Pressure is building on winless Wanderers
WANDERERS welcome big-spending Queen’s Park Rangers to the Reebok Stadium on Saturday still in search of their first Championship win of the new campaign.
A shock 3-0 defeat at table-topping Nottingham Forest at the weekend rocked Dougie Freedman’s men after two creditable draws at Burnley and on home turf against Reading.
Everyone in the Whites camp will want to quickly put that result behind them in preparation for a second successive home clash against relegated Premier League opposition in the shape of Harry Redknapp’s (pictured) Hoops.
Another defeat would be a blow to Wanderers’ ambitions of being among the early pacesetters but there is no call for panic just yet.
Three opening league games without a win is, however, the worst start to a season in four years for the Whites.
Last season – their first back in the second tier for 11 years – Owen Coyle’s Whites lost at Burnley on the opening weekend but beat Derby on home soil before a draw with Nottingham Forest made it four points from the first nine.
In the previous Championship campaign in 2000/01, Wanderers started the season unbeaten in eight with six successive wins after a draw in the curtain-raiser – also against Burnley. The last time they failed to win any one of their first three outings was in 2009-10 when they started with three successive defeats.
Gary Megson’s side lost 1-0 at home to Sunderland in their Premier League opener before going down by the same scoreline at Hull City a week later.
They ended August with a 3-2 home defeat to Liverpool but stopped the rot in their fourth game with a 3-2 victory at Portsmouth – goals from Gary Cahill, Matt Taylor, from the penalty spot, and Tamir Cohen securing the first three points of the season.
In 2007-08, the Whites also lost their first three matches under Sammy Lee – against Newcastle, Fulham and Portsmouth – before winning the fourth outing at the Reebok 3-0 against Reading.
Wanderers’ last went four games at the start of the season without registering a win a decade ago.
At the start of the 2003-04 Premiership campaign, they followed an opening-day 4-0 defeat at Manchester United with a 2-2 home draw with Blackburn before another 4-0 away reverse at Portsmouth.
A goalless home draw with Charlton extended the winless start before Sam Allardyce’s men beat Middlesbrough at the Reebok 2-0 thanks to goals from Bruno N’Gotty and Kevin Davies.
That start of just two points from 12 is currently the Whites’ worst since 1984-85 when they failed to win in the first five outings.
Just one draw – 0-0 at home to Hull City – meant a poor return for John McGovern’s side.
But they ended that emphatic-ally in their sixth Division Three match with a thumping 7-2 home triumph over Plymouth Argyle with Tony Caldwell netting a hat-trick.
There were more unwelcome records that season, however, with 18 away defeats remaining a club record in a league campaign.
Twenty one years earlier, in 1963-64, Wanderers opened up with one draw and five defeats before another convincing win brought the miserable start to an end – this time a 6-0 home victory against Ipswich Town.
That run was the worst in almost 50 years – the 1915-16 Lancashire Section season beginning with six defeats and just one draw before a 4-2 away win at Rochdale in their eight match.
But all those poor starts are some way short of the club record.
In 1902-03, the Whites did not win until their 23rd league outing of the season – a 3-1 victory at Notts County in mid-January.
The 22 games without victory only included three draws meaning fans watched their team lose 19 matches in the first half of the season and the inevitable outcome in April saw them finish rock bottom of Division One and relegated.
It also formed part of the club-record winless run which stands at 26 after ending the previous season with four defeats.
The class of 2013/14 are some way off those unwanted records just three games into the season.
Nevertheless, Freedman and his players will want to break their Championship duck sooner rather than later to kick-start the campaign and Harry’s QPR side are in their sights this weekend.