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QPR aggrieved by Norwich’s lesson in dark arts — full match report
QPR aggrieved by Norwich’s lesson in dark arts — full match report
Wednesday, 4th Jan 2012 00:40 by Clive Whittingham

A controversial sending off for QPR captain Joey Barton turned a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 defeat for the R’s at home to Norwich on Monday afternoon.

The unmistakable sound of an alarm bell ringing was drowned out briefly by boos from three sides of Loftus Road on Monday, but will continue to chime for the fortnight until the next Premier League game for Queens Park Rangers who are relying on the January transfer market to rescue their season.

Rangers are currently a lethal combination of not very good and not very lucky – a familiar tale for relegated teams through the ages, including Ray Wilkins’ demoted QPR side of 1996. Wilkins’ inexperienced and ill-equipped side lost games on the frequent occasions it didn’t perform, and then when it was up to scratch found itself making horrendous individual mistakes or falling victim to crass refereeing. For the second time at Loftus Road this season it was the latter that afflicted Neil Warnock’s modern day equivalent on Monday.

Referee Neil Swarbrick may like to take a moment this week to quietly contemplate one of the first things he’ll have been told having walked through the door of his very first refereeing course: “You can only give what you’ve seen.” Deviation from that golden rule can leave officials looking stupid, and that’s exactly what Swarbrick and his assistant David Richardson looked here.

Joey Barton had already given the team he now captains a deserved early lead when he found himself first kicked across the heals by Norwich’s Bradley Johnson and then shoved in the back by his team mate Zak Whitbread as the trio attempted to become involved in another QPR counter attack. Barton squared up to Johnson and the pair exchanged verbals as play went on around them. When Luke Young then appealed for a man to pass to Barton provided an option and was allowed to continue with play while Johnson checked his face in back play in a display of fakery worthy of the Globe Theatre. Both officials were happy for play to continue, with QPR in possession, at this stage and Barton was then kicked high into the air by Elliott Bennett for a clear free kick to the home team.

What happened next only Swarbrick will be able to explain, and he’ll have to do just that after QPR rightly appealed the outrageous decision he and Richardson reached. Barton was red carded for what the referee indicated at the time was a head butt, later discretely changed to an intended head butt, and replays showed was nowhere close to either. A head butt, or attempted head butt, so severe that both officials who claimed to have seen it were happy initially for QPR to play on with possession.

It was a scandalous decision, but one in keeping with a truly dreadful afternoon of officiating and a horribly cynical display from the visiting team who have clearly learnt very quickly about the darker arts of the Premiership. Rarely were Norwich caught engaging in an unbroken piece of open play – there was always an attempt to win a free kick, a committee meeting with the referee, a shirt pull on the blindside, a moan to a linesman, an obvious dive rewarded with a free kick. Grant Holt led the way, but was by no means acting alone. QPR were conned out of this match, but they were tremendously naïve as well – Rangers, and the referee, fell for every single trick from Norwich’s lousy book across the entire 90 minutes.

The QPR team charged with finding a first win in eight matches by manager Neil Warnock showed several changes from the weekend defeat by Arsenal for this second game in three days. Anton Ferdinand returned to the defence after four games out with a hamstring injury and was partnered by Danny Gabbidon. Armand Traore missed out though, replaced by Clint Hill, with Luke Young at right back and Paddy Kenny fit enough to resume in goal. Further forward Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlin anchored the midfield with Barton wide right, Jamie Mackie wide left and Adel Taarabt ahead of them through the middle. Heidar Helguson replaced Jay Bothroyd as the lone striker.

Paul Lambert rarely keeps the same team himself, but his squad rotation has brought better results than Warnock’s in recent weeks. He escaped from a home match with Fulham with a point on Saturday thanks to a late equaliser from Simeon Jackson who was rewarded with a start here along with his fellow Saturday sub Grant Holt.

And it was the Canaries, safely ensconced in the middle of the league table, who started much the brighter of the two sides. Rangers were forced to clear a well delivered corner from Pilkington in the first minute and then the former Huddersfield man rode an attempted foul from Faurlin and cracked a shot at goal that was blocked and cleared by Anton Ferdinand.

Rangers’ need was undoubtedly the greater of the two sides and they quickly settled to their task after the early scares, taking the lead after ten minutes. The goal owed much to an exquisite ball into the left channel from Faurlin which teed up Clint Hill for a low cut back into the area that was dispatched emphatically into the net by the onrushing Joey Barton. His second goal for the club, and first at Loftus Road, brought audible relief around the ground and seemed to relax the home team.

