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Knife hot, butter everywhere, QPR crash at the Cottage - full match report
Knife hot, butter everywhere, QPR crash at the Cottage - full match report
Monday, 3rd Oct 2011 18:48 by Colin Speller

Colin Speller was the lucky man dispatched to Craven Cottage with match reporting duties for LoftforWords. QPR were beaten 6-0.

I have had several different introductions to this match report rattling round my mind in the lead-up to the game. One concerned some sort of comparison to Cannes, where Clive was fortunate enough to be on match day. I was going to write about blistering heat and the presence of lots of tourists looking somewhat bewildered at the event taking place and go on to wonder if it was the same in Cannes.

Then, as things unfolded, I wondered whether it would be possible to go all foody and publish a permanent recipe for QPR Humble Pie – take one away game (not necessarily local), add a significant dose of expectation, get anywhere between 2,000 and 7,000 QPR fans along, brew nicely through the match build-up and pre-game drinking and watch the whole thing collapse spectacularly, usually within the first hour. Slink home...

In the end I was left to recall a character from Greek mythology (more of him later) whilst reaching for my most recent Gordon Macey QPR history book and looking up a date – 27 January 2001, to be precise, ten days after the last FA Cup tie won by QPR (we have, as Clive is quick to point out, the worst current FA Cup record of any team in the land – ten years and counting since we won a game). On that day, a QPR side en route for relegation, administration and all that followed lost 0-6 at home to a rampant Arsenal side. Correct me if I’m wrong, but that’s the last time we lost by six goals. In that game a young and inexperienced Peter Crouch missed an early chance to put the R’s into the lead before Arsenal carved us apart in a ‘men v boys’ encounter.

Scroll forward ten and three-quarter years and it was like watching the same game all over again. But, instead of the likes of Steve Morrow, Karl Ready and Christer Warren, we took to the field with players of infinitely better quality, certainly infinitely greater cost and instead of an Arsenal side in rampant form we were facing a Fulham side still seeking its first Premiership win. Neil Warnock has already pinched my knife through butter line but even that old cliché fails to give sufficient illustration of the ease with which Fulham carved us open to win this game. A knife heated to glowing red would not have passed through butter that had been left in the heat of the unseasonable midday October sun any easier than the Fulham attack did through the QPR midfield and defence. Last week Clive had to calm down following the amazing refereeing performance at Loftus Road. I don’t need to calm down – I am simply numb as a result of watching the comprehensively worst QPR performance I have seen for a long, long time and if that numbness transmits itself through the rest of this report, I apologise.

The absence of Traore – suspended and presumably still in the naughty corner at the training ground – meant a reshuffle of the defence. Matthew Connolly was apparently injured so Bradley Orr came in to right back with Luke Young going to left back. Hall (more of whom anon) partnered Ferdinand in the middle behind Derry and Faurlin with Wright-Phillips, Barton and Taarabt all roaming in the midfield and Bothroyd up front.

Key players for Fulham were Sidwell and Murphy in midfield and Zamora and Johnson up front. They lined up in the 4-4-2 formation that is oft pleaded for by Rangers fans.

The stragglers in the noisy away end were still finding their seats when Fulham went 1-0 up. Wright-Phillips had already got a shot away for QPR but Schwarzer distributed the ball quickly, the knife sliced through the butter for the first time as Fulham broke away. Dembele shot, Kenny saved but Johnson followed up to score - 78 seconds on the clock and we were 1-0 down with Johnson behaving like a complete tool by goading the away support. I’ve no idea why he did this given that it was far too early in the game for any of the Fulham players to have received the wisdom of the QPR faithful on their shortcomings, but he felt the need to stand in front of the away end gesturing for some time in the aftermath of the goal. Much has been said about referees in recent weeks and I always think it’s a complete nonsense when a player gets booked for over-celebrating a goal with his own fans but this is just the sort of behaviour that could have incited a nasty reaction and if I had been the ref I would have booked the bugger for it.

