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|Stats on Eze|
at 23:11 18 Jan 2020
Noticed some stuff about Eze on the match thread today that were not overy critical, but i still felt were unfair.
Hist stats today, for the record.
52 touches - most for QPR
88% pass accuracy - highest of QPR starting XI
10 ball recoveries
9 dribbles attempted - most on pitch
6 successful dribbles - most on pitch
2 key passes - as many as anyone on the pitch
Just because he's not single-handedly blowing the opposition away, does not mean he's not playing badly or not working hard enough.
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Queens Park Rangers v Leeds United prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: Brentford 3 QPR 1|
at 12:22 13 Jan 2020
The most predictable result since lame race horse Mr Predictable attempted to take part in the Predictable Stakes at Royal Predictable in Predictableshire.
1. SELECTION: Like many others, I looked at the team selection by Warby and immediately thought, 'hmm, that doesn't look too promising.' The defence looked like a back four and keeper that Brentford would pretty much name as their ideal back four and keeper to play against. My conviction that this was likely to be a fairly easy home win was solidified.
At the same time, though, it was only two games ago that there were claims on here that the team put out for the Cardiff game was one that was a defensive side made up to nick a 0-0 draw. Turns out, that wasn't quite the case. Sometimes selections can surprise you. I was convinced Dom Ball would play RB v Cardiff - the idea of Cameron playing there seemed bizarre - but it worked. So I wasn't about to jump on Warbs's back about it.
Also, there was the point that he really didn't have a great deal of choice. While Graham Cameron may have been fine as a full back against the aerial attack of Cardiff, he was unlikely to be as well-prepared for the trickery and speed of the superb Benrahma. Rangel's experience might have been better, but he doesn't seem to be able to play more than an hour this season without needing time off. So Kane was his only real choice. At left back, he could have played Wallace, who had after all played left back in the two recent maulings. But Manning was back from his rest and it was only a couple of weeks ago that Warbs was being castigated for playing Wallace instead of Manning up at Barnsley - and his presence there didn't stop us from shipping five. In central defence, where we are already weak, we had two of our three senior, natural CBs out. You can say Masterson did well second half, but Brentford still created chances pretty much at will and had long since had the game won before he came on the pitch. I'm not sure he would have made any difference at all. So, I do have sympathy for the selection at least. I have less sympathy for what actually then occurred.
2. SET PIECES: And here's the main bone of contention. We have almost conceded as many goals just from set pieces as Brentford have in total this season. It is such an obvious, glaring weakness now that it's almost comical. To be fair, I actually thought Brentford's first was very difficult to defend. A hard, low ball from very close to the box - it is extremely difficult to beat someone to that when they know what's coming and you don't. And once he's hit it, from that range, there's not much you can do when it's in the corner. So I don't blame the defence or Wells for that one - but, as Clive says, Manning's foul was needless and when we are so poor from set pieces, one way to mitigate that is to not give away stupid fouls.
Their third was more typical of the set piece goals we've consistently conceded all season and this is becoming critical. I don't mind passing from the back, I love our style of play, I love how exciting we are in most games, how many goals we score, our at times excellent passing and imaginative movement. To have that, you do have to play in certain ways, take certain calculated risks and make certain sacrifices. But none of that involves being so unable to defend set pieces adequately. I also don't think it can be fixed merely by switching from zonal to man-marking. It's clearly deeper than that. I'm not, however, a defensive expert. I don't know if this is poor coaching, no coaching, or we happen to have a set of players who are simply not great at dealing with crosses into packed areas. But a team that often fields Hugill, Leistner, Hall and Cameron really should not be having a huge problem - all are decent in the air. It is true that teams target our left post - in other words, Manning, and maybe that is becoming a problem too big for our left back to deal with.
I don't know what the solution is, but I do feel it's one that can be solved. I saw Bosh calling for Clint Hill to be brought in to coach the defence, and while I kind of see the logic in that, I can't see why he'd leave an assistant boss role to be a defensive coach, I'm not sure we have the luxury to pay for such a specialist role, Fleetwood's defensive record is good (better than ours) but not noticeably great and, finally, just because we love him and he was a great captain, it does not necessarily mean he is a great coach or defensive coach. I'm not saying he's not, but I'm not sure how we *know* at this stage of his young career. This *should* be something Warburton and Eustace can fix themselves - and it really needs to be a priority now, because every team knows how weak we are in those situations. It may be that playing Wallace more regularly and bringing in a new CB alleviates the problem, but I met a Brentford fan on the way to the game who said Warbs's Brentford team couldn't defen set plays, and Forest fans say the same. It does seem to be a real problem with him.
