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Defensive horror show sees QPR crash at West Brom — full match report
Defensive horror show sees QPR crash at West Brom — full match report
Tuesday, 9th Oct 2012 07:17 by LFW

QPR remain stuck to the bottom of the Premier League after a 3-2 defeat at West Brom on Saturday.

QPR, once known as the club that landed billionaire owners but got worse, are now in danger of becoming the outfit that added a dozen well regarded players to a squad capable of Premiership survival and got relegated.

There’s a lot of talk about fine margins in football, and Mark Hughes has plenty to cling to with that particular cliché. Had Bobby Zamora scored after rounding the goalkeeper against Chelsea, Junior Hoilett scored when played through on Brad Friedel at Tottenham, and Jose Bosingwa scored when he should have done with the last kick of the game against West Brom on Saturday then QPR would have four more points and be on a reasonable run of form.

But while there were positives to take from the Spurs and Chelsea games, and the fact that the team is just coming up short in games – even ones they’re a clear second best in – rather than being thrashed shows this group of players does have some potential, there is no getting away from just how poor QPR were at The Hawthorns on Saturday. The final 3-2 scoreline flattered the losing team.

Following the tactical abomination against West Ham in the previous match I rather unkindly suggested that Hughes couldn’t have done much worse had he simply picked 11 squad members out of a hat. By the looks of the first half here he did exactly that prior to facing Steve Clarke’s side.

The Welshman did, in fairness, recognise that QPR suffered from the lack of a physical presence in the centre of midfield against the Hammers. His solution to this was to move Stephane Mbia forward into a holding role between the midfield and defence. You may recall the last time Hughes tried this sort of 4-1-4-1 set up, and the five goals Swansea City walked through it. Mbia took the role enthusiastically, but executed it in a somewhat wild manner. West Brom – as anybody who has watched them this season knows – play a three man supporting cast behind a lone striker which left Mbia with plenty on his plate. After 30 seconds he gave the ball away and then, after a team mate had won it back for him ten seconds later, he did the same thing again and Rangers were forced to scramble the ball clear after a nervy moment in their own penalty area.

One might have considered that playing him there alongside Alejandro Faurlin may have been a shrewd move but having raced him back from a nine month lay off with a succession of 90-minute sessions in league and cup Hughes decided that post-West Ham the Argentinean should be dropped to the bench.

Shaun Wright-Phillips and Ji-Sung Park, however, both kept their places: Park to add legs to the midfield alongside Granero in Faurlin’s absence; Wright-Phillips for reasons known only to Hughes. This is a player whose self belief, confidence and use to the team was circling the drain six months ago and has now completely vanished. The QPR manager needs all the goodwill he can get right now in the face of mounting criticism and the continued selection of his diminutive right winger while players with more ability and better form sit on the bench is costing him that in bucket loads.

Hughes picked Clint Hill at left full back for want of a better option and the poor bastard was so dreadful that having been removed at half time he gave an interview to the press admitting he was no longer in the right physical condition to be able to play that role in the Premier League. He was regularly left trailing in the wake of an attractive home side, and Rangers conceded a goal down his side after five minutes. Long got away – all barrel chest and Premier League sharpness after a considered footballing education – and crossed perfectly for James Morrison to plant a header past the helpless Cesar. West Brom had attacked Villa repeatedly the week before with a James Morrison-Shane Long combination down the right wing and therefore weren’t presenting anything that QPR shouldn’t have known about. Writing very firmly on the wall at this stage.

Hughes is said to be excellent with injured players – refusing to rush them back, keeping them involved with the squad, making them feel wanted and such like. Having flogged Faurlin half to death over the previous weeks, here he brought Anton Ferdinand and Jose Bosingwa back into the defence just a few weeks after both suffered hamstring injuries. The medics presumably said they were fit to start, their performances suggested otherwise.

Bosingwa, a Portuguese international right back who once cost Chelsea £16.3m, played this game at a walking pace. In the tenth minute he collected a Granero free kick that had been cleared to the edge of the box and lazily punted a 35 yard nonsense high into the West Brom fans with a penalty box full of QPR players awaiting a cross. Some two hours later, with the very last kick of the game at the end of injury time, a final hopeful corner fell to him at the back post. Unmarked, on the edge of the six yard box, with the goal at his mercy, he leant back once more and sent the ball off into the stand again.

