Premier League matchday seven saw the R's travel to the Hawthorns for a winnable away fixture that frustratingly ended in another defeat continuing our dismal run of results but leaving us all puzzled as to how we still only have two points to show for our efforts to date.
For the second game in five days, QPR found themselves two goals down within 30 minutes after yet again gifting our opponents the lead as a result of defensive inadequacy. The 1400 travelling R's had only to wait 5 minutes to see a repeat of the now all too familiar defensive lapses that inevitably end with a goal conceded. Clint Hill was left to deal with (the annoying) Shane Long by Nelson when the latter was better placed to have dealt with him. Long left Hill for dead to cross a quality ball to the oncoming Morrison to nod past the helpless Cesar. I personally think Ferdinand could have busted more of a gut to try and win the header, but Long should have been dealt with before he could cross. From then on the R's were playing catch up. Hill for the remainder of the half had a torrid day at left back, but he has my sympathy as Hughes should never have picked Hill at full back, he's immense as a centre back but sadly lacking as a full back. Bosingwa returned to the side at right back and looked miles from fitness and also performed very poorly, not winning a header all day and frequently going missing in the first half as the Baggies hit us on the break. It looks like he was rushed back from injury as he didn't look ready to play today. Hughes also opted to play Mbia in the holding midfield role but alarmingly didn't look like half the player he was against West Ham. Twice in the opening minutes Mbia gave the ball away and never looked convincing whilst his distribution was not up to scratch. Its early days for him but on this showing he looks like a better centre back than midfielder and I would play him there next to Nelson.
15 minutes later an innocuous cross from the right was not dealt with by Ferdinand as he completely fluffed his clearance straight in to the path of Gera to slot home past the again helpless Cesar. 22 minutes gone, two nil down with only two away points since Hughes took charge at QPR, things were looking all too familiar and the likelihood of a point let alone three were remote at best.
The R's tried to press but were continually caught on the counter attack with both full backs often out of position and we could easily have been three or four goals down. Park had started the game playing off the striker and was mainly ineffective, whilst Taarabt was wasted out on the left. Zamora continually dropped far too deep looking for the ball, but this changed when (now facing a two goal deficit) Taarabt started to drift inside switching with Park. Granero along with Taarabt were the most effective for QPR and in the 35 minute Granero's deft little chip forward was met on the chest by Taarabt who then volleyed the ball home from 15 yards to send the travelling faithful wild.
Hughes mercifully replaced Hill with Traore at the break as QPR dominated possession looking for a equaliser, but without creating any clear cut chances. West Brom at this point were quite happy to put everyone behind the ball, making it very difficult for Rangers. SWP was again full of energy, but completely ineffective and should have done better with one of our few shots at goal. Thankfully he was finally replaced by Mackie who managed to be more effective on the right hand side. Nelson, easily our best defender on the day, comfortably dealt with West Brom's rare second half forages into the QPR area but going forward the R's always wanted to make one pass to many sideways and made it easy for the hosts to deal with. Zamora had a quiet day as we failed to play to his strengths. The excellent Taarabt put in an industrious shift and worked very hard continuing in his commitment to improve his work rate. Park was replaced by Hoillett after the R's fans had been chanting for his introduction to the game, however he did not have the time to effect the game significantly.
As the game approached the last five minutes a West Brom counter attack was not dealt with by a static, ball watching R's defence, with Traore not committed enough to try and win back the ball. As a result some quick inter passing found Mulumba unmarked to tap in from six yards to restore their two goal lead. This triggered a mass exodus of R's fans who missed the excellent Granero curl in his first goal for QPR in the 92nd minute. Then just to compound the way things are going for the R's at the moment Bosingwa wasted a chance to get QPR a draw with the last kick of the game, blasting the ball over the bar from seven yards.
To surmise, its pretty much been the same old story for the season so far. Yet again we have conceded goals from teams on the break as a result of pitiful defending and individual errors leaving ourselves mountains to climb. The R's had a go and were dominant for much of the second half but lacked the cutting edge in the last third. Defensively we were again diabolical, but we knew that last season. All through the summer we knew we needed a centre back but all we bought in was Neslon, who has been our best centre half this season followed by Hill. Ferdinand, in my opinion is sadly not consistent enough to do what we need in the Premier League. He makes too many errors and has a degree of naivety to his game. Traore and Onuoha are also inconsistent and the former is often guilty of being lazy and ball watching and seems disinterested in defending. Hughes must be tearing his hair out because he has not been able to pick his best defence because of injuries and although we have improved the squad, he has been let down by them. Hughes needs to find a settled back four and stick with them (injuries permitting) as this is the part of the team that needs to gel most.
Hughes finds himself under increasing pressure and many R's are calling for his sacking. On Saturday I heard people moaning about the team selection, but I never heard anyone chanting for Hughes head. Some of his decisions are questionable. Why does he insist on starting SWP, does he not remember it wasn't until he dropped him last season that we started winning. Why does he play Hill at full back? I said before I'm not his greatest fan and find his management style sterile and emotionless. But has he really had a fair crack of the whip. Injuries have meant the defence has been unsettled and we have giving goals away for fun.We have shown glimpses of what we can achieve. The QPR revolution is still on and I believe this side will go on to the next level. It just starting to look as if its going to take longer than we all hoped. Like him or not Hughes is more than capable of keeping us up. In August I had not even contemplated the possibility of even flirting with the bottom three this season so the position were find ourselves in is painful for all R's fans. We all know we're playing well on the whole. The midfield is better than last year, but the defensive frailties have not been fully resolved. Personally I have reservations about some of Hughes back room team and would be happier if they got a good defencive coach in. I still believe QPR will avoid relegation because this team can play football. They now have to learn how to win games.
We are rock bottom as we go in to the international break. I, like my fellow R's, was so gutted on Saturday. We are still in pain. We are angry, I know I am, so feelings are running high, that's why I left it three days until I published this blog post for fear of saying something I might regret. I was mad at Hughes on Saturday, but I don't think sacking him will help QPR. I would like to think he knows what he is doing, please don't let me be wrong. The anti QPR brigade are slaughtering us at the moment, but there are thirty one games to go and come the end of the season I'm optimistic that we will comfortably survive and I will gladly stick my two fingers up at them. We know how we feel at the moment, so imagine how Hughes feels. The last thing he needs is the supporters on his back, so if you can't support him, it would be better to say nothing, the job in hand is hard enough.
Hopefully this two week break will give the injured players time to fully recover and for Hughes to iron out the problems besetting the defence. The only way is up now, starting next game against Everton.
Blog to you soon
The Bush Ranger