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Question Time: Queens Park Rangers

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We get the lowdown on this weekend's opponents with QPR fan Clive Whittingham

Midfielder Alejandro Faurlin could be QPR's danger man this weekend
Midfielder Alejandro Faurlin could be QPR's danger man this weekend
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With Bolton Wanderers hosting Queens Park Rangers in The Championship this weekend, we spoke to QPR supporter Clive Whittingham (@LoftforWords), who runs the Loft for Words blog, to get his thoughts on the west London side's season.

QPR currently sit 14th in the league, 12 points away from the play-offs and 13 points above the relegation zone. They sacked manager Chris Ramsey back in November and brought in former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink as his replacement. Since then they've not been in great form and saw Charlie Austin, Leroy Fer and midfielder Sandro leave the club in January.

QPR have spent loads of money in recent years but find themselves back where they started. Where do you stand on the club's current position?

Yes, £250m or thereabouts, has been spent since the Tune Group bought the club in August 2011 and we're now in the middle of the division below where we were at the time. It's not even been spent on anything useful - we have the same mediocre/poor infrastructure, training ground, stadium, youth set up etc we did. It's basically been shovelled into transfer fees, astonishing wages and agents fees - we've made some very mediocre players very rich indeed and received very little from them in return.

While the cynics among us are waiting for the catch, the board recently wrote off the entire debt owed to them by the club. That seems too good to be true at the moment and there's also talk of another loan being taken out from Barclay's secured against the ground so we'll see.

There does now seem to be a modicum of sanity and planning going on. We've hired Burnley's CEO Lee Hoos and made Les Ferdinand our director of football and, while the critics are queuing up for both already, it's the first time we've had some semblance of reasonable spending and a sensible strategy for recruiting players.

We've shopped for younger players, often from lower down the divisions, bringing in players with some ambition and something to prove rather than old has-beens looking for a final pay day. I like the way they've gone about it and hope it will pay dividends in the coming seasons.

What's the future for QPR, with the new ground planned etc...?

I don't see QPR moving out of Loftus Road in my lifetime (I'm 31). The idea is we build some mega stadium about a mile north of where we are now at Old Oak Common, which is an area being regenerated around the building of a potential HS2 rail station, but it's a very complicated and highly political site. We've already upset the business that owns most of the land there (despite them being QPR fans and former QPR sponsors) and it all seems to have gone rather quiet from the club, while other developers are pressing ahead with plans for the land.

It's a new training ground we need most, and our plans for one of those in Ealing have been bogged down in red tape, planning appeals and the sort of 'nothing better to do with their time' types who like to discover ancient footpaths and village green covenants from the Doomsday Book to throw a spanner in the works whenever anybody tries to do anything with the patch of grass their dog takes a shit on twice a day. Let's sort out a basic training ground, rather than a League Two standard base borrowed from a college, which is what we have now, before we start thinking about moving a club that doesn't sell out its 18,000 stadium to a new 40,000 venue for One Direction concerts.

I noticed you also allowed Jay Emmanuel-Thomas to move to MK Dons in the transfer window. He looked excellent against Bolton at Loftus Road (he scored two goals), but hasn't done anything since and hasn't played for MK yet. What's happened there?

Probably the same thing that has happened to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas throughout his career - all the ability in the world, none of the application.

You look at the size of the guy, you look at his first touch, you look at his Arsenal pedigree, you look at the goals he is capable of scoring, and the performances he is capable of giving (basically won us the Bolton and MK Dons games on his own) and you can't believe he's not playing for a top Premier League team, earning millions of pounds and winning international caps.

Sadly, it seems he never looks at himself in the mirror and asks him that question. He seems very much a fan of the "swazzy" footballer lifestyle rather than the chore of being an actual footballer - training, application, covering back in defence, that sort of stuff.

He was a reasonable punt on a free transfer last summer, and for a few weeks it looked like we were finally going to realise his potential, playing him as a lone striker. But no, it seems he's about to be bombed out again - just as he has been at every previous club he's been at. It's a waste and a shame because we're not blessed with a multitude of game-changing players in his position.

What did you make of Chris Ramsey's sacking, was it warranted?

Ramsey did some odd things, made plenty of mistakes, ultimately probably wasn't up to the job of being a full time manager and has returned to the role he's apparently better suited to - given his record at Spurs - overseeing the academy and things like that.

That said, I say until I'm blue in the face, the manager isn't the problem at QPR so you can sack as many of them as you like, it doesn't make us a good deal better or worse. Our record since he left is marginally worse than the start of the season when he was here. Mark Hughes, Harry Redknapp, Chris Ramsey, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink - I think they've all won one of their first ten games in charge here. There's never any new manager bounce, which is a big indication that the previous manager wasn't really the main issue.

