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Last-gasp Maloney strike devastates QPR – full match report
Last-gasp Maloney strike devastates QPR – full match report
Monday, 8th Apr 2013 22:29 by Colin Speller

QPR’s survival hopes were all but ended by a last second strike from Wigan’s Shaun Maloney at Loftus Road on Sunday. Colin Speller was there for LFW.

Much has happened in 2013 to dull the Speller morale. If it was not for the pre- and post-match craic with the LFW crew I would have long since found good excuses to do something other than watch QPR in recent weeks. I'm always very aware that at any given moment there are people facing the most horrendous of challenges in their lives, whether that be health problems in themselves or those they love, relationship issues or whatever. What is certain is that at such times any QPR supporter thus affected would be very unwise to rely on the team to lift their spirits. This season in particular, morale-boosting performances have been thin on the ground. To make matters worse, rather than simply give up the team now seems to be determined to find new and more dramatic ways to lose, or at least fail to win. It is, as ever, the hope that kills you.

On Sunday in front of a noisy hard core of Rangers supporters, QPR served up an end-of-game drama played to an exciting, if ultimately depressingly predicable conclusion. Having been very competitive in the opening phase of the game, QPR were rocked by a sending off. They then worked extremely hard to contain a Wigan side buoyed by playing against ten men until the eighty-sixth minute when Loic Remy scored a fabulous, dramatic goal. With the ink still drying on that part of the script Rangers then went out of their way to concede an equaliser in the last minute when Mbia, who had registered an excellent assist for the goal, gave away a silly free kick on the edge of the box and Taarabt failed miserably to play his role in the wall.

Whilst the result does not confirm relegation, it makes escape even more unlikely and the board and the management would do well to start planning for a Championship campaign now so that they can at least try to avoid the pitfalls that have ensnared many an ex-Premier League club, QPR included. The ills of the club are many and there is much to be said about what has gone wrong and what has been mismanaged.

The mood amongst the Clive-less posse in the Crown and Sceptre before the game was subdued, with little expectation of a result and much resignation about Championship football next season. The traditional reading of the team before the game by Andy Hillman revealed Cesar in goal behind a back four of Bosingwa, Samba, Hill and Traore. He midfield was Hoilett, Jenas, Mbia and Townsend with Zamora up front and Remy playing off him. There was no place for Taarabt, his replacement by Hoilett being the one change from the starting line-up at Fulham.

Wigan were unchanged from their narrow win over Norwich City and came into the game on the back of three straight wins, thus showing that whilst spring might be late arriving in the UK their usual late-season effort to snatch Premier League survival from the jaws of relegation is well underway.

The opening exchanges were encouraging for QPR for whilst Wigan looked patient and competent, it was the R’s that had a genuine ‘spark’ about them and they looked dangerous on the attack, no more so when Loic Remy smacked a shot against the post in the ninth minute from an excellent knock-down by Hoilett. Of all the millions chucked at players since we arrived in the Premier League, Remy is the one purchase who would have you believe it is possible to buy a decent squad rather than build one. Players with true class not only have a consistency to their skill, they also have an element of genuine surprise about them. Remy is quick, sharp and has a fantastic eye for goal, qualities that would be evident much later in the game, although prior to the shot against the post he snatched at and missed a presentable chance to get a shot away.

With things looking pretty even and QPR enterprising going forward there was an air of expectancy around Loftus Road. Sadly, if your team is in trouble, when something happens it is usually bad. On this occasion there was a throw in on the Ellerslie Road side of the ground, Zamora challenged Jordi Gomez with a high boot and the latter went down as if shot. Referee Phil Dowd seemed to be nonplussed by the whole event and initially played on but with Gomez apparently in extremis play was stopped and the trainer called on. Dowd remained inscrutable but it became clear as he strutted around the scene that he was actually conducting the equivalent of a public enquiry. Anyone who does not believe that TV replays are used in football should think otherwise because I cannot see what else was going on here other than the equivalent of a referral ‘upstairs’. He finally made a show of talking to the nearest assistant referee then waved the red card and Zamora was off.

The ire within my area of T block was quelled briefly by word via a text message from our own TV replay official – a Mr C Whittingham – to say it was a deserved straight red. ‘Kicked him in the head – moronic’ said the text. Watching it on the TV afterwards in slow motion confirmed this view as not only was the foot high and the studs showing there seemed to be little effort to pull back once contact was made. On such madness whole seasons can often turn and everyone sensed the importance of the moment.

