Date: 19th February 2016 at 9:40am
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QPR currently find themselves 14th in the table. How do you feel your season has gone so far?

It`s been largely disappointing, and one a lot of fans are looking forward to seeing the end of, ahead of what is likely to be another big rebuilding process in the summer.

With the owners attempting to reduce the costs of an unsustainable wage bill, and the days of paying large transfer fees supposedly no more, it was understandable that consolidation was the remit for Chris Ramsey ahead of the campaign, with anything above a mid-table finish marking a relatively successful season.

Those expectations however changed as soon as the summer transfer window closed, and the likes of Leroy Fer, Sandro, Matt Phillips and in particular Charlie Austin remained at the club.

Despite an imbalanced squad, with a glut of midfielders, lacking strength and depth in defence, and a reliance on the goals of Austin, an immediate return to the Premier League suddenly became the new the aim for the owners just a month into the season, hindering the first team opportunities for a number of the new arrivals.

Once again, the club`s hierarchy demonstrated a lack of patience and yet more short-term vision, as the fans had to watch on as the performances and results didn`t match up with the supposed quality on the field, and the rebuilding process was put on hold as what proved to be an unrealistic target was being chased.

Rather frustratingly, new recruits such as Alex Smithies, Massimo Luongo, Tjaron Chery and Sebastien Polter had to make do with a place on the bench, watching on as some of their teammates, unlikely to be at the club next season, were being selected on what seemed to be the basis of their wage packet, as opposed to form.

Few will have disagreed with the club`s decision to dismiss Ramsey of his duties at the beginning of November, which was followed by what looked to be a shrewd appointment in Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, who had been working wonders at Burton Albion on a modest budget, albeit over a relatively short period of time.

The side sit one place lower than we were when Ramsey was sacked, with some fans disappointed Neil Warnock wasn`t given the job until the end of the season following a brief return, but it would be unfair to pass too much judgement on Hasselbaink this season, who has presided of two wins, seven draws and three league defeats.

With the owners seemingly accepting a top six finish was unlikely at the turn of the new year, the January transfer window restored some faith in the club from the fans as Fer and Sandro were shipped out on loan, and the void created by Austin`s departure was impressively filled in a matter of days.

In came players from the lower divisions who saw QPR as a step up in their career, a philosophy the fans want to see the club adopt moving forward, developing a team of young, hungry players, even if that means spending the foreseeable future in the Championship after some disastrous recent campaigns in the top flight.

What kind of impact has new manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made since replacing Chris Ramsey as manager?

His reign got off to a decent start with impressive performances at home to Burnley and Brighton, both of which ended in draws, where we saw an increased intensity amongst the players, although that would be expected when a new manager comes in.

There hasn`t really been a dramatic change, demonstrated by our current league position compared to when he came in, and it took a while for him to get a first league win under his belt, coming at his eighth attempt, although he was unlucky it didn`t come sooner as the side went through a spell of conceding costly late goals.

We`ve seen quite a few draws since he took over, and he does appear to have tightened up the defence, although there have been some abject performances in his short spell, most notably in last weekend`s 3-1 derby defeat at home to Fulham.

It caused some concern amongst the fanbase that he failed to change the system in the first-half despite our midfield being totally overrun, resulting in us going into the break 3-0 down and effectively out of the game. When substitutions were made in the second- half, they were like-for-like.

I think next season however is when we can really begin to judge his impact at the club. From what I gather, his training regime places more emphasis on fitness levels than what the players were used to under Ramsey, so it will take time for the players to get used to his way of working.

Who do you see as your biggest threat?

He`s only been at the club for a few weeks, but I`ve been impressed with what I`ve seen so far of Conor Washington. He joined us on the back of a prolific first half of the season with Peterborough, where he bagged 15 goals in all competitions, and provides us with some pace upfront.

He`s a different player to Austin, not particularly big in stature but appears well able to handle the physical side of the game, and he looks more than comfortable running with the ball at his feet and taking players on.

Off the ball he`s the type of striker who`s constantly on the move, either trying to find space or closing down defenders, and while he`s yet to find the net for us from two starts and two sub appearances, his work rate makes it only a matter of time before he opens his account.

Who do you see as Bolton`s biggest threat?

Despite only being on the field for just over 10 minutes in the game at Loftus Road, I was impressed with Wellington Silva. He looked direct and pacy, and got himself on the scoresheet.

A real area of weakness for us at the moment is the full-back areas where we start with Paul Konchesky and James Perch, who aren`t helped in their defensive duties by Matt Phillips and Junior Hoilett ahead of them.

Both full-backs have really struggled when up against anyone with pace, and Silva could cause some problems down either flank, particularly on the occasions that Konchesky and Perch find themselves higher up the pitch.

What do you make of Bolton manager, Neil Lennon?

I don`t think he`s everybody`s cup of tea due to his feisty nature, but given the circumstances the club finds itself in, from the outside, it`s hard to argue that he hasn`t done a decent job. When you`re asking players to take to field having not been paid, you need a strong character in the dugout, and he`s certainly that.

Judging by results in recent weeks, the players still appear to be battling despite the perilous position, which he must take a lot of credit for. If they can add some of the steeliness they have shown at home this season while on their travels, and get a bit of luck, then there still remains a slim chance of survival with 35 points still to play for.

Having had a successful spell at the helm of Celtic, I imagine Lennon would have expected to have been in with a shout of a Premier League job when moving on, and I can only assume he didn`t quite realise the enormity of the task he was taking on when he took over at the club, but I don`t imagine it`s in his nature to give up when the going gets tough.

If the club does go down, I don`t think his reputation will have taken too much of a hit given the environment he has been working in, but I imagine he will look to move on at the end of the season unless the club`s fortunes change.

Bolton currently find themselves under transfer embargo in the midst of financial turmoil. What are your thoughts on this?

It`s a desperate situation, and I hope the ownership issue is resolved shortly, and the club can arrest its slide, as it`s the fans who suffer most in cases like these.

It`s not that long ago that we had our own desperate financial problems, and they were dark days, and they`re never far from the back of our minds given the financial negligence of our current owners over the last five years, and the shaky ground we currently find ourselves on.

The Premier League has proved a dangerous place for clubs, with financial sense going out the window in a desperate attempt to retain top-flight status, and it`s alarming that the actions of a few people at boardroom level can put a club in such a compromising position.

Bolton aren`t the first club to find themselves in such a troubling position, and I don`t imagine they`ll be the last as more money floods into the English game and wages continue to spiral, but hopefully they can begin to take steps towards a brighter financial future in the not too distant future, and act as a warning to other clubs.

Finally, what are your predictions for the match?
Hasselbaink will be looking for a response from the players after the embarrassing showing in the Fulham defeat, but I don`t think any QPR fan goes into an away game confident of picking up a win, regardless of the opposition.

We`ve kept just four clean sheets on the road this season, and scored more than once in a league match away from Loftus Road on just two occasions. With the Macron Stadium proving a difficult place for visiting sides to leave with maximum points this season, I`m going for a 1-1 scoreline.

Many thanks to Ryan Forrester of Vital QPR. You can follow him on Twitter @ryanjoforrester

 

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