Ahead of Saturday’s encounter, Bluemoon caught up with Ron Norris from QPRNet to get the lowdown on the opposition…
What are your expectations for this season?
I’ve always been fairly realistic about this season and will be happy with just a year of steady growth. That said I was incredibly excited before kick-off and truly believed we finally had a team and structure in place to rival the great side we had in the mid 90’s. The Swansea game really knocked the stuffing out of my optimism though and whilst I never expected us to suddenly cruise into being a top ten side I really felt the rug being pulled out from under me during that game.
That said I’m still looking forward to the season unwinding and I’ll be perfectly happy to just stay up again as long as we signs of progression. Escaping by the skin of our teeth really shouldn’t be considered an achievement this year. In truth it shouldn’t have been last season either.
Are you happy with the manager?
It’s still early days but the signs are all mostly positive. Hughes is clearly well liked and heavily respected by the board and has been backed to the hilt in the transfer market. Although he had half a season last year and brought in plenty of his own players I still think it’s unfair to judge him on that after coming in mid campaign.
This year though we will see just what he is made of, he’s certainly shaken up the coaching structure and long term he seems to have the right aims and ideas. My only concern so far is I’m not totally convinced he knows what his best side is just yet and over the summer I was starting to feel he would hit the ground running with a well drilled eleven all knowing exactly what they are doing and that’s not really been the case so far.
Like I say though it’s very early days and whilst he has it all to prove I’m more than happy to give him plenty of time to do that, the last thing we need is another change anytime soon.
Who are your key players?
Undoubtedly, or at least at the time of writing, our strengths lay offensively rather than defensively. Things may well change before the transfer window closes but we are thin at centre back and really do need another singing in that area to tighten up a shaky area of the squad.
Our midfield engine men are key for me, Alejandro Faurlin is only just feeling his way back from a cruciate tear and played in the midweek cup game. If he hadn’t have got injured last January I’m pretty sure Premier League fans would know a lot more about this boy than they’ve seen so far. His midfield colleagues Samba Diakite and Ji –Sung Park are also going to be vital to us and for me I’d like to get in a position where we are playing all three of them. That might be some way off though with Faurlin still not 100% fit, Diakite having missed half of pre-season and Park still settling into his new surroundings.
Djibril Cisse is the man we will look to for goals, like most of our squad he hasn’t hit the ground running this term but if he can carry over just some of the ruthlessness he showed in front of goal last season to this then his contributions could make a massive difference to our campaign.
Were you happy with the business conducted during the transfer window?
It’s hard not to be really, we’ve just signed Julio Cesar which frankly is a staggering acquisition for a club of our size. He won’t have international clearance in time to play in Manchester though.
Park was another big capture for us, I’m sure that was partly due to the far eastern exposure it brought us but there’s no doubting he is a big game player and hopefully he’ll go on to do really well for us. Diakite joined permanently after really impressing on loan last year and I was delighted to nab Junior Hoilett from Blackburn, there’s a lot of potential in that lad.
At the back Jose Bosingwa and Ryan Nelsen will add experience but I still feel we need to pick up another centre back at least before Friday’s deadline.
Are there any rising stars in the squad that we might not have heard of?
We have recently given long term deals to some of our youngsters, the likes of Michael Doughty, Max Ehmer, Frankie Sutherland and Michael Harrimen have all turned pro over the last year or so but they are all very unlikely to be involved on Saturday.
Our academy is being revamped and the chairman is keen to get us in a position where we develop our own players but in truth you’ll be pretty familiar with most, if not all, of our starting line-up and subs at the weekend.
Your Achilles heel?
So far it’s been the defence; we were terrible against Swansea and looked like a side who had only just met. It’ll be interesting to see how that improves with the likes of Bosingwa and possibly Nelsen coming in for first Premier League starts.
There’s also the possibly of a Rob Green clanger to concern ourselves with. It only took the poor sod 7 minutes to throw one on his debut and with Cesar waiting in the wings he’ll either rise to the challenge or crumble under the pressure.
If you could have any City player in your team who would you choose?
It would be really easy just to say Sergio Aguero wouldn’t it? I don’t think there’s a player in the league I enjoy watching more than him, he’s a brilliant player and it must be fantastic to see him every week. I’d have also name checked Adam Johnson before you let him go, I was actually really hopeful we might go in for him.
But we’re pretty strong going forward so to continue my defensive worries I’m going to pick the player that would be most useful to us right now and that would be Vincent Kompany, what a fantastic season he had last year there can’t be a better defender in the league and for what you paid for him he’s proved to be an absolute bargain and a real leader.
What is your perception of City as a club?
I’m pretty pleased for you actually. I always enjoyed going to Maine Road over the years and for some reason Rangers and City fans always, well mostly, “got along”. There might have been the odd tense occasion, particularly the year we stayed up in Division One thanks to Jamie Pollock’s own goal but there have been plenty of good ones too. I can remember the both sets of fans signing songs about United for the best part of a whole game some ten years or so back and of course there was last May’s incredible game which saw us both achieve what we wanted to much delight all round!
Both clubs have been through the ringer though and frankly both deserve a bit of joy. We went on a similar downward spiral rally, we both spent so long underachieving and saw our clubs horribly mismanaged, financially devastated and relegated to divisions we should never have been. Considering all that and the fact that we know just what it feels like I find it hard to have anything but respect for the turnaround you’ve seen. Enjoy it!
Likely starting XI for the game, and score prediction?
It’s a bit hard to say as we haven’t really settled down yet so I’ll go for what I’d like to see rather than what I think it might be. Rob Green will certainly start in goal with Cesar unable to get international clearance in time. I expect Jose Bosingwa and Fabio to be the full backs. Anton Ferdinand will doubtless be one of the two centre backs and I’d like to see Ryan Nelsen start alongside him, unless we do sign someone else.
Personally I’d have a five man midfield with Samba Diakite, Alejandro Faurlin and Ji-Sung Park in the middle and then Junior Hoilett and Jamie Mackie supporting Djibril Cisse up front. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bobby Zamora start instead of Faurlin though and perhaps Shaun Wright-Phillips will get the nod over Mackie. We’ll see.
As for the score I’m (sadly) fairly sure we will get beat so I’ll go for 2-1 to City. That said it seems to me from the games so far that you guys can be got at so fingers crossed we can nick something out of this one. We have a tough run of City, Chelsea and then Spurs so God knows we could do with stealing a point or three.