If the officials’ virtual meeting produced the right decision then well and good, but there is much about officiating at the highest level of the game that needs to be brought into the twenty first century and it seems odd that within the same league it is possible to see a red card drawn faster than a Glock in a movie and then on this occasion a decision arrived only after the equivalent of the Levison enquiry. The red card and the process of issuing it did little to endear the officials to the crowd but within the noise and the arm-waving there was almost certainly a feeling that QPR’s limited chance of Premier League survival was disappearing down the tunnel with Bobby Zamora.

The event galvanised Wigan who started passing the ball around with some vigour whilst QPR helped them enormously by giving it back whenever they could. They say the route to madness is to keep trying the same thing hoping for a different outcome. The second route is to pay to watch other people do this. For many weeks now it has been evident that Cesar cannot kick and those playing up front struggle to do anything useful with the ball when it does reach them. Yet on more than one occasion the ball, apparently in controlled possession of a QPR player, was laid back for Cesar to punt it downfield to nobody in particular.

The other route to madness is watching QPR take throw-ins and believe that they might actually know what they are doing. Finally, the quality of the limited number of set pieces was lamentable as it has been sadly for quite some time. Add into the mix some offside calls made by the assistant referee who was held responsible by much of the crowd for the Zamora dismissal and it was fair to say that there was a fair bit of frustration about, a lot of it directed at Jordi Gomez because of his role in the sending off.

So, with Wigan seeing plenty of the ball and QPR hanging back it seemed only a matter of time before they scored. After 32 minutes QPR were carved open and McManaman shot powerfully wide of Cesar’s right-hand post with the goalie rooted to the spot. A few minutes later McCarthy drew a save from Cesar who turned the ball around his left hand post. And just before half time Kone had a chance to swivel and shoot when right in front of the goal but he failed to connect. It was, therefore, something of a surprise to get through to half time with the game goalless. The teams trooped off, Dowd and co to a chorus of boos. The only other thing of note was a booking for James McCarthy, one of several Wigan players not slow to impede the promising progress of a QPR attack.

At half time Traore was replaced by Onuoha presumably because of his weekly injury. The game settled down into its pattern of Wigan possession and QPR working hard and feeding off scraps. An early scare saw pantomime villain Jordi Gomez have a shot deflected into the arms of Cesar. This was followed by a shot by Figueroa that was well blocked by Mbia. Remy got booked for clattering someone with a sliding studs-first tackle that could have received stronger sanction and Hoilett whipped in a dangerous cross that got booted clear.

Then in the fifty sixth minute Harry tugged the indifferent Hoilett in favour of Taarabt, thus at once increasing QPR’s potential creativity whilst at the same time placing greater pressure on Bosingwa to stem the tide down the Wigan right pretty much single-handedly. Taarabt produced one moment of magic with one of his trade mark outside of the boot crosses that Remy headed just wide.

On reflection the bulk of the rest of the game very much followed the pattern of the first half with Wigan having much of the possession, but creating few clear openings. The one opening they did create looked odds on a goal when Gomez got to the byline and crossed for McArthur to head straight at Cesar who, nevertheless, could only parry it away. QPR, inspired by Townsend in particular, did offer something going forward and the dreaded hope was ever present.

Wigan made two substitutions: McArthur for Beausejour just after the hour and De Santo for McManaman a short time late but it did little to change the pattern of their play. In some of the scrappier exchanges Samba was booked for QPR for a straightforward foul as was Alcaraz for Wigan.

As the minutes ticked by it did actually start to seem that Wigan were not destined to score. Then after 84 minutes, something amazing happened. Wigan had a free kick in a dangerous position but a needlessly complex routine saw the shot charged down. Mbia, very much the star of the show at Fulham and having put in a solid, committed shift here, picked up the ball and broke clear into the Wigan half with only Remy for company in amongst about five Wigan players, albeit most of whom were behind the ball. His pass to Remy was true and the latter, without breaking stride, smashed the ball across the goal and into the far corner of the net for a wonder goal. Loftus Road erupted, much as it did when Furlong scored the late winner against the First Division winning Wigan side in 2004, although the goal was probably closer in similarity to Dexter Blackstock’s winner against Preston that helped QPR avoid relegation from the Championship some years later. With such precedents we dared to dream again and with 85 minutes on the clock we could smell the three points.

