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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 3 Luton 2
at 13:25 16 Sep 2019

For me, this is a sweet spot. I have zero interest in promotion to the Death Star floating above us, so all I really want is attacking football, goals and entertainment. At the moment, that is exactly what we have. Too mistake-prone at the back to challenge seriously, but, touch wood, just too damn good to go down. Perfect.

1. THE FIRST 30: OK, there's a lot to unpack from this game, but let's start with a whole chunk of it. That first 30 minutes was absolutely scinitillating. One of the best 30 minutes of football I have seen by a QPR team. Took me back to one of my first ever games that I saw - a 3-1 midweek victory over Southampton, where we laid waste to their goal in a second half spell that, much like Saturday, brought three goals, but it could easily have been six or more (night of the Dave Bardsley thunderbolt, fact fans).

All across the pitch we were utterly magnificent. The skill, the movement, the focus, the determination, the work rate, the passing. Luton are by no means a poor side, but they barely seemed to touch the ball and while we spent pre-season worrying if we'd score enough goals, we looked like we'd score every time we got the ball. It was sensational, from back to front. When the BFG, whose passing has always been cruelly underrated, is playing 50-yard defence-splitting balls, you know things are going well. The only very minor quibble would be that we should have scored more, but even then, Eze's two bar-hits were very unlucky - you can't criticise that too much.

Of course, no team can keep up that sort of play for an entire game - while it was beautiful to watch, it was underpinned by incredibly hard work that at times embarrassed Luton. While Harry Cornick Junior did well to tuck away Joe Lumley's generous present, I could scarcely believe his lack of action for the rest of the half - same with Lua Lua (step over, shift left. He doesn't change, does he? As predictable as a Katie Hopkins hot take, that bloke). Time and again Ryan Manning had so much space and time on the left he could have been forgiven for thinking he'd stepped in some dog sh!t. And there would be Cornick, perhaps reminiscing to himself about his turn in long-forgotten World War II drama Memphis Belle, ambling back, barely even glancing at Manning, as Rangers out-numbered their hapless opponents for the 25th time in the game. It was astonishing. Still, he scored the first and created the second, so maybe the tactics were better than I thought. The stuffing was knocked out of us a bit after their first goal, but even then we should've had one or two more before half time. In effect, both Eze and Wells could and arguably should have already been arguing over the match ball while sucking on their half time protein gels.

2. EZE: This time last year I was 95% certain he wouldn't be here this time this year. He is, and thank the lord for that. If this continues, though, he definitely won't be here this time next season. OK he tired, as the whole team did, towards the end, but that was forgiveable given the immense amount of work he put in - and he still had enough about him to glide past players, win free kicks and play that gorgeous outside of the foot ball to Ball or Mlakar or maybe both, I dunno. This was an absolutely beautiful performance - he was King of the KPFS, lording it over everyone, dominating the game, demanding the ball, passing beautifully, scoring beautifully, dribbling beautifully. It was utterly, utterly brilliant, to quote Timmy Mallett, and no wonder the fans have begun to resurrect Adel's song for our current No.10.

What was his best moment? His outstanding opening goal? The perfect pass for Wells's second? His double backward drag back thing in the centre of the pitch? For some, none of that, it'll be his relentless harrying and tackling back that has surely shut up even his most idiotic critics with their lazy accusations of laziness. Superb performance. Clive better give him an 8 minimum, but this was approaching Freeman v Leeds for me.

3. BALL: I was thoroughly underwhelmed by his little display as a sub against Pompey, but much more encouraged by this. I thought he had a very good game in front of the back three - he's mobile, strong, decent in the air, and while some around me were annoyed when he tried a more expansive pass, I don't mind that he has the self-belief to try and rocket a 40-yard diag to Manning even if he should be tapping it short to the Moroccan Messi (possible new nickname: John Inman). Not afraid to burst forward and give us an extra man in the attack, and a man who has a lot to say for himself. Last year we were a bit quiet as a team, so maybe that's no bad thing. Greg Cameron might be a bit worried.

4. PUGH: Just a quick word on Pughy. I felt a bit non-plused by Warbs's subs this week. Mlakar for Wells seemed a bit odd given Wells's electric first half display - although he has been off banging them in for Bermuda, so he may well have tired (I'd have considered pushing Morrocan Messi or Eze up a bit and bringing on Amos, personally); and Amos for Kane was an odd one that didn't really work. But bringing Pugh on was a great move. He brought calmness, strength, determination and just a bit of experience to our tiring side and really helped us try to get back on the front foot. He made a couple of great runs with the ball and also won it a few times too - he may be in his 30s but his energy was just what we needed. He's not going to play every week, but he's going to be a valuable asset to this team.

