If The Rangers were having a better season, you would say a draw at Wigan wasn’t a bad result. But we’re having a nightmare of a season and although we battled to earn a point, it was three points that we needed and we ended up losing more ground on the elusive 17th place that we coveted last season.
Harry opted to keep Nelson and Hill at the centre of the back with Mackie leading the line and surprisingly started Derry in the middle (at the expense of Granero) as Harry ensured the spine of the team would be hardworking and strong. The rest of the midfield was built around Taarabt with the plan being that everything would go through the aforementioned Moroccan genius and would explain Harry’s worrying inclusion of Wright-Phillips in the starting eleven. Diakite and Mbia completed the midfield with Traore and Bosingwa completing the back four.
|Nelson heads home|
QPR began the game impressively, keeping the ball and passing well whilst playing at a quick pace and for 15 minutes were more than a handful for Wigan. Most of the attacking play for QPR happened on the right without ever really threatening seriously as it always seemed to break down in the last third, as we ran out of ideas and never got the ball in their box enough. Most annoying was the lack of imagination from the likes of Bosingwa, SWP and even Diakite and Mbia, who opted for the easy option of giving the ball back to Taarabt to see if he could conjure up a scoring opportunity rather than being more adventurous and forcing Wigan into errors. Wigan’s weakened side had to do something to stop the R’s early dominance and resorted to spoiling tactics with petty fouls breaking down promising attacking opportunities, whilst going down every time they were tackled and stopping the game. This ultimately took the pace out of QPR’s game and we never regained the same momentum after that. True to form, the R’s fell behind on 19 minutes as McCarthy was allowed to ghost in unchallenged to score, against the run of play, with a shot that deflected off Mackie.
Wigan’s lead was to last only 10 minutes as the R’s continued to plug away and forced a corner, which was headed home at the near post by Nelson, as QPR finally managed to score from a set piece. The thousand plus travelling R’s, already in good voice, erupting in delirium as the noise reached new heights, but QPR failed to capitalise on their ascendancy and the sides went into the break level.
The second half saw an about turn and it was Wigan that got out of the blocks first, as they passed the ball around keeping possession, but unlike QPR, created a few good chances and regularly caused bedlam in the QPR box. Wigan were now enjoying their best spell and for 25 minutes they put QPR to task and the R’s had to work very hard to remain on level terms. This sustained period saw Taarabt do very little, with Diakite and Mbia also disappointing in a creative sense. Harry made a change bringing on Cisse to lead the line at the expense of Taarabt with Mackie and SWP being our wide men. Shortly after this, it was QPR’s turn to score against the run of play. A misplaced pass from the Wigan defence was charged down by SWP and Mbia fed the resultant loose ball back to SWP, who cut in to square the ball for Cisse to side foot home and give QPR a rare away lead whilst sending the R’s fans into further raptures. Sadly, the lead was to be short lived, as a resolute R’s defence was breached only 3 minutes later. McCarthy was again on the score sheet, as he slotted the ball home inside the area when surrounded by 5 R’s players with Mbia, the man that should have been on McCarthy, watching the proceedings happen without acting.
|Cisse strokes QPR into a short lived lead|
In Harry's three games the defence has improved and there was nothing wrong with the way the team was set up, however, as with all line ups or formations, everyone has to do their job. When someone doesn’t, it stops working and that’s what happened today. Everyone was picked up on the corner leading to the first Wigan goal, but an error of judgement let McCarthy in and the deflection left Green with no chance. Similarly, individual error was the cause of the second goal as mentioned earlier. It doesn’t help QPR’s cause when keep picking full backs that aren’t good enough with Traore virtually guaranteed to start at left back due to the lack of a quality left footed defender (of which Traore is not) and Bosingwa seems to be getting the nod at right back. How Chelsea won the champions League with him in their team I don’t know. (In fact how did Chelsea win the CL?) I would like to see Fabio play in his natural position at left back and try Mbia out at Right back as at Old Trafford where he did a good job and believe he would do a better job for QPR at the back. I don’t really think Mbia is ready for a midfield role in the Premier League as he still hasn’t got used to not having the luxury of the time on the ball he had in the French league and as a result he is too easily knocked off the ball.
QPR earned a hard point at Wigan, a point that we would not have got a month ago, so credit must go to the way the team has upped their efforts. But going forward in the last 3rd we are uncomfortably lacking in ideas. We are not getting the ball in the area enough or getting enough bodies in the box and although we got the second goal, it never looked likely that we would. After we equalised in the first half SWP received the ball on the right in the Wigan area, but he just didn’t know what to do, panicked and a scuffed shot wide of the goal. Too many times in the first half SWP and Bosingwa were in advanced positions, but nothing ever came of it, with Diakite, Mbia and Taarabt equally culpable. It’s been happening for a while now and Harry has got to sort it out before we play Fulham.
The position we find ourselves in now, is where I feared we would have been last season, not this season. But the fact remains that we have now played the teams around us and have failed to beat them, that’s not good enough and we have not been good enough. We must do better if we are to get out of this. I still think we’ve got a run of form in us and we can survive if we find some form early enough.We are off the pack at present, so further failures could put survival beyond us. Having said that we are unbeaten in three games now and Harry has collected the same tally of away points in two games as his predecessor did in a year. Now that’s a start… that’s an improvement and it might just be the start of the recovery.
So on to Saturday and a date with ending a winless streak and avenging last season results against the Tourists next to the river from SW6. I think we’re too nice to them and a Chelsea-esk hostile reception would be more appropriate. Loftus Road should be somewhere no one wants to go and go home pointless, it’s key to our survival and something we fans can do to help us achieve it.
Come on you R’s.
The Bush Ranger