Anyway, a bad start but no need to fret as yet as we had barely got going and there was plenty of time. QPR tried knocking the ball about and their only early reward was to see Sidwell scythe Taarabt down as he turned. He was, quite rightly, booked. As the minutes ticked by the pattern of the game became established – QPR huffing and puffing trying to create an opening, Fulham sitting tight, harrying the QPR players and seeking to break with pace. The latter they did on more than one occasion and the hot knife was in evidence several times. Dempsey should have scored in the ninth minute, but was blocked by Orr, and Johnson was close in the seventeenth minute. During this time QPR had forced a corner or two but little had come of them.

Then in the nineteenth minute another Fulham attack had appeared to break down as Kenny and Hall converged on the ball in the area, but as they seemed to dither Johnson nipped in, Kenny bundled him over and the ref pointed to the spot. The juxtaposition of foul and goal was such that the ref did not even bother to yellow card anybody such was the lameness of the foul and the lack of risk to the goal at the point of contact. Murphy despatched the penalty with ease and then indulged in his own bit of fan goading, albeit limited to a minor ‘ear-cupping’.

So, 2-0 down and very much the seeds of our own destruction thus far, QPR got back to the task in hand without appearing to threaten that much. There is a character in Greek mythology called Sisyphus who was a king punished by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this throughout eternity. According to Wikipedia, the word ‘sisyphean’ means ‘endless and unavailing, as labour or a task’ but a new definition could be ‘QPR’s performance at Craven Cottage, 2 October 2011’. Certainly QPR’s attacking endeavours had all the characteristics of pushing a boulder uphill by hand whereas Fulham’s flowed like water downhill.

And so it was in the thirty eighth minute when they swept forward again - Dempsey shot, Ferdinand blocked, but Zamora squared the ball for Johnson to fire home. So 3-0 before 40 minutes were up and no signs of a way back. Many of those around us left for an early half time beer and apart from a pretty unthreatening shot by Wright-Phillips there was little other than frustration to quicken the pulse.

Warnock acted at half-time to change things around. Smith came on for Derry and DJ Campbell for Taarabt, the latter allegedly stomping out of the ground during the second half (I’ll deal with him later, seemed to be Warnock’s post-match view). Anyway, the upshot of this was 4-4-2 and – for a few minutes at least – an apparently greater attacking threat, although I could not help remembering the Wolves game of two weeks’ ago where they came out firing for the first part of the second half before it all fizzled out. QPR did work an opening and were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Two things infuriated me about this – first, the ref marked where he wanted the wall but despite a lot of pleading from him the closest it got was about a yard away from where he said it should be. He then gave up, whereupon it moved forward another yard. Second, despite being faced with a wall about eight yards away, we tried shifting the ball sideways and inevitably by the time Bothroyd got his shot away he was closed down to within a couple of yards. But generally this was within a better patch of play from QPR with shots from Barton and Wright-Phillips as well as a header from the latter.

But, re-enter Sisyphus as, with the boulder close to the top of the hill, QPR let it slip again. Fulham were awarded a free kick, Murphy took it quickly and Johnson was given all the time in the world to pick his spot for his hat-trick.

It was fair to say that any sting left in QPR was well and truly extracted by that point. So much so that after another five or six minutes of nothing-in-particular the butter parted again to allow Dempsey to score.

Not long after that the most exciting part of the afternoon for the QPR faithful saw Jamie Mackie make his much-awaited return to competitive action replacing the rather hapless Bothroyd, with Smith moving to the centre. It all made no immediate difference as yet another swipe of the knife saw Zamora score the sixth.

With a good fifteen minutes to go there were fears in the away end of an even more serious rout but Fulham had clearly decided enough was enough and that allowed QPR a little purple patch where, urged on by the enthusiastic Mackie, they had shots from Barton, Wright-Phillips, Mackie and DJ Campbell, with the latter also heading over. This gave a rather surprising degree of balance to the ‘attempts’ count in the match stats. Despite taking their collective foot of the gas, Fulham still managed shots by Ruiz and Dempsey. It’s also worth reporting that in the latter part of the game Faurlin (foul) and Wright-Philips (dissent – suggesting the linesman needed spectacles) received yellow cards to add to one awarded to Hall in the second half – I honestly can’t remember why Hall got one but maybe the ref responded to the collective telepathic ire of the QPR fans.

