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QPR lucky to claim first point from Norwich draw — full match report
QPR lucky to claim first point from Norwich draw — full match report
Sunday, 26th Aug 2012 20:47 by Clive Whittingham

QPR posted their first point away from home since February with a 1-1 draw at Carrow Road against Norwich City on Saturday but, in many respects, they can count themselves extremely fortunate.

Fans of Queens Park Rangers have become accustomed in recent years to the post match press conferences being as, if not more, entertaining than the action on the field. Ian Holloway was one part comedian to two parts football manager for the majority of his time in West London and Neil Warnock was never short of a printable line or three – although the sincerity of them was always open for debate.

Pity the poor hacks who cover Rangers these days. Having gorged at the laden table of the Holloway and Warnock banquets they must now scrape together scraps from the pantry floor as Mark Hughes bats back one enquiry after another with a monotone one liner. Hughes never fails to give the impression that he’s taking part in an interview because league rules force him to, rather than because he wants to be there. His interviews, in general, are a double dose of Nightol compared to the shots of espresso his predecessors brewed up.

And yet despite his apparent determination to say absolutely nothing of any significance to anybody clutching a Dictaphone, Hughes could well have undermined his entire managerial career with two throwaway lines in the last 12 months.

His comments about the ambition of Fulham as he packed his bags and left Craven Cottage are well documented, and on the admittedly brief evidence of the 2012/13 season so far Mohamed Al Fayed was absolutely right to restrict Hughes’ transfer market demands. The Welshman has signed nine players so far at QPR but has seemingly done so without planning what system he’d like to pick them in.

After a 5-0 opening day annihilation at the hands of Swansea Hughes switched from a 4-1-4-1 system to a more conventional 4-4-2 for the trip to Norwich, who were convincingly battered themselves on day one by an increasingly impressive looking Fulham team that seems to be revelling in ramming Hughes’ words back down his throat.

Headline summer acquisitions Samba Diakite and Ji Sung Park played in the middle of midfield but were pinned deep into their own half for the majority of this game, found themselves overrun on numerous occasions and, in Diakite’s case, conceded possession in dangerous areas with alarming frequency. Those two must have been grateful that new Norwich boss Chris Hughton also switched to 4-4-2 this week after starting with five midfielders at Craven Cottage – Rangers were often outnumbered against four midfielders and would have been swamped by five.

In defence Armand Traore came in at left back, Fabio switched to right back and Nedum Onuoha was dropped. Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand kept their place at centre half and produced two of the most brain dead performances it’s ever been my misfortune to clap eyes on – more on that later. Junior Hoilett played wide left and Jamie Mackie wide right with Adel Taarabt dropped to the bench. Bobby Zamora was recalled to the attack alongside Djibril Cissé. Robert Green, disastrous start to his QPR career prompting interest in other goalkeepers if you believe the press, kept his place between the sticks for want of a better option.

As well as the talk of ambition, a word that QPR now beat the living shit out of in every interview and press release, Hughes also made the mistake of promising that Rangers would never again find themselves embroiled in a relegation scrap as they were last season while he is in charge. That could also prove to be a particularly large rod for Hughes’ back if things don’t work out for him this season.

The first day of the football season is becoming known for its freak results and both the R’s and the Canaries were certainly on the end of a couple last week. Both, quite rightly, insist there’s no panic after one match of a 38 game season, but their first half performances here said otherwise. The opening 45 minutes at Carrow Road on Saturday was, technically, shambolic. Both teams abandoned everything they’d worked on through the summer to switch to 4-4-2 formations and just flew at each other for half a game with no pattern, thought, structure or competence. It was like watching two bare-knuckle boxers brawling in a makeshift ring under a railway arch somewhere. A Premier League fixture in name only. At half time they came up for air and to check the score – it was 1-1 but could have been 3-3 or any combination of results in between.

QPR swung first. After Anton Ferdinand had headed away early Norwich pressure under heavy contact from Grant Holt, home goalkeeper John Ruddy was forced to palm a deep cross from Cissé behind for the game’s first corner as Jamie Mackie loitered with intent. As usual said corner was delivered low to the near post and cleared by the first defender. Another corner was forced by Diakite, with similar results, and Mackie ended a typically direct run with a weak shot at the goalkeeper.

Norwich dropped new signing Michael Turner, gave debuts to Javier Garrido at left back and former Spurs man Sebastien Bassong and recalled Leon Barnett to a new look back four after their day one demolition and it was good to see QPR go about testing that out positively in the early stages.

