Ahead of the big game against QPR tomorrow, we spoke to Steve Sayce, who’s runs the hugely popular QPR site Independent Rs. We asked Steve a few questions about the two clubs, the game, and who he’ll think the match will turn out. Have a read and check out his answers below.
Jordan@OTF: Who are you, and how did you become attached to your club?
Steve [Independent Rs]: I am from Herefordshire originally, and whilst having an affection for Hereford United (now seemingly-cursed by the football gods), I was introduced to QPR by some school friends. My first game was at the Dell, a 2-0 defeat to Southampton in the FA Cup. That was 4 January 1992, three days after the famous win over the Reds at Old Trafford (anyone remember Dennis Bailey?). I have been a QPR season ticket holder for most of the seasons since.
Jordan@OTF: How does it feel to be back in the Premier League?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Fantastic! The playoff win at Wembley in May is a day that no QPR fan will forget. That late Bobby Zamora winner is seared into our minds forever more. We’ll live with the expensive tickets, the half & half scarves and the games rescheduled for Sky for the chance of another crack at the big boys!
Jordan@OTF: What do you make of Harry Redknapp?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Harry did an unheralded but amazing job of turning around that divided poisonous dressing room Mark Hughes left us with. A few Rangers fans don’t give him enough credit for what he achieved last season. He certainly brightens up W12 and the journos love him. Tactically he’s been shown to be a bit suspect at times. Hopefully the appointment of Glenn Hoddle as an assistant will help us in that area.
Jordan@OTF: Ex-Red Rio Ferdinand joined the Rs on a free transfer this summer. How has he done so far?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Steady. I was sceptical at first, after all many of our recent signings of older higher profile players haven’’t worked out well. But Rio has clearly come to compete. There is no denying his continuing passion for the game and his experience. Will be interesting to see how he fits into whatever system we settle on.
Jordan@OTF: What would have to happen for this season to be considered a successful one?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Quite simple – staying up. The relegation experience of two seasons ago was sickening, particularly given the way the club walked into a number of senseless big-name buys. Avoiding that horror show this season is key. Anything else, like a rare cup-run or beating Chelsea, would be a welcome bonus.
Jordan@OTF: Onto United, what do you make of Louis van Gaal?
Steve [Independent Rs]: I remember van Gaal bringing a star-studded Ajax squad to Loftus Road ten years ago for a friendly, with the likes of Sniejder, van der Vaart and Ibrahimovic. I was impressed by the presence of van Gaal even then. His stock has risen many times since then, especially with the pyrotechnics of the Dutch team in Brazil this summer. Excellent appointment.
Jordan@OTF: Rate United’s transfer business out of 10
Steve [Independent Rs]: 8½ out of ten. Can’t deny the talent which has been assembled, and teams all over Europe will be envying names like Di Maria, Herrera and Rojo lining up for the Reds. Not convinced by Luke Shaw at that money but he’s young and there’s time. Maybe van Gaal could have focused on the defence a little more.
Jordan@OTF: If you could sign one United player for QPR, who would it be and why?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Well we’ve tried a few in recent years without much success! Park Ji-Sung, Macheda, Fabio, Kieran Lee! I’m a big fan of Daley Blind. Right now we would benefit from a good defensive left footer as Armand Traore has never quite made it his own. £14m for Blind seems a snip for a 24 year old.
Jordan@OTF: Who do you think United’s most important player is?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Difficult as United are in transition right now. Wayne Rooney is clearly a senior player for the Reds as well as being England captain. If he could reclaim some of his former swagger I think it would lend a lot of confidence across the squad.
Jordan@OTF: Where do you think United will finish this season?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Again, tricky as it depends on how the new squad gels. By van Gaal’s own admission, this probably won’t be a title winning season for United. But I think 3rd is easily achievable, and if you finish above Chelsea this section of west London will be more than happy.
Jordan@OTF: Finally, a score prediction for the game?
Steve [Independent Rs]: Well we are having our own transition, and Harry’s ‘tombola machine’ will once again be in action no doubt. Chilean striker Eduardo Vargas could be available for his debut, and I’ll be fascinated to see what steel Sandro can lend to our midfield. I still suspect United will be too strong for us, and van Gaal will be keen to get this squad off to a winning start. Man United 2 – QPR 0.
Jordan@OTF: I’ll go for an optimistic 4-1. Cheers Steve!