End of term report – strikers
Sunday, 16th Jun 2013 23:17 by Clive Whittingham
Belatedly, the fourth and final part of the annual LFW end of term report on each individual player’s personal contribution during the season. Tonight we assess the strikers.
Djibril Cisse – D
The French international centre forward could potentially be another reasonably sized stick to beat the club with. Here we have a player that Rangers spent £4m on little over 18 months ago who – when he wasn’t getting ludicrously sent off – seriously looked the part. One of the enduring memories of a traumatic two seasons of Premier League football was peering over the top of my scarf high in the away end at Villa Park in January 2012 as Cisse drew back his foot and pierced the gloom with a fierce volleyed finish into the far corner of the net. His debut was a quarter of an hour old and we were already making Les Ferdinand comparisons. Even his sendings off only seemed to fire him up more for his return.
This continued into a pre-season last summer when QPR spent more time on planes than they did on the training field. Mark Hughes’ side would have been well beaten in Augsburg but for a typically clinical, emphatic two goal salvo from Cisse. An outside each-way bet on him to be the Premier League’s top scorer at odds of 80/1 looked like a reasonable investment rather than folly. Used on his own up front against Swansea on the opening day he struggled in a rank team performance, and then a week later at Norwich when paired with Bobby Zamora he seemed to find the sight of the linesman’s flag arousing – he was flagged 376 times during the second half alone. Dropped for Man City away, then recalled when Andy Johnson’s knee feel apart he lashed one in from fully 30 yards against Reading in the cup. The team was playing poorly, chances were at a premium, but Cisse still looked keen, angry, frustrated and on edge – all the things he was last season when he was at his absolute best. And he still scored whenever he was serviced correctly. Fast forward to January and he put in a performance at West Brom in the cup the likes of which I can scarcely recall. We’ve all accused players of not trying before, but my word his effort levels that night were really something.
So it really depends which way you want to send your pitch fork wielding mob on this one. You could say this was absolutely typical QPR behaviour. They tried to solve long term problems with a short term £4m transfer in the first place, reaped the rewards of the player hitting the ground running and then at the first hint of his form declining bummed him out on loan while spending £8m to replace him with another French striker whose game, like Cisse, is all about pace, power and goals. They could have persevered with a player, coached him back to form, understood that he was going through a divorce in the first half of the season and the potential impact of that – but instead they loaned him out, while no doubt still paying some of his wages, and spent some more money on another very similar player on another big wage.
Or you could say that Cisse has form for this sort of thing. He has never stayed longer than two years on a permanent deal at any club since leaving Liverpool – two years with Marseille, one year with Sunderland, two years with Panathinaikos, six months with Lazio and now 18 months with QPR. He always starts well, frequently scoring on his debut as he did for Rangers, but fades quickly and moves on with another fat signing on fee in his arse pocket. That he decided, at just 31, that he’d rather go out and play loan football for Al Gharafa in the Qatari league should be sounding alarm bells all over the place. Anybody the right side of 36 with any footballing ability at all choosing to go and play there should be written off immediately – particularly somebody like Cisse who rarely gives the impression of being short of cash. This is a part of the world where David O’Leary (David. O’Leary.) was paid £3.3m in compensation having been – yet again – sacked as manager of Al Ahli in the UAE.
That performance at West Brom…
He’s another player I like to be honest. He seems to thrive on having a point to prove, or when he feels he owes somebody something. If we can convince him he owes QPR a bloody good Championship season considering all the money we’ve paid him for relatively little return then he could rip the second tier apart. Of course his wage packet no doubt means we’d offload him at the first hint of any interest whatsoever, but given that he’s spent the last six months playing pat-a-cake football in the desert in front of three Arabs and a sacrificial goat he may find interest from serious players thin on the ground.