But at the other end there was no coherence about the way QPR defended as a team. The midfield was totally separate from the back four, and Norwich were able to play freely in the gap between the two with debutant Robert Snodgrass enjoying particular freedom. Time and again the QPR defenders were left one on one with Norwich attackers and as the time ticked over into double figures a three pass move on the edge of the area with Snodgrass at its heart carved Rangers apart and allowed Pilkington to shift the ball past Fabio and cross over Green for Jackson to head into the open net from close range. He was one of three Norwich players unmarked in the six yard box.

Rangers endured some difficult moments with referee Mark Clattenburg last season – he sent off Djibril Cissé and Adel Taarabt in home matches against Wolves and Spurs respectively – but the County Durham official has been in the middle for some of the finest moments in the club’s recent history including two promotions and a play off semi final victory. The R’s were grateful for his keen eyes in the eighteenth minute here when he rightly penalised Bassong for a clumsy challenge from behind on Cissé in the penalty area, and for him then ignoring Bobby Zamora’s obvious encroachment into the box before the resulting spot kick was taken by the man who won it. Ruddy tipped the ball onto the inside of the post and Zamora, who’d been pointing frantically to Cissé and team mates prior to the original shot being taken, stole in to net the rebound. Tough luck on the home side, perhaps just the confidence boosting break QPR were looking for.

Clattenburg was also at the centre of the first half’s other main topic of discussion – the ongoing battle between Clint Hill and Grant Holt.

Now QPR should know Grant Holt better than most by now. This was their fifth meeting with the striker in little more than two and a half years having won promotion alongside the Canaries a season ago. Let’s piece together what Rangers should have learnt in that time: Grant Holt is not particularly quick, and not particularly skilful, but he is very good in the air and very strong. Most importantly what Hill and co should have picked up on is the former Rochdale man’s main modus operandi: approaching high balls played forward from defence with his back to the goal and a defender nice and tight behind him so he can turn the ball around the corner and then collapse pathetically to the ground and win a free kick. Holt will do this six, seven, eight times in a match and sometimes more and he’s been doing it six, seven, eight times in a match to QPR on five occasions for the last two and a half years. Five occasions. Five.

Why then, for the love of all that’s good and holy in the world, are QPR not only caught out by it every single time, but apparently absolutely stunned whenever it happens? Why is it still such a fucking big surprise to QPR defenders when he does this? It’s like they’ve given Holt one of the mind wiping lights from Men In Black so he can take away everything the defender knows about him at every break in the play. It’s a bloody miracle. A horrible, frustrating, annoying miracle.

Hill – one on one and tight - was caught out by Holt’s turn and collapse routine in the seventh minute. Then again – one on one and tight- in the twenty third minute on the corner of the penalty area when he was rightly booked. Then again in the twenty eighth minute – one on one and tight - and then once more ten minutes from half time – one on one and tight - when Holt didn’t receive a free kick and instead ran to the sideline to deliver a volley of abuse to the linesman without punishment or come back from Clattenburg.

When Holt was finally penalised for holding Hill down under a cross the QPR man sarcastically celebrated with a double fist salute and was given a final warning by Clattenburg as a result. Hughes removed Hill at half time and replaced him with Nedum Onuoha, who had a reasonably good game at centre back, but the manager was fortunate not to lose Hill before the break to a red card because the situation was clearly heading in that direction and the change should have happened sooner.

No, they’re not fouls. Yes, Holt is buying free kicks. Yes, he is cheating to get other players sent off. Yes, it’s an objectionable and horrible way to go about things. But for the love of God and for the sake of my blood pressure can we please wise the fuck up? We’ll be waiting until long after Holt has retired for referees to start penalising him so take responsibility and start marking him in a different way. How about a man in front of him and behind? Or how about standing off him a bit so he has nothing to flop over? He’s effective, he’s doing his job well, he’s been a great success for Norwich and they love him. Stop blaming Holt, stop hoping for the referee to do something, start finding a way of dealing with this professionally.

I love the old story about wrestler Shirley Crabtree turning to a vocal critic in the audience while smashing an opponent’s head into the canvas and shouting “do you want to come and have a go at this?” and while I’m sure marking Grant Holt is a herculean task, and there’s no way I could do it any better, I’m also sure I can see with my own two eyes that the way we go about it every single time is absolutely bloody brain dead.

