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Positives but no points as Tevez slays new look QPR — full match report
Positives but no points as Tevez slays new look QPR — full match report
Sunday, 2nd Sep 2012 23:12 by Clive Whittingham

QPR showed some signs of potential at Manchester City on Saturday, but still slipped to a 3-1 defeat against the reigning champions who were inspired by striker Carlos Tevez.

Once loan players, a youth team acquisition from Portsmouth, free transfers and cash transactions have been taken into account QPR have signed another 12 players in the transfer window which mercifully slammed shut on Friday evening.

They’ve come from far and wide to sign for Rangers, put their name to a press-release with the word “ambition” in it several times, and then wonder like the rest of us where exactly Mark Hughes sees them playing once he’s decided what formation he’d like to set his team up in.

Rob Green, one of the early arrivals, has already been replaced and started in goal for potentially the final time in his Rangers career on Saturday evening at Manchester City behind a back four of Jose Bosingwa, Ryan Nelsen, Anton Ferdinand and Fabio Da Silva.

Julio Cesar will almost certainly start the next match v Chelsea and remain between the sticks barring injury until QPR draw a lower league team in the cup again. There’s no doubting the quality of Cesar, or the size of the coup that has seen him arrive at Loftus Road, but those of us who like to find things to worry about must be concerned with the affect this chew-them-up-and-spit-them-out approach to man management will have on the attitude of the playing staff. When Hughes is demanding 100% effort and commitment from his players, at the back of their minds will always be that thought that his loyalty to Rob Green stretched to two competitive matches.

While Rangers fans, who travelled to Manchester City on Saturday evening in pretty pitiful numbers, were made to wait for the Brazilian’s debut international clearance was received in time for Esteban Granero to start at the head of a midfield which also included Ji Sung Park on one wing, Shaun Wright-Phillips back at his former club on the other and Alejandro Faurlin continuing with his in-at-the-deep-end recovery strategy from ruptured knee ligaments in the middle.

Granero is from Real Madrid where he is used to winning things – matches and trophies. He is impossibly good looking, speaks better English than anybody else on the playing staff, talks thoughtfully and intelligently about himself and the sport, and still managed to find time on the ball and space on the field to guide QPR around the park here despite them being starved of possession and dominated by the current league champions for long periods. At the end of the game he was the only player to come all the way over to the away fans and hand over his shirt.

QPR had been beaten by that stage – 3-1 in the strange sort of game that could have finished 6-0 or 2-2 – but there was plenty in the team’s performance to enthuse and be positive about. At Real Madrid and Inter Milan Granero and Cesar are used to 3-1 away defeats being met with managerial sackings and cars being turned over by angry mobs rather than applause and a collective dig for positives among the ashes. It will be interesting to see where the high profile signings – which also include Stephane M’Bia from another Champions League regular Marseille – take the mentality at QPR. Will they become disillusioned by the idea that still hasn’t really gone away 14 months since we first returned to this league that we’re just happy to be here and keep games like this respectable? Or will they raise the quality of the football and therefore the expectations so one day we’ll come away from Eastlands disappointed to have lost, rather than pleased not to have been thrashed? Time will tell.

In the meantime Rangers began a tough run of September fixtures with a trip to Manchester City. QPR played on this ground just four competitive games ago – there was a Sergio Aguero goal and some Martin Tyler commentary you may have seen and heard once or twice since – and just three members of the starting 11 here played for Rangers that day. In amongst the carnage of City’s title win QPR survived in the Premier League thanks to Bolton failing to win at Stoke, although Hughes’ team came close to winning the City game and securing their own survival before two goals from the hosts in injury time. Considering the R’s were down to ten men for the final half an hour, completed a Premier League record low total of just 82 passes in 96 minutes, and barely got out of their own penalty area for vast swathes of the game, leading into injury time was a minor miracle. Sadly the pattern of play from that game quickly resumed here despite the new look visiting team.

City forced their first corner after two minutes and Green got a firm punched clearance in to settle any early nerves he may have felt. Another corner followed a moment later after Ferdinand tackled Tevez and Vincent Kompany, who usually attacks City set pieces at the near post but this time arrived late in the centre of the six yard box, glanced a header wide. Ryan Nelsen, impressive despite obvious speed-related limitations at the heart of the defence, survived an eighth minute handball appeal when he blocked a cross from Pablo Zabaletta. Then Yaya Toure, whose withdrawal early in that amazing match in May pre-empted the collapse which almost cost City the league, met the third corner of the afternoon and headed straight at Green.

