There are just 7 games to go in the English Championship and the clamor to get promoted to the ‘Holy Grail’ of the Premier League is getting predictably chaotic. This is exactly the sort of shenanigans the FA had in mind when they devised the current play-off system for the 89-90 season.
However one team is not finding it so chaotic, in fact they are finding it all rather straightforward.
On Monday night Queens Park Rangers hosted a struggling Sheffield United side, and duly did the dirty on them by 3 routine goals to nil. Routine that is if you have lost only one game at home all season, and sit safe and snug at the top of the pile by 9 points. This was my first look at what will no doubt be the first of the three new boys to take a seat at the Premier League table next season, and they were excellent.
Going only by the evidence on display that night, Wayne Routledge appears to providing the sort of product that both Tottenham and Villa will feel should have been theirs. Alejandro Faurlin too, a very tasty looking Argentine midfielder was at the heart of everything, and scored a beautiful goal. But to the best of my knowledge, neither Routledge nor Faurlin has been linked to Arsenal or Chelsea in the last few months; that flattery belongs to Moroccan sensation, Adel Taarabt.
I remember watching a Spurs game a few years ago when they brought on this young lad with a lot of promise. Spurs were losing at home and the substitution smacked of desperation. Taarabt was largely anonymous and Spurs ended up losing a game they should have won. But in his 15 minute cameo, he did this (go to 13secs) and for me, a non-Spurs supporting soccer enthusiast, that was enough for Taarabt to earn two, TWO! ill fated seasons in my fantasy team. As it turns out, you do not get points for risky tricks or bollockings from your manager.
Well drilled and seasoned Premier League players do not nutmeg opponents in their own half, especially when they are losing, especially when they are young, and especially minutes after they had just come onto the pitch. Taarabt was different.
But he was too different and ultimately deemed too loose a cannon to have hanging around in what in all honesty was a pretty mediocre Spurs squad anyway.
Q.P.R pounced and he has been lighting up the Championship this season with some remarkable goals and skills. I’m not going to offer links for every instance, but here is just one in particular, it’s the first goal in case you were wondering.
Taarabt was born in Morocco yet grew up in France which means he has thus been predictably labeled as the heir apparent to Zinidine Zidane’s…..well….life. I see far more of a Cantona in him, but even that is not too shaby.
In terms of ability, these comparisons may seem slightly irrational. (Was it really only 9 years ago that England’s salvation was to arrive in the form of Michael Ricketts?!) However, we’d do well to remember that we are comparing a Zidane or a Cantona who we very much remember in their prime with a young apprentice just starting out.
In terms of potential though, there is mileage.
Taarabt is blessed with outrageous ability and confidence and when asked about him his manager Neil Warnick replied
‘At 61, I’ve never seen anyone like him in my life. That’s why I spent so long to make sure he signed’
Having watched Taarabt myself no more than a week ago, my original feelings have not changed; the guy is a lot of fun.
However if he keeps this up and the big clubs have their way, he may be doing more to damage Q.P.R’s Premier League survival hopes then for them.