But the action was beset with warning signs. Elliott Bennett fell dramatically to ground after a quarter of an hour and was rewarded with a free kick which Whitbred headed over. Having retreated back to his own half Whitbred then aggressively challenged Helguson from behind under a high ball and play on was waved. Grant Holt was on hand for regular meetings with the officials almost every occasion the ball went out of play. Even the goal had been preceded by a Whitbred foul on Helguson on the edge of the area that referee Neil Swarbrick had ignored.

Then, after 19 minutes, Bradley Johnson had a weak shot saved by Kenny and QPR broke across halfway. Recognising danger Simon Lappin cynically and deliberately hacked Barton down in the centre circle. Play was rightly waved on, QPR had been sinned against but maintained possession in an attacking situation, but when it drew to a close referee Swarbrick settled for giving the defender a mild ticking off. It was a yellow card all day, all night, all weekend long. In the second half Heidar Helguson was booked for a less serious offence while Wright-Phillips was carded for an identical one.

Once play resumed Simeon Jackson scooped a presentable chance wide from eight yards out after Anton Ferdinand had been caught too deep playing everybody onside. But it was the officiating occupying minds and tempers. Bennett fell theatrically again, again a free kick was awarded. Helguson was fouled by Whtibread again, again nothing was given. Swarbrick was now too busy warning Paddy Kenny about time wasting every time he failed to deliver a goal kick within three seconds of the ball going behind to notice anything else. QPR were growing frustrated, Norwich were starting to realise they could pretty much do as they pleased. A flashpoint was coming.

Ten minutes before half time disaster struck – for QPR as a whole, and the referee as an individual with career aspirations. QPR snuffed out a Norwich attack and moved away down the left through Faurlin, already though trouble was brewing out on the right where first Whitbread with his arm and then Johnson with his foot had lashed out at Joey Barton as he crossed the halfway line. Barton squared up to Johnson as play went on around the pair but neither the linesman nor the referee saw anything in the confrontation worthy of stopping play for – presumably had either seen an offence from Barton then play would have been stopped and a free kick awarded to the visitors. Instead QPR, first with Young and then through Barton himself, were able to play on and construct the attack which had by now switched to the right. Play ended when Bennett hacked Barton down and from that point on chaos reigned.

Two Norwich players went immediately to the referee while Grant Holt, some 40 yards away initially and of no relevance to the situation whatsoever, flew across the field to deliver his verdict to both Swarbrick and his assistant referee David Richardson. The QPR fans bayed for Johnson’s blood for his deliberate kick out at Barton off the ball. Swarbrick and Richardson locked themselves in discussion.

Now one can only imagine what was said between the two. Presumably, given that Swarbrick quickly returned to the field and sent Barton off, the conversation concluded with them deciding that although Swarbrick hadn’t seen anything worth stopping a QPR attack and awarding a Norwich free kick for initially, and although Richardson hadn’t seen anything worth stopping a QPR attack and awarding a Norwich free kick for initially, what had actually happened was that a QPR player had headbutted a Norwich player and they had in fact seen it after all.

Far more likely than that ludicrous scenario is that they both saw some sort of coming together, they then saw Bradley Johnson holding his nose, they then noticed it was Joey Barton whose past record is extensive and they guessed. They broke the golden rule of refereeing – you can only give what you have seen. Neither of them saw it, otherwise they would have awarded a Norwich free kick and sent Barton off immediately. They deduced, on the balance of probability and wrongly as it turned out, that a Norwich player wouldn’t be holding his nose if nobody had touched it and that Joey Barton is the type to do something like that.

Johnson is a cheat and should be retrospectively dealt with as such, and the referee should be struck off immediately for gross misconduct. There is no excuse for the behaviour of either. They should both be thoroughly ashamed and embarrassed.

For Barton, who dived pathetically to get Gervinho sent off while he was playing for Newcastle against Arsenal back in August, I’m afraid this is a case of ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’ and Neil Warnock’s post match assertion that Barton wouldn’t have reacted in the same way as Johnson is plainly incorrect – because he in fact reacted a lot worse in that Arsenal game.

But for QPR, who had played their way into this game and won a valuable lead in an honest and hard working style in the face of outlandish gamesmanship and outright cheating, this was a travesty.

By halftime Norwich had levelled. Johnson shot wide three minutes after his swindle and then four minutes before the break Anthony Pilkington was afforded too much time on the edge of the area and drilled a fabulous shot across Paddy Kenny and into the far corner of the net.