Within 60 seconds Samir Nasri had got in behind QPR down the left – City building three on two attacks to isolate and expose Bosingwa and particularly Fabio in the channels was a clear tactic and running theme – and cut a ball back which Nelsen cleared behind. From that corner Edin Dzeko, who scored the equaliser which set up Aguero’s winner on our last visit, planted another header at goal and Fabio cleared from the line as far as Toure whose shot deflected wide. That meant another corner which Kompany headed onto the roof of the net.

Piecing together the numbers so far that’s five corners, four serious attempts on goal, and just nine minutes played. QPR started with Bobby Zamora and Andy Johnson up front – I mention that at this point for housekeeping, rather than because they were having any influence on proceedings.

City may be champions but, as we know from our two meetings with them last season, they do like to give you a chance. In the twelfth minute Jack Rodwell – bought for want of something better to do with their money and time rather than because he’s any good or actually needed – sent a bizarre clearance back towards his own goal that had Hart scrambling back to make sure it was landing on the roof of the net rather than in the back of it.

QPR, typically, wasted the corner. Shaun Wright-Phillips drilled it straight at the defender on the near post in the now time honoured - every bastard corner, every damn week, every fucking game, without fail - QPR fashion. I swear to sweet Jesus Christ it’s taking all my mental strength not to walk out there, take the corner flag and beat these professional footballers to a bloody pulp with it when they do this – and my will power is diminishing. How difficult can it be to take a corner? No, seriously, how difficult can it be?

Anyway, down at the other end City forced corner 786 of the game so far which ended with Fabio blocking the ball behind for number 787 after Ale Faurlin had lost out in an aerial duel with Yaya Toure on the edge of the box. For Faurlin to start two games this week after nine months out is remarkable. His positional sense, passing ability and strength in the tackle remains as good as ever – and Yaya Toure is a veritable giant of a man so I’m not criticising him at all here – but the lack of headers won against Walsall and again here when that used to be a real strong point of his game suggests everything isn’t quite right with him just yet. These things take time and it will be interesting to see whether he gets that aerial ability back or whether it’s gone from his game for good either for physical reasons, or a mental block because of the nature of the injury. He maybe doesn’t trust that knee just yet.

From corner 787 the ball dropped at the back post, Tevez had a scissor kicked blocked by the crowd in the six yard box, and Yaya Toure ended the argument by lashing high into the roof of the net for the opening goal.

When Tevez then played Kolarov into a promising position on the byline and he opted for a needless extra pass rather than a shot or a low cross there was a hint that it was just too easy for City, but Granero quickly reminded them that QPR can score despite having none of the match at all when he hit a low shot at Hart at the midway point of the half. City responded by loading their right wing with numbers again and teeing up the recalled David Silva for a shot on the run that Green did well to block.

The difficulty for teams like QPR in this situation is the attacks they do launch merely leave space for City to exploit on the counter attack. A foul on Park after the half hour set up a promising free kick for the visitors but when Hart punched it clear the R’s needed Silva to delay his shot and Fabio to execute a tremendous recovery tackle to prevent them falling two goals behind. Ten minutes before half time Granero, used to being on the winning team in such situations, was caught in possession and had Ryan Nelsen not deliberately hauled Tevez to the ground in back play (referee Chris Foy rightly played advantage initially) then the Argentinean would have been able to get on the end of a loose ball in the penalty area after Silva saw another shot charged down. As it was Nelsen was free to clear the ball unchallenged, and he escaped a booking as well.

Nelsen chopped Dzeko to the ground five minutes before half time but Foy played on again, and then waved away handball appeals after Nasri’s shot was blocked in the area. Imagine how thrilled the home crowd were when the first yellow card of the game subsequently went to Kolorov in first half stoppage time for fouling Wright-Phillips as he counter attacked down field after another decent tackle from Fabio. Granero shot over the bar in one minute of first half stoppage time.

A 15 minute break in proceedings didn’t seem to have done a great deal to change the pattern of play as QPR started the second half by conceding possession from their own throw in and Rob Green saved well from Tevez in the ensuing attack. Five minutes later, with Anton Ferdinand struggling with injury, Rangers’ harassed defence was lucky to escape when Silva played Zabaletta in behind Fabio in the penalty area and the full back curled an unstoppable shot past Green, off the underside of the bar, and somehow away to safety.

But every team in every game, no matter how inferior and dominated they may be, has ten minutes of pressure. The trick is to score when that comes along and luckily Rangers currently have Bobby Zamora looking as fit and motivated as he’s been for years in their attack for just such moments. He signalled his intent with a header over the bar in the fifty sixth minute and then when Andy Johnson cut in from the left and fired a powerful shot on goal that deflected and drew a wonderful save from Hart he was on hand, almost on the goal line, to nod the ball home for an unlikely equaliser.

The ‘typical City’ paranoia around these parts is legendary, but the scoreboard subsequently displaying Man City 1 QPR 2 for a full minute afterwards was excessive even by their standards and only served to raise spirits further in the away end.

