RAFA HAMMERS HASSELBAINK
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Queens Park Rangers have had a fortnight to forget. On September 24th, the Hoops managed a 1-1 draw at home to Birmingham. The fact this came as a relief tells you how bad their recent form has been.
Three days earlier the team crashed out of the League Cup thanks to David Moyes’ Sunderland side. QPR lost that game 2-1, at home. Four days before that, QPR lost away, 2-1 at second-placed Huddersfield.
However, the most shambolic QPR performance/result of the last two weeks came on September 13th, at Loftus Road. There Jimmy Floyd’s men got utterly embarrassed by Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United, who thrashed the Londoners 6-0 in front of their own fans.
In the wake of the heavy defeat Hasslebaink spoke to the media, stating — as reported by Chronicle Live — that the biggest difference between the triumphant Newcastle and his own squad was the millions of pounds spent to improve the Magpies. Hasselbaink’s pre-season was spent largely trying to get rid of expensive players. Hasselbaink was calm after the loss, though. He talked up the need for team unity and tried to make peace with a rightfully ticked off fanbase.
“Obviously we are very sorry for the supporters,” said Hasselbaink. “We need the help from the supporters to lift [the team]. We lost together and we win together.”
After that loss, there were rumblings that QPR may start looking to make a change in the dugout. However, QPR Director of Football Les Ferdinand (man, I feel old) went on record saying Hasselbanik’s job was completely safe in spite of rumours linking Tony Pulis to Loftus Road. (Ed.’s note: ah yes, the dreaded vote of confidence, giving JFH about 48 more days in office!)
Since Ferdinand said that, QPR lost another two games which have seen them drop to 16th in the league. Next up for QPR is Burton, who were managed by Hasselbaink for the first half of last season (a season in which they were promoted). If Hasselbaink’s old club upsets his current club, Ferdinand and the QPR board may start singing a different tune.
Another Dugout Blues article another disappointing run of results for Aston Villa and Roberto Di Matteo. After losing 2-1 away to Bristol City on the 27th of August, Villa have drawn 4 straight games in the Championship. Most recently they were held 1-1 at home to Newcastle and 0-0 away at Ipswich. This form has seen RDM’s side completely stall in the league standings, where they sit 17th, with just 9 points from 9 games. It’s still relatively early, but Villa are already 11 points off Norwich at the top of the table.
Di Matteo was upbeat after the draw with Newcastle, as he told reporters he believed draws will start turning into wins very soon. Di Matteo may not be given the time to see this kind of turn-around, though. The Sun suggests that Steve Bruce is currently waiting in the wings as Villa’s board decide whether or not to dump the Italian Chelsea legend.
Things sucked for Slavisa Jokanovic as well. On the 24th Fulham slumped to an embarrassing 4-0 home defeat to Bristol City in the league. Before that, on the 21st, they were booted out of the League Cup, by Bristol City too! On the 17th, the Cottagers managed a goalless draw away to Wigan. Right now our neighbourhood rivals sit 13th in the table.
How about some good news? In La Liga Gus Poyet got a much needed win when his Betis side bested Malaga 1-0 at home on the 23rd (thanks to a Charly Musonda-assisted goal). However, this victory came after yet another demoralizing defeat for a Dugout Blue. On September 20th, Betis were defeated by bitter city rivals Sevilla (I wonder how that feels). On the 16th, Betis drew 2-2 at home to Granada, in a feisty affair that saw each team get a man sent off. After six matches played Betis are 9th in the league.
No good news from Russia, I’m afraid. In Division 1, Dan Petrescu and Kuban are 15th, one spot above relegation after a 1-0 loss at home to Shinnik Yaroslavl.
Things are still going well for David Hopkin in Scotland though, despite his Livingston United side losing 3-1 at East Fife on September 24th (in a game which saw two of his players sent off in the last 4 minutes). Regardless of that loss, 3rd place Livingston are still in the thick of the title chase, just one point of Alloa in first place.
In the Vanarama Conference North, things may be turning around for Kevin Wilson and Nuneaton. Wilson’s squad picked up two big wins over the last two weeks. On the 13th they cruised past Altrincham 4-1 at home and on the 24th they edged past Worcester 3-2 away. Their only other league game was a 2-2 draw away to Gloucester City on the 20th. The seven points earned over this span shot the club up to 13th in the league. Unfortunately for Wilson, his side’s league form did not carry over to cup competitions; on the 17th, Nuneaton were eliminated from the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 loss at home to Lincoln United.
The early qualifying rounds of the FA Cup hosted a Battle of the Dugout Blues last week as well, when Mickey Hazard and Hadley FC faced Kings Langley, managed by both Paul Hughes and Ritchie Hanlon. Hadley prevailed, 2-1 over Kings. The victory saw Hazard’s side entered into the FA Cup proper, where they were drawn against Eastbourne Borough of the Sussex County Football Association.
Kings Langley also suffered a disappointing loss in Southern Premier League play when they lost 3-0 away to Banbury on the 24th. Prior to this they saw off Basingstoke 2-0 at home. Those results have the Kings sitting 15th in the table.
Hadley are 16th in their league (Spartan South Midlands Football League — Premier Division) after losing to Crawley Green 2-1 at home on the 24th.
Gianfranco Zola to Hull City is old news. The current rumour, according to Gazza Mercato, is that Zola is being considered — along with Ryan Giggs — to replace Francesco Guidolin at Premier Leaguers Swansea City. Sure he is.
VIDEO OF THE WEEK
To exorcise the demons of both Jimmy Floyd’s 6-0 drubbing by Newcastle, and this weekend’s disaster versus Arsenal, let’s relive a time when Chelsea smashed the Gunners for six - courtesy of YouTuber Memorable Match.
Did I miss anything? Let me know on twitter @timothybissell