So, what have we learned today, kiddies? Well, let’s deal with Fulham first, whose fans must be pinching themselves. Martin Jol talked afterwards about them having scored ‘too many goals’ and you can kind of see what he means if they now go back to being goal-shy in their coming games. Their goal difference may have improved but the result was still only worth three points. Their overall superiority is reflected in the score-line and in summary they did the simple things well. They were generally stronger in the tackle and when otherwise competing for the ball, when attacks broke down they re-started them by the simple virtue of having either Sidwell or Murphy available when the ball came back from the QPR defence, they moved the ball quickly and their build-up play was ruthlessly simple. And QPR were utter shite, which helps enormously, of course.

And the shite was pretty consistent throughout the QPR team. I left the ground not knowing who to give the Man of the Match award and I still don’t some five hours later. They were basically all pants really, truth be told. I shall, though, select one or two for particular lament.

Taarabt has been a huge disappointment so far this season by the high standards of last year where his brilliance was – in the end – the difference between being Champions and some way down the league. I don’t know whether it’s him or the way he is being asked to play, but he seldom runs at people in the way that he did before. Given the ball he is far more likely to cut back inside, often bringing one or more defenders back into play. Those bursting runs into the box that delivered penalties and goals last year are notably absent. Are we being tactically more cautious, thus stifling his contribution?

Hall’s reputation with the QPR support is about as damaged as his hamstrings and he did it further damage here today, largely just by being out there on the field. He certainly seemed culpable with Kenny regarding the penalty. To be fair, though, I would have to watch the highlights to determine precisely who was responsible for the constant gaps in the defence, and sadly I haven’t the time to do that and get this finished before another week’s grafting starts again.

We are very thin in terms of quality at the back, hence Warnock’s ire regarding Traore. His replacement, Orr, was his usual self and could not cross the ball to save his life. Indeed, several times in the first half there was an extra interchange of passes to allow Barton to swap positions with Orr so he could cross the ball instead. But, it would be wrong to heap all the blame on Orr – Young was not at his best on the left and one assumes that had Connolly been fit he would have played. If the new regime has more money to spend in January then quality centre-backs and fullbacks would be on my list.

The midfield looked all at sea for most of the game, whether playing the conventional 4-4-2 or the 4-2-3-1 that we seem to play, with the three in that formation ‘floating’. After an earlier match report I was castigated by someone who was at pains to point out that I could not possibly know what I was talking about, so I’ll try to avoid a repeat of that by saying that whatever I think about team shape, in general teams play well in spite of their formations rather than because of them. In terms of decision-making and execution QPR were poor today and the various changes of personnel and shape did little to change that. We also fell over far too easily and seldom looked like getting the fouls for which the players appealed whilst sprawled on the floor. Oh, and while I am about it, please practice keeping the ball and moving it about, rather than simply hoofing it forward. Three touches and hoof was not really good enough in the Championship – it’s hopeless in the Prem.

I suppose in the end we have to hope that it was just an all round bad day at the office – if not, we are in trouble because the expensive new additions looked no better and in many ways worse than the pre-takeover options did against Bolton. Class is permanent and form is temporary so let’s hope Shaun and Joey get back to form when we face Blackburn. The Bothroyd jury is still out as far as I’m concerned, but it will have seen little here to help his case.

On a more general point, even with a return to form, we could still do very much better with set pieces. The corners are poor and any attempt to sophisticate them makes them worse. And despite an apparent plethora of riches in the free kick department we can still only dream of scoring that way. This set-piece malaise has been absolutely consistent thus far this year. It can – and should – be sorted on the training ground as soon as possible.

Losing the last game before an international break is never a good move, but getting an absolute thumping means that we must now fester for nearly two weeks before we can pick ourselves up again. With rumours of Taarabt stomping off and other discord in the camp breaking on the message boards, it seems that there will need to be some work to be done to restore the apparent harmony of recent weeks before the – ahem – ‘six pointer’ against Blackburn Rovers.