Just for good measure, ten minutes from time, Anton Ferdinand decided he fancied a nice big thick slice of the crass stupidity and after going too tight to Holt he was turned and then booked when the striker collapsed to the floor again under no contact whatsoever. Words fail me.

Anthony Pilkington scored a fine goal in Norwich’s win at Loftus Road last season and he should have done more than head wide when the free kick from Hill’s twenty third minute indiscretion was delivered to the far post.

Two minutes later a purposeful run by Snodgrass carried him through weak challenges from Traore and Hoilett but his low cross into the six yard box was cleared away. Rangers immediately conceded possession as the midfield, with Diakite looking leggy and off the pace, creaked under the weight of Norwich pressure and this time Pilkington hit a low shot that Green needed two attempts to gather. Pilkington lashed the free kick from Hill’s twenty eighth minute foul high over the bar.

Four minutes before half time Green produced a fine one handed save from Snodgrass’ speculative long range effort after he’d again found an acre of real estate in front of Ferdinand and Hill but behind Park with Diakite nowhere to be seen. That will do Green’s confidence the power of good after a nervous start to life at QPR and it was excellent to hear vocal support for the keeper from the travelling QPR fans. That’s just what he needs.

Half time, one one, and in so many ways an absolute shambles.

The teams exchanged very presentable chances at the start of the second half. First Jackson skipped into the area but blasted high into the side netting when he should have at least found the target. Then at the other end Zamora’s dink in behind the Norwich defence gave Cissé a chance on goal but he just couldn’t reach the ball with an attempted scissor kick when any contact would have surely brought about a goal. The Frenchman looked a mile offside, but there was no flag and that must go down as a gilt edged chance.

That hinted at a repeat of the ragged pattern of the first half with both teams, desperate for points, throwing wild haymakers at each other but in fairness the second period settled down considerably after that and at times it even looked like both teams were putting some tactical thought into what they were doing.

The QPR defence was improved by Onuoha’s introduction but still didn’t look altogether trustworthy. Jackson was able to find space on the edge of the area in the fifty first minute but blasted over and then two minutes after that the moment that Rob Green has probably been losing sleep over all week after his opening day calamity against Swansea arrived.

Norwich knocked a high ball from right to left towards Jackson on the corner of the penalty area. Green came from his line towards the impact zone and with Onuoha running the other way directly towards him with his eyes on the ball the travelling faithful held their breath and awaited what seemed like an inevitable train wreck.

It looked like Onuoha’s ball to head, and I don’t think Green should have been rushing out to get involved in the situation at all, but credit to him for making a firm decision and giving a decisive call for the ball. Onuoha did as he was commanded and left it. Green, half a yard outside the area, half caught and half parried the ball away from Jackson. He was fortunate that the linesman on the far side was thinking about other things. QPR had got away with another one.

There was better defending on show three minutes later when a deep cross to the back post looked for all the world like it was going to be thumped in by Holt but little Fabio Da Silva climbed well and expertly headed the ball out of danger.

Then it was QPR’s turn to feel aggrieved with the officials as first Bassong fouled Mackie without receiving a yellow card when he probably warranted one, then from the restart Bradley Johnson hacked into Samba Diakite without receiving a yellow card when he definitely warranted one. Norwich ended the game without a yellow card at all, which I found curious given the way Ferdinand and Hill were cheated into Clattenburg’s notebook.

The referee then penalised Traore and Park for a foul on Snodgrass when they appeared to have won the ball cleanly and Bassong should have done more than head the resulting free kick wide at the far post.

That was to be the last action for Traore who moments later pulled up with his weekly hamstring injury. And so commenced monumentally stupid piece of play number two from QPR.

Around the same time Bobby Zamora suffered a badly cut head and was whisked off down the tunnel for stitches. Traore’s injury effectively reduced the R’s to nine men so it was imperative that, first of all, he sat down on the floor and got the game stopped and, secondly, Hughes got his replacement Jose Bosingwa onto the pitch as soon as possible for his QPR debut.

In the end, despite the ball going out of play for a throw in, neither happened. Traore stayed standing, hobbling around, and Hughes and his vast team of coaching staff dragged “go on and play right back” out into a two minute monologue over on the touchline. Norwich didn’t need asking twice, they took the throw and then very purposefully and deliberately held possession of the ball, loaded their right flank with an extra man, and made sure it stayed in play. We had now allowed an ice hockey power play-like situation to develop through our own rank stupidity.

