LFW end of term report, every player assessed – midfield
Tuesday, 12th Jun 2012 22:21 by Clive Whittingham
Part two of our squad performance assessment focuses on the middle men. From Samba Diakite to Shaun Wright-Phillips, who starred and flopped in the QPR midfield this season?
Key Facts – goals, assists, Man of the Match and appearance data
Fan Rating – average rating over the course of the season from interactive match ratings
LFW Rating – average mark from the match reports
Rating breakdown – marks out of ten from the LFW match reports over the course of the season, a dash signals player on the field for less than ten minutes
Discipline – number of cards and reasons for them
2 S Diakite – A/B
My word, what to say about Samba Diakite? He's a bit of a character isn't he? The 13 fouls in 33 minutes at home to Fulham resulting in a red card from referee Phil Dowd that was about 20 minutes overdue will live long in the memory as one of the all time great QPR debuts. He looked like an absolute liability that day but returned to the team after his ban and dominated Premiership midfields with a mixture of powerful running, impressive ball control and gratuitous violence.
His disciplinary record, laid bare below, is absolutely extraordinary but not exactly surprising for anybody who has seen him play; even in games where things are going well he's prone to moments of absolute madness. Against Swansea at Loftus Road , with Rangers 3-0 up and cruising, he suddenly executed a hideous tackle on Leon Britton that almost ripped his leg clean out of his hip joint. And he always seems surprised at the subsequent punishment too. That, and the way he rolls his shorts up, make me wonder whether he's quite the full ticket.
A £3.5m permanent deal was agreed when he moved on loan but he disappeared from the team one game short of the ten appearances that would have apparently made it automatic. The club said he had a virus, but three weeks is a long time to be out sick and he continued to attend matches and club functions munching bags of Harribo as he went which certainly set the rumour mill spinning. His parent club Nancy have sine announced that he has indeed moved to Loftus Road permanently but QPR have been keen to stress that no deal has yet been done. There's a piece missing in this puzzle somewhere and we'll see how the transfer saga plays out this summer.
Personally I'd drive down to France and bring him back here myself. Raw but with huge potential, talented and affordable, and absolutely stark raving mad – he's exactly the sort of player I want to see at QPR. Clearly though his discipline is an issue because if he signs and carries on at last season’s rate (more than a card every other game) he’ll be the first person ever suspended for reaching 20 bookings in a season.
Mark Hughes has a track record of picking up unheralded players from the continent on the cheap and turning them into stars – Moussa Dembele is attracting interest at Fulham, Chris Samba left Blackburn for nearly £10m after signing for Hughes from Hamburg for £200k. Diakite, who capped an impressive loan spell with a thumping winner against Arsenal in the Bush, could well be the next one.
Key Facts – Nine starts and no sub appearances for QPR, one goal v Arsenal, no assists, three Man of the Match awards, 15 appearances for Nancy, five for Mali
Fan Rating – 6.74
LFW Rating – 6.77
Rating breakdown – 5 6 7 6 9 7 8 6 7
Discipline – Seven yellows for QPR (repetitive fouling, repetitive fouling, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul) and one red (two yellows), five yellows for Nancy, three yellows for Mali = 15 yellows and a red in 29 appearances
4 S Derry – B/C
I might take some grief for this, but I haven't been as impressed with some of Shaun Derry's performances this season as some seem to have been. Let's be fair at the age of 34 and without a Premiership appearance to his name prior to this season he's done remarkably well to come into the division and play as often as he has, and for the most part hold his own, in a poor team. He's also provided leadership, spirit and commitment in a team that was, over the winter, lacking all three. But I think it's pretty obvious that we need a little bit better than him in the centre of the park and he’s often found himself overrun.
More often than not he's been played as one of three deep lying central midfield players and while that worked well in home matches against quality opponents, it was found sadly lacking in all other circumstances home and away. At home to Blackburn before Christmas, when we first tried the system, the result was a dreary 1-1 draw against a poor and eventually relegated Rovers team. Against one of the other relegated teams Bolton at the Reebok Stadium Hughes set up like that despite Wanderers being renowned for their weakness in the full back area and paid with a 2-1 defeat. It almost felt at times like we had to pick Barton, Derry and Diakite together because they were sort of one complete player between them – Diakite needed Derry to babysit him after the Fulham disaster, Derry needed Barton to do his running for him.