Finally, a mention of the QPR support that turned out in large number despite the ludicrous £49 ticket price (plus booking fee!), was noisy throughout and mostly stayed to the end despite the score. The players would do well to note that commitment and recognise that they owe us one for today.

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

QPR: Kenny 5, Ferdinand 5, Hall 4, Young 5, Orr 5, Faurlin 5, Derry 4 (Smith 45, 5), Wright-Phillips 5, Taarabt 4 (Campbell 45, 6), Barton 5, Bothroyd 4 (Mackie 72, 7)

Subs Not Used: Murphy, Perone, Buzsaky, Helguson

Booked: Hall (foul), Faurlin (foul), Wright-Phillips (dissent)

Fulham: Schwarzer 7, JA Riise 6, Hangeland 6, Baird 6, Grygera 7, Sidwell 8, Murphy 7 (Etuhu 83 6), Dempsey 6, Johnson 8 (Ruiz 75 6), Zamora 7, Dembele 7 (Sa 87, -)

Subs Not Used: Etheridge, Kelly, Senderos, Duff

Booked: Sidwell (foul), Hangeland (foul)

QPR Star Man: Jamie Mackie 7 I hate doing scoring and I cannot choose any of the main participants in a woeful QPR performance as ‘Star Man’, but Jamie’s typical energy and enthusiasm shone through on an otherwise dreadful day. DJ Campbell was probably the pick of the rest but even he was only out there for 45 minutes.

Referee: Andre Marriner (West Midlands) 7 Largely unfussy and just got on with things really. Can’t really recall him getting anything wrong but needs to make sure a wall starts and finishes ten yards from a free kick otherwise there seems little point to him being there to say where it should go.

Attendance: 23,776 (3,000+ QPR fans)

Photo: Action Images



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R_in_Sweden added 19:15 - Oct 3
Accurate report, shocking performance. Bothroyd is lacking in confidence and is not functioning as the lone striker. Taarabt, who I thought was our best player against Villa (apparently taking the bus home during the second half) is playing totally out of position. And Barton is yet to impress considering his wages, reputation (as a player) and how outspoken he is about everything on Twitter. Fitz Hall? Don't get me started, totally at fault for the second goal.

A few thrashings were expected this season yes, but not against the likes of Fulham. A six pointer against Blackburn coming up with a proverbial kick up the arse preceding it. Never a dull moment.
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GloryHunter added 20:14 - Oct 3
Good report Colin, thanks.

It was the free kick eposode that did my head in. We get a free kick, fanny about, and waste it. They get a free kick, simply tap it past the end of the wall, and wallop. Men against boys.

And what is Joey Barton adding to the team, exactly? From other posts it sounds like he might be doing more harm than good. Lay off Fitz, I'd say - at least he stopped it being 7.
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QPRski added 20:34 - Oct 3
Colin, congratulations on being able to write the report. I think we are all numb and I certainly would not know where to begin. I would not want to!

The only postive from the match is the return of Mackie.
Perhaps the international break may allow us to re-unite.

It is a game best forgotten but I hope it is not a reality check to the Fernandes revoltion. NW will have his work cut out to re-inflate the team, but in NW we trust.
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westolian added 20:49 - Oct 3
Fitz Hall was a liability in the Championship let alone the PL - come back Kaspars, all is forgiven

2 quality defenders, 1 centre midfielder, 1 quality back up keeper and a proven goalscorer short

