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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 18:50 - Aug 26 with 3108 viewsAntti_Heinola

Things we all said as we walked out:
'Well, it wasn't pretty.'
'A win's a win.'
'I'd have taken that at the start of the game.'
'Good to get a clean sheet, too.'
'Phew.'
'Never in doubt! Ha ha!'
'We'll probably win the league now! Ha ha!'

1. McCLAREN: Well, he'll have enjoyed a small glass of sherry when he got home. (He'd prefer a big Hawaiian cocktail, one of those ostentatious ones with fruit jammed onto the rim of the glass, but they usually come with those little umbrellas, so he hasn't had one of those in years). But whether the result was really the start of something better or merely a fairly lucky win that clearly would not have happened had the two loans not been brought in that will be followed by more misery is something we'll have to wait to find out.

He deserves credit of course - if we heap criticism upon him for losing 7-1 and 3-0, then we must put praise his way when we finally dig out a 1-0 win. But the truth is there didn't seem to be a huge amount of difference compared with our other home games this season. We moved to a 4-4-2 to accommodate the new players, which meant both out number 10s were stuck out on the wing, where they worked hard, but felt wasted. Luongo was slightly improved, Scowen probably went the ther way, Freeman was better than he has been, Lynch and Leistner did all right. McClaren's biggest call was to bring back Lumley, and it was probably his most important one. He got it right.

But the pressure was clear for all to see as he stood on the touchline, next to a screaming Paul Cook. Head often in hands. Sometimes crestfallen. Sometimes hopeful. Gesticulating wildly. Holding three fingers up urgently like Matt Le Tiss ordering three sausage and egg McMuffins. Football can be cruel, but it can also be kind, and Saturday was one of those days. After a dubious penalty against Sheff U, and two simple chances wasted v Bristol City, we scored once here; a goal that plainly should've been disallowed for a blatant push by Joel Lynch. That, and Wigan inexplicably missing two glorious headed chances, led to a win.

Winless runs are rarely snapped with something beautiful and bountiful. This is how they usually end. A flukey goal and clinging on for dear life (QPR 1 Villa 0 with Jurgen Sommer in goal is one that springs to mind). McClaren will want them to dig in again next week, get something at Birmingham, and hope that confidence returns (it was in short supply yesterday) so that he can start implementing his bloody philosophy - albeit without at least two of the young players we all expected to see play substantial roles this season. Job kept. For now.

2. LUMLEY: It's always tough to drop your keeper. But sometimes it does more harm than good to keep them in the team. Ingram probably should've been out the side for the Bristol game such was his obviously tender state of mind. He wasn't, and it cost us dear. Lumley came in, didn't look nervous, was yelling at his more experienced backline (it's the youngsters that need the help, says SM, yet Lumley wasn't ever afraid to coach, bully and bollock the experienced lot in front of him all afternoon). As with any keeper, particularly young ones, he did look 'dodgy on crosses' - indeed, Wigan's three best chances came from deep balls that he was nowhere near and we failed to defend with any competence at all. Fortunately, they failed with all three chances. Having said that, his confidence helped the defence. He made a superb save that looked a goal all the way in the first half, and dealt with any other shots competently and without taking risks. His kicking wasn't great, but was better than Ingram and he was keen to start attacks quickly if he could. All round, a good display. The jersey has to be his for now - which will mean mistakes, like at Leeds last year, but the signs are he could be a very good keeper.

3. CENTRE BACKS: The two Ls. Still inspired little confidence. Leistner, dominant in the air v Bristol, was beaten more often than not to headers by the Wigan giants. Lynch, of course, prone to the silly tackle, the needless free kick. That Wigan's best chances came from high balls into the box is a concern, as is the lack of pace. Surely this week a central defender will be coming in if they can possibly find one, but he'll need to be tall and relatively quick. Still, they did keep a clean sheet and barring the very end of the game, there was little panic. Nor should there be. That's four vastly experienced players now at the back. Defence is all about organisation, having a settled team of players. Another clean sheet next week will do the world of good.

4. NAHKI WELLS: Hemed will get the headlines for his acrobatic finish, but for me Wells was the obvious man of the match. I've always liked him when I've seen him against us. He's small, but tough, and not pushed around easily by defenders much bigger than he is. On Saturday, the difference between him and our other strikers was marked. Quick. Incisive. Skilful. Able to dodge his way out of tight situations. Got a number of blocks in, and pinched the ball a fair few times too. All in all, a right pain to play against. Only thing missing really was a goal, but the couple of times he did get a decent chance, his shots flew well wide or over. Still, even though he's a striker, that's nitpicking, because he really played very well. It does mean that we'll need to play two up top, so McClaren's early season plan of one up front with three behind has now totally gone. He has work to do to get Eze and Freeman into the places where they can do real damage. One may have to make way after all, unless we can switch to a 4-3-3, or possibly a 3-4-1-2 or something.