5. LUMLEY: I don't want to spend too long on Lummers, because it's been done to death on here a bit already, but, yes, it was a dreadful mistake for their first. And he knew it, he doesn't need us to tell him and the poor guy was apologising to fans as he walked off at half time. This should not stop us passing from the back - because it is working well, and worked fantastically in that first half. The thing is, you have to judge when to do it. And the worst thing is - we had been. Most of the time when it was tight, we were getting rid. On this occasion, Lumley was absolutely correct to be looking to make a pass. He was under no real threat, he had time, and he had options. He just mis-hit his pass. It's not a reason to stop the way we play - we just have to cut out the really bad mistakes. If we play like this all season and four or five times someone gets robbed and we lose a goal - fine. That's inevitable, and the rewards are greater. But these ones are the ones we can't afford. It was really bad.

Should he be rested? I really don't know. Kelly was brought in with a reputation of being excellent with his feet, but from what I've seen he's not as safe with his hands as Joe. I think for now, we stick. Joe's a good keeper and he can put this behind him - other than that one bad pass, his distribution was actually very, very good, with some really superb passes. Worth remembering.

6. FANS: I occasionally like to jerk off on the fans a bit, if you'll excuse the expression, so here's a quick one. I thought there was good and bad on Saturday. It was great to see the stadium pretty full - Luton brought a lot down and the home stands were packed, which made for a really good atmosphere. It really felt like fans are starting to believe something exciting is happening, and the players responded brilliantly with that amazing start. I also thought the fans were great with Lumley, with far more shouts of encouragement than shrieks of anger after his mistake. And at the end, they received warm applause for the three points and the entertainment. However, sometimes great football has a price, and some of the groans at the (very) odd misplaced pass seemed well over the top to me. There was a lot of impatience around me in the second half too. I do think sometimes it's worth us sucking up our annoyances - passes are misplaced, mistakes are made - and at any level. It will never be plain sailing. This lot are giving us some marvellous football at the moment - let's try and have a little more understanding when we're not scoring a goal every 10 minutes.
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Queens Park Rangers v Luton Town prediction logged
Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 0 Pompey 2
at 11:38 29 Aug 2019

Just my second attendance of the season due to more important things being in the way (less important things, if I'm being honest, but it wasn't up to me), so I must apologise firstly for being an awful omen (my other game was Swansea and I was abroad for Bristol C away and that was the only other game I've watched all 90 minutes of, so a great record for me so far this season: 0 for 3, which sounds like the start of an England Test match innings); and secondly for there being no jerks to the Swansea game - I just didn't have time.

Anyway, onwards to this mutt's lunch of a football match.

1. WARBS' SUBS: I did actually plan to do the Swansea jerks, and I was going to write about how, contrary to what we'd been warned about, Warbs's subs were excellent, in terms of tactics, timing and aggression (and deserved more than we got). I was impressed. And then we had last night. I'm not sure what happened last night. I have no problems at all with bringing on Eze and Wells - that was probably the right thing to do. And i'm prepared to accept Chair going off as he played 90 on Sat and may well start again this weekend. But the removal of BOS just as he was starting to make a real impact and cause some problems was baffling (unless he has a niggle). More to the point, the changes in formation meant we were suddenly very narrow. The limited pressure we had built up after the break evaporated as everything became congested in the centre of the park. I've seen it said we went to a diamond, but it barely looked like anyone really knew where they were playing to me.

This was then compounded by the removal of Pugh - which was fine, as I could see the fumes chugging out of his arse from my vantage point in the SAR stand - but the introduction of Ball was a decision I couldn't get my head around. Another defensive midfielder when we needed a goal? Smith, Owens and Mlakar all needed to be hooked, but having removed Chair and BOS already, they all stayed on to no real effect, particularly going forward. I'm sure the idea was that the full backs would provide the width, but while Manning did well on the left (in fact, Manning, possibly with Chair, was the only one to have a genuinely decent game and was a very clear man of the match), Kane was less available and effective on the right and in the end his presence was nowhere to be seen for the decisive second goal as he tried to push up and cover the entire flank alone. Not Warbs's greatest night - limited his options too early, left Hugill kicking his heels, and deprived us of valuable width.

2. KELLY: My first proper look at Kelly, but it was difficult to get much of a clue as to whether he'd be an improvement on Lumley or not. He's certainly a fair bit shorter, but I thought, as was advertised, he was very decent with the ball at his feet. Other than that, he had almost nothing to do all night. I think Pompey had three shots on target and scored with two, neither of which Kelly had much chance with, and he pushed the other long range shot out to Manning quite easily.

I wasn't massively impressed with his antics before Portsmouth's spot kick, though. I'm not sure keepers trying mind games like that (taking the ball off the spot, handing it to the player, chucking in some sledging no doubt) ever really works - to me it seems more likely to just concentrate the mind of the striker. And so it proved, as Marquis stroked it home, making Kelly look a bit silly. Lumley tries Joe Hart-style jumping up and down and all that nonsense - seems a waste of time to me. Smithies never bothers with that sort of psychological crap: he just saves the bloody thing.