Eventually the home team worked it wide to the left for Garrido to cross and Snodgrass, unmarked because Traore wasn’t fit enough to track him, headed over from six yards when it seemed easier to score.

Had he found the net it would have been no more than Hughes and QPR deserved. I can quite understand the decision to do without Zamora for five minutes because I thought he was just about QPR’s top man on the day – not winning a lot in the air but providing a hold up and lay game sadly lacking last week and regularly dropping back into the midfield area to link the play and try and get QPR moving - but to allow the play to restart with not only him off the field but Traore stricken as well was, in football terms, criminal.

A lot of the hard work being done by Zamora was subsequently negated by Djibril Cissé’s new found love of standing in an offside position. He was rightly penalised three times in six minutes as the clock wound down and the effect was to increase the Norwich pressure and pen QPR back into their own half. I don’t remember this being a problem for Cissé before and hope it’s not going to become a regular occurrence.

Pilkington blasted over the bar and then when Rangers switched off and allowed a two on one situation at a short corner Martin headed a deep cross onto the face of the cross bar.

Chris Hughton, probably wondering what more his side could have done to win the game, rotated his attack and introduced Steve Morrison and Chris Martin for Holt and Jackson. Mark Hughes, rightly recognising Rangers were fortunate to be level, sent on Shaun Derry for Samba Diakite to hold what they had. The game subsequently petered out into a draw.

I’m fully anticipating responses telling me I’m being far too negative and perhaps I am. Let me say now that I still fully expect this group of players to achieve a midtable finish this season, I’m not worried or that surprised by the performances so far and I think that, like all Mark Hughes teams, this one will probably start coming good after eight to ten awful games and then be absolutely fine. There may be yet more arrivals this week, we’re only two matches into a 38 game season, there’s no real panic at LFW Towers at all.

However. However, I actually found more to alarm me about QPR in the first 45 minutes here than I did in last weekend’s collapse against Swansea. There a goalkeeping error left a team still getting to know each other chasing a game in heat against a side known for possession football and incisive counter attacks. Here, against what looked like poor opposition to me, QPR were fortunate to come away with anything from a slugfest devoid of technique or thought.

I’ve seen four seasons at QPR in my time where I thought the manager did a brilliant job – 1992/93 with Gerry Francis, 2003/04 with Ian Holloway, 2006/07 with John Gregory and 2010/11 with Neil Warnock. On each of those occasions the team was built with a solid spine of players down the middle. Francis had Stejskal, McDonald, Wilkins and Ferdinand, Holloway had Day, Shittu, Bircham and Furlong, Gregory added Camp, Cullip and Bolder to Blackstock who was there already and Warnock had Kenny, Gorkss, Derry and Helguson.

What Hughes has done so far, stealing a phrase I’ve used before about other teams, is buy a load of trinkets without a tree to hang them from. What is the spine of this team? Zamora led the line reasonably well but there was no dominant force in the centre of midfield, the centre of the defence was battered by Holt and the goalkeeper isn’t inspiring anybody.

Not only is there no spine to the team at the moment, Hughes doesn’t appear to know his best side or even what shape he wants to play it in. The formation here was different to last week and will no doubt be different again at Manchester City next Saturday. The numerous players brought in don’t appear to have been added with any thought as to what the starting 11 is going to be, what shape it’s going to be in, or where they’re going to fit into it. They’ve been brought in because they’re experienced and Hughes, rightly, thinks we need some of that and because they’re talented players. Consequently we’re currently a collection of individuals rather than a team.

In my opinion at least 15 of the other teams in this league would have beaten QPR playing like that on Saturday and the only real positive to take from the day is we were only playing Norwich, who looked poor themselves, and we’ve got a point on the board. Almost everything else, and I anticipate a slagging for saying it, was negative.