Wigan pressed strongly straight from the kick-off and a shot from Kone was well blocked by Onuoha. Then the game was disrupted, first by a booking for Figueroa, then by him being substituted by Espinoza, then Loic Remy left the field to a standing ovation to be replaced by Mackie. All this wound down the clock and the board went up for four minutes of injury time. In the first of these Bosingwa clattered Gomez just outside the box in a very dangerous position. The latter picked himself up to strike the free kick against the wall. Then two minutes later the otherwise excellent Mbia reverted to type with a clumsy challenge on Maloney even closer to the box. After the usual messing Maloney struck the ball over the wall somewhere in the region of Taarabt, half jumping and turning his head, and straight into the goal. Loftus Road fell flat whilst the 300 Wigan supporters in the School End danced and yelled. It was a bitter blow, but in truth only one of many in recent weeks. Nail, coffin, fat lady warming up – pick your metaphor on the way out, please.

In the early phases of the game QPR had looked competitive; it reminded me very much of the opening to the Sunderland game. Bobby Zamora has played through the pain barrier in recent weeks, but whether his lack of mobility was any factor in his challenge, his decision to even contest the ball from the throw-in was fatally flawed. Once down to ten men, QPR showed real spirit and chased and harried really hard. The stars of the show to me were very much Townsend and Mbia, the former showing real menace going forward and the latter energetic and committed. In fact, QPR did everything they needed to and the goal was very much in line with the script – late, dramatic and a real body blow to Wigan. But then the flaws of our heroes were quickly exposed. Mbia’s challenge was unnecessary and clumsy, and Taarabt’s performance in the wall was of a man worried about a lucrative modelling contract than – say – Clint Hill who had cheerfully stopped a shot with his head earlier in the game.

In practice, though, the season and Premier League survival should not come down to one incident in one game – and in reality it doesn’t. QPR are where they are because of incompetence sustained throughout the season with much of the damage being done by the management regime of Mark Hughes and his player acquisitions. Once the die is cast at the start of a season it is very, very difficult to turn things around in this era of significant wages, the domination of agents and the limitations imposed by transfer windows.

I will leave the deconstruction of the ills of the club to others, but I will make one point here. In my day job I am the Managing Director of a business that turns over nearly £40 million per year. Like Tony Fernandes, I am proud of our company, its brand, what we do and the people who work for it. I started in an entry-level role and worked my way up and one of the key lessons I have learned along the way is that if you ever place your faith in the hands of so-called ‘professionals’ in a specialist area by simply doing what they say you should (in my case things like pensions, IT systems, legal matters, compliance, etc; in Tony’s case football) you are dead in the water. However much time it takes and however mind-numbing (believe me, pension issues redefine mind-numbing) you simply have to get to know the subject and form your own views, otherwise you will simply pay a lot of money for advice and end up following the wrong path. QPR desperately needs someone at the top of the club who understands football inside out, who does not have an axe to grind with a particular agent and who can make the tough calls on player acquisitions, contracts, etc. If the board remains naïve in this area, it will simply continue to piss money into the pockets of managers, players and agents whilst the fans watch on aghast at the resulting mess.

Hope has faded away but at least it means that we can stop being killed in instalments and take a more relaxed approach to what happens on the pitch in the coming weeks. Attention instead will turn to events off the pitch and how the club sets about avoiding the meltdown that so many are predicting.

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QPR: Cesar 6, Traore 6 (Onuoha 46 6), Hill 6, Samba 6, Bosingwa 6, Hoilett 5 (Taarabt 56 5), Jenas 6, Mbia 7, Townsend 8, Remy 7 (Mackie 88 -), Zamora 3

Subs Not Used: Green, Ben-Haim, Park, Granero

Booked: Remy (foul), Samba (foul)

Sent Off: Zamora (serious foul play)

Wigan: Blazquez 6, Alcaraz 6, Boyce 6, Figueroa 6 (Espinoza 88 -), McCarthy 5, Maloney 7, Gomez 7, Beausejour 6 (McArthur 6), Schamer 6, Kone 6, McManaman 6 (Di Santo 67 6)

Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Caldwell, Stam, Henriquez

Booked: Alcaraz (foul), McCarthy (foul), Figueroa (dissent)

QPR Star Man: Andros Townsend 8 There is a strong case for Remy but I thought that once again Townsend’s energy and commitment stood out as a shining example of what has been needed – and often lacking – throughout this season. Remy’s goal was class and he was unlucky to hit the post, but I took marks off for his wild lunge that might well have earned him a red card. Mbia was excellent but the crucial free kick was unnecessary.