3. BALL: As he ran on i heard a neighbour say 'why? he couldn't get in Rotherham's team!' And i thought - 'fine, fair point, but it wouldn't be the first time a club had under-appreciated a good player (loads of good players are bombed out by teams they should've done well for, after all), and also, shall we just give him a bloody chance?'

By the end of the game I was glad I had kept my mouth shut. Mediocre distribution, clumsy tackling, stepping on the ball while trying to control it. I'm not quite sure what he has got in his locker, but he doesn't remotely, at this moment, look like a Championship player. Only caveat is that we conceded after he came on, and he's not exactly a player you want when chasing a goal. Early days, though, eh?

4. SMITH: Also my first look at Smith and the outlook is marginally brighter there. He was inconsistent and no more than a 5/10, but at the same time he at least demonstrated enough to show that he is a footballer. Some of his control and quick, one-touch lay-offs were very good and most of our very limited number of decent moves went through him. But at the same time, he gave it away too much, he was too easily bullied, he made wrong choices for passes and he didn't stamp any authority on the game. He may well turn into a good player, but he needs a lot more football like this - hard, fast, unforgiving football to toughen him up, and I'm not sure we can afford to give him too many more games. Scowen's had his critics this season, but we'd have been a vastly better team with him in the side ahead of Owens, Smith or Ball.

5. MLAKAR: Early signs were positive and Clive's comment after the Bristol game about his first touch were bang on. He controlled some really tough, fizzing balls expertly and laid it off well too. Then he was sent through by a typically beautiful ball by Chair and crossed poorly when he should've shot and from there he was dominated by the Pompey defence throughout. Should have been hooked for Hugill at some stage, really, and the one time he did get a decent chance, 6 yards out, goal gaping he, like Pugh earlier, could only fire lamely at the keeper. Some good signs, but overall, very much third in line for that striker spot on this evidence.

6. CENTRE BACK: You can see why Warbs was so desperate to add another defender to the mix before the deadline. This is the one area I feel we're really lacking. Plenty has already been said about Barbet, so I won't bang on for too long, but he seems destined to be an issue all season. He does have a fancy left foot, and when he wants to, he can defend pretty effectively. So what is the problem? Sometimes not strong enouh, sometimes out of position, sometimes too rash, sometimes, as with last nght just completely not bothering to run back and defend, which was inexcusable. All these things can be improved and worked on, though, it's not a matter of a lack of talent. But he needs to be better and perhaps needs to be dropped to give him a kick up the backside.

On the other side, you had the returning BFG, who spent most of the night looking perfectly comfortable, too big and too strong for Marquis, and then ruined it all by falling into his clever trap and giving away a stupid penalty. The second goal I had more sympathy with: if you get out-paced, you get out-paced - at least he made the effort, unlike Barbet, Ball, Owens and possibly even Manning (need to see it again) who all allowed Harness to stroll into the box completely unmarked to score a chance even Hugill might've tucked away. All in all, a night to forget for both of them, and I can't see us keeping too many clean sheets (again) this season.
Prediction Logged by at 10:03:27
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Msg for all Overseas Rs...
at 12:33 10 Aug 2019

I'm on holiday and last year could buy streaming for the games - it doesn't seem to be available on the site this year, although i can see links for all subsequent games. Is anyone paying to watch and can you point me in the right direction? Am I being thick and just not seeing it? All i can see is a link for commentary...
[Post edited 10 Aug 12:33]
Prediction Logged by at 16:23:36
Stoke City v Queens Park Rangers prediction logged
So, Skip, Skippy, Skipper, Skip, then...
at 12:35 25 Jul 2019

With Toni bombed out for being too good at heading a football away from goal (best in the league remember), who's to be our new skip?

Would've been Freeman - he's gone
Would've been Mass - he's gone
Would've been Furs, maybe - he's gone.

Seems like Wallace most likely, assuming he gets fit, and Rangel or Cameron (assuming he signs) until then?
Great opportunity for the club today...
at 13:38 23 Jul 2019

With all the news about the new Chief Clown, they could easily sign another keeper without any of us noticing. God knows we need one.
Ding Ding! Another one on the pre-season bingo
at 12:43 9 Jul 2019

Barbet says it's 'toughest pre-season yet.'

Also looking for
'the lads are looking really sharp'
'i kept myself in good nick after the end of the season anyway'
'the new lads are settling in well.
'obviously it'll take some time for the team to gel'
Footballers called Tim
at 09:31 9 Jul 2019

Bit of fun for a Tuesday...

Any footballers called Tim that you can name? Flowers and Sherwood obvs, but any others?

Is being called Tim a bit of a blight on your life, as Will Self once suggested?

Tims please!
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