Pilkington is the acceptable side of this Norwich team. Exceptionally talented, versatile, young and purchased for an absolute steal from League One Huddersfield Town. Paul Lambert is the Premiership Manager of the Year in waiting for the way he has guided Norwich through consecutive promotions to a midtable top flight position by consistently showing a sharp eye for a lower league talent. Of this Norwich starting 11, nine have either been bought from the Championship or lower or journeyed up from League One with Norwich. The other two, John Ruddy and Daniel Ayala, were picked up from Premiership reserve teams. Their gamesmanship in the face of QPR’s naïve honesty was lamentable, but their comparative success with this method of squad building as opposed to putting faith in the likes of Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips as QPR have done deserves huge credit.

Credit though is hard to award in such circumstances and the half concluded in typical fashion. A ball knocked forward by Norwich found Shaun Derry standing stock still in the middle of his own half. Grant Holt ran towards Derry, launched himself from a distance of three yards and collapsed on the ground behind him like a dying swan under literally no contact at all. Swarbrick, who’d spent the half ignoring increasing physical assaults on QPR’s own target man Heidar Helguson at the other end, quickly awarded a free kick to Derry’s clear astonishment.

Security forces ordered the referee to wait on the field while the tunnel was cleared once he’d finally brought the worst officiated half of football at Loftus Road since Andy Hall was last in town to a close. We were witnessing a scandal.

QPR need points desperately, so sitting back and hoping to hold on for a draw here wasn’t really an option. Neil Warnock deserves credit for not only leaving Heidar Helguson and the threatening Adel Taarabt on the field with ten men, but also introducing Shaun Wright-Phillips for the ineffective Jamie Mackie. Wright-Phillips immediately set to work with a dribble and low shot that was saved by Ruddy, and then a lung busting run down the right followed by a low cross to Taarabt who shot wide. Johnson responded with a shot of his own but hopes started to rise that this might be one of those memorable days in W12 when the R’s triumph in the face of adversity.

Seven minutes after half time the home side came within an inch of taking the lead. Miraculously, astonishingly, it came from a free kick. That’s right, Swarbrick finally awarded them one. Great play by Adel Taarabt developed an attack on the edge of the area that ended when Ayala kicked through the back of Faurlin and, wonders never cease, received a yellow card for his troubles. Taarabt took the free kick himself, expertly flighting it over the wall and towards the uncovered bottom right hand corner. Ruddy did brilliantly to scramble across the full width of his goal and plant fingertips on the ball, successfully diverting it onto the inside of the post and back into play. Like I say, a lethal combination of not very good and not very lucky.

Taarabt has had his fair share of criticism this season but he attacked the second half here with admirable determination. A fine through ball for Wright-Phillips produced a weak penalty appeal that Rangers wouldn’t have been awarded even by a fair referee and then a great cross from the Moroccan was diverted out to Faurlin whose goalbound left foot volley was headed out for a corner. Sadly the numerical disadvantage counted against Taarabt, none more so than when an outrageous piece of skill in the area dummied Whitbread six yards in the opposite direction but there was nobody on hand to receive the resulting cross. Neil Warnock mysteriously removed Taarabt five minutes from time to bring on DJ Campbell – I’ll never understand why.

By that stage Rangers were losing. Norwich had been cautious in their approach to playing ten men but intelligently exploited the tired legs of the home team by introducing three substitutes at once – Steve Morison, Wes Hoolahan and David Fox replaced omnipresent pain in the arse Holt, Simon Lappin and Adam Drury.

Morison had already headed a presentable chance wide at the back post when he found himself facing the goal with the ball at his feet and all the time in the world to pick his spot eight minutes from time. He didn’t pick it very well, shooting straight at Shaun Derry on the line, but with Paddy Kenny overcommitted chasing the initial deep back post cross and Derry off balance the ball wound up in the net regardless.

Warnock had sent on Manchester United loanee Federico Macheda for Heidar Helguson two minutes prior to that, and the young Italian may have scored with his first touch for the club had he been a little braver in collision with Ruddy under a fine Wright-Phillips cross, but the game was up once Morison had scored and everybody in the ground knew it.

In the past three games QPR have conceded a goal at Swansea after Danny Graham was allowed to bring the ball down with the palm of his hand because, in Lee Probert’s opinion, he didn’t mean to do it. They have then conceded a goal at Arsenal when they should have been lining up for an attacking corner because Martin Atkinson and his assistant didn’t see the incident and guessed wrongly that it was a goal kick. And now they have lost here because Neil Swarbrick and David Richardson didn’t see an incident and guessed as well based on player reaction and reputation. Throw in Stuart Attwell’s nonsense sending off in the Arsenal v Wolves game, outrageously upheld on appeal which doesn’t exactly bode well for Barton’s chances in this instance, and it hasn’t been the finest Christmas period for QPR or the refereeing fraternity.

