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Taarabt tantrum overshadows Hull draw — full match report
Taarabt tantrum overshadows Hull draw — full match report
Sunday, 30th Jan 2011 00:56 by Clive Whittingham

Adel Taarabt was the talk of the terraces again on Saturday, but this time it was for all the wrong reasons as his extraordinary first half behaviour undermined QPR’s performance in a 0-0 draw with Hull City.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the Adel Taarabt saga continues to twist and turn. If last week against Coventry, when he brilliantly scored one and set another up in breathtaking fashion, was the good then what happened at the KC Stadium on Saturday was all of the bad and plenty of the ugly.

His performance against the Sky Blues live on Sky was an eye catching one. It certainly caught the eye of the press boys, who have been crawling all over him this week with various interviews and features about his mercurial talents all of which have carried that unhappy undertone that while all this Championship malarkey is nice and going very well Taarabt still believes that contract offer from Real Madrid or Arsenal is just around the corner.

Tribal Football, a standard mark for abysmally written and researched football copy with no basis in fact designed to haul in hits and advertising revenue from News Now and other feeds, have upped the ante in the bullshit department since then – linking the Moroccan with Manchester United as opposed to Newcastle United where they’ve insisted Taarabt would be going imminently for the last four months.

Sadly the QPR fans that have got to know Taarabt as a player and personality over the last three seasons have come to realise that such attention does not bring the best out of our top scorer. I get the impression that a combination of spending last season stating matter of factly that he would be playing in La Liga this season only to end up signing a cut price deal at Loftus Road, and Neil Warnock’s man management skills, had given Taarabt a bit of a reality check. Warnock, with help from Keith Curle, has just about kept a lid on their star man’s suspect temperament this year and indulged his failings but all this talk of Manchester United and other such nonsense brought the bad old Adel back in dramatic fashion towards the end of the first half at the KC Stadium.

I have literally never seen anything like what happened in this game, and from a LFW point of view it’s probably a good job he did what he did because I’d have to drill bloody hard to get any sort of match report out of this game if he hadn’t. Taarabt’s crazy behaviour apart I could probably have written the key moment in this dire encounter down on the pack of a postage stamp with a thick pen.

Taarabt had started the game in support of Ishmael Miller who was given a full debut after an impressive substitute cameo last week. Wayne Routledge and Tommy Smith made up the front four. There was a familiar look to the rest of the team with Alejandro Faurlin and Shaun Derry the holding midfielders, Bradley Orr, Kaspars Gorkss, Matthew Connolly and Clint Hill the back four and Paddy Kenny starting in goal. Pascal Chimbonda and Danny Shittu awaited their debuts from the bench.

Hull started with Matty Fryatt and Aaron McLean in attack. Nigel Pearson has lashed out the thick end of £2.5m on that pairing representing the most significant outlay by a Championship team in this transfer window but here they looked lightweight, and posed little threat to QPR. Tojani Belaid, a man with Champions League experience, started on the bench with our former loanee Jay Simpson. Kevin Harper was used as the central midfield dog in the absense of Ian Ashbee who was dropped altogether having submitted a transfer request late on Friday. The long serving Hull man, featured in the matchday programme celebrating reaching 500 appearances for the Tigers, wants to move to Preston would you believe. He never did strike me as the brightest lad.

Hull’s tactics were very clear right from the first minute. When QPR were in possession Hull players immediately hassled them high up the pitch preventing them from settling and playing their football. Whenever Routledge and particularly Taarabt got the ball to their feet two, or even three, Hull players were always in attendance. With referee Keith Hill happy to let the players get on with it and indulge themselves with some physical challenges the game suffocated under a blanket of tackles and misplaced hurried passes. Three times Liam Rosenior shanked clearances down the line into the side stand under no pressure at all and that rather summed up a game high on endeavour but painfully low on quality.

Hull manager Nigel Pearson is an organiser. He had his defensive tactics for this game absolutely spot on but at times I was reminded of the story told about Sam Allardyce at Newcastle who spent all week preparing for a game talking about how they were going to deal with their opposition only to be asked by a player on the Friday: “That’s all very well boss, but what do we do when we have the ball?” For the most part Hull appeared lightweight in attack, and only really threatened the R’s in the closing five minutes of each half as the visitors created problems for themselves.