14 starts, seven sub appearances. W3 D6 L12
Out of Ten: 4,5,7,-, 6,6,6,6,5,5,6,5,4,6,6,6,7,5,6,2,4 = 5.35
Interactive Match Rating: 4.62
Four goals (West Brom H, Reading H league, Reading H cup, Wigan A), 0 assists
Man of the Match Awards – 0
Cards – One yellow (over celebrating)
10 – Adel Taarabt B
It’s almost instinctive to start any article or review of Adel Taarabt with a point about his attitude. Against West Ham at Loftus Road in September Taarabt, left out of the side for a month by Mark Hughes, sprung from the bench and smacked in an absolute barnburner within ten seconds. After the match he fought back tears during a filmed interview with the club’s official website as he spoke about how he had made an effort with his behaviour and just wanted to play and help the team. In a 1-0 win at Chelsea in January Taarabt played as a lone striker against David Luiz and Branislav Ivanovic and delivered an absolute master class in a role he’d rarely played before. His cute assist, a delicate sideways pass the took all the pace and spin off a dropping ball and teed it up so perfectly even Shaun Wright-Phillips couldn’t miss, executed with a single touch, capped a performance that was as close to perfection as you’ll see in such a situation. In between those two games, against Fulham at home, he tormented Brede Hangeland and won the game with two goals. These weren’t the performances or actions of a man with an attitude problem.
And yet the stories won’t go away: turns up late for training, dreadful attitude, short temper, bad with his team mates, has to be constantly indulged. You can’t talk about indulging his temperament and his young age forever – he’s in danger of being the boy who never grew up. At Stoke, when he was still QPR’s best player, twice he went through on the goal only to try something ridiculously elaborate and miss.
To some extent this is an English disease. We’d far rather have a team of 11 players like Jamie Mackie, who may never do anything technically special but will always try their best, than indulge Adel Taarabt through his inevitable bad days and temper tantrums so that we can enjoy the great times when they do come. I personally think Taarabt did reasonably well during two years in the Premier League in which three different managers frequently dropped him for long periods, and oiks like Joey Barton were allowed to go public with their criticism of him with little comeback. A penalty miss against Norwich just after an interview in the Evening Standard when he spoke about how aware he was of the importance of his performances in the last third of the season to the future of the club seemed to knock his confidence, but he scored and played well at Fulham and Villa away subsequently and finished the season with a hand in ten goals – five scored, five assists – which is a better record than any other player.
I’d like him to stay. He’s shown the damage he can do in the Championship before, he’s worth the admission fee alone when he does play well and that’s not as infrequent as his critics would have you believe. But I don’t think we need Poirot to discover that Harry Redknapp isn’t really his biggest fan. Although the manager has, in the latter stages of his career, preferred a 4-2-3-1 formation which suits Taarabt so well his thinly veiled comments about discipline suggest Taarabt’s time with the club is coming to an end. If so, it will definitely be a case of don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone.
26 starts and seven sub appearances. W3 D12 L18
Out of Ten: 5,8,7,6,7,7,7,7,6,6,7,6,9,5,5,4,9,6,7,-,7,8,6,5,5,7,6,5,6,5,5,6 = 6.29
Interactive Match Rating – 6.40
Five goals (Fulham A, Fulham H, Fulham H, West Brom A, West Ham H), five assists (Swansea A, West Ham A, Chelsea A, Wigan A, Southampton H)
Man of the Match Awards – Five (Chelsea A, Fulham H, Stoke A, West Brom A, West Ham H)
Cards – Five yellows (foul, over celebrating, foul, dissent, over celebrating)
12 – Jamie Mackie C
There is an accusation that Jamie Mackie – like Clint Hill and Shaun Derry – escapes criticism for poor performances because his attitude is good and he tries hard. I think that’s true to some extent, and if the team was performing well and halfway up the Premier League then to be keeping a sub-standard player in simply because he’s a nice lad would hinder progress. But when you’re in the situation that QPR are in, with a squad chock full of underperforming, over paid, under committed mercenaries, you need as many people like Mackie, Derry and Hill as you can get in the team because even when they’re playing poorly, they’re still doing more good than the likes of Jose Bosingwa.
To begin the season I thought Mackie was playing well. He was picked as a lone striker at home to Aston Villa and scored a fine headed goal. Against Norwich at Loftus Road his hard running won a penalty when many of his team mates would never have run into the situation in the first place. In injury time at Arsenal, with Rangers down by a goal and reduced to ten men, he set off on a run that carried him past three tackles and could have resulted in the Goal of the Season but for a fine save. Again, his critics will say that I’m praising the run when with another player I’d be criticising him for the miss and it certainly wasn’t the only good chance Mackie missed – starting with a sitter against Swansea on day one which would have made it 1-1 had it been scored.