He should always be remembered fondly for his time with QPR, and scoring his first goal for five years against Liverpool at Loftus Road which sparked an amazing comeback from 2-0 down to a victory without which we'd have been relegated, but I don't think we can rely on him as a started next season, particularly away from home.
Key Facts – 30 starts and two sub appearances, one goal v Liverpool, one Man of the Match award
Fan Rating – 5.91
LFW Rating – 5.75
Rating breakdown – 6 8 5 6 7 7 6 4 5 7 5 5 6 6 6 4 6 5 6 5 5 7 5 5 6 8 6 5 7 2 6 7
Discipline – Four yellows (foul, foul, foul, foul) and one very harsh red at Man Utd (denying goalscoring opportunity)
11 A Faurlin - A
Having stayed in the Premier League, if QPR get Ale Faurlin back from his injury in the same shape and form he was in when he suffered it in January, then they may well reflect on his ruptured knee ligament disaster towards the end of the MK Dons cup tie as a positive thing. I’m reminded of similar injuries suffered in the same 2001 match against Fulham by Clarke Carlisle and Richard Langley who would both undoubtedly have been sold by the administrators that summer had they been fit. Their knackered knees kept them at Rangers and they became key players in Ian Holloway’s side that began the long road back to the top flight. Had Faurlin remained fit for the entire season and maintained his level of performance he would be one of the league’s hottest properties this summer and almost certainly on the move.
Back in the summer I described Faurlin as “our version of Charlie Adam” as I expected him to come into the league as part of a promoted side, take the division by storm and then get a big move this close season just as the Scot had done with Blackpool the previous term. And for half a season that looked like it was going to be spot on. With better players around him Faurlin blossomed into a classy ball playing central midfield player who directed QPR around the park beautifully. We missed him terribly when he was ruled out of action and Mark Hughes soon had to cut his losses and change our midfield to a deep lying group of destroyers rather than a creative force for the forwards. The idea of Faurlin joining Diakite in the centre of the midfield next season is a mouthwatering one and the Mad Malian would be ideal to cover Faurlin’s one true failing – his lack of pace and defensive decision making makes him vulnerable to swift counter attacks down the spine of the QPR team as we saw in the West Brom and Man Utd home matches. Diakite kills counter attacks like that, often literally, and would free Faurlin to play to his strengths and hopefully score some more goals which he also needs to add to his game.
We just have to pray he recovers fully and returns to the team in the style of Jamie Mackie rather than Rowan Vine whose career was finished by a less serious injury.
Key Facts – 21 starts, one goal v Wolves, one assist, two Man of the Match awards.
Fan Rating – 6.84
LFW Rating – 6.66
Rating breakdown – 5 7 6 8 8 6 5 6 7 7 9 8 8 8 7 5 6 7 6 6 5
Discipline – Three yellows (foul, foul, foul)
14 A Buzsaky - C
My initial assessment of Akos Buzsaky at the end of the season was that the Hungarian is a fourteenth place quality player in the Premiership. Against poor Swansea and Wigan sides at Loftus Road and an Everton team enduring its usual dire start to a campaign at Goodison Park he looked very good indeed, but against the better teams in the division he was found sadly lacking. But then probably his worst performance of the campaign was in the away game at Blackburn where I can scarcely recall him being as bad and yet just a week previously he’d been dominating Wigan at Loftus Road. As a result I’m subscribing to Neil Dejyothin’s theory on him, and the long list of numbers below back it up too.
Buzsaky, after a roaring start to life at QPR, has suffered some terrible injuries during his time at Loftus Road including a lengthy absence for an operation on his Achilles – a complaint that regularly crops up in pre-game team news about him. Good performances are often followed by poor performances because he struggles starting two or three games in a row. As he’s not a first team regular he’s not been able to build up that stamina and fitness and consequently struggles in tough runs of fixtures.