3. FULL BACKS: I thought both full backs had poor games on Saturday. Manning was below par throughout, and his wonderful crosses and passing do seem to have dropped off over the last few weeks for some reason. First half, Mbuemo had him well tied up, so he must've been relieved when in the second half Brentford all but abandoned attacking down our left, so dominant was Benrahma against a game but completely out-classed Todd Kane. I don't want to pick on players, and I have mentioned this before, but right back is a huge issue for us now. Positionally, neither full back seem to get close enough to their wingers, and it's rare that either of them stop a cross. That improved when we played more of a diamond in midfield, but with Eze and Bright playing higher up again, these two are getting exposed by decent sides. On Saturday, Benrahma didn't so much rip Kane a new asshole than tear away all the flesh just to live one single gaping hole for his intestines to flop out of. It was absolutely horrific and it's beginning to happen too regularly. He is not a bad player, he has a good touch, he has a very good cross, but defensively we need more. You would imagine Rangel will have to go this summer, and I suspect a right back is very high on Warbs's wanted list.
4. LUMLEY: I was shocked Lumley was picked for this game. I like him, I still think he has a future, as I'm convinced that nearly all younger keepers go through tough times, and it's only in their late 20s / early 30s where they really start to blossom and become consistent and have that huge experience to rely on. You often see it with young players - an eplosive start, then a drop-off, then a sort of second-coming. But at the moment, it seems obvious to me that he has tobe taken out of the firing line. When you think back to the player we had 13 months ago, the player who never shut up, who you could hear yelling throughout the game, who was buoyed by incredible confidence in his own ability, and compare it to who we have now, there is no comparison. And you cannot be a nervous keeper. You cannot be a keeper who is struggling with confidence. Because then every single thing you do is a problem. Every kick, every cross, every shot. When Lumley has to think, at the moment, he's in trouble. He's not happy coming off his line, sweeping up, as he was a year ago. His handling is not as safe. His kicking, which while never great, was decent, has become erratic.
It was good at the game to hear the fans cheering him, giving him encouragement during the second half, in stark contrast to the nonsense he's faced online. But this is a shell of the player we knew, and for his own sake he must sit it out for a while. I applaud Warbs's faith in him, and no goal on Saturday was totally his fault (we should have been able to defend his poor kick - it wasn't great, but it wasn't like he presented Mbuemo with a free run on goal), but Kelly has to be given his chance.
5. CAMERON, BRIGHT: On a more positive note, I think both these two deserve a bit of praise. Neither had a great first half. Cameron was culpable for the second goal and generally struggled, while BOS got no change out of Henry (another excellent player) on the very rare occasions he actually got the ball. But second half, at least those two (and to be fair, most of the team) battled. Cameron came out and snapped into challenges, usng his big frame to its full advantage to spider over players and continually win the ball with some bone-shuddering challenges. He demanded the ball, he went looking to win the ball, he showed desire and fight.
Bright did likewise. He was very evenly matched with Henry, who must be one of the few full backs in the league who can match BOS's pace. But, by sheer bloody-mindedness, by using everything he had - skill, strength, pace, desire, he made things happen, he set up a goal, and caused problems. Othet players would have folded a bit, but he kept Henry tied up, and at least stopped him marauding forward - not that Benrahma needed much help up there. Great attitude from both.
6. FANS: I sometimes give some of our fans a bit of stick, but they deserve praise here. I wasn't enamoured by all the songs. Bus Stop in Hounslow is funny before the game, and would be funny if you were winning 2-0. But at 0-3, it sounds utterly pathetic. There was a very, very brief rendition of that awful 'we're fkn sh!t' song, but thankfully it didn't last - it has to be said, while in the past it had some merit, it was extraordinarily mean to chant that off the back of our last two results, however poorly we were playing. But those two niggles aside, he fans were excellent. I fully expected the end to be half empty at the start of the second half, but everyone seemed to stay and the humour was good. When you see Villa fans walking out after 28 minutes last night, that shows how good our fans are. I'm not sure anyone did that. The willingness to sing in the second half was great, and the 'We've got the ball / We've lost the ball / We'll win it back' chant was genuinely funny - the 'win it back' part was fantastically defiant too - loved it. And well done all the fans who gave Lumley their backing - he appreciated it, you could tell.