He seemed to lose heart and confidence in the second half of the season. That could be because of his poor form in front of goal, although given that hasn’t affected him before in his time with the club I’m not sure that’s it. The whole situation at the club, and Harry Redknapp’s decision that he was going to be little more than a last-resort impact sub while the likes of Bosingwa and Granero were given regular outings despite poor performances and appalling effort levels, seemed to get him down. His season concluded with him firing a great chance for an equaliser at Liverpool high over the bar and his body language rather said it all. His goals and assists total (two/zero) is simply not good enough – Jay Bothroyd managed more of both from seven appearances.
Personally I think he should have been kept in the team. I don’t see that he would have done any worse than Junior Hoilett and he’d have cared about what he was doing a lot more. Like Faurlin, Diakite, DJ Campbell and several others he’s potentially a great player for QPR in the Championship that Redknapp doesn’t seem to have a lot of time for.
21 starts and 12 sub appearances. W4, D12, L17
Out of Ten: 4,6,6,6,5,5,6,5,7,8,7,8,6,6,5,5,4,7,5,6,7,5,5,6,4,4,7.-.-.-.5.-.6 = 5.72
Interactive Match Rating: 5.01
Two goals (Villa H, Man Utd A), zero asissts
Man of the Match Awards – Two (Villa H, Man Utd A)
Cards – Two yellows (foul, foul)
18 – Loic Remy B
When Tony Fernandes writes his life story, I wonder if the Loic Remy episode may turn out to be the moment he realised he’d made a mistake getting involved in the ludicrous world of football.
This was surely a failsafe transfer, and one Fernandes worked so hard on personally to ensure QPR beat Newcastle to the signature. A French international, aged just 26, who would either come in and score the goals to keep QPR up or, if the club was relegated, be easy to shift on for exactly what Rangers paid to get him. It seemed like a no-lose situation, and looked like turning out that way. QPR were dreadful and deserved to finish last and crash out of the Premier League, but it certainly wasn’t for want of trying on Remy’s part. An early interview where he compared himself to a finely tuned Rolls Royce – awesome in full flight but easily side-lined if something isn’t quite right – put the amber warning light on and sure enough after marching through on the goal at Upton Park and calmly opening his time at QPR with an early goal he then missed key matches with a groin injury. But Remy returned, played regularly and superbly long after the rest of his team mates had given up – there were goals at Southampton and Fulham and a clear Goal of the Season winner at home to Wigan struck as purely as you’ll ever see a football hit. When he played you thought QPR might score, when he didn’t you knew they wouldn’t. He looked like everything Arsenal and Tottenham were missing and so despite the relegation it looked like the second part of the master plan was still very firmly in place. With Remy now proven in the Premier League, Rangers readied themselves for a queue of suitors stretching round Batman Close.
What has actually transpired is secret option number three – what is fast becoming known as ‘The QPR factor’. What the club hadn’t banked on was Remy becoming embroiled in a criminal investigation into an allegation of gang rape that, rather inconveniently, now includes bail that stretches until one day after the transfer window closes. So now QPR have a striker that may be legally precluded from moving to a foreign country, who could potentially be jailed for a considerable length of time in the not too distant future. You’d have to be fairly flash with your money to commit £8m to that. Rangers are seemingly now restricted to taking a vastly reduced offer from a chancer or – yet again – loaning out a senior player with a view to a permanent move further down the tracks. Remy meanwhile is limited to said loan spell, starting World Cup year in the Championship, or hoping that the charges come to nothing in time for him to catch the tail end of the extended transfer windows in the refuse skips of European football – Russia and Turkey.
So the only two January signings who could be counted as a success - Andros Townsend and Loic Remy – now have a four month ban for illegal betting on matches, and a rape accusation between them. We’re Queens Park Rangers, we fuck your career.
