Monday, December 10, 2018

The Matthew Rose Interview

Our latest interview is with QPR's longest serving player, Matthew Rose. Matthew talks candidly about his time at the club, good and bad, his relationship with the fans and his catalogue of injuries. We'd like to thank him for taking the time out of his day to do this interview for us. How’s the injury coming along? When do you hope to be fit again?

MR: The elbow is very good; I got the all clear from the surgeon today on that. It’s the ankle that held me back more, maybe I tried to come back too quick from that and running on hard ground hasn’t helped it. I was getting a lot of pain in my shin and the surgeons told me not to train for a couple of weeks and then to start over again. I’m getting there; the elbow was the serious one. Hopefully I’ll be playing in about four or five weeks, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do with the rest of the squad fitness wise though. You are possibly the unluckiest player ever to play for Rangers. Can you pinpoint the reason for your catalogue of injuries?

MR: Not really, the thing that’s the most disappointing is there hasn’t been any silly things, like hamstring pulls, that I could at least say was my fault for not stretching properly. A lot of it’s been hard luck really, I broke my cheekbone, tore the ligaments in my arm, and had a trapped artery in my knee. At the turn of the year I got strechered off with my knee, started to come back then hurt my foot, finally got back and started playing again then did my elbow in the Oldham game. It’s one of those things really you have to keep your spirits up. How did it feel missing out on potentially the biggest game of your career in Cardiff?

MR: I was devastated. It was one of the lowest points of my career. I had a little baby in the summer so that and my girlfriend got me through it, otherwise I think I’d have been close to hanging myself! The club keep you involved but you always feel a bit on the outside. Olly and the lads are brilliant but it’s horrible and you feel surplus to requirements. Emotionally it’s hard because all you know is how to play football. When I did the elbow I didn’t know if it would be career threatening or not, luckily everything was OK but it plays on your mind. Touch wood, everything’s fine now so hopefully I can get back and just play some football. A whole season would be nice. Does the Cardiff defeat spur everyone on to not have to go through that again?

MR: You can’t take anything negative out of it; you have to look at the positives. The whole day was brilliant but you don’t want to go through it again and that’ll spur everyone on. We’ve finally had a taste of what success is like so it’s definitely focused everyone. What did Olly say after the final to pick everyone up?

MR: I don’t think he knew what to say really, what can you say? Everyone was upset or crying and he was just as gutted as everyone else. At the end he said to us to remember this feeling, never forget it and use it next year. It’s a smaller squad now, how do you think that will affect things?

MR: I think it can be a bit of a risk, you’ve seen us struggle a little when Kevin Gallen and Gareth Ainsworth got injured. Time will tell, the squad might be small but there isn’t a weak link this year. There’s plenty of versatility in there and we can build from that. What first attracted you to join Rangers from Arsenal?

MR: Rangers were always one of the top London sides and I was impressed with the ambition and drive of the club, they wanted to get straight back up and play at the highest level and I wanted to be a part of that.

I came on as a sub for Arsenal at Loftus Road and I remember the atmosphere being really good with the crowd so close to the pitch. I walked away thinking what a great stadium it was. The fans made so much noise and I knew it would be a nice place to play. Obviously I knew Bruce and Stewart at the time so that helped that they showed confidence on me. The fans never took to Stewart and Bruce, you knew them from Arsenal, how did you see them?

MR: I think QPR were used to a certain type of flamboyant football and that wasn’t what Stewart and Bruce were all about, they liked the hard working players and of course they’d come from the George Graham era at Arsenal. They were getting results but it never won he fans over. At the end of the day they were good coaches and all the players at the time, whatever their problems with them, would say they knew what they were talking about football wise. Did the “we’re not Arsenal anymore” chants hurt? 

MR: It was hurtful, I felt like people were looking for an excuse. I’d only been there a few months and I think we took the backlash for everything. At the end of the day you’re just a human being and it definitely hurt but it made me stronger in the long run, I grew up very quickly. You’ve had an up/down relationship with the fans, how does that effect you?

MR: At the end of the day fans pay their money to watch and if they want to criticise they are perfectly entitled too and when I first came here I got a lot of stick. I’ll always give a 110% whenever I play and if I have a bad game it won’t be through lack of effort. It would be nice to more appreciated of course but I’m not going to grumble.

You can understand fans frustrations and someone always takes the backlash but I really think younger players should be more educated about it and taught how to deal with it because I took it to heart and then my confidence went. You take it home with you and you end up nearly having a breakdown, so I think they should be educated into how to shut it out and be confident in themselves.