ATAF
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RBLOCKPAT added 20:55 - Oct 3
A very strange day yesterday, high hopes, incredible weather, anyone would think we were all walking to a game in Spain, every Rangers fan going to the game in good spirits and a sense of superiority. Then the game started and when I saw the same formation I felt an early feeling of anti- climax, our problem lies up front and we have to change the way we play immediately. Bothroyd will have to take a back seat for now, we must go 4.3.3. Campbell Mackie and SWP up front Faurlin/ Derry Barton and Taraabt behind Troare ( when back ) Ferdinand Gabidon and Young. Barton has been the biggest problem I feel, yesterday he was woeful and very near to being missing in the first half, as far away from justifying his armband as possible. When we signed him we listened to his inflated ego telling us how he should be in the England team I think he is lucky to be in our team the way he has performed so far, where is the tiger? He has been a mouse and I would rather have Akos back. I feel sorry for Adel since Barton has come in he has been buried in the left of midfield playing meaningless short passes sideways and not beating players and going for goal like last season, it is no coincidense that we havent had one spot kick this season, he is just not getting in the box and from what I have seen this season the opposing defenders are no great shakes! Thank God for the return of Jamie Mackie it made me forget the scoreline when he came on and to be honest is the only crumb of hope we have to staying up, I like alot of Rs fans ( who were magnificent yesterday ) have got a bit carried away with expectations and yesterday brought home some hard facts of life so its down to you NW good luck you need to have a big rethink. Please dont play Hall or Orr again and play Bothroyd in the reserves to liven him up a bit he has got all Priskinny. Bring on Puncheon from the bench a few times to change the game hes doing well in the reserves. Blackburn is suddenly a massive game!
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Neil_SI added 21:43 - Oct 3
I don't normally like rating players either Colin, but you've been quite generous there with some of them.

The important thing is we don't overreact and start getting on the players backs. The whole win together, lose together mentality is needed here. Every player didn't perform, so it's no use picking on individuals, even if some of them really did have nightmare's on the day.

They know it wasn't good enough or acceptable, and now it's up to them to go that little bit extra to make sure we don't see another performance like that again. We were never in it from the word go, which is a large difference to the beating we took against Bolton when we were in the game for an hour. We've got to compete for every single minute of every single game regardless of the score.

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YorkRanger added 22:04 - Oct 3
A really good summary Colin of a miserable day
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DesertBoot added 08:26 - Oct 4
We all know that back four was going to be a major problem. Young unlucky to be left-back, Ferdinand most unlucky to be partnering Hall.
Frustrating for me has been the apparent stifling of Taarabt who is now just an ordinary midfielder (bar the first hour against Newcastle), and I've not seen anything from Barton yet that justifies his own hype and having the captain's armband. He really needs to step up a few notches and perhaps a central role will enable that.
Also SWP is a winger through and through. Watching him in the centre jumping for long balls was ridiculous. Alot of square pegs and round holes aided Fulham's cause signficantly.
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Juzzie added 12:14 - Oct 4
Good report, thanks. I think Fulham played 4-3-3 (Dempsey upfront with AJ & BZ) which is why they tore us apart. Jol clearly knew our defence was weakend and too full advantage by having 3 in attack.

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Monahoop added 14:08 - Oct 4
Good report about a bad day. I had a bad feeling about this match all weekend, hence I declined to make any form of prediction beforehand. My fears were made worse when I saw our back line. To make matters worse I learned that a couple of their key men had recovered sufficiently from a bug to play their part. Fulham rarely score lots of goals but when the likes of Zamora, Dempsey and Johnson are on song, defences need to be on high alert. Our lot simply weren't.
It's no good playing the blame game on one or two individuals for such a debacle when the whole team and that includes NW, got this terribly wrong. I just hope that this is a one off and we have learnt from it. Blackburn at home next as others have mentioned is a massive game now. Screw that one up and our next game against Chelsea and the fixtures to follow will be like trying to pull a chieften tank single handardly up Everest to get a result!
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Pizanti added 14:13 - Oct 4
With regards Barton ...he needs to play centre midfield ...NW needs to decide who his x2 first choice central midfielders ..any 2 from Derry, Faurlin or Barton and then build the team and formation from there ...no point in sticking him out on the right hoping he does a job ....to often in the first half he went missing looking for the ball leaving Orr with two on one! ...poor lad was destroyed by Dempsey & Riise.

For Blackburn I'd like to see 442 ...with a midfield of Taraabt - Barton - Faurlin - SWP and DJ with Bothroyd up front.
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robith added 14:54 - Oct 4
I missed the first goal as I was finding a stream, but interesting to hear Johnson was being a bell after the first goal too. I'm not one of these people who subscribe to the view that players should sit and take abuse, but was puzzled by the way he was acting towards the away fans
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NorwayRanger16 added 15:02 - Oct 4
Well done on the report Colin. I won't comment on the performance as that have been done in abundance. But i would like to point out what really annoyed me, why can't any of our players execute one bonafide bonecrunching tackle?! Steve Sidwell did it early on Taarabt which always settle a team when your hard man takes out the opponents flair player(s). And expecially on a day like this when everything goes tits up surely someone can at least get stuck in? Thought this was one of Joey Bartons main assets? We would have lost anyway, this is not the point, but at least the margin could have been cut with a couple of goals.
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AshteadR added 17:18 - Oct 4
Thanks for the report Colin.