Referee: Phil Dowd (Staffordshire) 7 Despite the usual histrionics in truth he did not do a lot wrong and tried to keep the game flowing. The time taken to dismiss Zamora caused uproar but it was the right decision. It would just be good to get some consistency across the league and I cite the recent Grant Holt incident in the ‘lack of consistency’ category with regard to post-hoc review.

Attendance: 16,658 (300 away approx)

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ozranger added 23:16 - Apr 8
I think you have devalued Bonsingwa's contribution here Colin. At least a seven. He has improved with nearly every match. His defence is still not great, but at least he is challenging for headers more and reading the play. His composure has improved as well and his ball to Hoilett when Remy hit the post was delightful.

Now Jenas. Did he play or not? He was totally absent in the second half. I am still trying to see why he is in the side. And, I really wonder if Bothroyd will finally get back to playing again. Why did we only have two attacking player on the bench?

Northernr added 23:18 - Apr 8
It is rather hard to find people willing to stand in and do these reports for me when their considerable efforts draw only criticism over the heinous crime of a player getting a six rather than a seven. I think he's got the Bosingwa mark spot on.

Neil_SI added 23:36 - Apr 8
I thought Boswingwa looked very tired at times, he was breathing heavily in the first half, particularly when he came over to take a corner. In the second, he was the worst of all the defenders for clearing his lines and getting to the halfway point quickly. He needed to do this more than the centre backs to help provide shape to the team and at times was miles behind play as a result. But like I said, he wasn't alone doing that...

MelakaRanger added 23:37 - Apr 8
Thanks for the report Colin. Appreciate your efforts.

And you are spot on with your observation:

QPR desperately needs someone at the top of the club who understands football inside out, who does not have an axe to grind with a particular agent and who can make the tough calls on player acquisitions, contracts, etc. If the board remains naïve in this area, it will simply continue to piss money into the pockets of managers, players and agents whilst the fans watch on aghast at the resulting mess.

Kaos_Agent added 00:45 - Apr 9
Good report. Townsend was simply electrifying and the effort of ten against eleven was very impressive. Mbia has a habit of showing excellent anticipation and timing only to be punctuated by poor decisions such as the foul leading to the equalizer. Much improved outing from Samba and Hill.

Many wasted opportunities yet again.

EssexHoop added 00:51 - Apr 9
Thanks. Spot on with the report. I'm sure the 4th official gave the red, he stepped onto the pitch trying to get dowds attention, not that zamora didn't deserve to go. At no point did he try to pull out of it, crazy challenge/assault! cesars kicking is a huge problem as is our inability to win a header in the middle of the park. Despite this thought we played well, esp. Townsend,remy,mbia and onuoha when he came on. but as Harry says "individual errors cost us" but when it's different individuals each week it suggests the team isn't good enough.

RangerKIK added 01:08 - Apr 9
It's getting harder and harder to justify the amount of money and emotion I invest into such a bunch of morons. From Sambas display last week, to Zamoras karate kick, to Mbias sensless barge and finally Taraabt ducking out the way of a last gasp freekick...........

It hit me like a steamtrain at the final whistle yesterday. Following QPR gives me no pleasure whatsoever!! None!! And I pay for it!!!!!

Alright a bit melodramatic but, apart from watching Townsend and Remy, experiencing the tedium of the inevitable self destruction week in week out is just not worth it anymore. It's like dating a girl who constantly cheats on you and the rest of the time kicks you in the testicles.

So I'm out.


Ok I will give her one more chance us the next time she kicks me in the nads she might be wearing softer shoes. Slippers maybe. Maybe she will tag in Zamora who will miss my balls completely. No forget that he will miss but kick me in the head instead...................................

AussieRs added 01:57 - Apr 9
Excellent report thanks Colin. 6 or 7 for Bosingwa least of our problems. As I may have mentioned previously, the abject nature of our performances is heightened by having to watch them in the middle of the night. Fact is we have been ghastly for most of the season. Excruciatingly poor, unable to pass, score (til lately) or win. Our home form has been absolutely dire.

Is nobody drawing parallels between Zamora's karate kick and Barton's brain snap v Man City last year? Totally unprofessional, game changing conduct in vital game. Appalling behaviour from a supposed professional. Barton was lucky, Zamora's conduct looks to have condemed us.