This decision was the worst of the lot because not only was it wrong, but it was done on little more than a toss of a coin and a player’s reputation. Norwich player holding his nose, Joey Barton involved, it must be a red card.

Ultimately though it all just digs QPR in a little bit further. I’ve been kind to the team and Neil Warnock in recent weeks – rightly pointing out that seven points from eight matches against six of the top eight teams in the division isn’t a bad haul at all, and that having had just ten days in the summer to put a post-takeover team together being outside the bottom three at the turn of the year is some achievement.

But the time for excuses has gone now, and so has the run of ‘unwinnable’ fixtures. The transfer window is open, the games we have from now to March are all eminently winnable. We need quality players, and we need points, and we need them by the time we’ve finished at Bolton away or we’ll need a miracle to survive.

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QPR: Kenny 6, Young 7, Ferdinand 7, Gabbidon 6, Hill 6, Derry 6, Faurlin 6, Barton 6, Taarabt 7 (Campbell 85, -), Mackie 5 (Wright-Phillips 46, 7), Helguson 6 (Macheda 80, -)

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Orr, Connolly, Hulse

Sent Off: Barton 36 (“attempted headbutt”)

Booked: Helguson (foul), Wright-Phillips (foul)

Goals: Barton 11 (assisted Hill)

Norwich: Ruddy 7, Martin 6, Whitbread 7, Ayala 7, Drury 6 (Fox 66, 6), Bennett 6, Johnson 6, Lappin 6 (Hoolahan 66, 6), Pilkington 7, Holt 7 (Morison 66, 7), Jackson 6

Subs Not Used: Rudd, Surman, Wilbraham, Naughton

Booked: Ayala (foul)

Goals: Pilkington 42 (unassisted), Morison 83 (assisted Bennett)

QPR Star Man – Adel Taarabt 7 Worked hard without the ball, particularly without ten men, which was very out of character but hugely welcome. With the ball he posed all of QPR’s threat and continued the recent upward curve in his performances. Shaun Wright-Phillips a close second. Referee: Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire) 0 A LoftforWords first: a zero. We’ve never had one for a player or official before in my seven years on the site. Referee marks on here are judged largely on the big decisions, and of course Neil Swarbrick would have therefore been facing a low mark regardless because the big decision of the match was wrong. But to give a big decision with a guess, having not seen the incident, reduces him to a zero. What my girlfriend knows about football can be written on the back of postage stamp with a thick pen, but even she could stand in the middle of the pitch and guess decisions if you asked her to. How can a player be sent off for a head butt if play has been waved on with his team in possession? Perhaps a competent performance apart from the Barton incident may have elevated him to a two or three but he couldn’t even muster that. The difference in the way he refereed Holt and Helguson was bordering on corrupt. How was Lappin given the benefit of the doubt for his hack on Barton in the first half and then Wright-Phillips booked for the same thing in the second, and Helguson booked for a lot less? A performance that should have him considering his future in the game. Abject at best, scandalous at worst.

Attendance: 18, 033 (3,000 Norwich approx) Great support for both teams from both sets of fans. The QPR supporters stuck with their team and rightly gave the officials the rounds of the kitchen.

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eastside_r added 01:08 - Jan 4
Wise words as usual. I've read a lot on this and other football forums (fora?) but the plain truth is that however much you hate / think is a chancer is Joey Barton / Neil Warnock this decision was awful and was based on blatant cheating.

No amount of 'Barton's got form', 'Colin's' a right one to talk' will change the fact that Johnson feigned contact and that Norwich cynically played the game as efficiently as the Wimbledon of the 80's.

A wrong decsion is a wrong decision, two wrongs do not make a right.

blub added 01:22 - Jan 4
blubbity blubbery blub.

georgiosfs added 01:39 - Jan 4
The send off and the report doesn't make sense. Lets just assume (which it wasn't) an "attempted headbutt" I would understand that he didn't connect hence the word attempted, so why would Johnson be holding his nose? Are the ref's that stupid?

Fckn shambles! I hope we win the appeal, then the FA go for Johnson for play acting!

Good report btw.

canaryfan added 02:00 - Jan 4
As a Norwich fan, could I politely offer some thoughts about the game? Firstly, can I just say that your article is an excellent read, well written and entertaining. And whilst I appreciate it is often a pain in the arse to read words from an opposing fan on your site, I genuinely just want to put the other side.