What we have to temember is that Brentford are on a a steep upward curve. This is not overnight - this is years of work. And while we can all be wise after the fact now, there were precious few, if any, fans saying we should be more like them 6 or 7 years ago when they started on this journey and we were in the Premier League singing about how rich we were. As Clive pointed out - they are a model, but not just for us. For loads of clubs. For loads of much bigger clubs then them - and us - but the key is patience. We're seeing green shoots. We're on the right track. If the most negative fans, who came flooding back on here on Saturday after their relative placidity after the previous two games, could accept this instead of always demanding instant change, we'd all be a lot happier.
Clubs of our size and similar, whether it's Norwich, Fulham, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Watford, Palace and now Brentford, will never, ever have prolonged success in the top flight. Bournemouth have had a wonderful run, but that looks like it's coming to an end. Palace are dojg well, but at some stage in the next 10-15 years, they'll be relegated. History tells us this. You can demand the best, you can demand change, you can demand whatever you want, but our clubs, our mid-sized clubs, simply cannot and never will reach the stage where, like Spurs, Everton, Arsenal, Man U, and now City and Chelsea, relegation is almost an impossibility. In my view, we already reached the bottom of our curve, and we're starting to swing up. But that upswing, of a kind more sustainable than the one built quickly by Warnock, however much we loved it and loved him, simply takes more time. We will get there. Praise be to the fans who'll stick with us.
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Brentford v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
at 15:08 7 Jan 2020
Following on from the praise for Masterson, what are the best QPR debuts you've seen?
Clive Allen's is an obvious one, but I wasn't there. For me, Gareth Ainsworth stands out, brilliant debut v Blackpool. Lee Camp, first time. Jamie Mackie's was decent.
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Queens Park Rangers v Cardiff City prediction logged
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Queens Park Rangers v Hull City prediction logged
|QPR Player of the Decade|
at 23:27 24 Dec 2019
Guardian has done a player of the decade for each prem club. Some odd choices, but who would ours be? I know the club have been doing team of the decade, but player?
I’d say the runners snd riders are...
For me, the sentimental choice is Ale, the solid choice in terms of effect and longevity is Clint. But there’s only really one answer.
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Charlton 2|
at 12:15 23 Dec 2019
A frenzy of mistakes, fights, occasional brilliance, joy, heartbreak, unexpected cameos from people you'd assumed were retired and at the end a real sense of nostalgia. But enough about the new Star Wars film - let's talk about QPR v Charlton. BOOM! TOPICAL!
1. MISSED CHANCES: Many hands have been wrung at the catastrophe of that last minute goal which some seem so upset about I had to check the table to see if we were were 6 points adrift at the bottom, rather than it being a bit of a freak goal that happens to every team every once in a while, but the reality is, at it was against Reading, Boro and other games this season, that goal would have meant nothing had we taken our chances to score the goals we should have done.
It's bizarre to sit here writing this sort of thing again when only one team on the division has scored more goals than us this season - and they're top. But it's true. We score most weeks, and yet we still should score more. Against Luton we scored three, but should have had six easily by half time. Luckily that time we got that extra goal we generally need to win a game (unless we're playing Barnsley away). This time, we only managed two. You could say with all Eze's shots that brought saves of varying quality from routine to excellent, he was unlucky not to score, but when you have that many shots you'd hope one would go in. But then there's our strikers, both of whom I love dearly. And both of whom have a decent scoring record this season, we should remember. But, still, we have Hugill who is guaranteed to blaze at least one into the upper tier at the Loft End every week, and Wells who is at times deadly, and at others... well, that's the second time this season he's raced clear with no defender much closer than Westfield and he's found a way to miss. For someone as technically skilled as him, it's baffling that he should miss that. And you felt at the time it would cost us - and in the end, it did.