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Norwich: Ruddy 6, R Martin 6, Barnett 6, Bassong 6, Garrido 6, Snodgrass 7, Johnson 6, Howson 6, Pilkington 6, Holt 7 (Morison 87, -), Jackson 7 (C. Martin 87, -)

Subs: Rudd, Surman, Hoolahan, Tierney, R. Bennett

Goals: Jackson 11 (assisted Pilkington)

QPR: Green 6, Fabio 6, Ferdinand 5, Hill 4 (Onuoha 6), Traore 6 (Bosingwa 70, 6), Mackie 6, Diakite 5 (Derry 85, -), Park 6, Hoilett 6, Cissé 5, Zamora 6

Subs: Murphy, Johnson, Taarabt, Wright-Phillips

Goals: Zamora 19 (unassisted)

Bookings: Hill 24 (repetitive fouling), Ferdinand 82 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Bobby Zamora 6 Man of the match with a six should tell you a lot. I thought the goal just about nudged Zamora ahead of any meagre competition for the Star Man award. He worked hard, which isn’t usually the case with him when the going is tough and the team isn’t performing, and regularly came looking for work and possession deep in the midfield area. That’s not a good thing really, and certainly not where you want him, but it helped QPR push up the pitch when they were too deep and it was good to see him putting a shift in like that. Sadly won very little against Bassong in the air but was still the best of a mediocre bunch for me.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Co Durham) 5 Two big decisions in the game, and both of them wrong. The penalty award was correct, and although encroachment goes on all the time I think Zamora’s was pretty obvious from the spot kick and right in front of him as well so that should have been retaken. Then, in the second half, Green clearly handled outside the area and got away with it. Apart from that there’s the Holt situation where he was conned time and time again – although like I say it’s up to the QPR defenders to get wise to this now – and the two rash tackles in quick succession from Bassong and Johnson in the second half that didn’t draw yellows, but were far worse than what Ferdinand ended up being booked for. Much like both teams, fairly crap overall.

Attendance: 26,317 (1,800 QPR approx) Rangers fans have, rightly, moaned about the tiny ticket allocation given at Carrow Road in previous years and this year the club agreed to take the higher 2,300 tickets on offer in the side stand. Of course Norwich then put them on sale for a scandalous £45 each – we paid £33 here last season if memory serves me correctly – and surprise, surprise they didn’t sell out. No doubt we’ll be back down to 1,300 seats for our next trip here. Norwich know that £45 for this fixture is absolutely scandalous and they should be ashamed.

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Neil_SI added 21:10 - Aug 26
I actually thought we were awarded a corner early doors that should have been a goal kick too, so the officials really did have one of those games in terms of missing and calling incidents incorrectly.

My concern was how little we created, and even when we shored it up a little more in the second, we actually conceded far more gilt edge chances at the same time. Like you, I thought there were some alarming deficiencies on show, particularly in the first-half where we were so wide open for long stretches of play.

It's a pity to see the side a long way from where they should be at the moment – but there is more than enough talent in the squad to get the show on the road. The international break in September, after that tough couple of fixtures, may also come at a decent time for us re-group and re-organise.

I'm relieved and somewhat thrilled we managed to take something from the game though, because it was one where we offered to little overall that you can only be very pleased about that in the end.

GloryHunter added 21:15 - Aug 26
Excellent report, Clive. I don't think you're being negative at all, just accurate. I'm only amazed you managed to see so much - I could hardly see the action at the other end at all from my seat low down in the corner. The annoying thing is I bought it online at 10 am on the first morning the tickets went on sale - you'd think QPR would give the early buyers the better seats - I won't make that mistake again.

DesertBoot added 21:23 - Aug 26
We were shocking and can see us shipping ten or more the next few games.
What have they been doing in training?

carlosthebulb added 21:46 - Aug 26
Think the report is reasonably accurate. Would add that I agree with the mom being Zamora and think Ferdinand, in the 2nd half gave a much better showing, and I'm no fan of his btw! What alarmed me was our overall naivety, particularly diakite and Park, running into trouble and giving the ball away numerous times.

As pointed out, Norwich were not great and I said just after half time that they would get out of this game exactly what we give them, ie lost possession and silly fouls that enabled them to gain the upper hand when we should be doing so much more in their half. Time and time again our few attacks petered out and played into the home sides' hands. On another day we'd have lost this so the fact we got a barely deserved point is something to be delighted with whilst knowing there's a lot of work to do
Worth pointing out was how Liverpool went from buffoons last week at west brom to looking damned good today v city. It can turn round quickly but the plans need to be implemented thoroughly beforehand. Over to you Hughes....

YorkRanger added 21:48 - Aug 26
A fair summary I think Clive. Positives for me were 1. A point on the board which was critical with the up coming fixtures and 2. a more assured performance from Green. Team formation still seems a mess and there is no obvious indication to me that Hughes knows what to do with the players he has at his disposal. We lacked width and are also getting overrun in midfield - 4 4 2 doesn't look right and yet how do we cater for Cisse and Zamora in the same team unless we play that formation.