The fact that our most effective player (Townsend) is only on loan is real cause for concern. What is Ranger's starting line up for first game next year? This is all that matters now.

double_m added 04:10 - Apr 9
Thanks Colin, a really good write-up and judging from the players ratings I think I saw the game as you did although I left feeling positive about the performance - possibly because of it being my first game since Norwich.
Wigan were tidy and functional at best, only coming into the game after the sending off and only opening us up the two occassions you mentioned. I was quite underwhelmed with them. They've got quite a tough run-in and I can see them being still being on the same points in 3 games time, hhmmmm.

Sorry am I straw clutching.

It could be me, but there is something of the Rob Styles about Dowd. His body language just seems a little nuanced against us, nothing obvious, it just seems... And where did he get 4 mins injury time from? He gave 2 in the 1st half when he was pissing around with the red card for 3. Carry over?

Come on R'S.

Roller added 07:55 - Apr 9
"I have learned along the way is that if you ever place your faith in the hands of so-called ‘professionals’ in a specialist area by simply doing what they say you should (in my case things like pensions, IT systems, legal matters, compliance, etc; in Tony’s case football) you are dead in the water. However much time it takes and however mind-numbing (believe me, pension issues redefine mind-numbing) you simply have to get to know the subject and form your own views, otherwise you will simply pay a lot of money for advice and end up following the wrong path."

One of the most pertinent observations of the season.

DesertBoot added 08:54 - Apr 9
Ironic one of the best goals scored at Loftus Road comes in a game we all want to forget.
Christ, we were absolutely shambolic in extra time - an equaliser was inevitable.

Toast_R added 08:58 - Apr 9
Trouble is we've had the man at the top in control of everything and it didn't work and was hideous.

Many said the overseas method does not work in this country and many had tried it and failed. So the way forward was to back the manager and let him manage which is what Fernandez done 100%.

Trouble is, what he didnt realise is that Mark Hughes is actually a very unintelligent individual. He's as thick as pig sh*t and was manipulated by money men. I've seen him on a football documentary one time as one of the talking heads being asked about when the football league changed 2 points for a win to 3. He asked a sum involving a points talley for a minor mount of wins as was incapable of adding 3 point wins together. I sh*t you not.

How that pig ignorant arse was allowed to interview Tony Fernandes and his club beggars belief.

probbo added 09:14 - Apr 9
We have totally re-written the book on how to shoot yourself in the foot this year - it makes me wonder what we will do at Everton this Saturday that can surpass Mbia's crass stupidity. Ceasar sent off and no replacement keeper on the bench perhaps?

Games ending like that are a huge kick in the balls. Of course its not over until its over mathematically but its just not happening for us.

Townsend was outstanding on Sunday - great to see a winger going at defenders like that, in the mould of Sinton and Thomas. Such a shame he'll probably be moving on at the end of the season. And Remy's goal really was a thing of beauty, one deserving of three points.

R_in_Sweden added 10:22 - Apr 9
Thanks Colin for a very well written and accurate match report with some excellent observations about off field "activities" as well.

I sat on my own (not in W12 obviously) and performed a confused goal celebration as Remy hit the target - joy and appreciation because of the quality of the strike, tenured by a reluctant and realistic acceptance of relegation that's been nagging at me since November.

So much has happened at our club in the last two seasons, most of it negative. Calling it "our club" feels slightly wrong as the distance between the players and the people that pay good money to support them every week (magnificent away support to boot) seems to increase with every game.

I find myself harking back and asking if the lower division days with Bircham, Cook, Rowlands, Ainsworth etc weren't a far more enjoyable experience? The Premier League has changed beyond recognition since we were last in it. It's great to win at Stamford Bridge or come back from two down at home to Liverpool, but the whole "package" is just losing its charm.

And then like a crack addict in need of an immediate fix you find yourself mumbling -five wins and we can do it. Is there any way of being weaned off the blue and white hooped substance in order to get things in general into relative proportion?

YorkRanger added 10:46 - Apr 9
Really accurate reflection of events Colin.