13 starts and one sub appearance. W2 D4 L8
Out of Ten: 6,7,6,7,7,6,7,7,6,5,6,5,6,6 = 6.21
Interactive Match Rating – 6.58
Six goals (Newcastle H, Wigan H, Fulham A, Sunderland H, Southampton A, West Ham A), one assist (Villa A)
Man of the Match Awards – Two (Everton A, Southampton A)
Cards – one yellow (foul)
25 – Bobby Zamora DBobby Zamora, when fit and interested, makes a big difference to the QPR team – which is why managers flog him to death even when he’s neither of those things.
The striker and Martin Jol clearly don’t get on, and he’s had a difficult relationship with supporters at West Ham, Fulham and now Queens Park Rangers. That, I believe, is because quite often Zamora will play well within himself, and that’s frustrating when you’ve seen him do much better. I’ve seen Bobby Zamora have some wonderful games and really lead a team from the front, but I’ve come to the conclusion that he only seems to really put his back into his work when he thinks there’s something there for him. It’s no surprise, for instance, that he always seems to play well for all his clubs against Arsenal – because since Sol Campbell gave up the ghost Arsene Wenger has stubbornly stuck with slighter, more technical centre backs and Zamora knows he can dominate them. When the going is tougher, Zamora sort of hangs a leg in here and there and not a lot else.
Being left out at the beginning of the season seemed to fire him up and he was very decent in mediocre team performances against Norwich and Man City to begin with. He’s got a hold up and lay game that nobody at the club can match since Heidar Helguson left, and given that Zamora subsequently spent the rest of the season either out injured or playing injured that decision to let the Icelandic veteran go to Cardiff on a free was among the worst the club made this term. Had Zamora and Helguson been able to share the workload QPR may have made a better fist of things. Instead, without Zamora, Rangers were at times reduced to picking Jamie Mackie or Adel Taarabt alone up front and the ball just doesn’t stick in such situations.
When Zamora did return to action we found that he was unable to play for longer than a half because his hip allegedly seized up at half time. Redknapp sent him out after the break regardless and so we had the utterly farcical situation for several games where Zamora was limping around just trying to get in the way a bit. In the second half at Swansea away you could perhaps see why Redknapp was so keen to get his target man out there, but the headers he won in the second half of the season can be counted on the fingers of one hand. A newspaper article, apparently misquoted, in which he claimed not to really like football did him few favours at a bad time in the season. Considering he managed to get his leg up high enough to boot Jordi Gomez in the face and get sent off in a crucial home match with Wigan I wonder just how injured his bloody hip really was – but I’ve been told off for a lack of tolerance with injury prone players before so I’ll hold my tongue.
I’m worried about Zamora. I take what Harry Redknapp says with lorry loads of salt and I suspect – hope – that his constant reference to not being able to get Zamora into the team often enough as a prime reason for relegation is just another attempt to shift attention away from other decisions he’s made. If fully fit and motivated Zamora would have made a big difference to QPR, but he wouldn’t have kept them up. If you take Redknapp at his word he seems to be pinning his hopes next season on Zamora leading the front line for a season in which QPR will play Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday most weeks and have at least 48 games. There was even a story that said as Zamora’s hip surgery would keep him out for a year and he only has 12 months left on his contract they’re going to delay it and go through next season as they finished the last, nursing him through to about the hour mark in games and then substituting him.
I’ll be watching through my fingers if that’s the case. The whole thing looks like a potential disaster or, if you want to be cynical, a ready-made Redknapp excuse if things don’t go well.
17 starts and seven sub appearances. W2 D7 L15
Out of Ten: 6,7,6,7,8,6,6,5,5,5,-,5,6,-,7,7,6,7,7,6,3,5,5,5=5.90
Interactive Match Rating - 5.31
Four goals (Walsall H, Spurs A, Swansea A, Norwich A), four assists (Fulham A, Villa A, MK Dons H, Walsall H)
Man of the Match Awards – Three (Swansea A, Norwich A, Walsall H)
Cards – One red (Wigan H, serious foul play), one yellow (foul)
37 – Jay Bothroyd N/A
Although neither Jay Bothroyd nor DJ Campbell have played enough football for QPR this season to be graded, there seemed to be a little too much to say about both to bung them in the ‘others’ section at the bottom.
