LYNCH’S MOB ON THE UP AT LAST
WHEN Joel Lynch was unveiled by Queens Park Rangers manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink in the summer, he joined a team many were tipping for promotion. It’s funny how things can change in six months. With Ian Holloway taking over from Hasselbaink following a bleak start to the campaign, and most QPR fans looking warily over their shoulders at the relegation zone rather than up at the top six, life is probably not what Lynch expected after joining from Huddersfield. Ironically, the Terriers – with whom the 29-year-old defender faced his fair share of relegation dogfights – are now flying, settled in the play-off places with just 20 matches to go. As a footballer, it’s easy to hide behind the old clichés, put on a media-friendly smile and say everything is going swimmingly. But Lynch is in no mood to do that as he reflects frankly on the season to date for the Rs. “We haven’t done as well as people projected we would,” admitted Lynch. “With the new manager coming in there have been a lot of changes and we haven’t really got going.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs with all the changes, but recently we’re starting to improve the way we play.
“We’re a club in transition, especially on the pitch. We need to keep proving that we are a top Championship side, which is what Queens Park Rangers are
“We need to prove that point, get to that stage before the end of the season and take it into next season.
“At Huddersfield, I was there and thereabouts in relegation battles. We struggled a lot, so I’m used to being in that situation.
“But here, we’re playing in games where we’re still playing well. We’re not in a situation where we’re wondering where the points are going to come from.
“We know we’re able to win games so we definitely shouldn’t be worried. We need to be positive and start looking up the league.
“We lost in the FA Cup but, with a couple of good results in the league, we’ll push right up the table.”
Lynch suffered a stop-start beginning to life at Loftus Road as he struggled to break into the side under Hasselbaink following an abdominal strain.
He explained: “It was disappointing coming to a new team, wanting to prove a point and settle in but getting a few injuries.”
After Holloway was appointed, he won the first game in charge before overseeing six consecutive defeats – yet the installation of their quirky new boss marked a real turnaround for Lynch.
Suddenly, he was a mainstay of the back four and even found himself pulling on the skipper’s armband just a few months after moving to Loftus Road.
Due to an injury to club captain Nedum Onuoha, Holloway named Lynch as skipper for the clashes with Wolves and Ipswich over the New Year – the R’s going on to win both games.
That was followed by Thursday’s heartening 1-0 win at Reading.
“It was a great honour and privilege coming into the dressing room, being one of the new lads and being named captain,” Lynch explained.
“I wasn’t really playing much under Hasselbaink, but since the new manager has come in I’ve played every game I’ve been available for.
“That gives me belief and allows me to step on to the pitch and have confidence in the way I play.
“I was disappointed to get injured early on, but I got myself back in contention and into the team. I’m still getting fit, so I just want to try and stay in the team as long as I can.”
BID: Jordan Hugill TOPSY-TURVY: QPR’s Joel Lynch has experienced a range of emotions SMILES BETTER: New QPR manager Ian Holloway is lifting spirits