Myke added 11:18 - Apr 9
A small point, but systamatic of the basic (selection) errors we make wich contributes to our malaise. Previous managers ( I think Magilton was deemed the chief offender although Warnock too was guilty I believe)) was regularly criticised
for selecting Fitz Hall every time he was fit. Surely Rednapp is guilty of the same thing with Traore? It's not as if he's a world beater, indespensible to the team. He is a poor defender, average going forward, yet Harry picks him every week, knowing he won't last the full game. This has the dual negative effect of disrupting the (already far from watertight) defence and wasting a substitute that could be used more effectively further forward. Has the craft of Granero being completely dispensed with? the energy of Diakite and Park ( the latter ironically actually looked like he could make a contributiuon before being dropped) done away with? And what has Bothroyd done to pee Harry off? With Bobby starting a 3 game ban it will be interesting to see our line up v Everton.
As for our line-up next season if all the following are fit I think it will be: Green, Young, Samba, Onouha, Hill, Hoilett, Diakite, Jenas, Tarrabt, Zamora and Johnston

izlingtonhoop added 11:34 - Apr 9
Last week I was socialising with my good friend, a Sunderland supporter. He is well used to relegation and (in their case) promotion. His opinion is that the Championship is good fun, hurly burly, they win more than they lose and you might even win it. There is no prize for winning the Championship - just misery and effort and a crushing sense of doom. The money available is of no concern to the fans.

It's been a couple of horrible years for us - Liverpool 3-2, Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea and Chelsea at their place, and the last minute Stoke victories aside, but the joy of these was only formed out of the grinding misery of everthing else we have suffered.

And apparently everyone hates our little club now, and what did we, the fans do to deserve THAT!?

I'd love to say things can only get better, but we know don't we..?

Antti_Heinola added 11:58 - Apr 9
Clive I don't think the opening comment of this was a criticism, just a difference of opinion. Bit harsh of you there, I'm sure Colin can't take that too personally. Why have this comments section here if you can't disagree on a mark for a player? He hasn't been abusive.
Fine report anyway, Colin, agree with all to be honest.

QPunkR added 12:01 - Apr 9
Myke, please tell me you're joking about the 'craft' of Granero!! An unbelievable comment if not.

Antti_Heinola added 12:09 - Apr 9
Also, the Mbia challenge that everyone's gone mad about. IMO, when I saw it again last night, Mbia thought he had a direct route to the ball, but Maloney saw him coming and stepped in front of him - a very canny move by him. He was on his heels, so placed his body in front of Mbia. I honestly don't blame him for that challenge, I don't think he meant it, Maloney did not have the ball at the moment they collided. Very, very clever by Maloney, unfortunate for Mbia. But it's much easier these days to just blame the players for being brainless.

RonisRs added 12:36 - Apr 9
oh boy - its getting worse, even our own supporters are having a go at each other. 18 points to go, 15 will do ..........

isawqpratwcity added 12:52 - Apr 9
Thanks, Colin, good report.

Zamora was a red all day long: not malicious, not cynical, not goal-denying, just a dumb (incomprehensible!) 5' high boot in the head.

Agreed that Mbia was very good. I haven't been able to re-view the foul, but it isn't fair to attribute a relegation pivotal moment to just a foul. As for his feed to Remy, second only to Taarabt's at Stamford Bridge!

The Wall! Disagree that Taarabt failed there. Yes, he ducked (its what keeps us out of the Darwin Awards).

I have to defend TF. You may be a manager who worked up from the ground floor, but you didn't buy your way into a business at short notice, and continued to dig very deep into your pocket to continue. If you've ever had to buy expertise to get you out of a sudden, massive crisis, and got away with it, then you are lucky. If you weren't so lucky, you got Mark Hughes.

HastingsRanger added 15:20 - Apr 9
A lot to think about but mine is one of disappointment. The team that is to be relegated is nothing like the team/s that have been fielded over the first 18 months of our Premiership. The team playing now is actually a nucleus of something reasonable. There is balance and some quality, reasonable at the back, midfield and up front (with a few well documented howlers). If this team stayed up, we could look forward to the season that perhaps I had expected of this season. The incredible irony is that had we won at Villa, drawn at Fulham and beaten Wigan (and none of these are fanciful suggestions), we would now be a point within grasp of survival and a team playing as a serious force, ready for a new season. My fear now is embarking on yet another rebuilding campaign with the risk of emulating Blackburn or Wolves.

All very numbing - and respect to the contributors to this site that help us through.

HastingsRanger added 15:45 - Apr 9
And regarding what might have been, this is in spite of the opening 19 game disaster.

JonDoeman added 16:03 - Apr 9
Thanks Colin, I enjoy your writing.
It was a proper kick in the nuts, doubt the players have much believe left, & I'm starting to regret buying train tickets for what is bound to be a dead rubber in Liverpool.

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