That said, it was the Tigers who threatened first. Matt Connolly looked nervous under a high ball and headed it straight up in the air on the edge of his own area that gave Aaron McLean the sniff of a chance. The former Peterborough man, and a good portion of the home support, appealed for handball as Connolly bundled the ball away at the second attempt. QPR failed to clear their lines and were then left appealing for a handball decision of their own when McLean appeared to use an arm to control the ball on the edge of the area before Gorkss came across, muscled him out of the picture and tidied up a scrappy passage of play.

I remain a little concerned about the form of our centre backs. Gorkss was better than he has been recently on Saturday but neither he nor Connolly are attacking the ball and making it theirs with any conviction. Far, far too many times they are allowing balls to bounce in their own half which is a cardinal sin for defenders and puts them under pressure time and again. It will be interesting to see what roll Danny Shittu has to play when fully fit.

QPR’s first attack came in the eighth minute and was started by a very clever turn on halfway by Smith that carried him into space in the Hull half. He found Taarabt who carried the ball to the edge of the area and then unloaded a shot that flew half a foot over the bar.

There was no hint of what was to come from the Moroccan at this point although he had already been warned by the referee for dissent after losing his temper over a throw in decision that went Hull’s way when even we could see that it was obviously a QPR ball from 200 yards away at the back of the stand. It was a combination of Hull’s defensive style, that Ian Holloway once referred to as “bad rashing”, and frustration with the officials that I think eventually made Taarabt snap.

The teams exchanged corners between minutes ten and 15 and it looked at the time like set pieces would have a very big role to play in the game. Hull went first, delivering from the right through Koren and then the left with Dawson, and QPR had to stand strong in the heart of the penalty area as both balls were whipped in with real pace and venom. Our own corners have been largely disappointing this season but the first attempt here, delivered to the back post by Taarabt, found loaned Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan in flappy form and he was fortunate that Kaspars Gorkss lifted the loose ball over the bar when he perhaps should have scored.

Guzan has unhappy memories of playing QPR as it is having kept goal for Villa in our 1-0 League Cup win at Villa Park the season before last.

Guzan was called into action again in the twentieth minute when Routledge got Miller in behind the Hull defence but his chipped finish was weak and easily saved. Miller didn’t have things all his own way in quite the same manner he did against that woeful Coventry side we faced last week, but he was still very effective as the lone striker and QPR’s performance on the day declined at the same rate as he tired with a lack of action and the after effects of a virus taking their toll in the second half.

Five minutes later Miller was in again, played through this time by Smith who found a cute pass at the end of a mazy run, and he calmly slotted the ball home only to be denied by the offside flag. Midway through the second half Miller went through on goal again after Gerrard missed a clearing header and he was again flagged offside – both decisions looked tight from an admittedly less than ideal vantage point behind the goal.

I’ve got to be honest, this was dull. Really dull. I've recently moved into a new house and the landlord doesn't like sport, it has become clear quickly while talking to him that I don't like anything apart from sport so it's not like I can sit here and talk about poetry, or music, or books, or shagging, or anything really. No, sadly, I'm stuck trying to find something of note from this.

The pace of the game was pedestrian at best. QPR weren’t really able to get Taarabt or Routledge in the game often enough and Hull were so busy ensuring that that remained the case they forgot to pose any real threat of their own. Cameron Stewart, who looked reasonably lively cutting in from the left, hit a low shot that Paddy Kenny saved comfortably in the bottom corner and Kevin Harper had to don a numberless shirt after leaking blood from a head wound leaving him looking like a random supporter who’d just run on and joined in but they were the only items of note from a dire encounter through to the final few minutes of the half – and then the world went mad.

It began in the Hull right back area when Rosenior was able to easily harry Adel Taarabt out of possession after a mediocre pass from Derry. Not for the first time in the half Taarabt was all arm waving and frustration but this time he actually stopped playing. He allowed Rosenior to run around him and carry the ball away unchallenged, and then just ambled around on the corner of the penalty area making no attempt to get back into position or involved with the game. He took his gloves off and appeared to throw them to the floor.

Understandably the Hull fans were absolutely loving this, cheering and jeering the Moroccan as he effectively went on strike in the middle of the game - walking casually across the middle of the field with the match taking place around him and then signalling with the hands in the air gesture that he wanted to be substituted. Taarabt has, as most will no doubt remember, done that once before to Neil Warnock but this was as bad as his behaviour has ever been and since he signed permanently for the R’s this sort of thing seemed to have become a thing of the past.