Getting to the main point. You have it spot on about the refereeing shambles. A referee should give what he sees. Also the lino did not flag at all. I also totally agree that Barton's reputation preceded him and it smacked a lot of "well he must have done something". At the time, from the lower tier of the away end, I could see a bit of handbags, with Barton pushing his shoulder into Johnson, then coming towards him again, Johnson turning around holding his face etc. Then when I got home I watched it on MOTD.

There are a number of things that don't sit easy with me. I think there were provocations from both sides. Firstly Lappin's tackle on Barton deserved a yellow, and was possibly excused (wrongly) at the time because it was early in the game. That stokes the fire a bit. Next, Barton doesn't help himself by taunting the City fans after he scores. I might sound a bit precious here, but trust me I also despise it if any of our players do it when we score. It just adds a bit more needle. Next there was a coming together between Whitbread and Barton in the centre of the park. It appeared on tv to be six of one etc, but then it looks like Johnson had a go at Barton because of it. This then resulted in the shoulder charge and Eskimo rather than Glasgow kiss.

That's my hopefully unbiased view of the incident. Now, I must admit that Johnson's actions were pathetic (as was his attempted humour at the darts) but Barton doesn't help himself. Unfortunately there are too many players who take a dive to get players sent off, including Barton himself. I don't like it one bit. In fact Marc Tierney did a disgusting swan dive at Bolton (our only other away win) and got Klasnic sent off. It is conning the refs. However, Owen Coyle said after that one that Klasnic was stupid putting his head near his face. He also said it is an aggressive gesture that is a red card offence. Incidentally the linesman at that game who saw the vicious skull-smashing event was the SAME one as at Loftus Road.

Anyway, one last word on the incident, is that the fourth official may have seen it. It is well within his remit to bring an incident to the ref's attention if he sees an offence that the ref hasn't. So, as it was near the half way line, on his side of the pitch, he may have thought he saw Barton's head move towards Johnson and assume contact had been made. That would at least explain why the ref or linesman didn't stop play. I know it's still a crap decision, but at least it will have been made out of incompetent perception rather than guesswork.

Apart from that I thought it was an entertaining game. As you say, things aren't really going for Rangers at the moment, but I genuinely hope all three promoted teams stay up. From an outsider's view, I think a lot depends on who Warnock buys. It sometimes seems as if money to spend brings added pressure. Warnock has always appeared to me to do best when he has his hands tied somewhat. In his days at Huddersfield, Sheff Utd, Oldham etc he always managed to motivate average players and mould them together and adopt a siege mentality. Now he has money to spend it seems like he just wants to go shopping, buy what he can and hope that it works out. This contrasts a bit to Lambert who has had to be more prudent, identify the players that will fit into his system, are hungry and ambitious, and then attempt to get those specific men in.

Best wishes for the rest of the season.

MelakaRanger added 03:36 - Jan 4
"Johnson is a cheat and should be retrospectively dealt with as such, and the referee should be struck off immediately for gross misconduct. There is no excuse for the behaviour of either"

Absolutely!! His punishment should be far greater than the 3 games Barton is threatened with. A message needs to be sent out by the FA that such cheating will not be tolerated. The referee should also be sent for re-training!

"But the time for excuses has gone now, and so has the run of ‘unwinnable’ fixtures"

Absolutley! But Sunderland, Swansea and Norwich were all winnable not unwinnable. Warnocks substitutions were unbelievable. Though not surprising, I believe he actually lost the plot weeks ago - after the Stoke game - and I have seen no sign of him getting it back.

We simply must get wins against Wigan, Wolves, Blackburn and Fulham or we will be doomed. And in addition to these 4 wins we need to win in March against Everton, Bolton and get a point or two from the Sunderland, Villa and Liverpool games. That would give us another 20 points - 37 in total - and so entering our 8 games needing only to gain, maybe, another 5 points to hopefully ensure our safety (only just). This is going to be tough but for the team of only just 2 months ago, its very acheievable. Lets just hope that teams spirit, commitment, tactics and luck return and never goes away again.

RangerKIK added 03:50 - Jan 4
Just when you think you have seen it all in football.........A player gets sent off because he got fouled!! WTF. A friend of mine overheard the conversation on the sideline. Apparently the ref asked 'what happened' to which the lino replied 'dunno sarge but that Joey looks a bit shifty let's nick him'. As the ref turned away the lino then secretly passed a small bag of a white powder to the ref while whispering 'ere tuck this in his shorts when he's not looking'.