Your point on ticket prices is spot on Clive. I know people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones but £45 to sit at Carrow Rd against £32 in the Upper tier at the Ethihad - shameful.

Spaghetti_Hoops added 22:24 - Aug 26
Fair conclusions imo. I only saw it on the Sky 1 hour highlights but we had improved little from the Swansea game.

It took best part of 12 weeks Jan-March for Hughes to build an effective team from the mottley arrivals of the last two transfer windows. So it will be no surprise to see him experimenting and reaching no obvious conclusion before November with this lot. As long as Fernandes doesn't freak out I wouldn't really worry about that. The high turnover of players was one of the reasons I had low expectations for the first half of this season. All we really needed was a better CB, a holding midfielder and if necessary a Kenny replacement. Like you say, a load of trinkets turned up. Lets hope they look good by Christmas.

RangerKIK added 23:04 - Aug 26
'I actually found more to alarm me about QPR in the first 45 minutes here than I did in last weekend’s collapse against Swansea'. I couldn't agree more Clive. I tend to comment on what I actually saw rather than looking at score lines and then making it up like so many reporters and some fans do. Up until the 3rd goal last week we played alright just with the odd moment of madness. This game however was another example of our clueless, unorganised, away game, dull as dishwater chaos I have got used to watching under Hughes. Am I right in thinking we have not won away under his leadership?

It staggers me we can not do basic things correctly. Cisse staying onside, Ferdinand managing to actually pass to a team mate, clearing the first man on a free kick/corner, keeping the ball!! etc etc etc. I watch MOTD and look at the classy football Swansea and Everton are playing at the moment, with nowhere near the budget (talent!?) we have and it begs the question why. It's early days but the whole team looks too inhibited to express themselves. No point having classy players if they are too scared to play. Is it us? Are we too critical? Even Hoilett in the second half did not want the ball!

I have not seen us play even remotely, fluid, confident football since Newcastle at home last season. What's happened?!

AshteadR added 00:44 - Aug 27
Good report Clive.

Not an inspiring performance, but at least we're off the mark. We're going to need to seriously step things up for the next few league games though!

QPR_Nippon added 01:04 - Aug 27
Agree with pretty much everything in your report Clive except the mark for Traore, who I thought had a really poor game. Snodgrass took him to the cleaners, especially first half, and his marking for their goal was abysmal.

First time I've watched Rangers in the flesh since we were promoted - Clint Hill and Jamie Mackie were the only surviving players from the last time I attended a Rangers game - and first Prem game I've attended for about 16 years, so was really looking forward to seeing 'Premiership class' players in the flesh.

To say I was disappointed with the quality of passing, and the lack of movement, organization and intensity would be an understatement. I know we have a lot of new players to bed in, but we seem to have gone backwards since the end of last season and at the moment Hughes doesn't seem to know what his best team and formation is.

Clive is spot on I think by highlighting the lack of a spine to the team, and I think the centre of midfield is even bigger problem than the centre of defence at the moment. After yesterday I think it's pretty clear that a central midfield 2 of Park and Diakite is not the answer, even though I rate both players.

That said, the squad is going through a massive transformation at the moment, and while clearly things are not working at the moment, there is plenty of quality in the squad and plenty of time to put things right.

Also wanted to say that I think there is a difference between negativity and panicking on one hand, and simply highlighting and describing poor play and performances on the other. I think there has been a tendency for some on here to lump everybody doing the latter in with those doing the former.


TacticalR added 01:14 - Aug 27
You're not being too negative. It felt worse than last week largely because we didn't even have the consolation of Taarabt's creativity.

Our long ball football was ugly and ineffective. Has this 4-4-2 formation ever worked for us? Norwich were more penetrating than us and deserved to win.

Some other thoughts on the match:

Ferdinand was at fault for the Norwich goal. Just outside the box, Hill was marking Jackson and Ferdinand was marking Holt. Ferdinand got drawn towards the ball and forgot all about Holt. Hill took a gamble and left Jackson to mark Holt (he couldn't mark both players), and the unmarked Jackson scored.

How many times was Cissé offside? It was annoying as he should have been looking down the line, but I think the problem was the balls were all straight and over the top (often straight from defence), rather than diagonal and over the top.

The midfield players weren't able to get forward quickly enough to support the front two.