5. SMYTH: Not playing, not on the bench, McClaren saying he may go. Utter madness. When Wells tired at the end of that game, it was made for Smyth. I'd have loved to have see him come on against a tiring defence to use his grit and pace ad determination. Would've been ideal. And that's the point: he doesn't need to be a regular for us to need him in the squad. Manning going was an obvious error - Smyth, in my opinion, will be an even worse one.

6. CONFIDENCE: The difference between the lively Wells and the bustling Hemed compared with the rest of the side was particularly stark in the first half. Two players up front willing to hold the ball, to take risks, and to attack. Of the nine players behind them, only Freeman, Eze and Lumley showed anything like the same kind of belief. The rest did what players lacking in confidence do: get rid of the ball quickly. Don't think, just get rid of the hot potato. First half was a case in point: the team flocks forward for a classic free kick hump from the halfway line. Except Lynch knocked it square to Rangel so he could do the humping. Passing the responsibility, passing the buck. It may not feel like it to the players at times, but that's what it is. If you're not in possession, you can;t make a bad mistake. It's easier to play a 5-yard pass than to risk a longer, more dangerous ball. That's all natural, and why once you get on a bad run it's so hard to get out of. What we have to hope is that one win might knock some of that timidity out of some of the players. Our best period probably came just after half time, when Wells' clever run and pass saw Freeman shoot just wide and, for once, we weren't asleep until the 55th minute. That was encouraging, as was the desire to get bodies in front of the ball, even if it was a bit frenetic at the end. That grit will need to be retained, but also quality needs to improve. We arguably played better against Sheff U and lost (we certainly had more genuine attempts on goal) - so a similar performance next week could easily see us lose again. But they have a week to 'meticulously prepare'. I think I'd take a draw now.

Bare bones.

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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 20:09 - Aug 26 with 2883 viewsNeil_SI

You have to take risks sometimes and it worked out with Lumley's selection, so fair play and I’m really pleased it went well. I’ll be curious to see who steps in on Tuesday against Bristol rovers, as there’s a case for either keeper to play.

Like you Antti, I thought Wells was the clear Man of the Match for us. He mixed it up really well, sometimes working the channels, sometimes stretching the backline, sometimes coming deep and linking play and sometimes standing his ground and holding it up. There were moments his footwork and quality of first touch set him apart from the rest, and hopefully he’ll improve further as he reaches optimum match sharpness. There’s more to come from him, which is great for us.

I hope Conor Washington can learn from Wells and Hemed, should he remain at the club and not be moved out on loan. Wells’ style of play is what he should look to try and emulate, but I’ve said before that I never really felt Washington was fit enough for this level of football, and that seemed more obvious to me while watching Wells’ display.

Overall it was a scrappy low quality affair, and while we dug this one out, we still need to do a lot of work defensively in wide areas and do more to pick up dangerous runners coming in on the other side of crosses. We had a few near misses here again, which ended up as goals in previous games, and the answer may be that we can’t afford to play with two number 10s out wide.

I did feel McClaren was all the things you mentioned Antti; he seemed panicked and desperate towards the end and I’m not sure I ever recall anybody here looking as frantic as he did as the clock ticked down. Still, it was a huge win for us and very much welcomed and needed.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 20:15]
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 20:38 - Aug 26 with 2780 viewsBoston

I’ve always rated Wells as a player, delighted he’s finally onboard, really hope he’s got interest in us.

Poll: Thank God The Seaons Over.

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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 21:17 - Aug 26 with 2688 viewsCliveWilsonSaid

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 20:38 - Aug 26 by Boston

I’ve always rated Wells as a player, delighted he’s finally onboard, really hope he’s got interest in us.


Thought he played well. Also liked the way he came on after the game and went round all our players one by one shaking hands and hugging. Almost released Washington after a really good move towards the end too.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 21:18]

Poll: Expectations for this season?

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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 22:48 - Aug 26 with 2498 viewsHadders

Whatever the result, your posts are bloomin' fantastic Antti. The cocktail umbrella and Le Tis comments made me laugh; you're basically a less angry, 12A-rated NorthernR.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 22:49]
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 23:34 - Aug 26 with 2411 viewsAntti_Heinola

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 22:48 - Aug 26 by Hadders

Whatever the result, your posts are bloomin' fantastic Antti. The cocktail umbrella and Le Tis comments made me laugh; you're basically a less angry, 12A-rated NorthernR.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 22:49]


There cannot be higher praise!