2. KANE: Toddy Kane has plenty of upsides. He's quick. He puts in a decent cross. He works hard. But there are big issues. When targeted and left isolated, he seems to get beaten more often than not. Clive Wilson he is not - but then, who is? He has that annoying habit of going forward, checking, turning back and laying off a dangerous backwards pass that takes pressure off of him, but puts more pressure on the team. On Saturday, frankly, he was absolutely destroyed for most of the game. Bullied and hammered in the first half, nothing was done at half time by Warburton to redress the glaring problem at half time. If anything, Kane went narrower, affording more and more space down their left - an out-ball that was always available. And he was seemingly completely unable to stop the flow of crosses. I couldn't help thinking that Rangel would not have allowed that sort of thing to go on for so long, but Kane looked lost and had no real idea how to solve his problem.
The solution, however, was plain: Bright Osayi-Samuel on to play in front of him and force Charlton onto the back foot down that side, and also have BOS tracking back when needed, too. Warburton was a bit testy about people questioning why Bright was left on the bench. I have some sympathy there (not that others were not culpable but his failure to watch ball or man for Barnsley's 5th last week was not a great look) because he is a young player and there's nothing too much wrong with putting him in and out. The mistake was waiting until the 66th minute to make the change. I wouldn't have argued had he done it at half time, but to wait that long when it was such a patently obvious change that would solve so many solutions seemed very strange to me.
Still, Kane is beginning to look a bit like what he seemed at the time: a hasty stopgap following the unexpected sale of our right back. With Rangel surely likely to retire at the end of this season, especially as Warbs has barely used him anyway, I think we'll be in the market for a right back next summer.
3. EZE: A friend of mine is a West Brom fan and he says that when he watched them in the late 70s / early 80s he and his mate would walk out at the end of the game and discuss who was man of the match. But for that period, they had to change slightly. The answer, every week, was Bryan Robson, so they just discussed who was man of the match 'apart from Bryan Robson.'
Eze is starting to get to that sort of stage with us now. It's fantastic when you get to see a player really develop over a couple of years. For me, from the first time I saw him, I could see he was special. What we've seen since his improvement in every single area of his game to the point where he stands out in every match we watch. I know Clive has BOS down as MOTM, and I won't argue with that, such was his impact, but I thought Eze was superb. His control, his grace, his intelligence, his movement, his accuracy, his calmness. Just brilliant. That trick he repeats again and again where he cuts past a defender and seems to duck underneath them in a tight circle before accelerating away seems almost undefendable. I was watching Spurs yesterday and just thought - you know, you could stick him in this team. And I really think you could.
We have to be so clever with this deal. We do not need to sell immediately, we don't need to negotiate. Just keep saying no, because his price if this continues will just keep going up. And on top of all that, who was the player, on his haunches, absolutely distraught at that late equaliser? Eze. Upset perhaps that he shot a couple of times when he could've taken it to the corner (although the old 'taking it to the corner' thing seems to have had a baclash recently from some who believe it doesn't particularly save a lot of time, and merely keeping possession is a better option). But I won't blame him for that. For me, the game was won - we shut them out of it very well, we were not put under any pressure, we didn't retreat to the edge of our box and have to defend for our lives. The game was won - a poorly timed header cost us badly. Still, here's a player who must know he's going if not in one month then certainly in six, and look how much he still cares. A gem.
4. HOLDING ON: There were plenty of charges of unprofessionalism and so on from posters about that late equaliser. And it was heartbreaking as well as a terrible gift of a goal to give away. But at the same time, as mentioned above, I disagree with that a bit. The fact is that from the 80th minute we controlled the game beautifully. We attacked fluently, we should have killed the game off, we kept possession well and we defended sensibly. Charlton did not make a chance in that time, nor did they put us under any pressure. It was good football. But then came the hopeful punt, the misjudgement from Cameron (I am firmly blaming the man-bun - if it was a bit gigher up his head, it would've had ore of an impact and taken it beyond Sarr and safely to Lumley to shank out for a throw in). It was a poor goal, but overall, I thought we dealt with the end of the game well. It was again, an unfortunate mistake that cost us.