QPR had done everything right to this point. They hadn’t been intimidated into picking an overly defensive starting 11, they had defended well enough and rode their luck at other times to keep City within striking distance on the scoreboard despite heavy pressure, and they’d taken their chance to score when it had come along. So far, so text book, and yet within a minute they’d self destructed.

No doubt the equaliser served as a wake up call to City but for QPR to allow first Kolarov the time and space to deliver a cross, then give Tevez the freedom of the penalty area to travel to the byline and cut the ball back, and then leave Dzeko completely unmarked in the six yard box to head home was unforgiveable. That’s basic stuff regardless of circumstance or the quality of the opposition. There was a lot to be pleased and proud about in this QPR performance but the defending for that goal, and the timing of it, was park standard.

Ferdinand’s injury saw him withdrawn and replaced by Nedum Onuoha who was given a warm reception by the City fans he used to play in front of. Then after Faurlin had betrayed his tiredness with a sloppy pass that allowed Dzeko in to shoot wide Hughes sent on Kieron Dyer for the Argentinean who can be pleased with his week’s work overall. Fantastic to see him back, great to see him playing so well, reassuring that Hughes still sees him as a first choice despite the influx of new faces. Faurlin and Granero have the potential to be a dream midfield combination for QPR over the coming months and years.

Chris Foy incurred the wrath of the home faithful again 17 minutes from time when he first failed to award Yaya Toure a free kick for what looked like a foul on the edge of the QPR penalty area, then booked Jack Rodwell for chopping Granero as Rangers broke away down field.

Mancini immediately sent on Kolo Toure for Pablo Zabaletta – ostensibly a like-for-like switch but in reality a defensive move given QPR’s persistent failure to deal with Zabaletta’s forward runs over the past two meetings with him.

Roberto Mancini may have been a flamboyant forward as a player, he may have the best attacking options of any manager in the Premier League, and his City side may be vastly superior to QPR in every department but he is still Italian, and therefore still always likely to make gratuitous defensive substitutions to try and see out a game that shouldn’t really need seeing out at all in such situations.

The change encouraged QPR who quickly worked Johnson in behind the new comer and he won a corner. This time – hold the phone, stop the presses, alert the relevant authorities – the delivery was a good one. Presumably the ability to pick out Nedum Onuoha unmarked at the back post from a set piece will swiftly be coached out of Granero but for now the routine works and on this occasion set up a chance for Ryan Nelsen on the edge of the six yard box but his substantial, ageing frame was never likely to be able to execute the acrobatic scissor kick he attempted and the ball skewed horribly wide. It was a terrific chance; Nelsen had more time than he allowed himself and a more attack minded player probably would have scored.

Rather annoyingly when Kompany fouled Park moments later and Granero delivered another perfect set piece into the back post (be still my beating heart) it came through to Nelsen, of all people, again after Hart missed it completely and the New Zealand international captain failed to make sufficient contact. Curses.

Mancini responded by taking off Silva for the more pragmatic Milner but Tevez showed that attack is the best form of defence in such situations by marauding forward with the ball despite persistent attention, and at least three fouls, from a back tracking Bobby Zamora. The striker was, rightly, retrospectively booked by Foy when the play came to an end.

Hughes sent on Djibril Cisse for Granero – I’d have been tempted to put him on for Park ten minutes earlier – and Mancini engaged in clock running by introducing Abdul Razak (number 63 can you believe) for Samir Nasri. The departing City players dragged their departures out to the absolute extreme which irritated Foy into adding five extra minutes at the end of the game but ultimately the time proved more use to the hosts as Tevez got the goal his all round play deserved when he diverted Dzeko’s poor shot into the net after QPR had become overwhelmed by the weight of numbers committed to the attack.

Perversely I saw more in a 1-1 draw at Norwich last week to worry me about QPR than their 5-0 defeat at Swansea the game before before. Here I found more to encourage me in a 3-1 defeat than I did in the shambles at Carrow Road.

Farcically, having basically played three matches while the transfer window was open and clubs were still assembling their teams for 2012/13, the whole division now goes on a two week hiatus. It has all the money, all the best players and all the exposure in the world but the Premier League lacks two brain cells to rub together in its senior management team when it comes to such matters. Either start the season later or end the transfer window earlier for God’s sake.

Annoying though it is, the break may come at a good time for QPR who have a lot to work on and with. Mark Hughes must use his time wisely.