Bothroyd remains an enormously frustrating player. At West Brom in the FA Cup Third Round replay he was a clear man of the match, scoring the winning goal and giving the Baggies problems all evening. When subsequently picked up front for a key game at Southampton he scored again and played reasonably well. And while on loan at Sheffield Wednesday those who tuned in for a bad tempered Friday night clash against Leeds will have seen him looking lively and threatening all evening and, again, scoring the winner.
And yet most of the time Bothroyd looks and plays like somebody who has been popping sleeping pills mistaking them for Pro-Plus. When his West Brom performance earned him a league outing at West Ham he looked like he’d donned concrete boots to mark the occasion. He has an ambling style which could well in fact just be laziness and a bizarre aversion – considering he’s supposed to be a striker - to getting himself into the heart of the penalty area. More often than not you’ll find him withdrawing deep onto the right wing which not only crowds the space out there for the winger to operate in, but also means that when either of them have the ball they’re looking up and seeing an empty penalty box. I remember a game in 2011/12 where Joey Barton put in a half decent cross and then gave Bothroyd – who was standing outside the penalty area when the ball went in – the rounds of the kitchen for not being in there. Bothroyd sort of laughed and shrugged, assuming that it was just Barton being Barton when in actual fact it was one of the rare occasions when the midfielder was right.
Perhaps Bothroyd thinks this sitting deep and withdrawing wide makes him elusive and difficult to track, but then given his recent brushes with the traffic police and dodgy lethal-weapon themed tattoo it’s a stretch to believe that Jay Bothroyd thinks that deeply about anything. Potentially useful for QPR in the Championship but given that, apart from the Leeds game, he was absolutely woeful for Sheffield Wednesday while on loan there last season and hated by their fans I wouldn’t go raising any hopes too high just yet.
Four starts, three sub appearances. W2 D3 L2
Out of Ten: 5,8,5,4,7,5,5=5.57
Three goals (Southampton A, West Brom A, MK Dons H), one assist (MK Dons H)
Man of the Match Awards – One (West Brom A)
Cards – One yellow (foul)
14 starts, one goal, for Sheff Wed
39 – DJ Campbell N/A
DJ Campbell is another who played the vast majority of his football out on loan last season and as we stand today it’s not clear whether he’s going to be at QPR next season or not. Given one of his temporary spells yielded ten goals from 17 starts in a fairly lousy Ipswich Town team it’s reasonable to think that not only would DJ Campbell have been rather more use to QPR than a measly two starts in the FA Cup suggest, but that he could well be a key figure for the R’s in the Championship next season. It would however be remiss, having criticised Bobby Zamora and Armand Traore for their fitness, not to point out that Campbell has been injured for the vast majority of his two years with QPR, including the second half of this season when he was loaned out to Blackburn and only played seven times.
Campbell is currently stuck in a state of flux where the club don’t seem very sure whether they’re releasing him or not. In my opinion they should be signing him up as quickly as possible and aiming to start next season with him as first choice. When fit he will score goals in the Championship and he proved that last year with Ipswich. Throw in the fact that he’s a QPR fan and will want to do well for the club and it’s an added attraction. Assuming that Djibril Cisse and Loic Remy will be leaving, and considering the physical state of Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson, I think he’s a good option for us.
If DJ Campbell had just been released by another club I’d suggest there would be a fair old clamour for QPR to be looking at him. If we are going to release him I don’t think there will be any shortage of Championship interest and I fear him scoring regularly for one of our rivals next season while we struggle for goals and lament ever letting him go. I’d like to see him signed on and started regularly for the first time in his time with Rangers.
Two starts, no sub appearances. W0 D1 L1
Out of Ten: 4,6 = 5.00
No goals, no assists
Man of the Match awards – Zero
17 starts, 10 goals, two yellow cards for Ipswich
Five starts, two sub appearances, no goals for Blackburn
Others >>> Andy Johnson was the best Fulham player on the pitch at Loftus Road last season and I wasn’t as dead set against his signing as many others back in the summer. Sadly, his recent fitness record is a mile long and after an encouraging performance against Man City his knee fell apart against Chelsea and he hasn’t played again since. Potentially superb in the Championship, but relying on him again would be a risky business.
