Behind Enemy Lines: Queens Park Rangers

MILLWALL make the short trip to Loftus Road to take on London Rivals Queens Park Rangers on Wednesday evening.

There may be no Ian Holloway this season, but with a large Lions contingent heading for west London there will still be plenty of edge in the encounter.

Steve McLaren has steadied the Hoops ship after they lost their first four league games of the season, while Neil Harris’ Millwall are aiming to build on Saturday’s 1-1 draw at home to Leeds.

Lucas Ball spoke to Rs fan John Brownhill ahead of the clash.

Why do you support QPR?

I'm an unusual one in that I'm Manchester born and bred but from a family with no real ties to a club.

As a 12 year old in 1992, I was in awe of Les Ferdinand and a team who defied the bigger sides with swashbuckling football and it was love at first sight.

I’ve been a season-ticket holder since 2002 despite the lean times dominating since 1995.

What has been your favourite/most memorable season following the Rs?

2002-03 when the New Den bogeyman Ian Holloway took a side of free transfers and kids off to a play-off final at the Millennium Stadium.

We lost to Cardiff in extra-time but it was a rollercoaster season of going two months winless, losing to Vauxhall Motors in the FA Cup but then clicking after Christmas.

There were some rousing wins to get us to the final including a late play-off semi-final winner against Oldham where the noise when Paul Furlong scored almost blew the roof off.

We had spirit and not much else that year and it means more than the Harry Redknapp mercenaries sneaking promotion to the Premier League through the play offs in 2013-14.

What are your thoughts on Steve McClaren?

McLaren understandably gets tarred with 'Wally with the Brolly', 'Destroy and Exit', etc.

The bright point was his brief coaching spell in 2013-14 when proper senior professionals like Clint Hill and Bobby Zamora spoke so highly of his methods in a spell when we were top of the league. It dipped as soon as he left.

So mixed feelings, shall we say

How much have the additions of Nakhi Wells and Tomer Hemed improved this Loftus Road side?

Both have really added something. It’s the first Rs side in my memory that looks threatening without needing to lump the ball into a target man.

Wells might really develop after a run of games as he lacks match sharpness.

It means Matt Smith is better as an impact sub as target man of nuisance value.

What are your expectations for this season after the relatively slow start?

After the West Brom and Bristol City drubbings it was fourth-bottom and start again.

Back in July, I was vaguely optimistic of top half and that can still happen.

Last season, the games between the Rs and Millwall had an extra edge due to Ian Holloway being in charge. Do you think that no longer being the case helps QPR?

Our record in London derbies is terrible in the last decade or so.

QPR, Millwall, Brentford as the only capital teams in the division means these games will still have spice regardless of personnel.

Looking a long way ahead to January, are there any positions that need strengthening?

We are hamstrung over Financial Fair Play and a transfer embargo and must sell before buying. Therefore nobody unless we unearth a free agent

Who will be the key men for McClaren on Wednesday night?

Millwall ex-youth product Ebere Eze is our first junior in 20 years who cuts it. For 20 years old he's remarkably sophisticated as a player and makes things happen out of nowhere.

He’s destined for great things.

Otherwise Luke Freeman has shown a willingness to be less selfish and do a job on the left wing.

Veteran defender Angel Rangel has also been a shrewd signing as he is clearly a leader on and off pitch.

Who do you think will be key for Millwall?

Jake Cooper and whoever partners him in defence.

What are your thoughts on Den boss Neil Harris?

From an outsider’s perspective, Neil Harris seems a club legend who deserves to be remembered as such for his playing and managerial exploits.

Getting so close to the play-offs last season might be a hindrance now as fans expect glory all the time.

If you could sign one Lions player, who would it be and why?

Jake Cooper. He would shore up our defence no end but he's bound for bigger and better.

What’s your predicted QPR starting XI and formation?


Rangel, Leistner, Lynch, Bidwell.

Eze, Luongo, Cousins, Freeman

Hemed, Wells.

Will you be at the game on Wednesday and, finally, what's your score prediction?

I’ll be in Upper Loft and secretly enjoying the atmosphere Millwall always bring.

I have good friends who are Millwall and you are a proper club.

I fear 0-0 or 1-1 as we never beat Millwall – but maybe 1-0 if our luck is in.

Graphic: @ShedCreative