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Man City: Hart 7, Zabaletta 8 (K Toure 74, 6), Kompany 7, Lescott 6, Kolarov 7, Silva 7 (Milner 81, -), Rodwell 6, Y Toure 8, Nasri 6 (Razak 89, -), Tevez 8, Dzeko 6

Subs: Pantilimon, Clichy, Sinclair, Balotelli

Goals: Y Toure 16 (unassisted), Dzeko 61 (assisted Tevez), Tevez 90+2 (assisted Dzeko)

Yellows: Kolarov 44 (foul), Rodwell 73 (foul)

QPR: Green 6, Bosingwa 6, Nelsen 7, Ferdinand 5 (Onuoha 67, 6), Fabio 6, Park 6, Faurlin 6 (Dyer 72, 6), Granero 7 (Cisse 85, -) Wright-Phillips 5, Johnson 6, Zamora 6

Subs: Murphy, Derry, Mackie, Hoilett

Goals: Zamora 59 (assisted Johnson)

Yellows: Zamora 84 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Esteban Granero 7 Players often do well on their debut so I’m not placing too much stock in this performance but he looked a cut above the other QPR players with his passing, control, positioning and technique. He takes good set pieces as well. Nice to see him come straight to the away end to hand over his shirt at full time, and that he seemed a bit put out that his team mates didn’t do the same. Let’s hope he drags them up to his standards, rather than descending to theirs.

Referee – Chris Foy 7 Not a lot to referee here. Seemed to be rather kind to QPR on a couple of occasions to the audible anger of the home fans but there were few big decisions to get wrong and he allowed the game to flow well with excellent use of the advantage rule throughout. All the bookings were justified but Nelsen can count himself fortunate not to receive on himself for two cynical fouls in the first half, and Kompany was also lucky to escape further punishment for a second half foul on Park.

Attendance – 45, 579 (900 QPR approx) Saturday evening match with only one (expensive) train home, live on the TV, 200 miles from home, against opposition almost certain to beat us, in tough economic times – it’s understandable why only the hardcore QPR support fancied this one. However this is exactly the sort of travelling support, and exactly the same excuses, we’ve been mocking Fulham about for years.

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carrotcrunch_R added 23:58 - Sep 2
Great match report Clive I am also relieved that there is a two week lay off. This will give us a bit of time for the squad to do much needed bonding together and to find out what our best team and what is the best system and formation to play. I am clueless to those answers at the moment and ev1 else seems to have there own ideas on this . This now will be the ultimate test for our management team, I could be wrong on this but I think mh is looking towards using squad rotation system for future games.
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RangerKIK added 02:04 - Sep 3
I did not see this game the same way you did Clive. Yes there were positives in the second half but only when Man City stopped bothering because it was so easy for them. But for more luck than judgement this could easily have been 4 or 5 to MC by half time.

When Hughes said on MOTD we gave a 'positive' display I was taking a sip of tea. It was a good 10 minutes before I stopped choking. The first 22 minutes of this game was the most negative and pathetic displays of football I have seen in my life - ever.

What was the pre-match team talk. Hughes - 'right lads I having been watching that Handball at the Olympics and I like the tactics they use in defence. I think it will work for us so what I want you to do, right from the kick off, is fall back and form a semi-circle round the box and stay there'. The fear and cramping of style this created led the palyers to hear 'do not pass, do not win any headers, do not tackle and definately do not show any composure. In fact what I want you to do when you get the ball is PANIC!'. Ok I am being stupid now but it was a horror show. As I said last week there is no point having good players if you are not going to let them express themselves. There is such a tedious predictability to all our away performances under Hughes. Sit behind ball and play for a 0-0 draw/maybe sneek a set piece goal. But our farcical organisation in defence inevitably leads to the home side taking the lead at which point Hughes says ok guys you may as well play football now. PLEASE PLEASE LET'S DO IT FROM THE START! What are we so frightened of! Let's express ourselves and go for it. We have some really good players but Hughes has got to take the shackles off them and let them play. What you said Clive about us believing we are worthy of being in this league, and having the confidence and belief to attack teams away from home, is going to all be down to one man's opinion on how we should play. But at the moment Hughes has us playing like we are scared to death, like he thinks we are inferior and therefore must grind out a draw. Personally I really hope Dyer stays injury free and becomes a regular in the team because he exudes an arrogant swagger that the rest of the team need to adopt..... and fast. He has the unshaking belief he is better than anyone on the opposition team regardless of the fact he has hardly played in 3 years. I love this attitude. If you do not run out the tunnel thinking 'bloody hell we are good, think it will be 4 or 5 today' then it never will be. Yes it's early days and a new team but Hughes attitude for away games has sucked from day 1. Let's get Rodney and Stan in over the two week break to do a Masterclass on playing with belief, swagger and confidence! :-)


Granaro. God praise Granero! We finally have a player that can clear the first man on a set piece! He did look good. Really looking forward to seeing more of him. Also great to have Ali back.

