Two games played, one point and one goal on the table. Like many fellow R's I was hoping, even expecting, a little bit more than that, dare I even say six points.
On paper we have a squad we dared not dream of not too long back. On paper we have amassed a group of players with a wealth of ability and experience. On paper this squad should firstly, easily avoid relegation and secondly, at least finish mid table. On paper we should have beaten both Swansea and Norwich. However, on paper, Swansea had never won at Loftus Road, but did. On paper our recent form at Carrow Road suggested nothing but a home win, but we drew. Every week on the bookies fixed odd coupon there are bankers, teams that on paper should easily win, but don't.
I didn't go to Carrow Road on Saturday but I did see the game. I watched like many R's, with my heart in my mouth at a very shaky first half performance. Unable to believe how this team could be so rattled and play with such disbelief. Don't they know how good they are.... on paper! It wasn't comfortable to watch as the feelings of disappointment, at these all too familiar proceedings, began to unravel into QPR's habitual away day story. Sure enough we fell behind after 11 minutes and I dare say I was not alone in thinking another battering was on the cards, as Norwich, with the bit firmly between their teeth, dominated QPR. We were all over the place and again no one stood up and took the lead. Then out of nowhere we got a penalty. We missed, of course, but the rebound was put away by (the area encroaching) Zamora, to score a very rare away goal. Fortunately we had salvation when capitulation seemed imminent.
This could have been the turning point, as we were back in the game and somehow managed to get to half time level. Hughes made an important decision in replacing the already booked Clint Hill, as I am sure he would not have gone on for the rest of the game without at least another yellow card. Proof I think, that Hughes and his team are doing their part in improving the sending off situation that blighted our last campaign.
The R's enjoyed their best spell in the opening 20 minutes of the second half. The back four had its most settled period so far, still not good enough, but better. We manged to keep the ball a little better and kept the ball in the Norwich half for longer periods. The final 25 minutes saw Norwich, as a home side should, turn the screw looking for the win. In hindsight I would like to think Hughes failure to inject anything positive on the substitution front was because he felt it was imperative we got something out of the game for our confidence with a tricky run of fixtures coming up. We rode our luck a little, but we held out and did not concede for 79 minutes, our longest spell in our two games so far. Not much to crow about many may think, but an improvement all the same, maybe even a reality check. I for one, like many fellow R's have expected a little too much too early.
To me, the defence is the main issue to resolve. Whilst on paper, Messrs Ferdinand, Onuoha, Fabio and Traore are all competent players, I have doubts with all of them. Ferdinand and Onuoha can do a job for QPR but lack the consistency and concentration to do it for all 90 minutes of a match for 38 games. Fabio, technically a good footballer, needs to develop the craft of defending and lacks the maturity that this loan deal has been arranged for him to develop. Traore needs to learn to defend as part of a back four and work harder, as his ball watching was at fault for Norwich's goal. These are my opinions and I welcome you comments, but I believe we need to find a back four that we can rely on week in and week out. This will have to consist of more than just a regular four players unless we acquire one or two proven, quality centre backs before the transfer deadline. Something that Hughes has finally recognised and is currently working on (Dawson and Carvalho) but we shall have to wait and see.
On paper we have a good management team, which should easily ensure continued Premier League status and lead us to better things. On paper we have a good squad of players. But I believe the management have not worked out what our best team is yet, I know I haven't. Chances are, our best team will not turn out to be the same as suggested on paper. I am confident we will achieve what we should on paper, but it will take time. And time is something that is not accounted for on paper.
Still, I'm confident of top ten finish provided the defence is sorted.
Blog to you all soon.
The Bush Ranger