So what to do? Well, a one year contract extension has been offered and that seems fair. He does have a use as a covering midfielder for games against the division’s lesser lights. Firstly I’m not sure if he’ll be anything more than that ever again, and secondly I’m not sure if he’ll stay here to fill that role next season. Fabulous long range goals against Swansea and Wigan will convince him, and no doubt a few managers in the division below, that he’s still got what it takes and he may well seek a fresh challenge elsewhere.
Key Facts – 12 starts, nine sub appearances, two goals against Wigan and Swansea, two assists, two Man of the Match awards.
Fan Rating – 5.61
LFW Rating – 5.72
Rating breakdown – 6 7 6 6 5 5 6 7 8 6 3 - 7 - - 5 6 7 6 2 5
Discipline – No cards.
17 J Barton – C/D
The fickle nature of football supporters is best encapsulated in the reaction to Joey Barton since the events during the final match of the season at Manchester City. Drawing 1-1 and staying in the Premiership, QPR's chances of getting a result from that crucial game were jeopardised by Barton reacting to Carlos Tevez hitting him by striking him back. As if that wasn't enough he then kicked Sergio Aguero, headbutted Vincent Kompany and could easily have landed the club in horrendous disciplinary trouble by suggesting via his beloved Twitter account later that one of his team mates had told him to "try and take one of theirs with you" on the way off.
You'd think, considering he was sent off earlier in the season in controversial circumstances against Norwich after initially being sinned against, that he'd have learnt his lesson about retaliation but apparently not. For all the Nietzsche quotes and personal reinvention he is still that lethal combination of a bit dim with a short temper. Had QPR gone on to take a hammering at Eastlands and been relegated then I doubt Barton would ever be able to set foot inside Loftus Road again, but because 50 miles further south Bolton failed to win at Stoke many are apparently happy to forgive and forget.
Barton, according to his latest barrage of social media guff, still believes that it is only his behaviour that keeps him out of the England squad. This is thoroughly depressing because it suggests that he is happy with his overall performance level last season which, for the most part, was dreadful. Things came to a head in the Liverpool home match where he couldn't stand up for falling down and attracted the wrath of his own fans, and he improved somewhat when he came back into the team thereafter, but overall any positive impact from him on matches has been very few and far between. Quite often he's been more of a hindrance than a help.
It was my opinion prior to the City game that Mark Hughes would persevere with Barton for only as long as he needed to, and then send him packing at the first possible opportunity. If that was the case, a 12 match ban handed down for his behaviour on the final day has probably scuppered it. QPR are now in danger of having another Vinnie Jones situation on their hands where a troublesome midfield player on big money sits on his lucrative contract while not actually playing for or training with the team.
He was always a risky signing but I've been surprised just how poor he's been at the football side of things, and just how stupid he remains in the face of meagre confrontation.
Key Facts – 32 starts, three goals, three assists, no Man of the Match awards.
Fan Rating – 5.86
LFW Rating – 6.06
Rating breakdown –7 8 6 5 6 7 7 7 7 7 6 5 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 5 6 7 5 3 8 8 6 7 4 7 3
Discipline – Eight yellow cards for QPR (foul, foul, handball, foul, foul, foul, foul, repetitive fouling) and two reds (violent conduct, violent conduct), two yellow cards for Newcastle.
21 T Smith - C
A similar season to that of Akos Buzsaky in many ways: some important goals and decent performances, but mostly against the division’s poorer teams, and spaced out amidst big swathes of time spent out of the team. Tommy Smith has always been a player who has struggled to make the step up from Championship to Premiership and has consequently yo-yoed between the two with Derby, Sunderland and Watford during his career and it’s proved to be that way again this season as well. He’s technically fine but isn’t particularly quick or skilful or anything really – a bit like Danny Gabbidon but further forwards. In the away game at Liverpool he was dreadful, showing his limitations against the division’s better sides. Another who may serve a purpose as cover, but again somebody who probably wants to be doing more than that at this stage of his career and therefore may move on.
