Behind Enemy Lines: Queens Park Rangers

IAN Holloway makes his return to The Den on Friday night as his QPR side travel to south Bermondsey.

The game is close to a sell-out, and the atmosphere set to be hostile as ‘Ollie’ comes back to the club where he had a difficult time in charge.

Only goal difference separates the London rivals, both on 27 points with the Lions 16th in the table and QPR two places below.

Lucas Ball spoke to QPR fan Michael Hann this week.

Twitter: @MichaelAHann

Why do you support QPR?

I came to QPR via a roundabout route. They were the first team I ever saw – beaten 5-1 at Loftus Road by Everton in 1977-78, but I was a northern kid transplanted to the south, and at that point I supported Man United (back when no southern kids did).

To cut a long story short, I drifted away from football in my teens, got back into it when I went to university, and when I moved to London in 1992 I wanted to watch top-flight football every week. I came to QPR by a process of elimination, after ruling out all the teams I had some reason to despise.

What’s been your favourite season supporting the Rs?

In measurable terms, fifth in the Premier League in 1992-93, when we were the top London club.

In emotional terms, without a doubt Neil Warnock's promotion season in 2010-11, when Adel Taarabt gave me more pleasure than any other footballer I've watched.

What will you be looking for in the January transfer market?

No one is expecting very much to happen. QPR have no money, following our two disastrous tenures in the Premier League, when we behaved like the Poundland Chelsea – spending fortunes and coming away with crap.

The legacy of the mismanagement of the club will haunt us for years. At most, we might get someone no one's ever heard of coming in for cheap. And if we do, it will almost certainly be a winger, to add to the 329 wingers we've already got – always useful in a team that plays without wingers.

What we actually need is a goal-scorer who can press – unlike everyone else, then – but given the cost of a Championship goal-scorer is now roughly equivalent to building a couple of hospitals, that's not going to happen.

Are you happy with QPR’s current position and situation?

No one is happy. But sensible people aren't complaining. As I say, we are dealing with the legacy of the Premier League mismanagement years.

Realistically, staying in the division should be our target. But QPR fans can be fickle and spoiled – they bellow abuse at players and coaches alike.

Ian Holloway divides opinion. Not so much between those who adore him and those who despise him, but between those who can't see who else would want the job and those who despise him. He does himself no favours, though: team selection appears to be a lottery, with at least one space filled by drawing out the name of a player, then the name of a position, and seeing what happens when you fit one into the other.

He also lost a lot of goodwill with his "stay at home" outburst against the fans who left before the end of our recent 2-2 draw with Brentford, when we were 2-0 down going into injury-time on a perishing cold night.

Only 11,000 had turned out in the first place, so Holloway wasn't picking a fight with fair-weather supporters – he was having a pop at those who come every week, and have suffered an awful lot of crap (including our regular losses in TV games and London derbies, of which this was both).

Who will be QPR’S danger men?

"Danger man" is a relative concept at QPR, because a threat is not something we often pose.

For all his ungainliness, though, Idrissa Sylla has a surprisingly spritely scoring record, while Matt Smith often makes an impact coming on as a sub. Not so much when he starts, largely because he has the pace and mobility of a supertanker.

But the best part of the team is in midfield, where Luke Freeman, Massimo Luongo and Josh Scowen have often been a joy to watch. Scowen, naturally, is suspended for our visit to your place.

Similarly, which Millwall players could pose a threat?

I'm not going to pretend a thorough knowledge of your squad. But I was incredibly impressed with Steve Morison when you came to Loftus Road. For one, I thought he had probably retired 20 years ago. But mainly because he gave a lesson in how to play as a lone striker – isolating the weakest defender and targeting him, holding up the ball and bringing others into play. He was also good at playing along the line, which works against QPR, especially on our right.

Our right wing-back, whoever it might be, is almost never a defender, which often leads the right-sided centre-back to drift out to provide cover. If Morison, or whoever, keeps drifting into that space towards our right-back position, a huge hole will open up in our centre. Lots of teams have noticed this. I'm not giving away any secrets here.

What’s your predicted QPR formation and starting XI?

Almost certainly 3-5-2/5-3-2, depending on whether you're a defence half-full or a defence half-empty person.


Wszolek Baptiste Onouha

Robinson Hall Freeman Luongo Bidwell

For the strikers, your guess is as good as mine. Pick any two from Sylla, Washington, Smith, Osayi-Samuel, Wheeler, That Bloke In The High Street Who Shouts At The Sky etc etc.

Finally, a score prediction?

Millwall 1-0 QPR

And the game will be dismal.

Graphic: @ShedCreative