5. PRATLEY: I mean, this guy looked finish seven years ago. How is he still playing football? Somehow he's only 34 - I could've sworn he was 39 minimum. He's been around forever. And here he was again, taking out Eze nice and early, a clear and obvious booking which was not given on account of it being early in the game. So he did it again, still no booking, but he engaged in a lengthy diatribe (diatribes are always lengthy) until finally the yellow was produced. I was convinced Pratley had a week booked in Dubai with Joel Lynch, but turns out that was his seventh of the season, so he's already had his ban, so I'm not quite sure what he was playing at. Still, that shut him up and for the rest of the game we got to see Eze turn this waster inside out a few times. Hopefully retirement is imminent.
6. BRIGHT OSAYI-SAMUEL: Shall we just start him in the next game? That was a message to the manager, wasn't it? What a performance. Not seeing quite so many 'no end product' messages about now, after a goal of the season, an assist, and now an assist of the season. Very, very exciting. When he, Eze, Chair and Manning are on song together they look unstoppable.
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Reading v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
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Queens Park Rangers v Charlton Athletic prediction logged
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Barnsley v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
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Birmingham City v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Preston 0|
at 11:01 9 Dec 2019
It feels nourishing, doesn't it? Like a massive, warm winter soup full of goodness, bursting with vitamins and minerals and joy. A win. A comfortable win. A comfortable win with no goals conceded. I'm licking the bowl clean and I'm asking for seconds.
1. FORMATION: There's been a lot of chat about Warburton's so-called 'no plan B' (aka he doesn't put a centre back up front and force the other centre back to loft it up to him 15 times in the last five minutes), but the evidence is he has lots of other plans. A different plan for MW, however, doesn't necessarily mean a complete change of style. Because abandoning a way of playing is a dangerous road to go down - it's a waste of everything you've done before, for a start. Equally, just because results have not been great, it does not necessarily mean wholesale change is needed. The fact remains that had we not been painfully careless against Reading and Boro, we would still now be hovering around the 4th play-off spot. So while the Tw@tterati may be panicking and typing obscenities towards their favourite whipping boy, we're lucky that Warburton is not a manager who panics.
Since the Forest game, which was not quite as bad, other than the last 10 mins, as has been made out, we have conceded once - and that a 30-yard exocet free kick. And while the way we have played in those games is definitely a modification of our play so far, it's far from abandonment of it. Saturday saw us play, I thought, with a midfield diamond and the result a team who finally looked comfortable in itself, and a set-up that saw everyone knowing their job and their responsibilities. Leistner at his best once more, because his job was to wrestle with a physical attacker and when the ball is in the air, to head it. Kane and Manning were more effective going both ways, because unlike when we play with three centre backs, they had cover if they bombed forward. Eze had his favourite free role. Wells had someone to play off. And Lumley was given free rein to boot the ball away if he saw fit, which he usually did, and as a result he looked more assured too.
Because everyone knew their job and also because everyone worked very hard, we suddenly looked extremely solid and, as we all should have guessed, we managed to keep our first clean sheet of the season against one of the league's top scoring teams. It was great management - Preston like to harry and press high, so we on the whole kept the ball out of those areas where they would be most dangerous - although on at least two occasions we still showed we could pass our way beautifully out of trouble if circumstances dictated.
All of this was to the delight of a few fans around me, who cheered every long ball and screamed in anguish every time someone tried to pass the ball from behind the halfway line, but they will be disappointed, because undoubtedly MW will keep working towards a more fluent style of play that starts with the keeper and, in the main, rejects the long ball.
2. PUGHIE: A cry of despair was issued from the magical fingertips of Westbourne R on these pages last week, with regards to our thirtysomething winger/attacker/midfielder thingie from Bournemouth. Where was he? Why was he not much good? Why is he so concerned with nice food? (Westbourne did not pose all these questions, I exaggerate in the hope of regaining your rapt attention). And it was like Pughie read it himself. Maybe he did, while eating a delicate Carbonara (homemade pasta, natch). Because I thought he was great. His workrate was superb - constantly closing down players, giving Kane some real protection that he in truth has needed all season, and also a threat going forward, culminating almost in a goal, but instead a decisive penalty.
I will agree with Westbourne that we have not seen enough of this Pugh, but in truth he has rarely had the chance. I thoguht his early sub appearances were promising, but if you're a man like Pughie used to gorging on (healthy) gourmet, low-fat, low-salt, high-in-fibre, high-in-good-stuff food, and are fed table scraps of 10 minutes as a sub here and 5 there, perhaps it's no wonder we haven't seen the best of him. This was really good, and also encouraging, because we will need to use our squad over, altogther now, 'the crucial festive period.'