Key Facts – Six starts, 14 sub appearances, two goals against Everton and Wigan, no assists, no Man of the Match awards.
Fan Rating – 5.55
LFW Rating – 5.875
Rating breakdown – 5 7 6 6 – 5 – 6 – 6 5 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 6 -
Discipline – No cards
32 S Wright-Phillips - D
For Shaun Wright-Phillips things could have been so very different. He was excellent on debut against Newcastle and only some outlandish last ditch clearances on the goal line prevented him scoring a brace. One week later he cut in from the left during a quick counter attack against Wolves, beat Wayne Hennessey with a crisp drive and almost uprooted the post. A couple of weeks later still he did find the net, with some style as well, against West Brom only to have the goal incorrectly disallowed for offside when he was a yard on. I wonder how much different the season might have been for the little winger had one, two or all of those chances counted as goals. His confidence drained away thereafter and while he could never be accused of hiding or not trying he literally couldn’t do right for doing wrong in the end and the harder he tried the worse he got.
Mark Hughes’ decision to drop him from the team two thirds of the way through the season wasn’t a difficult one, but it bodes well for the manager’s future at QPR that he was happy to leave out one of the big names and top earners, and a player he’d previously signed at Man City, in favour of Jamie Mackie. Clearly favourites are not an issue with Mr Hughes, and that’s a good thing. Interestingly, and bizarrely, he still led the way with assists this season on five – the club’s generous award of one for Cisse’s goal at Man City took him to six but he isn’t getting that one from me.
For Wright-Phillips things go one of three ways from here: refreshed and revitalised he returns from the summer a new man and starts to perform in a QPR shirt; he cuts his losses and goes somewhere else to start afresh, probably Stoke; or he continues down his current path and rots in the depths of QPR’s squad while draining big money for years to come. My concern is he’ll be hindered in his quest to achieve the first aim because supporters have, with some justification, given up on him and written him off and once you’re the boo boy at Loftus Road things are very difficult to turn around. Additionally if QPR and/or the player do fancy shipping him out for a fresh start we may struggle to find a club willing to meet his salary.
His attitude is good, and his work rate is high, so he stands a chance but he’s going to have to overcome a loss of form so dramatic I’m struggling to recall a similar instance to compare it to and those in the QPR fan base who like nothing better than to persecute one of our own.
Key Facts – 28 starts, six sub appearances, no goals, five assists, one Man of the Match award.
Fan Rating – 5.63
LFW Rating – 6.00
Rating breakdown – 8 8 7 5 6 7 7 7 7 6 7 6 5 6 6 7 5 5 6 5 6 6 4 5 6 4 5 – 6 6 6 - 6
Discipline – Four yellows (dissent, foul, foul, foul)
Others >>> The only debut more ludicrous than Samba Diakite’s was Kieron Dyer’s which lasted four minutes against Bolton on day one. The injury prone midfielder started at full back but was quickly stretchered off in apparent agony with what was initially diagnosed as a bruised foot. That injury kept him out until Christmas when he then suffered some other problem and missed the rest of the season. Nothing more than anybody expected given his record of 16 starts in six years and only one 90 minute run out in that time, and frankly it’s ludicrous that the club has extended his deal for another year.
Jason Puncheon made two substitute appearances to no positive effect whatsoever, looking overweight and out of form on both occasions. His signing was another strange one as it seemed he was only being looked at in case the Wright-Phillips deal didn’t go through, then when it did we signed him out of sympathy because we’d kept him waiting all day. Another one Neil Warnock might not want to highlight on his CV.
Lee Cook and Martin Rowlands played against Rochdale in the League Cup and were both poor. Cook subsequently spent time on loan at Charlton and Orient and leaves this summer with everybody’s best wishes, Rowlands settled in january and ended the season with Colchester. Sad ends really for two loyal servants of the club who were great players in their day. Hogan Ephraim made three first team appearances and played most of his football on loan at Charlton but nevertheless did enough to earn a one year contract extension. Petter Vaagan Moen returned to Norway in January with the mystery of why we ever signed him unsolved.
Pictures – Action Images
Photo: Action Images
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