We all know that our early season form means we should be sitting in mid-table mediocrity with no worry of Europe or relegation. A season without drama as a sort of sabbatical from the constant stress of supporting The Rangers. But no the footballing Gods have once again decided we need to continue to suffer. We are now really in the relegation punch up make no mistake. Low confidence, no game plan, no settled team. Strap yourself in boys as here we go......again.

royallen0 added 06:46 - Jan 4
Excellent report, exactly as I saw it watching the game on TV here in Hong Kong. The referee was hopeless, Norwich were cynical cheats, and QPR were just not good enough at responding to either.
One point of disagreement though: "In the past three games QPR have conceded a goal at Swansea after Danny Graham was allowed to bring the ball down with the palm of his hand because, in Lee Probert’s opinion, he didn’t mean to do it." Whether he meant to do it is the whole point; the law explicitly states that its not hand ball if its not deliberate. I think that decision was correct.

Keep up the excellent work.

JB007007 added 08:02 - Jan 4
Thanks Clive.
I thought the decisions were going against us from the opening minutes. Heidar was battered at every opportunity and given nothing. I thought our goal would have made things better in that Norwich would become impatient. Having watched the incident(s) again a few times over, I can only conclude that I would like to give Johnson something to properly hold his nose over. He's ugly too.
I've been critical of SWP, but he did really well when he came on. He needs a few more performances like that though. I thought Ferdinand played well coming back in after a few weeks, but would have given Gabbidon the same rating?

adhoc_qpr added 09:28 - Jan 4
Interesting that both Norwich's away wins have come when they have conned the ref into sending an opposition player off - we are clearly missing a trick in our quest for home wins...

Great report as always, lets hope NW plays a blinder in the transfer window! I'm eagerly scanning for some credible transfer news (i.e. not the Daily Mail).

BeauRanger added 10:02 - Jan 4
Once again a very good report thanks very much, but I think it is a bit harsh to say the lost at Arsenal because of referring decisions. In all honesty they could have had 4 or 5 even without SWP's assist.

Rightly or wrongly Norwich seem to have found a way to get results in the Prem' & if Grant Holt finds a way to stand up long enough to call himself a professional footballer, look like they are going to avoid the drop. Rangers need to do the same & quickly, a few ugly wins would be most acceptable.

Yes the refereeing does seem to be be poor but we need to find a way to start picking up points.

keep the faith...

Farmboy added 10:04 - Jan 4
Another norwich fan here, and concur with Canaryfan regarding your well written article, but you do seem to have lost a bit of balance (even for a QPR site). One fully appreciate how it feels to be beaten especially when you have a player unfairly sent off but you seem to think every foul comitted by a QPR player was theatrically won and unjustifiably penalised by an incompetent referee , and every foul comitted by a Norwich player was a heinous crime worthy of at least a red card and possibly a jail sentence. (The fouls score was 12 each).I do note that in your matches to date the officials have booked 46 of the opponents players and only 30 of yours so it does not seem that they are that biased against you. I do not wish to go over the whole match but the bottom line is you have a pretty expensively assembled side who are being paid a lot of money who are regularly underperforming. You can blame the officials as much as you like, but with home form yielding one win againsy a 9 man side), and 6 points out of a possible 30 you are always going to be in trouble. Having already bought in 12 players the who have failed to blend/perform in the last three months the solution it appears is to bring in another 4 to 5 players who will supposedly blend/perform immediately. Warnock has always been a better manager when he hasn't had the keys to the sweetie shop, but now he has them I think his managerial weaknesses are being exposed - that is your problem.

Smithy07 added 10:16 - Jan 4
Whilst I would agree with my fellow Norwich fan above that this is certainly a well written and entertaining read the bitterness of your report is laughable but then perhaps thats what we should expect from a team managed by the idiot Warnock and containing odious individuals such as Barton.

If you would actually care to watch the sending ff incident properly and in close up from the start of the tangle on the half way line its very clear what happens and its also clear that the whole things starts with Barton attempting to elbow both Whitbread and Johnson in the head as he runs past. No mention of that in your one eyed report though. After that yes Johnson tries to trip Barton and Barton then "chest barges" him before sticking his forehead into Johnson's face. Contact may have been minimal but i'm afraid you just can't do that and expect to stay on the pitch if the officials see it. I saw it very clearly from where I was sat in the upper tier in the away end and my immediate reaction (and those of all around me) was that Barton was off.

As for the other incidents well yes Lappin should have been yellow carded but frankly Helguson's tackle on Drury was by far the worst of the match and had Barton not already seen red then he could have gone for that. Gabbidon was also extremely lucky when he brought down Holt having been turned on the half way line in the second half but by then the ref was in fact giving QPR everything.

