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Preview: Forest V QPR

If it seems like it's only been a few weeks since we last entertained QPR, then that's because it is. Ahead of the league clash, we spoke to Thom Gibbs - deputy digital sport editor for Telegraph Sport and obviously, long time QPR fan.

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Seems like it's been a bit of a weird season - is this what you expected?

TG: I expected worse. Before the season I thought we were in danger of passing straight through the Championship like water through a badly upset stomach. Combination of not-arsed players, rotten culture at the club and QPR-related pessimism. But we began playing naively open football, scoring loads, and made it to September with Charlie Austin, Matt Phillips, Sandro, Leroy Fer, and Rob Green still at the club. We'd expected to sell all of them and seemingly planned accordingly, assuming we'd find buyers keen to snap up the fabulous stars of the brilliant team who finished bottom of the awesome Premier League last season. Some sarcasm at play in that sentence, in case you didn't realise.

All the talk coming out of the club over summer was about consolidation and behaving less like a drunk lottery winner on their first ever visit to Harrods. Then, stupidly, the goalposts were moved. Tony Fernandes was suddenly talking about promotion, director of football Les Ferdinand said manager Chris Ramsey, initially tasked with keeping us up, now had to target the top six. Ramsey rarely provided any evidence that he was the solution, but his sacking in November suggested the owners still felt we might sneak up with the right man. Enter Jimmy-Floyd. Who managed a grand total of zero wins in his first seven games. Suddenly that relegation hunch didn't look so pessimistic... Think we're improving now, though, and heading for an anonymous mid-table finish. Which was the initial plan, which the club should have stuck to. Publicly, at least.

Early thoughts on Jimmy Floyd?

When we were linked with him I saw a number of QPR fans saying that they didn't want such a promising young manager to come to us, because we'd only ruin him. Bleak. And borne out initially. Burton supporters warned us not to expect exciting football. They were correct. We are beginning to look fitter, but not quite ready to execute his preferred pressing-heavy gameplan. We're managing decent 45 minute spells at the moment (second half at Rotherham last weekend, first half at home to Wolves this) but 90 seems beyond us. He seems like a sensible and likeable man. I really hope he succeeds with us, but it will be tough. Such holistic and thorough changes are required in the way the club operates, and we've been dreadful under better and more experienced managers than him. Mark Hughes seems to be doing pretty well away from Loftus Road.

Who should we watch out for in the QPR team?

Heart says Sebastian Polter, head says Massimo Luongo. Luongo was singed from Swindon over summer before being ostracised oddly by Ramsey when we were suddenly supposed to be troubling the play-offs, then again by caretaker Neil Warnock. But he's back in the team at the moment and playing well in trying circumstances, as part of a deep-lying midfield two with Karl Henry. He looks very tidy indeed, capable of turning swiftly away from pressure and finding a sensible out-ball in congested areas. He's a bit on the slight side, so can fade from games but looks like a player we should be building around. Polter, to put it kindly, is an unconventional striker. Can't seem to control a ball travelling faster than the average sushi bar conveyor belt, but is causing problems for centre backs in recent weeks. He's scored four in his last five and I'm taking great pleasure in his willingness to stagger about and cause trouble when we don't have the ball. A cult hero in the making, if you like your cult heroes a bit on the rubbish side. Who doesn't? Elsewhere our centre back Grant Hall, signed from a forgotten corner of the Spurs training ground, is the runaway player of the season. But who watches opposition centre backs?

How's having Jamie Mackie back working out for you?

He's barely played. Has been injured a few times, and only started on the first day of the season and in our cup exit at your place. He's regarded as a bit of a hero because he had a once-in-a-career scoring streak early in our promotion season of 2010/11 and really enjoys running around at pace. We're not a complicated bunch. Looks destined to be a sub for the foreseeable future but look out for him warming up with the eagerness of several dozen puppies.

Doesn't sound like there was a huge amount of ill-will towards Charlie Austin leaving...

Am yet to encounter any supporters who begrudge him leaving. The club are taking most of the flak for failing to sell him in summer, when we presumably would have got double the £4m Southampton paid. But I don't really understand even that level of anger. He was in no hurry to go because he was out of contract this summer when he could take his pick of clubs offering him excellent wages. Fine, sensible. We figured we may as well hang on to him in case he basically won us promotion single-handedly as he did in 2013/14. Fine, understandable. We ended up recouping exactly what we paid for him after two and half years of outstanding service. He joins a likeable club where he'll play often and hopefully continue to improve. We've replaced him with Conor Washington, a promising striker from Peterborough, with some of the transfer fee. This is how this is all supposed to work for a club of our size, isn't it? Did have the slightly sobering realisation that in my 26 years of watching QPR we've only had three strikers, one of whom is Austin, who have played consistently well and scored goals frequently for more than two seasons. And one of them is Paul Furlong. It'll be a while before we see anyone in Austin's mould again.

Finally, is it nice having Sir Lesley back around the place?

He's my childhood hero, so I want the best for him. Wouldn't wish working at QPR on Dennis Wise, though, so have my concerns. Has taken unfair criticism from some of our supporters over Austin sale which feels short-sighted. From what I can see he's trying to apply some sanity to a basket case. The signings of Luongo, Washington, and Hall suggest we're going back to the long-neglected idea of finding decent, hungry prospects from lower leagues and reserve teams and building around them. Which is far prefferable to the days of investing our faith and several millions of pounds in Jose fucking Bosingwa.

A question for you: Are Forest fans aware of the fact that we've never won at the City Ground? We are. And we're all quite bored of it. Can you let us have this one?

We are fully aware of this but having smashed our duck at the Riverside at the weekend, we are a bit skittish and jittery ourselves. A low-key evening affair is the perfect opportunity to put that particular hoodoo to rest. Besides, you can't really lose to us three times in the same season...can you?

Huge thanks to Thom - an admirable chap - for speaking to us. You can follow him here.

Exactly six years ago, this happened at the City Ground against QPR:


Here's another one from 1994 - when we dead dead good:


This is great too from 1990, featuring Roy Wegerle in virtuoso form. Look out for David Bardsley chopping down Gary Crosby to concede a penalty. Better still, check out his fellow defender's reaction: he looks at Bardsley with contempt...as if he's just taken the last mini egg from the packet: