting relegated last year. But that's testament to what McCarthy then achieved. Within a month, he'd sorted out our defence completely with a much more organised style of play, and for a team that had the worst defence in the division under Jewell, we went on a run of 10 clean sheets in 14 matches between February and April. Mick not only kept us up, but having won 53pts from his 33 matches in charge, it's an oft-quoted statistic that if the season had started when he was appointed on 1st November, Ipswich would have finished sixth. An unbelievable achievement for a team that looked relegation certainties six months earlier.

It seems that FFP has us in a bit of a stranglehold at the minute (probably in no small part to all the money Keane threw away while he was in charge a few years back), so McCarthy's not had much cash to play with in the transfer market this summer. But he's a canny old dog, Mick. He's brought in nine permanent signings this summer - with experienced Premiership and Championship players like Christophe Berra, Jay Tabb, David McGoldrick and Paul Anderson among them - and he's only spent £50,000. Only time will tell whether we can actually succeed with such minimal investment, but right now, there's something very refreshing about our team spirit at present and the honest, hard-working ethic McCarthy has introduced back into our team, and we're keeping our fingers crossed that we could yet reap some fair rewards from it.

What do you think of the current Ipswich Owners? WHY are they involved with Ipswich? (Ipswich have a strong reputation for board and managerial stability and dignity). What do you expect? Could they realistically have done more to boost your chances?

Since we last spoke, the chief executive Simon Clegg has left the club, and I don't think there were many fans who were sorry to see him go. But the jury's still out on our secretive owner Marcus Evans. You'll find fans who think he's a tight-fisted guy who knows nothing about football and hasn't backed our last couple of managers since he was 'bitten' by Keane's excessive spending in 2009, but then you'll find those who are still exceedingly grateful that he continues to bankroll the club (with debts now owed to him of £72m, so I hear) and are just glad he's not like Steve Morgan or Venkys. To his credit - and to Clegg's - after making two poor appointments in Keane and Jewell, I think they finally got it right with McCarthy.

How do you think Ipswich treats its fans? Appreciates them? Listens to them? Screws them?

Ask the Town fans and you'll get a mixed reaction on this one. I personally think we're not treated that badly and that the club does a lot to reach out to the community - after all, we have historically always been a family club. But there are some who feel that the club has become too business-like and is losing its family touch. 

There's a lot of bitterness around about our current ticket prices too. Paying £30 or above in most areas per match is a joke when we've not finished above 13th in the Championship for four years now, and I still get embarrassed when I hear of how shocked away fans are when they see how much they have to pay to sit in the not-so-plush Cobbold Stand. I hear our upper band season tickets are among the most expensive in the country too.

Who are you Dangermen/Most valued/most overrated/most underrated players?

We're still learning about our new squad at the minute, but there are a few players who are making an impression already. David McGoldrick is probably our main attacking threat nowadays - he's got some neat skills and creativity, but I don't think we're giving him the service he needs at the moment. Our backline of Aaron Cresswell, Luke Chambers, Tommy Smith and Elliott Hewitt (average age 23) is pretty much the same foursome that kept so many clean sheets in the second half of last season - albeit with teenager Hewitt replacing loanee Richard Stearman - and there's high hopes they can star again. Keep your eyes out for Paul Anderson and Cole Skuse in midfield too - the former is capable of whipping in a dangerous ball, and the latter controlled the middle of the park against Millwall last weekend.

Prediction for season promotion/relegation places
I think most fans are probably making the same predictions at the moment - yourselves, Reading and Wigan all to finish highly as the relegated trio, while the likes of Watford, Bolton and Nottingham Forest figure highly in many people's expectations. I'd be wary of Leicester too, and it's not beyond Leeds to mount a challenge this year. Fingers crossed Ipswich can have a go, but I think the realist in me can't possibly expect us to finish any higher than about 10th.

As for relegation, Barnsley have been knocking on the door for most of the last decade and somehow keep getting away with it, but surely their luck will run out soon. I worry for Millwall too - Steve Lomas has signed plenty of experienced heads this summer but they've looked pretty poor so far this season and I'm not sure whether they can find their feet quickly enough this season after losing Kenny Jackett. Yeovil have got it all to do to prove they can survive at this level as well, though I wouldn't put it past them to surprise plenty of people.

What is your view and the general Ipswich view of QPR?

What other Town fans might think of QPR is something I can only speculate on. From my point of view however, I think your club is in a real state of flux at the minute and this could be a very important season. Considering the scale of investment over your two years in the top flight and bringing in an experienced head like Harry, you didn't seem to learn anything from your close shave in 2011/12. Your title win in 2010/11 was impressive (though probably overdue given the investment and managerial merry-go-round at Loftus Road for several years prior), but I suspect you will find it harder going this season. Your stay in the top flight didn't do much to suggest you truly belonged there, but if you believe you do, it's up to your lads to prove that they don't actually belong down in the Championship any more.

Are you looking forward to playing QPR?

The fixture list has thrown up a pretty tough start for us this season, because we started away at Reading, we have the trip to your place this weekend and then we're off to Wigan in September! I think most fans have been looking forward to it though because it feels like our squad is up to the challenge - they played well in the first half at the Madejski and were a bit unlucky to lose in the way that we did (via an own goal and a deflection), so it will be interesting to see how we cope with the test of travelling to Loftus Road. Sadly I won't be there this time though.


I think most of us Town fans would take a draw, but I suspect it could end up like it did last time we visited, so I'll say 2-0 QPR and hope that I'm wrong.

Where, realistically, do you think Ipswich will be in five years time?

To be honest, I reckon we'll be in the Championship, though whether we'll have had a short spell in the top flight by then, I couldn't possibly predict. Frankly we just want to see some progress for the immediate future - we've had five years of going nowhere, so as long as it's not another five years of that, or worse, then right now I won't be too disappointed! now I won't be too disappointed!

Again profound thanks to Ipswich's Darren Campbell!

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