If any team on that pithc was flinging themselves on the floor and being cynical then it wasn't us but then perhaps it sits Warnock and you lot to bleat about the ref and the evil cheating opposition rather than focus on how badly QPR are doing. We've not played our proper team or played well against you in both games this season and have taken 6 points. Any idiot manager would know we struggle against pace and Wright Phillips should therefore start against us. Even with your against the run of play goal on saturday we looked the better side and QPR looked like the weakest side we have played for several months.

Perhaps you should all therefore spend less time bleating and more time focusing on why that is!


AshteadR added 10:17 - Jan 4
Thanks for the report Clive. Despite the officials, I thought we were still the better team over the 90 minutes. And we played some decnt stuff at times - particularly Taarbs, Faurlin and SWP.

The saying goes that the harder you try, the luckier you get, but I'm not sure I agree with this currently, as the effort has been generally first class. Our main problem(s) continue to be a combination of conceding soft goals and not being able to convert our own chances.

This isn't helped by the constant team changes / squad rotation(!) - some enforced and some not. I think this is partly down to Warnock not knowing his best team, continuous injuries and poor individual performances.

We need to get back to winning ways, starting with the FA Cup on Saturday and build from there - but we all know our record in cup competitions!

BromleyHoop added 10:25 - Jan 4
Unfortunately cheating has become part of the modern game. Obviously footballers do not have the ability or inclination to stamp this aspect of the game out themselves by feeling a deep sense of shame at what they are doing so it is therefor the responsibility of firstly, referees and secondly, the FA.
Players should be 'cited' ala Rugby, for serious and clear cut offences missed during the game. Diving = 1 match ban, diving in penalty area = 2 match ban, diving in penalty area and getting a player sent off = 3 match ban, feigning injury to get a player sent off = 3 match ban, and my own personal pet hate - waving an imaginary red card at the ref to get a player sent off = 2 match ban.

Hopefully the message might then get through to footballers; stop cheating, you bring shame on the game, shame on your team and shame on yourself.

dixiedean added 11:00 - Jan 4
Yes, the ref was hopeless and yes Johnson's actions were disgraceful but if Barton hadn't confronted him he wouldn't have had the chance to fake the contact. From my seat in Upper Loft it looked at the time like he headbutted him off the ball when he should have been supporting the man with the ball (Young,who was screaming for a man to pass to while JB was up to his tricks) so I wasn't surprised at the red card AT THE TIME ( although retrospectively wrong). Frankly he has been a ticking time bomb which has now exploded and once the appeal is over NW should take him to task - remember him calling Traore a disgrace on MOTD after his 2nd yellow? Joey the teacher's pet seemes to do what he likes including talking bllx on Twitter all day. Ironically the red card happened in one of the few games where JB has done anything worthwhile ,ie score, whereas up until Swansea we've been treated to his consistently appalling dead ball attempts and ability to give the ball away dangerously. Correct,I don't like him and doubt I ever will until he produces consistently. That said,the appeal is risky- he could now get 4 games instead of 3, and he wouldn't have played at MK anyway, so effectively 2. I usually agree with 99% of what Clive says but I think the accusation of Norwich's cynicism is exaggerated ( Johnson and that w*nker Holt aside) and smacks of sour grapes to be honest. Problem is,once the ref loses control,as he did early on, he gives a message to the players that he's there to be conned and they're going to see different behaviour boundaries to what's expected,like a child with a lenient grandparent who lets them do what they like.I don't think we can blame them for that.Let's not wallow in self-pity any more and play the victim- you don't get spared relegation because you've had bad luck- so the players need to perform and quickly, including and especially those on 80k a week. Barton is in danger of becoming the next Robbie Savage, ie an average player hyped up because of his " contoversial bad-boy image". He should be told to put his PC away until he produces match-winning performances regularly, otherwise shut up and get on with what he's paid for.

JonDoeman added 12:27 - Jan 4
"But their comparative success with this method of squad building as opposed to putting faith in the likes of Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips as QPR have done deserves huge credit."
Agree with that para a great job he's done , but I'm well sick of Holt and had enough of bloody Norwich for one season.
Just hope we get another crack at them next season, cos they're staying up

NorwayRanger16 added 12:39 - Jan 4
Thank you Clive for a well written and accurate report. I understand it's hard for a Norwich fan to see their team for what they really are, a bunch of cheats. All orcestrated by their manager, who of course gets of scotch free.

And thank you for pointing out Holt's contribution to the red card. Everyone bleating on about him doing the exact opposite, when in fact as you say he ran 40 yards (i thought 60 yards, but that might be to generous on that fat cheat) to tell the refs what he's seen perfectly positioned 40-60 yards away.