3. CAMERON: Graham also had his best game of the season I thought, and it was a performance that harked back to his best under McClaren - sitting in front of the back four, winning headers, and working with the two centre backs. In previous games it's been noticeable that when Leistner sometimes chases his striker out trying to win the ball, he gets caught out of position. With a back three constantly stretched wide by high wing backs, the gaps he left were enormous and frequently exploited. On Saturday that gap was plugged. Several times Leistner chased his man out, but each time Cameron simply let him go and stepped back into his place, plugging the hole and keeping our shape. Again, an example of everyone understanding their role. Cameron was not really required to maraud forward either, saving those big ol' American legs, yet at the same time he demonstrated his occasional eye for a great through ball. Last year around this time it was his wonderful pass to Wszolek v Villa, this time it was a more delicate chip to Eze for the first goal. Great, soccer, Granville.
4. EZE: It was one of those games where you could ask 20 people afterwards who was man of the match and you'd get at least 5 different answers. Haven't seen who Clive gave it to yet, but for me if you get two goals and you play like Eze did, you get the champagne. He may have given the ball away once or twice, but I can barely remember it. Now our top scorer, and looking increasingly confident in his ability each week, he is an absolute joy to watch and deserved his ovation when he was substituted late on. It baffles me how he moves, because he is effortless, yet once he's running he seems to outpace most defenders. He'll get shouts around me from people saying move it quicker, but I don't think anyone moves it quicker than him, it's just that he, like the great Ray Wilkins, just seems to have so much more time than anyone else. He is just brilliant and I think is benefiting hugely from MW. It was interesting in the gaffer's comments afterwards that he acknowledged how well he played, but also mentioned he was still working on other aspects of the game, the defensive side, even though it is now indisputable that Eze is nothing if not a team player. His second brace of the season - a hat trick may not be far off. Hope it's for us.
5. BOS: He's had a real struggle to force his way back into the side, first because of injury, then because of a formation that didn't really have a place for him. But now he is back in and you can see his determination to keep it. I really think there's so much more to come from Bright because the building blocks are all there: pace, skill, strength, work rate. He's had some criticism for lack of end product (that bane of the lives of nearly all wingers), but I actually thought on Saturday that he put one or two very nice crosses in, had a very good shot that went just wide, and linked up well with the strikers and Eze. There weren't many crosses sailing over the bar or whatever and on another day he easily could've had a couple of assists. Perhaps most impressive, as others have pointed out, was his tracking back, his helping of Manning, and as a result we looked much more secure down that side.
6. MISTAKES: Been saying it for ages, but if we cut them out we're a different proposition. On Saturday, they were cut out. Not that there weren't the odd hairy moments, but you're always going to get that. In the end, because concentration levels were high, we restricted Preston really to only two really big chances - one in the first half when Hall executed a great last ditch tackle when Lumley had maybe come out a bit early; and one in the second when Lumley made what was undeniably a fantastic save, with a very strong hand down to his left. And that was it. A superb response to the Forest game, and four more points towards safety.
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Queens Park Rangers v Preston North End prediction logged
|Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 0 Forest 4|
at 15:54 28 Nov 2019
As Fulham fans once sang as they put three past us before half time for about the sixth game in a row: 'It's happening again, it's happening again, Queens Park Rangers, it's happening again.' I'm still hoping the wheels aren't quite coming off, and that we're just having a bad patch that we will eventually, somehow emerge from. The worry is, although we were good in spells either side of half time, this was not the frustrating story of Fulham on Friday, but a team well beaten on its own patch.