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Kaos_Agent added 02:29 - Sep 3
Need to fit Hoilett into this. SWP is still agile and quick but loses possession too easily and can't create credible shots.
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Nov77 added 03:31 - Sep 3
Rangerkik, we have a player with that arrogance, taarabt. He was the best player on the pitch first half v Swansea and his reward was to be dropped and not play since.
Like you I wasn't that impressed. I watched the game again today, only the second half as there wasn't anything worth watching first half.
Yes we played a bit of 'Chuckle Brothers' football in the midfield (to me, to you) but we didn't have any end product. Other than the goal I can't remember joe hart having to make a save.
Granero was promising though, although I wouldn't go overboard just yet as some have done.


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ozranger added 03:59 - Sep 3
Thanks again for a great report Clive.

I watched this game yesterday arvo, knowing the score - the trouble of it being shown live at 2:30 in the morning. There are certainly some positives and some negatives to be gleaned from the game. I think the biggest mistake of MH, and here I must disagree with your ratings Clive, was the fact that Wright-Phillips was on the park. He is not Premiership material. Yes, he is a nuggety defender and does do some decent things there, but give him the ball and you might as well give it to the opposition. Rarely did he pass it to one of our players and when he attempted to take on Kolorov down the right he inevitably lost the ball. Had Jamie Mackie been there instead, or even Hoilett, then I seriously believe that we would have been much better. By not being able to pin back Kolorov to defend, because W-P is no attacker and cannot take on a player successfully, meant that the City player was given free run to attack himself. With Mackie or Hoilett there, he would have been forced to defend, thus creating more pressure on the rest of the team - more attacks down their right allowing us to defend better on that side instead of not knowing where the attack was to originate from. By the way, is it me or should Kolorov been sent off for a second caution considering his totally reckless challenges on Ferdinand and Onuoha?

I too was impressed by Granaro. Pity he will eventually be told about the standard corner practice of not making it past the first defender, so Saturday was no doubt an aberration. While he played well, I actually gave my MoM to Bosingwa, whom I thought tried to make up for W-P's lack of ability to attack, once he himself worked it out. I also thought his defensive work, lest to say the second goal which was a lot of people's fault, was quite solid. I was also impressed, as the game wore on, with Fabio on the other flank.

Certainly, not withstanding the praise the commentators gave us, was the fact that we had a bench and a decent one at that. Think back to the home game against Newcastle last season, the one at exactly the same time after the closing of the window and look at the quality of the teams. I do believe that this team will improve over time and look forward to the Chelsea and, more so, to the Spurs games - I watched some of the Spurs game yesterday and they were poor - and hopefully by the time we get past these, we will become a team that deserves its reputation as not only a Premier League team, but a good one. I am sick of seeing my team being belittled.

Finally, on Saturday I rather doubt any team could have beaten City the way they played at the beginning. They were in a different class to most teams I have seen over the past few weeks. We are definitely not in that class, but hopefully later this season we will not be too far off. That is up to MH and how he handles his squad.
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R_in_Sweden added 07:36 - Sep 3
Cheers for the report.

Granero looked classy, let's hope that it's not a flash in the pan. Hughes handling of Taarabt is pretty mistifying. Agree with you about the Norwich performance being more worrying than the Swansea one. I felt that we showed City far too much respect in the first half. Some nice passing movement in the second half littered with elentary mistakes.

I keep telling myself that the team will gel, although the team varies so much from game to game I'm wondering how this will be achieved. Be very interesting to see where we are at after the West Ham game.
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Neil_SI added 07:50 - Sep 3
It was a match that could easily be looked at in different ways, but ultimately was a more positive one. For those of you watching on TV, it's always much, much more difficult to understand what is going on as you cannot see the entire pitch and what each and every player is doing, whereas those who were there can.

We were timid and poor in the early stages, but no real different to when we turned up here on the last match of the season. We struggled initially and lacked belief, but grew into the game as it went on, and that is a positive. It doesn't matter if Manchester City took their foot off the gas, we can only deal with what's in front of us and it was a good opportunity for us to work on our shape and in the end it turned out to be a decent enough exercise for us.

We did a lot better with our defensive shape in the early phase of the game, even if we offered absolutely nothing going forward. City had good shape and pattern play and even if it was predictable, with the level of players they have at their disposal they're always going to make you work.

It left us with plenty of areas to work on and answered some questions for us.

In a nutshell;
- we've taken some small steps forward with defensive shape
- we've shown we can get the ball down and play when we want to be adventurous
- we still lack pattern play from the back
- when we're open and trying to 'play' we're very vulnerable on the counter
- we need to do some work on our defensive and attacking set pieces where we are a little soft at either end
- we need to do some work on how we distribute from the goalkeeper, both from hands and goal kicks

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singapore_dave added 08:07 - Sep 3
Great report as ever Clive.