A quartet of perennially loaned out strikers - Rob Hulse, Bruno Andrade, Angelo Balanta and Troy Hewitt - all failed to impress on their temporary spells away from the club. Hulse in particular, one of the Championships leading strikers just a couple of years ago, looks like a man who couldn’t care less if he never plays football again. The sort of player Sheffield United might come after – he’d certainly be very fortunate to get an offer in the second tier.
Tweet @loftforwords Pictures – Action Images
Photo: Action Images
Please report offensive, libellous or inappropriate posts by using the links provided.
You need to login in order to post your comments
Blogs 31 bloggers
The U'sual Ramblings #3 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #3 comes on the back of an imperious victory at Portman Road, our first there since 13th October 1951, when Jimmy Allen’s U’s won 2-0 courtesy of second half goals from Vic Keeble and Fred Cutting in front of 19,275. This was back in the old Division Three South days, and the U’s would finish the season 10th, with our Suffolk neighbours down in lowly 17th place. Needless to say, some of the gloss of Tuesday’s backs to the wall defensive masterclass was tarnished by the behaviour of a mindless minority in the away end, though the CUFC Police twitter account has since confirmed these were not regular day in day out supporters of Colchester United. Let’s hope investigations identify the culprits, and that they never darken our doorstep again. Our reward is a second round home tie against Premier League Brentford, and whilst it won’t be on the TV, assuming Brentford sell out their 2,000 allocation, it should be a decent crowd and an excellent atmosphere at the JobServe.
The U'sual Ramblings #2 by wessex_exile
The U’sual Ramblings #2, and the U’s first home match of the season. Much has been written on our narrow defeat away at Northampton Town last Saturday, not least that if they are the yard-stick for promotion contenders, we can take plenty of credit (and hope) from most of our performance, which really should have earned a point. However, we’ve seen these false dawns before – remember away at Notts County, and at Bradford, in recent years, where we thought we were playing contenders, and they turned out to be whipping boys for most of the season. Still, I don’t expect that of Northampton, so stout hearts faithful…and wasn’t it great seeing Nouble bombing down the wing doing what he does best again!
The U'sual Rambling #1 by wessex_exile
Here we go folks, are we ready for another rollercoaster of joy and dismay? Right now, I’ll probably take an even mix of both if it guarantees a solid midtable finish, but why stop at that. I agree with Durham in his excellent match review, given how well we finished the second half of the season, ignore the bookies perennial struggler tag – we can do this! For the new season, the blog has slightly metamorphosed into The U’sual Rambling, though largely the same format as last season, albeit perhaps less labour-intensive in content. In my case, pertinent for Saturday given I am missing the opener at Sixfields to dog-sit the beautiful (and high maintenance, super ridiculous, energetic etc.) border collie Reggie.
When Monday Comes #37 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes and we reach the end of a topsy-turvy season, much of which hasn’t been that much fun if I’m honest, though latterly considerably improved under Wayne Brown. If I can, I always like to do the first and last game of the season, but sadly a trip to Hartlepool just wasn’t on the cards, not if I actually wanted to get home again tonight, so I had to console myself with a pretty enjoyable trip to the JobServe last weekend – not quite the victory the U’s deserved over Walsall, but a great day out anyway. I know it’ll be too late for the Player of the Year awards, but wouldn’t it be nice to see a Freddie Sears hat-trick this afternoon to round off the season.
When Saturday Comes #36 by wessex_exile
When Saturday Comes tomorrow, and I will be on a train heading over to God’s own county for my last U’s game of the season. That should have been last Friday’s trip to the Principality, but as posted elsewhere I was more than happy to be pre-booked to dog-sit Emma’s collie Reggie that night and had to be content with one of Nadine’s ‘downstreams’ on iFollow. Given both the performance and the result, whilst I was sorry to miss it in person, I was more than happy with how Friday night turned out in the end. Tomorrow will be a gathering of the clans for us, with at the last count at least 8, possibly more, of the family gathering for the match. Ironically, I’ll see them all again on Bank Holiday Monday for a family birthday, but I’ll be driving over for that one.
Bristol Rovers Polls