Ramsey's QPR were wide open defensively and conceded for fun, but were also the top scorers in the division by the end of September - our first meeting (a 4-3 QPR win) summed it up better than any other. After he'd gone Neil Warnock came in briefly and tightened the defence up, but did it while playing without a striker at all - any defence is going to tighten up if it's suddenly got six midfielders in front of it. We then stopped scoring altogether, and haven't really started again since.

Basically it's a squad in transition, from a dreadful starting point. It's a very difficult job which has proved beyond more experienced managers than Ramsey, so I don't blame him for much at all really.

It seems his replacement Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink hasn't had the best of starts, but what do you make of him? Has he changed the way you're playing and is he the man for the job?

Well results wise he's not done very well at all, but I'd refer back to my previous answer. He's focused on getting the players fitter, and there have been some noticeable improvements there. He wants us to play a high-press game, but we simply haven't got the players for it at the moment so just when you think we're getting somewhere - 1-0 win against Ipswich a fortnight ago was a decent performance - somebody figures us out and we crash and burn - 3-1 against Fulham last Saturday.

It's all an extended pre-season for next year really, so hopefully he's learning his lessons and will know exactly who needs to go and what needs to arrive in the summer so we can have a better 2016/17.

He has stuff going for and against him. Every manager seems to do well at Burton Albion where there's a tidy set up, excellent chairman and world class training ground - is this job too much for him? Did he just pick up the hard work done by Gary Rowett and take credit for it? But then he seems to have the strong discipline, work rate and demands of his players that we need here and there have been improvements. Whether he's the man for the job or not will only be known with time - it would be nice if QPR actually gave a manager some of that for a change.

Who will be the main man for QPR this weekend? And what are the weak links in the side?

The team is weak in both full-back positions, where the signings of James Perch and Paul Konchesky have been failures. Their poor performances individually are exacerbated by having two wingers ahead of them (Matt Phillips in particular) who are very lazy defensively, so teams can easily double up two on one against us down both flanks.

We also lack an athletic, box to box presence in the centre of midfield, or indeed a central midfielder capable of providing adequate cover in front of the defence. So we often get caught out by players in the 'ten' position behind our central midfielders, but in front of our centre backs. Sadly, Fulham play with an extra 'ten' in midfield and they like to push their full backs forward to double up down both flanks, so they exposed all of our weaknesses at once and have been 3-0 up by half time in both meetings this season.

We're lacking a big, nasty, hairy-arsed centre half as well - Grant Hall has been our Player of the Season after signing from Spurs but he needs a mean bastard next to him, and Nedum Onuoha has really disappointed me there this season.

Strengths - Phillips has a very good cross and shot on him when going forwards, though he's inconsistent with it. Alejandro Faurlin makes our midfield, and team, tick despite three ACLs in the last three seasons and we're a much better team when he plays - he's still the main man after all these years and injuries.

Massimo Luongo, a summer signing from Swindon, can flatter to deceive but is a very decent player on his day. We've just signed Conor Washington from Peterborough and he's looked lively so far without scoring. Seb Polter, big lump of a German striker, is something of an unorthodox threat - you'll see what I mean.

What's your score prediction for this weekend?

Well we need to respond to our complete no-show against Fulham last week, and I think we're good enough to win so I'll go for a narrow victory, 1-0 maybe.

That said, QPR could actually register as a charity given the amount of times they've come into games like this and rolled over nicely for the team or player that's struggling for wins/goals. John Jensen scored one goal in English football - against us. Lloyd Doyley has scored once in 600-odd games for Watford - against us. Swindon Town didn't win any of their first 15 Premier League games - beat us in the sixteenth, with ten men. Swindon have only won five Premier League in their history - did the double over us that season.

Basically if you're a player who hasn't scored for ages, or a team in deep relegation trouble requiring a win (particularly a team in the north hosting us) then we're absolutely ideal.

And finally, when will Adel Taarabt realise his potential?

He won't. See previous answer on Emmanuel-Thomas. I'd say it's a shame that he's so deeply flawed as a person that such obvious natural ability is going to go completely to waste, and in 20 years time nobody will remember him at all, let alone as one of the genuine great players of his time which he has the potential to be.

But then, if he wasn't such a bloody moron, there's no way he would have ended up at QPR in the first place and for that 2010/11 season, when we won the Championship and he was the best player in the division, it was an absolute joy and a privilege to watch him in our colours and see our team play so well around him.

So while I feel for him personally, because although he's probably not short of a bob or two he really could have been truly great and he'll get to 50 and look back with regret, it's his faults that brought him here and gave us that wonderful season, so I'm selfishly pleased he is like that.