Wednesday, 30 January 2013

#20 A Tale of 2 QPR Teams

QPR’s January fixtures looked pretty daunting at the beginning of the year, but now we are at the end of the month, who would have thought that QPR would have gone through January undefeated in the league, having conceded just the one goal.
Remy scores on debut v West Ham
In the last two weeks or so, we have made the short trip to Upton Park, followed by a home tie against League 1 side Mk Dons in the cup and back to the league as we entertained current Premier League Champions Manchester City. Harry’s choice of personnel for the cup game included nine changes from the team that played at West Ham and the result reflected the changes. For the West Ham game, Harry had picked the strongest team available and included R’s debutant Loic Remy. The R’s started the game well, looking very dangerous on the break as the R’s faithful made themselves heard even though the number of R’s at Upton Park could have been considerably higher had the club accepted the larger allocation on offer. Taarabt was a menace and it was his delightful through ball that found Remy who went on to calmly finish and bag a debut goal.  Hammers manager Sam Allardyce’s immediate response to the early danger and the goal was to employ a more direct approach. Rangers have found this kind of approach difficult to cope with this season, as results against the likes of Reading (twice), Stoke, Newcastle etc, and West Ham were able to stifle the R’s counter attacks and dominated the second half, particularly when they brought on Carlton Cole, whose physical presence eventually contributed to West Hams equaliser. The second half onslaught that QPR had to endure would have resulted in the R’s capitulating and succumbing to a heavy defeat in the days of our previous manager. But Harry has quickly got to know the players and the team he picked fought heroically to earn the R’s a point. The whole team battled valiantly and Cesar in particular, kept us in the game with another world class performance. All in all we did fight for our lives and were very lucky to come home with a point.
Next up was MK Dons in the cup and Harry made nine changes to the side, giving players that hadn’t featured lately, the opportunity to prove themselves. On paper it was a strong side featuring seven internationals and players that have won major honours, having played at the highest level and should have been more than capable of beating the side two leagues below them. But this was not to be, as in a weekend that saw a number of Premier League teams knocked out by lower league opposition, the team that was put out went on to disgrace themselves and the club, with a completely pathetic and lack lustre performance, riddled with mistakes as they found themselves four nil down by the 56th minute. Faurlin and Granero lacked confidence, Park was ineffective, Ferdinand was woeful and the rest were not much better. Players that were given the opportunity to secure a place in the squad of twenty five failed miserably, failing to deliver when asked to and only confirmed what we already knew, which is that they are just not good enough.  Although we did manage to get two late goals in the game, it did little to disguise the fact that the fans that attended (in good numbers and  at even more expense) were badly let down by these players. The only consolation we can take from this game, is that we now know who can’t be relied upon to get us out of the mess we’re in. (It is most of these players that have got us in to this relegation fight.)
Following his failure to impress, it would seem that DJ Campbell is on his way out with a number of championship outfits interested and thankfully, Ferdinand has gone on loan to Turkish side Bursaspor until the end of the season. Harry has loaned out a few of the more promising youngsters to get some meaningful competitive experience, whilst Bothroyd is intent on staying to fight for a place.
Julio Cesar - World class performance
So after more transfer speculation and Harry’s talk of gang war amongst agents in the transfer market, Tuesday arrived and with it our home game to Man City. Harry went for the strongest team he could pick, but Mackie was surprisingly omitted apparently with a back injury amid speculation that he could go to Stoke as part of a deal to secure the services of Peter Crouch. He also named two keepers as substitutes, was this a subliminal message to Fernandes for more players or did Mackie pull out of the squad injured very late. Wright-Philips missed out through injury as this QPR eleven put in arguably the most hard working shift of the season, as we comfortably earned an unexpected point. After a fairly forceful start by City, a well organised and hardworking QPR side played their hearts out to avoid defeat with a new air of fluency that we don’t normally have when Wright-Philips starts.  Taarabt worked the hardest I have ever seen him, as did Fabio and Remy made some useful runs and was a general nuisance when he had the opportunity. Traore a player normally subject to criticism from me had a very good game, enjoying his wing back role as Harry played a 3-5-1-1 formation. Onuoha continued his improved performances and is starting to hit a fine run of form. Hill, Nelsen and Derry were as dependable as ever and Cesar was again world class and was a major factor in earning this point. Mbia had a good game but still needs to stay on his feet more, whilst Granero worked hard, but gave the ball away far too often. Granero is a quality player, but is seriously lacking in confidence at the moment (since he cut his hair!) but his game did improve over the 90 minutes, I just hope if he is to stay that he can knuckle down like the others and contribute to our survival effort, but I still think we are yet to see the best of Granero and he will prove to be much more useful than the hapless Park.  Harry had the good sense to substitute the two players on bookings(Mbia and Granero) late on to avoid the prospect of trying to get over the line a man down whilst Remy went off late on to be replaced by the returning Zamora.  
Ryan Nelsen - QPR great, off to MLS
Ryan Nelsen ended his QPR career in fine style, putting in a typical herculean effort that epitomises the man and although only at Rangers a short while, will go down as a QPR great. His team mates recognised his efforts by giving him a guard of honour as he left the field, after he had said his goodbyes to the adoring R’s faithful. Good luck Ryan, you served us well.
So, now we all know we have not got a second string eleven that we can rely on, but have a first choice eleven fighting for our survival, but it is obvious that we have got to strengthen the squad if we are to remain in the top flight. As I close this blog post on the penultimate day of the transfer window, we have secured the services of South Korean full back Yun Suk-Young. I don’t know much about him, but he was one of the stars of London 2012 and was on Liverpool’s radar for some time.  Tony Fernandes was absent from the City game as he was on a flight somewhere to try and secure another signing yet to be divulged. But I think he went to get Christopher Samba, as reports are emerging that he is in London with a deal close to being done after QPR made a bid.  We did not secure the signing of M’Vila and the Livermore loan deal looks dead, but we are in talks with Stoke with regard to Crouch. If we were to secure these two players I can’t see QPR going back to WBA with improved offers for Odenwingie or Olsen. It is also being reported that the club have given Faurlin permission to speak to Palermo about a loan move for the rest of the season.  As with all transfer speculation you can never be sure till the deals done, but it looks like QPR are again going to be in the headlines in the transfer window.
January can unexpectedly go down as our best month of the season so far even though we have not scored many goals, but there has been a significant change in our performances and it looks like the start of something promising. Harry has told the world he is going to save QPR. “I’m going to do it. Just watch this space” he said. You can’t question his commitment to the R’s, it’s so refreshing, especially compared to the useless incumbent that he replaced. However, the unexpected points we earned against the top opposition will mean nothing unless we can take all the spoils when we play those around us. This has to start on Saturday in our live game against the old bogey team, Norwich. We are well overdue giving them a good beating, this Saturday would be nice. The year has started well for us, but those around us are picking up points too so it is vital that we up our game. The fixtures to the end of April are all winnable and could produce a run that could see us get out of the mire we are in. Not only is it possible, but with Harry at the helm it’s feasible.
Come on you R’s we’re all behind you.

The Bush Ranger.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting and accurate assessment of the month which as you say must be the best of the season so far. Unfortunately we've not had a very auspicious start to February and could be in dire straits before the end of this month.