The fans have gone through a hell of a lot in the last few years though and I’d be delighted for them more than anything if we can get back up because I think they deserve it more than anyone. What do you think went wrong the season we came down from division one and how much did the clubs finances play on the players minds?

MR: Sometimes you can look for excuses. Obviously everyone was aware of it and some players knew they wouldn’t be getting their contracts renewed in the summer and I’m not sure if everyone was giving 110% because of that. They had other things organised and might not have been as committed to the cause as they should be. Everyone was professional enough and they all knew that once you go out there and put the shirt on you should give it your all, if only for your own self respect. Like I say I think you can look for excuses and I think blaming the clubs finances for us going down is a poor excuse. What went wrong on the field was us not being committed enough. How does the atmosphere at the club compare now to a few years back?

MR: Olly is a different manager to Gerry, Stewart and the others. Being a younger manager he relates to the players more and things are much more relaxed. We work hard but the old style was a bit more “rule by iron”. I’m not saying either way is right or wrong but the atmosphere is a lot better now. Olly’s a very passionate guy, does that translate through to the players and your performances?

MR: Oh yeh! He’s the first one to say keep your cool on the pitch then you look at him on the sidelines, jumping up and down and ranting at the referee’s! It does rub off on you, if you’re struggling doing running or something he’ll pop up alongside you and drive you on! His enthusiasm for the club is enormous and he’ll help you as a person no matter what you need. Do you think the fact that you are seen as a utility player hinders you in a way?

MR: It does because you never get a run in one spot. Someone will get injured or suspended and you get called in and asked if you’ll fill in. They don’t make you do it, but you want to do it for the club. I’ve ended up playing right back, centre back, left back, right wing and midfield. It would be nice to get settled in one position and have a real run at it but at the same time as I get older it could work to my advantage because I’ll have more to offer and I should be able to nick a career somewhere! What do you consider to be your best position and do you think you have a chance of playing there under Holloway?

MR: Centre back, maybe sweeper but in our formation definitely centre back. I think I can read the game well from the back. I’m not a big guy like Danny who can chop people in half but I feel I make up for that in other ways. You look at Clarke and Danny now they’re both very big and strong and much better in the air than I am. Maybe that’s what Olly feel’s we need to get out of this division but if we go up I think you need a little bit more to your game and I think I can offer that.

As for whether I’ll play there it’s not up to me to say, I’d imagine it’ll be either centre back or midfield – whatever Olly feels needs bolstering up at the time. I’m not frightened of competition though, I’m confident in my ability, I just need to get fit and get my head down because I don’t want to be sitting on the bench. You very nearly left us after the relegation, what made you stay?

MR: There was some interest from other clubs higher up but they weren’t offering me anything more, career wise, than QPR. I just felt that, although they might have been first division clubs, Rangers was still a bigger and better place to be so I went back to Olly and asked him if I could come back and train with them. Olly wanted me to stay but his hands were tied with the money situation so I took a pay cut and signed a one year deal, then after that season they offered me a further two year deal. I want to be playing first division football but I want to do with QPR and give something back to the fans. If they give me a new contract tomorrow I’d sign it. Any favourite goals from your time at Rangers?

MR: I’ll always remember my first one away at Barnsley. The Huddersfield goal at home from long range and the game I played at left back when I scored last season was special. Looking ahead to the season then do you think everything is in place for us to go up?

MR: Definitely. I think everyone's expectations are very high but everyone has come back from the summer ready to go and everyone wants to be a part of the team. There is a lot of self belief and you need confidence in football. If we can keep the self belief without getting arrogant, then we should do well. We can’t think we’re going to win every game but we can give every game our best shot and nine out of ten times we’ll get the right result. We’ll be there or there abouts again.

I think there are five or six teams that will be up there, the likes of Tranmere, Bristol City and Brighton will do well. The one who can keep their consistency and keep a fit, settled side together will be the one that goes up automatically. Wigan did it last year with very few players, they didn’t get many injuries and their team had a great understanding, that’ll be the key I think. What are you looking to do after football?

MR: I’m not sure; I don’t think I could get involved in the management side of it to be honest. You have to be a very strong person and there is too much stress. I wouldn’t mind doing a little bit of coaching. I would really like to open up my own bar and restaurant and maybe keep my hand in with a bit of coaching. That’s the plan, we’ll see if it happens.

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