It’s just a few short hours until the season starts again. In the morning I’ll go through my usual pre-match ritual. Then I’ll make my way over to Loftus Road for around 11am, and start getting my head ready for the challenge ahead.
As much as I’ll try to treat it just like any other game, somewhere inside of me the knowledge that I’m starting a new season in the most competitive league in the world will add an extra dimension to it. For me, it feel’s like I’m back where I belong, and I know that everyone at QPR believes that this is where the club’s long-term future lies. We all feel positive about the season ahead for a few different reasons.
The coaching set-up
I’ve been working with Harry, Joe and Kevin for a while now and the pre-season we’ve all had has been great. The coaches and the fitness staff have really put us through our paces, and everyone is raring to go. Then there’s the fact we’ve just added Glen Hoddle to the coaching set-up, which is fantastic. The experience he brings, the style he’s known for and the insightful way he decodes the game will be an amazing addition to the collective effort. For me, the last proper England team we had, the last one that played with any style, passion and flourish was the team Glenn managed in France 98 – the only reason that team never got further was Beckham’s petulant kick at Simeone, and the fact that we had to go to pens.
The team we had in the Championship had a lot of quality and a lot of fight, and for me that team would have been good enough to survive in the Prem. I’m looking forward to seeing Charlie Austin have a pop at the top league – having started out where he started, he knows what it means to fight for a game, and I know he fancies himself against any defence in the league on his day. As you’d expect from Tony Fernandes and Harry Redknapp, the club have also made some very astute signings this summer. Signing Rio and Steven Caulker at the back will give us even more solidity back there alongside Clint Hill, Richard Dunne, and Nedum Onohua, while signing Jordan Mutch and Mauricio Isla in midfield gives of more strength in depth, more drive and more versatility in midfield.
A good pre-season
We’ve kept the good form from last season going into pre-season. There weren’t many QPR players involved heavily at the World Cup, so most people came back to pre-season on time and ready to go. Except Julio Cesar, but he seems to have recovered well! I’ve already written about my pre-season experience, so I won’t go over it all again. But I will say that the hard yards in training, the positive results in the games and the integration of the new players by travelling to Ireland and Germany with them, has given me a really positive feeling for the season ahead.
Obviously, we’ve got to be realistic and remain grounded. But I reckon with the squad we have, the managerial experience on the sideline and the fact many of us has been here before, we’re gonna give it a right good go.
Come on you R’s!