by Rollercoaster Ranger
What were your pre-season expectations and have they been met?
Survival was the main hope for the season, especially after the realisation that Ecclestone and Briatore were not going to allow Neil Warnock to spend any money on new players in the pre-season. The money situation changed dramatically when Tony Fernandes took over, but the season had already started leaving the new players no time to gel. Having avoided the drop next season we will be aiming higher.
If you’d been on the touchline what would you have done differently to your manager this term?
Under absolutely no circumstances would I have bought Barton. This is not said with the benefit of hindsight; I was very vocal at the time and, for once, have been proven right.
Player of the season?
My vote went to Jamie Mackie. His recovery from a broken leg has been extraordinary. Once he regained full fitness he has been a revelations as per my article on here a month or so back. You will not find a more determined, whole hearted player. He lifted the energy levels of the team and has hassled and harried some of the top left backs in world football into looking very average. An outstanding effort from a player not blessed with masses of natural ability, just the desire to play at the highest level he can. The cream on the cake was his last minute winner against Liverpool which set us on the road to survival.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, the country’s most prolific blind alley runner. He stood out for all the wrong reasons until Hughes had the good sense to drop him. How is it that a professional football, an England International with 42 caps cannot pass? No complaints about his attitude though.
Is there a player loved by your fans who other supporters may not rate particularly highly?
Clint Hill. Clint won both the players’ player and supporters’ player of the season. This season started very poorly for him; he was sent off in our opening match and then shunted off to Nottingham Forest on loan. He was quickly recalled for the home match against Chelsea where he was very solid, but since Hughes moved him into central defence he has been a rock, an absolute rock. Not only did he win virtually every header, his tackling was solid, his positional sense was very sound, and his organisational ability dramatically improved the defence as a unit.
While beating Chelsea at home was magnificent – our cup final if you like – I’d go for the last few minutes of our home game against Stoke a couple of Sunday’s ago. With relegation looming large Loftus Road erupted as Cisse swept Ferdinand’s header into the goal to score the only goal of the match. I believe that “PigBag” was blasting out on the P.A. system but we were making so much noise that I couldn’t hear it. Before we could pause to gather breath the news that West Brom had equalised against Bolton filtered through, the noise went up another 10 decibels as we cheered our team home. The atmosphere was incredible as Loftus Road rocked. I think that is why we all go to football.
Head in hands moment?
How long have you got? Beating thrashed at home by Bolton in the first match of the season, Alejandro Faurlin’s cruciate ligament injury in a meaningless F.A. Cup match, Barton getting sent off in the home match against Norwich – we were winning comfortable but went on to lose – Cisse getting sent off in the home match against Wolves – we were winning comfortable but went on to lose – Ashley Young’s pathetic dive getting Shaun Derry sent off at United – why do it? They would have beaten us if we’d had 15 men on the pitch. Then there was Clint Hill’s header not being allowed against Bolton when the ball was clearly over the line. I’ll stop before I depress myself.
Who are your realistic transfer targets for this summer?
A goalkeeper, another central defender or a right back to free up Onuoha, another goal scorer and a replacement for Barton. No idea who in any of those cases, I’ll leave that to Hughes.