But apart from the apauling refereing display, we also have to look closer to home. It's difficult to critise NW team selections during a hectic christmas period, but it stops now! Starting with the FA cup match we need to see a settled eleven for a consecutive amount of games, if NW fails with that then i'm afraid he don't know what he's doing anymore.

SomersetHoops added 12:39 - Jan 4
DixieDean has said everythig I wanted to say except that I am concerned that Warnock has fallen out with Traore who is one of the few players we have with real and developing talent. When Warnock falls out with players or senses he doesn't like them they don't get to play.

BlackCrowe added 12:40 - Jan 4
Smithy07 - LOLOLOL

themodfather added 12:45 - Jan 4
i feel that the physical and "dark side" are coached into the team, it would be uncanny for 11 individuals to continually try to con refs, it's "professionalism" as one word, "cheating" as another..i assume qpr have done their bit but norwich do like a qpr player off, they started from the off with fouls, unpunished, must've thought..."aye aye, weak ref here, carry on..."
he allowed ayala to totally take out barton, worse than the red for wolves v arsenal..yet just a chat. watch the build up to bartons red, at one point, he has to battle/ fend off 2 norwich guys kicking,shoving him....then gets taken out by bennett, who was not cautioned either. we're moaning, they are celebrating 3 pts and a win.

RBLOCKPAT added 13:04 - Jan 4
Yes we were naive to the obvious provocationary tactics that Lambert planned, but we should be better than that its park football stuff and we have got to remember we are in the Prem and have a bit more savvy. What really concerns me is that our players obviously do not feel comfortable with the system that NW seems to be shoving them into, Norwich knew how they were going to go about things and we like little lambs werent sure. Ok we score and nice to see for a change one banged in, which is what I expected from Barton from the start of the season and have been waiting too long, then because of our formation we just sit back and let them play instead of going for the kill 451 is cobblers we dont get any players in the box have to rely on wild swings at goal from desperation, there is no composure to our play we get sucked too deep and rely on a quick break fom SWP who just lacks confidence to get in the box first then hit it, cross the ball to who? We have to go 433 or 442 and start to pepper the oppositions goal you might say too bold but we are losing games playing a wretched system that just brings teams on to us and we are not really looking like troubling them, I dont believe that we havent got the right players I just dont believe that we are playing the right system to trouble the rest of the prem and that sits firmly in the bosses corner, its all getting a bit frusrrating.

jimuk added 13:14 - Jan 4
Hi Clive, I read your reports all the time and like them but this one is emotional and that is because of the JB factor. He is a top drawer WUM and the effect has even gotten to you. I wish he was as good at restarts as he is at wind ups. All the facts are out there but cheating/gamesmanship is with us now and he met his match in this game. They all do it. Keep smiling, dig deep and get behind the team and the manager because we all need it.

QPRski added 13:45 - Jan 4
As monday was a work day in Poland I "suffered" the match via text commentary.
Thanks for the report as it helps explains what actually happended on and off the pitch.

This is the first report I see with more text about the referring standards and gamesmanship than the match itself. Also there are emotional comments from both sets of supporters. So it must have been one hell of an atmosphere in the ground!

I personally hoped that that Macheta could have been introduced earlier that the 80th min as he could have sharpened that attack. Any views?

Philosophically, it has happened and let's get it out of our system however hard it may be. Let's see what team we have for our next Prem match on the 15th. The time for excuses is over. We need to bond and perform, and get results irrespective of any poor referring decisions and luck. This means score much more goals than the opponents.

PinnerPaul added 13:46 - Jan 4
Poster above who mentions 4th Official has it spot on IMHO.

Don't understand why officials don't just own up to that.

It should get picked up on appeal. AR's report will have to contain the standard line "I had a clear unobstructed view of the incident".

Panel Chairman SHOULD then ask, "If that was the case why didn't you signal?"

For an unbiased view, plus further comments from me! on the incident(s) go on Referees Association website's messageboard.


billericaydicky added 14:00 - Jan 4
Great stuff as always Clive. As we all know Rangers need to start bending the rules a little more (as Mick McCarthy said about Wolves) and getting in the Official's faces a bit more to enable us to compete when decisions are being contetsed and we can start by forming our own refereeing committee a la Holt and Alexander last season.

And we thought Mr Atwell was the worst Referee we'd seen at Loftus Rd in recent times?

Good to see that a few of our 6 fingered friends have had to have their say, so you must have touched a nerve or two. We know all about Bradley Johnson at Loftus Rd as he was the only Leeds player not to clap us onto the pitch at the final game last season as we were crowned Champions. Ungracious, unsporting and par for the course for a player who struggles to spell 'breath'.

Keep up the good work.

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