Warnock prepared Hogan Ephraim for an introduction but as he did so QPR were awarded a free kick on the edge of the area for a foul on Wayne Routlede. Taarabt would usually be in line to take such a set piece, and indeed he decided to end his self imposed non-involvement in the match and tee the ball up. Several QPR players came across towards the ball presumably to either try and calm their team mate down or to tell him he was in no frame of mind to take the free kick. This merely served to inflame the situation further with Taarabt appearing to push both Wayne Routledge and Shaun Derry in an untidy melee that the Hull players stood and watched with stunned expressions. Taarabt’s conduct had now descended to such a level that referee Keith Hill was forced to get involved and remind him that such behaviour remains a yellow card offence, even if it is directed at your own players. Predictably the free kick was awful, smacked tamely wide to further cheers from the home fans.

QPR did well to avoid turning this mini crisis into a disaster because having taken over the game, created the best chances and dominated possession in the first half it all rather fell apart while Taarabt was busy throwing his toys around and by the time the two minutes of stoppage time were up I was glad to hear the half time whistle – firstly because Taarabt was now the loosest of loose cannons and I was concerned about what may happen next, and secondly because it had sparked a collapse in the level of our team performance and Hull suddenly had the sniff of something.

Keith Curle came onto the pitch at half time to escort Taarabt off and have a quiet word with him. One of the more challenging half time team talks of Neil Warnock’s career awaited.

Taarabt not only remained in the team for the second half, but he was the first out onto the pitch for the restart which was preceded by handshakes and apologies to Routledge and others, and a kiss for Shaun Derry which only served to increase the abuse he was getting from the home stands.

The sides exchanged presentable chances in the first five minutes of the half. First a deep cross from Tommy Smith was met at the back post by Orr who had made up the yards impressively to come charging onto the cross but could only skim a header well off target when it looked for one glorious moment like he was going to power home. Rangers were then let off at the other end when a Hull corner was partially cleared to the edge of the box for Stewart to stride onto and hit – such was the time and space he found himself in a goal looked highly likely but QPR got enough bodies in the way and blocked the ball away.

Harper was next to try his luck but found Paddy Kenny equal to his long range shot, and Miller was inches away from getting on the end of a brilliantly delivered Taarabt free kick after Dawson had been penalised for handball wide on the QPR right. But the game still had all the vim and vigour of a lifeless pre-season friendly and to make matters worse the play was further disrupted by a spate of substitutions and injuries. QPR lost Alejandro Faurlin to that weird leg injury he seems to pick up every few games, and Tommy Smith who had played very well but didn’t look happy at all on his way off which is a worry ahead of the games with Portsmouth and Reading this week. Ishmael Miller was blowing through his sizable arse by this point as well after a tough shift so with Ephraim, Hulse and Vaagan Moen all called into action from the bench it turned out to be a very good job indeed that Warnock had resisted removing Taarabt in the first half when he asked him to. Hull brought on Nick Barmby for Aaron Mclean who worked hard but posed little goal threat and is still yet to get off the mark for the Tigers.

James Harper picked up the one and only yellow card of the game for leaving a boot in on Gorkss as he cleared downfield, and QPR were left cursing their luck as for the third time in two away matches and the second time on the day a great chance fell the way of their right full back. Bradley Orr was impressive defensively in this game, but his finishing once again left a lot to be desired as he arrived bang on time at the back post to meet Taarabt’s well flighted free kick on the volley but lifted the ball high over the bar from a yard out.

Harper dragged a shot well wide, Taarabt blasted high wide and handsome, it was a real snooze fest by this point as the clock wound down into the final ten minutes.

QPR have an unhappy recent history of conceding crucial late goals on this ground– it was a ninetieth minute equaliser on our last visit and two goals in the final two minutes the season before that turned a win into a defeat. For whatever reason, having never looked like conceding a goal at any point in the game, Rangers did their level best to throw it all away in the closing stages here.

Eight minutes from time substitute Devitt who had replaced Stewart was allowed to run into the penalty area and get a shot away that Paddy Kenny turned behind, and the Tigers camped around the QPR penalty area for the majority of the three minutes added time as well culminating in Fryatt going through on goal with the very last action of the game but inexplicably lifting the ball high over the bar.