Bare bones.

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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 00:01 - Aug 27 with 2354 viewsBoston

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 23:34 - Aug 26 by Antti_Heinola

There cannot be higher praise!


There is, but you'd have to kneel in front of the Queen.

Poll: Thank God The Seaons Over.

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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 07:58 - Aug 27 with 2127 viewssmegma

The only criticism I have of SM is the starting formation was wrong. We had a left footed player (Freeman) on the right and a right footed player (Eze) on the left. It clearly wasn't working as I knew it wouldn't. But it was noticed then rectified after about 30 minutes.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 08:22 - Aug 27 with 2088 viewskingshill

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 07:58 - Aug 27 by smegma

The only criticism I have of SM is the starting formation was wrong. We had a left footed player (Freeman) on the right and a right footed player (Eze) on the left. It clearly wasn't working as I knew it wouldn't. But it was noticed then rectified after about 30 minutes.


Some managers seem to think that's how it should be for some reason.
Personally I think it makes it easier for the defender as the attacker almost always goes inside and into congestion
[Post edited 27 Aug 2018 8:23]
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 08:45 - Aug 27 with 2043 viewsjonno

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 20:09 - Aug 26 by Neil_SI

You have to take risks sometimes and it worked out with Lumley's selection, so fair play and I’m really pleased it went well. I’ll be curious to see who steps in on Tuesday against Bristol rovers, as there’s a case for either keeper to play.

Like you Antti, I thought Wells was the clear Man of the Match for us. He mixed it up really well, sometimes working the channels, sometimes stretching the backline, sometimes coming deep and linking play and sometimes standing his ground and holding it up. There were moments his footwork and quality of first touch set him apart from the rest, and hopefully he’ll improve further as he reaches optimum match sharpness. There’s more to come from him, which is great for us.

I hope Conor Washington can learn from Wells and Hemed, should he remain at the club and not be moved out on loan. Wells’ style of play is what he should look to try and emulate, but I’ve said before that I never really felt Washington was fit enough for this level of football, and that seemed more obvious to me while watching Wells’ display.

Overall it was a scrappy low quality affair, and while we dug this one out, we still need to do a lot of work defensively in wide areas and do more to pick up dangerous runners coming in on the other side of crosses. We had a few near misses here again, which ended up as goals in previous games, and the answer may be that we can’t afford to play with two number 10s out wide.

I did feel McClaren was all the things you mentioned Antti; he seemed panicked and desperate towards the end and I’m not sure I ever recall anybody here looking as frantic as he did as the clock ticked down. Still, it was a huge win for us and very much welcomed and needed.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 20:15]


Good analysis. We absolutely have to work much harder on stopping the opposition getting in crosses as it was much too easy for them to do that, and as you say when the ball is crossed we must concentrate on opposing players running in unmarked from the opposite side. At last we appear to have a player up front who can hold the ball up which will enable us to retain possession a lot better, but again we have to improve our passing throughout the team, it's criminal how often we give the ball away with a poor pass. Hopefully confidence will improve now we do actually have a goal threat up front in the shape of the two new players who are big improvements on what we had previously. With Washington, I have always felt that though he works hard he needs too much time at this level to convert chances when he gets them, and the longer that has gone on the less confidence he now has in front of goal. He's basically playing at a level that is just too high for his ability unfortunately.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 10:49 - Aug 27 with 1879 viewsbaz_qpr

The one thing to be said for 4-4-2 is that is that for most of the time we always had defensive support for the full backs which is where we were being torn apart and we clearly defended as a team far far better than we have done so far.

I would also say that Wigan were a better side than 90% of the teams last season, pacy, moved the ball around well and kept it fairly well, I think we did well to limit their chances. Paul Parker recently said on the radio that from what he has seen already the championship this season is of a far higher quality than in recent years and you could see that. So we are going to have to scrap for every point this year, and we are going to have to sacrifice having as many youngsters certainly in the short term, and those senior players are really going to have to step up too.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 12:56 - Aug 27 with 1735 viewsLongsufferingR

Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 21:17 - Aug 26 by CliveWilsonSaid

Thought he played well. Also liked the way he came on after the game and went round all our players one by one shaking hands and hugging. Almost released Washington after a really good move towards the end too.
[Post edited 26 Aug 2018 21:18]


"Almost released Washington....."

Stop getting my hopes up you awful tease.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Wigan 0 on 16:18 - Aug 27 with 1565 viewstimcocking

Wells and Hemed both did well, that was the main takeaway from this game. And, of course, Lumley's excellence.
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