Surprised you didn't mention Kolarov in your ref assessment. I am amazed he was allowed to stay on the pitch.
He twice pulled SWP back in the first half after he got away from him and was booked the second time. Fair enough but Zamora was booked for pulling Tevez back without a warning. Inconsistent.
He then went on to perform two body slams on Ferdinand and Onouha without further punishment. Both challenges were dangerous and cowardly in my opinion.
Peter Reid and Andy Townsend both said he should have been sent off on Asian TV ( I am not sure that supports my argument though ! )
I thought Zamora was excellent and deserved MOM with Granero a close second.
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shooters47 added 08:11 - Sep 3
At least I now know I am not one of the Rangers hardcore fans, might miss a few more now!!
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parker64 added 08:18 - Sep 3
It looked a bit of a training exercise to me. Hughes probably had this one chalked off as a loser but it gave him time to work on the shape and fitness. All very commendable but certainly not one I'd be paying to go and watch.
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Neil_SI added 08:18 - Sep 3
singapore_dave –
That wasn't immediately obvious from the stands. I didn't realise until afterwards that either of those challenges warranted yellow cards, and actually still haven't seen the footage since.

I thought the officials were poor in the opening stages of the game, with most 50-50 decisions going in City's favour and we had one or two blatant calls that were totally guessed at because both referee and assistant missed it.

They did okay after that though.
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tomo added 08:20 - Sep 3
Clive, another excellent review. I totally agree with all your observations and laughed at the number of corners gag. I now live in New Zealand and have the opportunity to watch all the games on Sky for peanuts so get a broad range of games and comparisons. As I commented last week we have bought experience but not pace and we get caught far too easily on the counter attack. I do wonder why our GBP60k a week guys can't keep possession as well as a lesser team like Swansea. I like Mark Hughes but I do doubt his ability to play simple and effective football. I'm no football manager but I would like to see more possession and more building from the back like the old days when we had Wilkins and co knocking the ball around on the turf for fun. I am now encouraged that we are building the right way but I would really like to see Tarbs in a free roll playing behind Cisse and Zamora with the new Midfielders keeping the ball. Our defence seems under undue pressue too often and we lack that cutting edge that so many other teams seem to have, even with confidence from the promoted teams like Scumhampton and even WHU.
Can't wait to see Mbia in action and Hail Ceaser. On a serious note Clive I hope Hughes reads your posts and promotes you to the QPR matchday journo. You have a keen and educated eye for footie which is more than I can say for most wannabe pundits. Thanks for the entertainment. p.s. SWP needs to make way for Hoilett, the boy can shine at Rangers and SWP will flourish in a side that has more space and time on the ball.
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YorkRanger added 08:21 - Sep 3
Clive, great report as ever.

Few things that struck me.

Firstly good to see Hughes stopping Boswinga at the end from going straight down the tunnel and sending him to acknowledge the travelling fans. Defensively we still have a lot to do but the back four had a more solid feel to it although the tendency for Fabio and Park to press on together at times caused regular alarm in the York travelling party.

Secondly I would make a mention to Johnson's work rate. I thought he put a tremendous shift in covered so much ground, and his closing down and intelligent running off the ball was excellent.

Finally in the credit where credit is due category a mention to Dyer. I know it was only 15 minutes or so and I know one Swallow doesn't make a Summer, but he looked sharp, quick and played some really intelligent football. If he can can stay fit you can see him featuring more and more based on that showing.

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WokingR added 08:43 - Sep 3
900 Away fans ?
Well that explains why there were more City fans on the 8.35 back to Euston than Rangers.
From the upper tier it looked like we were quite well supported but it was only when watching the recording on the telly yesterday that you can see just how empty the lower tier was.
Come on lads, get off your arses. These are exciting times !
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tomo added 08:44 - Sep 3
Sorry I forgot to mention Kolarov was just plainly cheating and trying to hurt someone. I bet by the end of the season that he will have hurt someone really badly because he has no intention of taking the ball fairly. He is more of a Kangaroo with those mid body lunges. The day the refs catch up on his tactics and he gets sent off the better, I will have a few beers to celebrate if City go on to lose as a result of it. Call Joey Barton a thug (off the pitch) may sometimes be justified but I never saw him play like this piece of work on it! Good luck JB in France!!!!
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Jigsore added 08:45 - Sep 3
"QPR, typically, wasted the corner. Shaun Wright-Phillips drilled it straight at the defender on the near post in the now time honoured - every b*****d corner, every damn week, every f*****g game, without fail - QPR fashion. I swear to sweet Jesus Christ it’s taking all my mental strength not to walk out there, take the corner flag and beat these professional footballers to a bloody pulp with it when they do this – and my will power is diminishing. How difficult can it be to take a corner? No, seriously, how difficult can it be?".