I had a couple of theories as to why the game had suddenly changed this way – firstly Miller going off meant the ball wasn’t sticking to our attackers as well as it had been giving Hull more quality possession and secondly Faurlin’s handy knack of winning just about every header in the centre of the park means we pick up less of the loose second balls when he is not on the field, again giving Hull possession in good areas that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

Taarabt was still the main talking point at full time. In the second half he’d knuckled down and worked hard defensively for the team mates he had let down so badly at the end of the first, and he put in a couple of smashing set piece deliveries that should have resulted in at least one goal. But his first half behaviour was inexcusable and Hull’s game plan with him and Routledge had worked perfectly – the Moroccan will only face more of the same when the Tigers come to Loftus Road later this season and on Friday when we face a Reading side he has already upset once this season.

Overall I’m not sure whether to be happy with this point or not. Hull looked a mediocre side to me, brilliantly drilled defensively but relatively toothless in attack where they were only able to make serious inroads in our defence in the final few minutes of the game. I just didn’t feel QPR did enough to go and win the game at the other end. Miller had a reasonable game and I was impressed with Smith, but Routledge and Taarabt were suffocated by a blanket man marking system set up by Pearson. We didn’t get those strike players on the ball, in space nearly often enough or play at a high enough tempo, or really look like we believed we could affect the game sufficiently to win it.

One can only hope the fall out from the Taarabt incident, and the two points that were there for the taking had we possessed a sharper cutting edge, don’t come back to haunt us in the coming weeks.

Links >>> Have Your Say >>> Interactive Player Ratings >>> Message Board Match Thread

Hull: Guzan 6, Rosenior 6, Chester 7, Gerrard 6, Dawson 6, Koren 6, Evans 6, Harper 7, Stewart 7 (Devitt 73, 6), Fryatt 5, Mclean 5 (Barmby 65, 6)

Subs Not Used: Duke, McShane, Cairney, Simpson, Belaid

Booked: Harper (foul)

QPR: Kenny 7, Orr 7, Gorkss 6, Connolly 6, Hill 6, Derry 7, Faurlin 5 (Moen 67, 6), Routledge 6, Taarabt 5, Smith 7 (Hulse 72, 5), Miller 7 (Ephraim 85, -)

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Hall, Chimbonda, Shittu

QPR Star Man – Tommy Smith 7 I thought he looked the most effective of our attacking midfield trio, probably because he was afforded so much space by Hull who were busy surrounding Taarabt and Routledge. He’s a really clever footballer, often winning the ball back by outwitting rather than outmuscling an opponent, and he came up with some killer passes in the final third as well. His main problem though remains a lack of genuine pace for a wideman.

Referee: Keith Hill (Hertfordshire) 7 Clearly wanted to let the players get on with it and stay out of the action as much as possible which is to be welcomed, but there was a tackle on Shaun Derry in the first half by Harper that could have done some serious damage and went unpunished, and another one on Clint Hill that similarly brought nothing.

Attendance: 20,601 (1,000 QPR approx) Worthy of note at this stage that in their two years in the top flight Hull still haven’t seen the light and ditched their hysterically funny “Tigers, Tigers burning bright” pre-match mash up which is one of the funniest things we will hear all season. There was the usual banter flying backwards and forwards between two sets of fans who haven’t always got on – the QPR fans sang the ‘Paddy Kenny’s having a party’ song for a good 20 minutes in the first half, while the Hull fans taunted the keeper over his wife’s affair from many years ago. Both of which were slightly awkward moments with the current Mrs Kenny sitting down in front of us with his kids. Anyway, good to hear the QPR fans in some sort of voice after a few road trips where we have sat in total silence.

Photo: Action Images

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18StoneOfHoop added 02:19 - Jan 30
Last 2 words :"total silence'...really? I've only gone to Forest and Ipswich away this season and noise levels weren't too bad...I've noticed a few recent LFW threads knocking those charlied-up pissheads who knock other fans for lack of singing.But by gad, I feel as fervent as possible vocal encouragement is the away fans first duty.What away games in particular were total silence,Clive?
Great write-up as ever with maybe less amusing simile set-pieces than per usual reflecting a drab game.

boferark added 09:02 - Jan 30
The "Tiger Tiger burning bright" intro may be amusing but nowhere near as amusing as your estimate of 1000 QPR fans???? Maybe 400 tops - which is by some way the worst turn out for a team top of the league I ve ever seen - and I ve seen City play in all four division.

Northernr added 09:09 - Jan 30
18stone - burnley and norwich.

boferark - I look forward to the usual throng of 250 Hull fans at Loftus Road.