1. SUSCEPTIBILITY: Even a few weeks ago, some posters were saying we'd been 'found out', which I always think is a phrase that means almost nothing. All teams have weak points, it's something else to exploit them. But this idea is irrelevant now because there is nothing to 'find out'. The bald fact is, after 10 games in a row of conceding 2+ goals, we are susceptible to any sort of attack you care to mention. We are vu8lnerable from crosses. We are vulnerable from set piueces and corners. We are vulnerable when players run at us at pace. We are vulnerable to balls played in behind our wing backs, that pull our centre backs out of position. We are vulnerable to our own players continually making stupid mistakes. And we are vulnerable to a basic straight ball played just beyond out centre backs - time and time and time again, this most simple of balls confounds us. It could (maybe should) have brought a red card v Boro. It did bring a red card last night. There is simply no area in which a team could choose to attack us and not feel confident of success. I was thinking we just needed to cut out the silly mistakes, but we're beyond that now. Unlike some, I don't think this is about passing from the back, which I think people are fretting and obsessing about too much, particularly when we simply cannot defend almost any sort of cross. This goes back to the basics, it's not about how we try to keep possession.
2. TAILSPIN: It is six without a win again. In all comps last season we had runs of 5 without a win and 7 without a win. The year before that runs of 7 without a win, and six without a win. The year before that, six without a win on three occasions. It is every season, regardless of manager, regardless of players. You can keep going back and back and it's the same story. This club does not seem able to bounce back from setbacks very well, and hasn't done for some time. And, really thanks to blown chances v Reading, Boro and arguably Fulham, we're in one again. We could and should have taken 5 extra points from those games, leaving us 7th equal with Bristol. But we didn't and now, just a few short weeks from the glorious opening games, the relegation struggle we thought may have been banished for this season at least, is quickly becoming more of a reality. I don't think we'll go down - there are worse sides out there, but this repetitive pattern of losing a couple, of not capitalising on good performances, of never quite being able to turn on a really big performance when it's needed, must be addressed. Eustace spoke about a culture of losing at the club, so an entire squad was shipped out. but has that culture changed? Do we feel like winners yet? It's still early days for Warburton, and I still believe he is the best man we could get for this job, but we're starting to look ragged. The last 10 last night were diabolical. And if we start losing confidence, confidence that we still had less than a week ago in a mostly good display undone as usual by horrific defending, and we lose that ability and strength and willingness to pass, we will not be left with very much. I know Warburton will not play 6 at the back at Derby, shut up shop, and defend for our lives, he won't abandon his principles. I also know that with no Kelly, no Barbet, no Wallace and no Angel he has very little he can actually change. But on Saturday the players need to stand the fk up and show some fight and try, by whatever means, to get a result, before it turns into something like McClaren's months of hell.
3. 3RD GOAL: First goal was awful, as per. 2nd goal I can sort of forgive because with 10 men and a goal down there's always the chance you'll get caught out-numbered. But the third was really terrible. Kane, who I think perhaps people have been a little harsh on today, was badly at fault here. the 'defend as a team' stuff is fair enough, but not with stuff like this. Before he even got the ball he was telling Lumpey where he wanted to put it even though really he had no need to go back. And then compounded that with a horrendous slice, before then being beaten easily for the inevitable goal. We have no chance when stuff like this is going on.
4. 4th GOAL: I like Lumley, I really do, and before Christmas last year I thimk he was playing well. But now he's struggling so badly, he really is. Confidence shot. The loud, bulletproof keeper we were watching this time last year has long since disappeared into his shell and while of course his defence are doing him almost no favours, he's not exactly helping. The Fulham debacle, followed by this fourth goal, which really he should have been holding. Even then, it spoke volumes that two Forest players were there before any of our defenders. Another cheap goal in a season that's already had 5 seasons-worth of them.
5. AMOS: Thought there were real signs of improvement last week, but his first half last night was shambolic. I am not sure he touched the ball. He seemed to play almost inside right, but almost never showed for the ball, constantly hiding, not demanding the ball. And if he's not showing, and Eze is marked tightly, and Wells is on his own up front, options rapidly become very limited. It's such a key position and I'm not sure what he was doing first half last night. No surprise at all when he was substituted.
6. MANNING: Love him, never stops working, but I'm starting to wonder if we're better off switching to a back 4 with Rangel and Wallace (when fit and unsuspended) as full backs and whoever is fit in the middle and just go for an experienced back four with Manning into Amos's position. At least he would show for the ball and also show some fight in winning it, and also we might solve the issue of how many goals come from our left side. Last night nothing went right for him. He had numerous chances to cross and his normally reliable left foot let him down badly - overhit, underhit, hitting first defender, going straight out of play... his delivery just wasn't there. A poor night for him on a night of poor nights.
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