I laughed so hard at this. Tear my hair out at it live though.
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Northernr added 09:56 - Sep 3
RangerKK – An incredibly harsh assessment. You can't simply take the players we have and sling them out there in an attacking set up away to Man City/Man Utd/Chelsea etc wth a "let them worry about us, we're not afraid of you" attitude. We'd get annihilated even more often than we do at the moment. The trick in away games like this is to stay in the contest, avoid being buried in the first hour then if you're in touching distance pray on their nerves and increase your attacking ambition. Southampton did it well on day one here and nearly got a result, we nearly got a result here and might have done had Nelsen scored either of his chances. Twice in the first half we were almost picked off on the counter attack – City want you to commit bodies forward early. I thought we played it as well as could be expected and I think your expectations for QPR at the moment are beyond what they're capable of achieving.

Nov77 – At times against Swansea Taarabt was back in his win the game by myself mode. Not helpful. Hughes clearly thought he had a role in mind for him, it was a disaster against Swansea, and now he's not sure what to do with him.

OzRanger – SWP's mark should be a five, that's a typo, I've corrected it now. I still think QPR fans are prone to looking for mistakes from him so they can point and shout "see, told you he was crap" in a way they don't do with other players.

Singapore Dave – you couldn't not book Zamora for that. He cynically and deliberately fouled Tevez three times in the same passage of play. That was blatant. Kolarov was booked and I thought that was fair enough punishment for his indiscretions on the day.

Shooters – Saw Johnny at the station afterwards. You and I have sat in some pretty sparsely populated away ends over the years, I'm sure you're still hardcore mate. Bit lonely in that away end on Saturday though.

Tomo – You wouldn't get coherent comment from me on a matchday I can assure you.

York – probably agree on all points. Another thing I noticed at the end was Dyer came halfway down the pitch clapped the fans then turned and left. Granero was standing next to him as he did so and looked at him as if to say "where you going?" before shaking his head and coming to the fans with his shirt.

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patelvis added 10:18 - Sep 3
Maybe It's just me .... But we've signed 12 players in this window, and only 1 recognised centre half .... Last season we were woefully exposed in the centre of defense, this season even more so (and only after 3 games)..

Our midfield looks solid based on any number of permutations; our full back positions are covered well (But why no Luke Young ??) & up top provided they get the service, could be a handful. BUT it's blatantly obvious that even the players have no confidence if anyone puts anything up in the air at the heart of our defence, or runs at it (as in Swansea at home)... There appears to be no communication,
no leadership & certainly no intimidation on our part (as in Grant Holt at Norwich apart from Hilly , but he was overrun)..... Cant help thinking that Robert Green's situation has been exaserbated by a lack of belief in what he has directly in front of him.

Good to see Ali doing so well, and Granero looks very tidy. But without 2 decent centre halves we will always be susceptible to set pieces along with being imposed upon by teams who's centre forwards know they can bully and frustrate what they are playing against.... Our set pieces also require centre halves to be attacking the football with some belief ... If of course the taker (as in SWP) can beat the first man !!!!
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AshteadR added 11:31 - Sep 3
Thanks for the report Clive - top notch as always.

Lots of promising developments, that we'll hopefully carry into the Chelsea and Spurs games. Work in progress regarding the defence; Nelson looked ok and will potentially be partnered by M'bia in future?

Although it was a small travelling support, we somehow got stuck behind some complete bell-ends at the back of the upper tier. I know we all like a drink, but sometimes you can take things too far. Fortunately there were plenty of spare seats we could move to for the 2nd half.
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Myke added 11:40 - Sep 3
Hi Clive, good report as ever. Just a few points: I accept that my view from the tv would be better than yours from behind the goal, but having been booked for a fairly innocolous tackle on SWP (who I felt did very well btw), Kolarov should certainly have been dismissed for GBH on first Ferdinand and then his replacment, Onouha. While Fabio had a good game overall and did make that marvellous block in the first half as you described, did you see (and it was at your end) where he came from to make it - virtually from right back, which says a lot about his positional sense. Bosinga was poor, slow and laboured and clearly targetted by Mancini. Zamora was excellent but, like you, I would love to have seen Cisse 10 mins earlier when City were scared of conceding and we had all the ball, credit to Hughes for leaving on Johnson though and going for it. Faurlin was fine , surprised he started and should probably have been withdrawn earlier as he not surprisingly ran out of steam. Park, while industrious, should not be playing left side, when we have naturally gifted leftfooters on the bench or left at home. I said when we signed him, we didn't need him and I stand over that. Granero did ok, time will tell. Next big question - pick your 25 from that lot?
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Doughnut added 12:29 - Sep 3
If MH cannot pick a winning team out of the army he now has around him, and start making it 'work/'gel'..etc..etc, then Rob Green, I think, will not be on his own when looking over his shoulder. Last season the start was chaotic, so the results were understandable. But what happened to the settled pre-season preparation the bulk of the team have had this year? I'll know things are on the up-turn when we're not first to concede in the opening 20mins.
We wait patiently!
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TacticalR added 13:03 - Sep 3
Thanks for your report.