Sunday reminded me of some of our less than successful trips to Watford in the past. High expectations, superiority complex - only to get well and truly stuffed!

I think this will act as a bit of a wake up call and put into perspective how far we still have to go. The international break should give us some breathing space to overcome injuries and focus on the Blackburn game, which will have its own challenges.
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dixiedean added 17:59 - Oct 4
NW can't think much of Perrone ( assuming he's fit) if he can't get in ahead of a 1 legged Hall.While it wouldn't be fair to single one individual out, people like Barton do put extra pressure on themselves by being gobby and trying to talk themselves into the England team etc. Dream on. For all the flak he gets, you would happily swap Lampard for Barton or anyone else we've got.Joey- cut out this tweeting crap, button it and be the inspirational leader NW thinks you are. Right now you're not earning your inflated wages. Nor are several others, but they don't spout off about everything under the sun.BIG performance needed v Blackburn which is the last of our 'easy' run at the start of the season. Lose that and suddenly we're looking over our shoulder- even the Gooners might overtake us.
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JB007007 added 19:11 - Oct 4
Thanks Colin, - spot on with that.
I had a bad feeling about this one before, but didnt see that complete thrashing coming. Arguably they do have some of the best attackers though.
A couple of things I ve noticed this season thats starting to concern me. Taarabt seems to be restricted and is almost frightened of trying some of the runs and tricks of last season. Seems to be giving the ball to Barton at the earliest opportunity. Also, we have been so poor this season at set pieces. We just cant seem to work the goalkeeper with free kicks and the corners are a complete waste.
RBLOCKPAT, I love Jamie Mackie like the rest of us, but sorry mate but its too early to start saying that staying up rests on him! He's not proven at this level yet and has just come back from an injury that quite easily finishes players careers.
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RBLOCKPAT added 21:52 - Oct 4
JB007007 yes of course you are right, but the time that Jamie was on th pitch he showed exactly what we have been missing so much this season, drive, determination and actually wanting to score a goal! We have been so lightweight up front this season and NW has to take most of the blame with our formation and especially harnessing Taraabt who should again be our talisman, at least we now know that Mackie is going to do everything he can to pepper the goal and being proven in this league means nothing, the quality of defending is not that high and we have to be more composed building our attacks and to be honest last seaon the championship would have been won in March if Jamie Mackie was playing the whole season, our players need to emulate the desire and motivation of JM, especially the two JB's!
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RBLOCKPAT added 23:12 - Oct 4
JB007007 yes of course you are right, but the time that Jamie was on th pitch he showed exactly what we have been missing so much this season, drive, determination and actually wanting to score a goal! We have been so lightweight up front this season and NW has to take most of the blame with our formation and especially harnessing Taraabt who should again be our talisman, at least we now know that Mackie is going to do everything he can to pepper the goal and being proven in this league means nothing, the quality of defending is not that high and we have to be more composed building our attacks and to be honest last seaon the championship would have been won in March if Jamie Mackie was playing the whole season, our players need to emulate the desire and motivation of JM, especially the two JB's!
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Fan123 added 01:05 - Oct 5
Nice one there Colins. Another possibility QPR's simply tired, fitness not up to par compared with other league table. BPL football demands very high performance & consistency, sluggish, outmatched in all department, dismal temperament if not none at all. Bet that last week R's" enjoying life" a bit much at Loftus Road while Fulham busily recuperating due to tight schedule working very hard at gym. Taarabt was only person with normality on that faithful day, he was frustrated no respons from team mates, left Craven abruptly. Barton, SWP, Ferdinand are highly paid, their sacrifice should be greater, professionally. Mackie should take it easy like Gerard.
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