Myke added 09:54 - Jan 30
Looks like it's going to be promotion by increments. Every away point is a good one PROVIDED it's followed by a home win. Unfortunately, that brings it's own pressure as we saw last week as we struggled to put away a poor Coventry side. Portsmouth are poor too, poorer than when we played them earlier form wise so that is winnable too, but Forest after that?? I would love to go on a little run like Watford did and win five on the trot. If we did that it would virtually put this league to bed, but I accept as the pressure increases with each passing game that's not like ly to happen. Anyway doing things easy is not our way is it!!

LeedsR added 10:06 - Jan 30
Chant of the day had to go to the Hull fans though: "You're going back to your s&&t hole!" - Wonderful irony!

I also think you're being a little generous to Keith Hill for his score of 7. I'd have given him 6 tops. He let so many Hull challenges go, and blew up for practically every 2nd Rs challenge. Taarabt and Routledge, as well as having a number done on them by the sheer fact they were being crowded out by at least 3 Hull players at a time, were getting hacked to pieces, under free rein from the ref. At that kind of treatment, with nothing coming from the ref, even the calmest among us would get annoyed. The difference was the childish Taarabt threw a strop, whereas Routledge got up and got on with it.

Agree with the MOTM. I thought Smith was excellent. Tireless running, good skills, regularly won the ball and did something useful and constructive. I'm concerned about his injury tho.

Another good write up, despite the dull and dreary nature of the bore draw.

Northernr added 12:32 - Jan 30
I'm always likely to give a referee that gives nothing at all a high mark, simply because I always give whistle and card happy referees a low mark and I want to remain consistent. The three things I objected to with him were
1 - there was a really nasty tackle on derry in the first half that didn't even get a free kick. it was two footed and studs up, warnock put his hands on his head as soon as it was made.
2 - routledge was chopped down in full flight and although an advantage was played he didn't come back and book him.
3 - there was a clear and obvious foul on Hill that brought no decision - kenny even kicked the ball back to where hill was on the ground thinking a free kick had been awarded!

H_QPR added 12:36 - Jan 30
I agree with tommy smith being man of the match! He was brilliant! I also really liked the chant from the rangers fans ' Tracksuits from matalan' I found that hilarious! also 'there's only 3 of you working' in return to Hull's 'there's only 3 of you singing!'

kensalriser added 13:17 - Jan 30
That game was an easy full points return on the official prediction comp.

Still, however difficult we seem to mkaing this, it was a whole lot more difficult the last time we got promoted when we seemed quite determined to finish third.

YorkRanger added 13:32 - Jan 30
Clive - Good summary of the game. I felt similar to the Burnley game, that a bit more ambition may have given us all 3 points. Thought Bradley Orr also had a really solid game and it was a shame he couldn't take one of the chances that came his way. Three points on Tuesday will probably make us regard this as a decent point.

NorwayRanger16 added 18:20 - Jan 30
Is it just me or do we look less fluid the more players Warnock bring in of his own liking (big and powerfull)? I realise the first eleven i still much the same as the one we started the season with, it's just that i feel we have changed the system a bit and our attacking attitude just ain't the same as before. NW promised death or glory on the road before the season started, we looked that way up until november but have faded badly since. Hope it's just the other teams setting themselves up to defend against us in their own backyard rather than us loosing our nerve.
Need at least 4 points in the next games before we entertain Forest.

You R's!

AshteadR added 19:45 - Jan 30
Thanks for the report Clive. I couldn't make this game, but by the sounds of it, didn't miss too much. Important game against Pompey now. Particularly with Forest creeping up, slowly but surely.

extratimeR added 20:09 - Jan 30
Thanks Clive, not easy when game is dour, could not make it to game, radio sounded grim, and looks like we picking up quite a few injuries.(Faurlin and Smith).

Been to Hull away a few times, and sounds like nothing has changed up their from Phil Brown days.

Myke added 20:36 - Jan 30
The positive thing about Tarrrabt's strop is that any prem clubs that were sniffing around after last weeks performance would not now touch him with a barge pole. Hopefully, once the window closes tomorrow night, he will knuckle down and produce the performances that he is capable of and get us up.

BlackCrowe added 09:27 - Jan 31
"The "Tiger Tiger burning bright" intro may be amusing but nowhere near as amusing as your estimate of 1000 QPR fans"

Honestly boferark even if Clive's estimate had been that 30,000 QPR fans made the journey, then 'Tiger Tiger burning bright' would still have been funnier.

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