Thursday, 27 February 2014

#28 Great Expectations

Last month I wrote optimistically and in hopeful expectation, that our beloved Rangers would shake off the unconvincing performances that they had served up to date and hit peak form, resulting in a run of magical displays that would see us romp home to achieve promotion in fantastic style. Well, cue the reality check, and look where we find ourselves this short month later. The R's just managed to scrape wins against Huddersfield and Bolton but true to form failed miserably when faced with better quality opposition, i.e. top six sides. Having managed just one point from the last twelve,drawing with Burnley and losing successive games to Derby, Reading and Charlton, the R's surrendered an automatic promotion place and now sit in fourth position seven points behind second (with a game in hand) but with an inferior goal difference.

Doyle's debut goal in front of the delighted Irish R's
gathered  in the School End  v Burnley
Therefore, it would seem that QPR's true worth in this league is finally beginning to unfold. To put it bluntly, not good enough for top two, with promotion via the play offs unlikely given the R's inability to overcome top six opposition. To be honest, even though we have managed to stay in the top three for most of the season performances were far from being convincing enough to justify it, or, to suggest a sustained stay near the summit. Furthermore I wont be too bothered if we don't get promotion this year because we are light years away from being ready to have another go at the Premier League, and I can well do without the misery of the last two seasons.

So, depending on what your expectation's were at the beginning of the season, what has gone wrong? Is this QPR team overrated or under performing? Personally I think it's a bit of both. Harry has assembled a bunch of older journeymen, brimming with experience but in all honesty past their best and hoping to get a least one more good season out of them. Much has been expected from this team as the media and betting markets made us favourites for promotion, primarily based on these player's bio's and pedigrees.

Having said that, this group of players should be achieving and producing both more and better than they are at present, so you have to say there is an element of underperformance, of which the manager and his coaching staff are largely to blame. Messer's Bond, Jordan and Downes have a lot to answer for as they consistently turn out teams that are impotent in attack and devoid of any kind of offensive plan. You can't help but think that different personnel would achieve more with this
Latest results
vast squad at their disposal. Need I say more than that our best period of form was when we had Steve McLaren as coach, who has now gone on to take Derby from the bottom end of this division to third, above us, and as the divisions top scorers - A sad loss for QPR there. To be fair we have been unfortunate with injuries to key players with the most obvious being our major source of goals in Charlie Austin, but we do have a considerably large squad of over thirty players so should be able to cope better than anyone else in this division.

So what of Harry and his contribution to where we find ourselves today? Don't get me wrong I like Harry and think he should stay to the end of the season and see where we are at then, but, he does have his limitations and flaws and is responsible for a number of mystifying team selections and tactical decisions, so he must shoulder his part of our shortcomings. How has he failed to respond to the fact that while they have both been magnificent this season, Dunn and Hill's limitations have been exposed when faced with the higher quality attacking sides in the top six and have struggled to cope, resulting in the goals that have seen us fail against those challenging with us for promotion. Why does Harry consistently leave Onuoha out of the starting eleven, even more so now with Simpson out injured, surely Ned can do a better job than Aaron Hughes (another of Harrys older acquisitions). I don't think Harry knows what his best team is, certainly not his best midfield or the best way for us to play. He is far to cautious and frightened of losing resulting in arguably the most boring and worst football we have seen at the Bush in decades, which in turn has manifested itself in the poor atmosphere at Loftus Road this season.

Dunne rewards the Irish R's that travelled to the game with
the 2nd goal of the game from an Irishman in hoops
The January transfer window resulted in Harry making the most of loan signings again, bringing in four strikers, two defenders and midfielder Ravel Morrison. Delatorre and Donaldson are two for the future (who will no doubt never get a chance if the status quo is maintained) Doyle is a good addition, already having scored twice, Keane is a wild card and Maiga is another of Harry's mystifying decision's (despite his goal v Burnley). We now have around eight loan players at present, not the most stable of foundations for a club with ambitions of promotion and establishment in the Premier League. Furthermore our promising and more importantly, useable youth have been overlooked by Harry and farmed out on loan as Harry opts for these loan signings, again mystifying when we are talking about players like Hitchcock....say no more.

It could be argued, that tactically Harry and his staff have been found wanting this season. The rest of this division has sussed QPR out now and know we can have as much possession of the ball as we want because we wont do anything offensive, they know how to rough us up and unsettle us and it is to our detriment that neither Harry nor his coaches have come up with a way of changing it for us or making us unpredictable. The players are not blameless in this neither and there is plenty to say about them and I will touch on this next time, but collectively, QPR have failed every major test they have had to face this season, things will have to change dramatically if the promotion dream is to be achieved.

3500 R's at Charlton - deserved more than
 the pitiful R's performance they witnessed
Since the recent injection of wealth into the club, many R's (myself included) have suffered from something  we never used to have as R's fans, and that is expectation. In the old days all we had was hope, and that was enough. So with regard to the rest of the season I am yet to be convinced that we have what it takes to be promoted, let alone establish ourselves in the Premiership. No longer am I waiting to see something that is not going to happen this season... but I hope it does. There are no quick fixes for what Tony Fernandes wants our little club to achieve. However things have to be done in the correct way and we haven't started doing that yet. We have to build, use more of the youngsters and grow. A few seasons in the Championship could be what we need to establish a team that can be the start of a continued presence competing in the Premiership. So lets forget talk of new stadium's and the like and get on with the real job in hand. I just hope that we can survive the financial consequences if we don't achieve promotion this year. Fernandes assures us we can and that this is a "long term project." (Remember when we used to be a football club) It will take time to get it right and time can't be rushed, we have to be patient, it will come. Let us all hope!

QPR Fans and social media - my tuppence worth.

Having invested over forty years of my life into supporting QPR I think I have earned the right to be critical of the team I love and nothing hurts more than to be less than complimentary about the R's. I find it annoying that some R's fans in the social media take such exception to R's fans being critical of the team we all love. If you can't be honest about your club with fellow people that love the club too then football has indeed run its course. To those that take exception to such comments I respectfully put it to you that you have an aversion to the truth and to continue to deny our failings, makes R's fans look stupid to outsiders. Either way if that is the way you feel I respect that and would expect the same - it doesn't mean we love the R's any less. So come on all R's lets lose the expectations and rediscover our hope.

Come on you R's

The Bush Ranger. 

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