Was it really a pen? I thought it wasn't. Although Cissé got a slight nudge, it looked like the ball would have bounced off him anyway.

Nov77 added 01:25 - Aug 27
I think LDC deserves to be added to your list of managers who did a brilliant job, especially when you consider some of the players he had to work with.

Kaos_Agent added 01:28 - Aug 27
Agreed, Clive, that Hill should have been substituted sooner. R's could well have been down a man before halftime, and how is it that MH could not see that? I hope it's just "the Holt effect". We need Clint to be disciplined and composed, like he was in the run-in last year.

Some credit is due to Norwich for their persistence and work ethic. They chased hard, frequently allowed little time or space, and often got possession back as a result. And generally were more on-target with their passes. In pro sports, road victories come from not letting the home side out-work you, from minimizing mistakes, and from some good fortune. No, no, and yes = a draw in this case, and marginally at that.

Three rays of hope:

1. Despite some errors I thought Park has looked steady and there are signs that he's becoming more captain-like. He's streets ahead of Barton (remember him?) on both accounts, and there are dividends yet to be received from having him in the side.

2. If Cisse had watched his offside position more diligently and/or if one or two incoming balls had been fractionally better placed, he might have scored because he's proved what he can do when the back line is breached. That would have been a 2-1 win and absolute daylight highway robbery. OK it didn't happen on the day, but 36 games remain.

3. "Four minutes before half time Green produced a fine one handed save from Snodgrass’ speculative long range effort after he’d again found an acre of real estate in front of Ferdinand and Hill but behind Park with Diakite nowhere to be seen. That will do Green’s confidence the power of good after a nervous start to life at QPR and it was excellent to hear vocal support for the keeper from the travelling QPR fans. That’s just what he needs."

Question: what has to happen to tighten up the gap between midfield and the back line? Two games so far, two different QPR formations, two different opponents playing two different formations, and the same problem. That's starting to look like a trend.


qprcanadabc added 01:54 - Aug 27
As always, great report and spot on too. Regarding Zamora's goal and his early entry into the penalty box: once the pen was taken and saved, the ref could not order it to be retaken; if it had gone in directly he could then force a retake.

gigiisourgod added 03:20 - Aug 27
Excellent report Clive.

JB007007 added 08:32 - Aug 27
Spot on Clive.
It's still worrying that we give teams too many presentable opportunities to create and score. A decent side would have had us dead and buried by half time. I think BZ comes in for too much citicism and I think he plays a vital role up top and does work hard.
You made a good point last week. At some point we are going to have to coach our players better rather than keep buying new ones. Some easy things might help for starters, like keeping the ball a bit longer and making simple passes to our players whilst making other teams work a bit harder.

QPRski added 09:35 - Aug 27
A good analytical, honest and accurate report. I would only polemise that for me the penalty decision looked soft (as viewed on a web feed).

MH did well (the obvious) to take off Hill who was clearly dicing with a red card. Zamora played well but I was suprised that we waited for nigh on 10 minutes at the ends of the game to stich him up and send him out again. Considering the current size of our upgraded squad, why not play an impact sub and deploy "plan B"? Even more so, as Cisse clearly had the legs on the Norwich back four but could not time his runs and stay onside.

Perhaps MH was pleased to consolidate and get his first ever way point with the R's? Rather lucky end of the day, but great to get off the mark.

Spaghetti_Hoops added 10:03 - Aug 27
Hughes showed with Diakite last season that he wants the player to take responsibility for not stretching the referee's patience too far. So he would have been reluctant to take Clint Hill off, as he was reluctant to take Diakite off. In principle it's good management to place the responsibility on the player and try to keep them on the pitch, though it's a risk

extratimeR added 12:41 - Aug 27
Thanks Clive, very accurate, the Holt thing is bonkers, Clattenburg is a pretty good ref, IMHO, but surely the refs must watch the games together in the week, its blindingly obvious whats going on, you wrap your arm round the front of the defender, grab his shirt and down you go, I dont blame Holt for doing it because it works every week, and he scored a lot of goals for Norwich last season, so good luck to him.

But how long can this go on? yes our experienced defenders should know exactly whats going to happen, they could ask Matt Connolly!!!!

I said I will not judge team untill at least three games gone by, but bloody hell we are playing so bloody deep!!

Charlie1 added 13:20 - Aug 28
I actually thought your head was going to explode at one point!

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