Although this match was something of a formality I agree that it was a better performance than Norwich.

There were some positives:

- The number of returned players.
- The debut of Granero, a man made to play in midfield. He also shouldered an enormous amount of responsibility in his first match. Did anyone notice the personal battle between him and Silva?
- Green didn't make any howlers, and made an excellent save from Silva.
- Fabio looked better.
- Nelsen showed a bit of defensive nous.

Negatives:

Park. Does not seem to be on the same wavelength as the other players. Got caught on the ball a few times. However, he did make a couple of incisive long forward passes.

SWP. At first I thought he had had an OK game, because he got some defensive tackles in. But when I reviewed the match, I was amazed by how much he gave the ball away, always in exactly the same spot around the edge of the 18-yard area, and always when the team was stretched out. He simply cannot hold on to the ball when there is an opposition player anywhere near him.

Ferdinand.
The First goal. Ferdinand totally lost Yaya Touré.
Ferdinand should have been taken off after he got an injured in the clash with Kolarov, at 1-0 (see below).
Second goal. Faurlin was tracking Tevez, and it looked like Ferdinand was going to pick him up in the box as Faurlin couldn't track him past Ferdinand, because Ferdinand was in Faurlin's way. Instead Ferdinand just stopped, then ambled after Tevez, who had all the time in the world to loft the ball over the defense.

Kolarov. By clattering players after the ball has gone he has found a way to get in nasty fouls with complete freedom.

Hughes. My biggest fear with Hughes is that he doesn't adapt himself to opponents or to the moment. If you are a big club you don't have to adapt to your opponent. But since we are not in that fortunate situation, so need to adapt to our opponent. And why did he not take Ferdinand off after the first goal when it was obvious that Kolarov's foul had stopped Ferdinand moving about freely?
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QPRski added 13:37 - Sep 3
Good report of a match I managed to watch live on TV.

We can look for positives such as an excellent debut of Granero, as well as some good performances from individuals, but we really never looked like being in this match.

I was suprised that we did not make some more adventorous subsitutions (Cisse earlier and perhaps introduce Hoillet?). Also the QPR following seemed very poor which as dissapointing.

I am sure that our owners will expect a more dynamic approach in future games. We could lose to the top teams, but we should do in a fighting manner (as Southampton did against Man U)

Progress, but still much more to do!
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RangerKIK added 15:22 - Sep 3
......"let them worry about us, we're not afraid of you" attitude. We'd get annihilated even more often than we do at the moment.'

Nonsense!! No we wouldn't. If we keep the ball two things immediately fall in to place. Firstly - They can't score. Secondly - We have a chance to score. It's that simple. Swansea do it and do it brilliantly with no where near the class of players we have. Mind you I have heard you critisise their footaball on here on a few occasions. Yet they cruised to survival last year and we had to rely on other teams results to stay up. I would love us to play football like them. You honestly believe to sit really deep and soak up pressure and hope to come into the game later on is a good game plan! Crikes. How well did that work against Chelsea away last year? In fact how well has it worked in any away games under Hughes? If Man City had their shooting boots on it would have been 4 or 5 here. We have to believe we are good enough to win games and then we will. Plus I am talking about an attitde for all our away games not just this one. Honestly Clive look at our away record under Hughes.It speaks for itself.
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Northernr added 15:35 - Sep 3
FYI Swansea's results in such games last season:

Man City 4 Swansea 0
Arsenal 1 Swansea 0
Chelsea 4 Swansea 1
Man Utd 2 Swansea 0
Spurs 3 Swansea 1

Overall they won four away matches - only one more than us.

So no, it's not nonsense and it's not that simple either. Yes it's a fact that if we kept the ball for 90 minutes Man City wouldn't score but that's completely unrealistic and wilfully simplistic. Look at the players Man City have.

QPR's problems under Hughes come in games that they're expected to win (Bolton A, Blackburn A, Norwich A, Swansea H, Fulham H, Wolves H). We actually do ok in the ones we're not (Spurs H, Arsenal H, Liverpool H, Man City A) because for whatever reason it suits us to sit deep, soak up pressure and hit on the break.
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