When the EFL first announced their plans for the Championship to resume on June 20th the QPR chief executive Lee Hoos was unequivocal in his opinion:
"I am absolutely stunned by this announcement,"
"Having spoken with our director of football Les Ferdinand and our manager Mark Warburton, they share my views. We are vehemently opposed to this schedule."
"I have made our feelings known to the EFL and, having spoken with a number of CEOs at other Championship clubs, I am not a lone voice on this matter.
"We are absolutely appalled."
Although he would no doubt argue that he was specifically referring to the scheduling of nine games in such a short period this outburst cannot have done much for the collective motivation at the club. The team had signed off for lockdown with an impressive 3-1 win at Preston and had been unbeaten in six games. They were six points off a play-off place. And yet, the club seemed happy to call off the season and settle for a mid-table finish.
This attitude seemed to be reflected in their 0-1 home to defeat to Barnsley last Saturday - a game in which they managed no shots on target and were strongly criticised by Mark Warburton. Like Hull they have lost their captain - Grant Hall, who is leaving the club, and one of their best players - Marc Pugh who has been deemed too expensive. To motivate the remaining players, who have no doubt been mentally on the beach for a few weeks, will be a real challenge for Warburton.
There was a lot to enjoy about Charlton's win at Hull - not least the fact that it lifted us above Hull and out of the relegation places. The fact that Jason Pearce drove up there on the morning of the game to score the winning goal. The fine passing of Albie Morgan. The moments of class from Tomer Hemed and Aiden McGeady. The tactical vision of Lee Bowyer in playing Deji Oshilaja at left back. But it should not be overlooked that Hull were a very poor team who looked certainties for relegation. Even a disinterested QPR are likely to provide more of a challenge.
Naby Sarr's late equaliser at Loftus Road in December was one of the highlights of the season so far. Travelling fans had paid an exorbitant price to witness an appalling first half performance by the team. Many had no doubt abandoned hope (or even gone home) by the time that free kick was swung in. As the ball flew off a defender's head there was time to realise who it was aiming for. Time to question whether he could control it. Time to worry that he would panic and blast it over the bar. But "one of the best finishers in the club" was all cool and calmness. We achieved a draw that felt like a win.
Whether or not Naby gets in the team this week is another matter. It may depend on when exactly Jason Pearce becomes a father again. But the cardboard cutouts in the Covered End can be assured that, whoever plays, they will be witnessing a committed team performance.
And what do the bookies think? They think we will stay up. Bet365 currently quoting Luton 1/6, Barnsley 4/9, Hull 4/5 and Charlton 6/4 for relegation.
If you are interested in watching the game on Valley Pass details are as follows:
But don't sit down to tune in at 3pm. THE GAME KICKS OFF AT 12.30PM.