Let’s be honest. After the hullabaloo-fuelled blue and white wave of emotion that emanated from Suffolk, who didn’t have a sneaky titter at the demise of Shepherd Bush’s finest?
When Leroy Fer put his ‘John Hancock’ on a shiny and lucrative contract last summer, I’m sure that ‘Arry had convinced him that a golden future in the Premier League was in the offing.
Yet less than a year on from ecstatic Wembley play-off scenes amongst QPR fans and players, the joy has turned to despair. I’m sure their former manager accepts no responsibility.
Reportedly ‘bad eggs’ in the squad were to blame. Was the double Dutch master one of them?
Now they are left with a massive financial black hole, a load of old donkeys to be consigned to the knackers yard, a rookie manager and the possibility of expulsion to the Conference next season.
Any sympathy? Not a shred from me and I suspect not from anyone else. Their model for joining the big boys in the Premier League was, and still is, fundamentally flawed and they’ve got their just desserts. At every turn, their decision-making has been panicked and wrong.
There but for the grace of a sensible owner and CEO go any aspiring wannabee club with ambitions way beyond their means or capabilities. Bournemouth and Watford fans – be careful of what you wish for.
It goes without saying – but I’ll say it anyway – that we too have been through the proverbial ringer at Carrow Road over the past decade: promotions, relegations, financial woes, and donkeys instead of lions on and off the pitch. We’ve suffered nearly all the same wounds now inflicted upon the Fernandes-funded flops.
We’re *possibly* on the cusp of a Wembley date and some very dark days are behind us. From the outside at least, it seems that the current set-up is a happy and well run one, even if it’s required plenty of staff turnover through the season to get to such a situation.
We have a manager who is widely regarded as a very exciting prospect and who has made a big impression in a short space of time.
We have owners and a CEO who have a- solid, long standing working partnership with a sensible plan and stable finances.
And we have a very strong, young and determined squad. Along the way one or two may have been the subject of cheap jibes and downright abuse (Johnson, Whittaker, Martin etc) but sadly that’s what you get with the wonderful world of the web.
Any bad eggs? If there are, I trust Alex Neil will do a darn sight more thorough job of cracking them than ‘Arry did at Loftus Road.
Ipswich fans of course, after thirteen years in the wilderness, are palpably desperate to see top flight action again. After all those years of attrition, both on the pitch and in the stands, last weekend’s ‘derby of the century’ generated one hell of a noise but not a huge threat on their hallowed turf.
Such was their relief at not losing another East Anglian scrap, that holes were punched in ceilings by excited fans at home. However in reality, more impression was made on said ceiling than on the pitch.
Norwich got the job done without ever finding third, let alone fourth gear. There are no excuses – other than terrible luck and/or officials, or overbearing weight of expectation – for the job not to be finished in Norfolk and the Wembley plans set in action.
Even with that outcome, I sense there will still be some degree of online griping about why it had to come to the play-offs.
Get over it. No-one, but no-one could have predicted the top two that we got or the closeness of the race to get there. We never had any divine right or entitlement as a portion of the City fandom seem to have perceived from the start.
The last club to go up via the playoffs and become a stable top flight outfit were Swansea, who finished behind us in 2010/11. There is a well-run club who have built gradually, invested sensibly and developed an attractive style on the pitch that rarely sees them overrun by the big boys of the top five.
I suspect QPR will be doing ‘a Fulham’ next season – battling it out at the wrong end of things in penance for the sins committed in the Warnock/Hughes/Redknapp years.
I’m not sure that Leroy Fer will be hanging around again though. I suspect his wages cannot be afforded in the Championship, let alone the Conference. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if he turns out at Vicarage Road next season and how I’d love to see ‘lucky’ Leroy complete his hat-trick for them.
If – and it’s still a big if – we get past the Tractor Boys and triumph against whoever on the 25th, the major lessons from last time must be learnt and mistakes not repeated to prevent more yo-yoing in future.
What we don’t need are repeats of dour defensive slogs and wildly speculative purchases. But, talking of which, what will Neil make of Dutch Ricky on his return?
Oh to be a fly on the wall for that face-to-face.
To borrow from the soon-to-be-departing Andy Townsend’s bumper book of clichés; “It’s all to play for Clive.”