Still, could have been worse – his colleague Ferdinand had an even more torrid afternoon and could be at least partly faulted for all three goals. The second, on 21 minutes, came down that danger right side again as Morrison toasted Hill once more, delivered a cross to the near post and then watched with glee as Ferdinand, under no pressure, fell over the ball and directed it straight to Zoltan Gera who calmly rolled the ball home from 12 yards out. Mother Mary of Christ give me strength.

Already out of the game, Rangers had little to cheer. The one beacon of light was the long overdue recall of Adel Taarabt to the starting line-up after his super-sub act in the previous match with West Ham and subsequent emotional interview with the club’s website where the frustration of not even being able to get into this QPR team almost brought him to tears.

In the twelfth minute the Moroccan, playing wide left initially but more in support of Bobby Zamora as the game went on, won a free kick on the edge of the box with a typically swashbuckling run. Granero’s set piece was deflected wide but the subsequent corner caused more problems for QPR than West Brom as the home side flew down the field on the counter attack at lightning speed and were unlucky not to double their lead when Long got on the end of Morrison’s centre.

Taarabt drew a yellow card from Tamas at the midway point of the half as referee Mike Jones recognised the only way West Brom could stop the QPR man was by kicking him. The official was more generous with Mbia, letting him with a warning for a reckless foul on Mulumbu a moment later.

Rangers were two down by that stage and lucky not to be more. They had been asleep from an earlier throw in resulting in a Gera shot at Cesar, and the Brazilian goalkeeper had to save from Long on the half hour after Bosingwa had first given the ball away and then been skinned for pace by the lively Irishman.

The Baggies now smelt blood down the QPR right as well as the left and Peter Odemwingie came out to try his luck ten minutes before half time – roasting Bosingwa just as his team mates had and then pulling the ball back from the byline to Gera who shot straight at Cesar.

Thank goodness then for Adel Taarabt. Completely against the run of play, from nothing, he controlled a ball played up to him on the edge of the box by Granero on his thigh and then before it hit the ground turned and thumped an unstoppable volley past Ben Foster in the West Brom goal and into the net. Staggering on two levels: the quality of the strike and the fact that there was now only one goal between these two sides that were apparently separated on all other measurements by a chasm.

Rangers had a bit of a sniff of something now. Bosingwa crossed for Zamora to head over at the near post and just before half time they managed to exert some concerted pressure for a prolonged period of time around the West Brom box. But QPR were laboured, disjointed and every pass seemed forced. West Brom look like a team built carefully, over time, with a clear plan and structure, fielded in a formation they’re used to using where everybody knows their roles. The calm, composed, controlling presence of Mulumbu at the base of their midfield in stark contrast to poor Mbia who cost QPR 24 times as much and was about 50 times worse in this game. I find it strange that while the world and his wife seem to want to try and sign Cabaye and Tiote from Newcastle, nobody is ever publicly linked with Mulumbu who is a crucial part of this very handy West Brom team.

They responded to the Taarabt goal by sending Morrison down the right to cross for Long who nodded back and Odemwingie blasted wide. They then showed Rangers how to execute moves in the final third by breaking up the pre-half time QPR pressure and swiftly breaking down field with a move that ended with Long setting up Gera with an exquisite pass and Cesar making a world class save in a one on one situation to keep the half time score at two one.

Park saw yellow for a bad foul in stoppage time at the end of a half that was amazingly one sided considering the scoreline.

Steve Clarke sent on Gonzalo Jara for the second half instead of Gabriel Tamas who’d been the only Baggies player in the first period not to play well. Hughes sent on Armand Traore for Clint Hill by way of a mercy killing.

Jara didn’t fare much better than his predecessor when it came to handling Adel Taarabt initially. QPR’s in-form Moroccan robbed the new man of possession in his own half in the opening moments and then shot straight at Foster. Eight minutes later, after Bosingwa had once again found the same spot at the back of the stand with a ludicrous speculative shot from long range, Taarabt put a great ball in for Wright-Phillips to run onto but his low shot from an impossible angle that didn’t even trouble the side netting could only be described as abject. The QPR fans – who travelled in good numbers all things considered – began to chant the name of Junior Hoilett and while I’d usually point out that this is counterproductive for the players still out on the pitch it was hard not to agree with the sentiment. Hughes did take off Wright-Phillips later, but replaced him with Jamie Mackie.

Rangers had gone slightly tighter and narrower at the start of the second half with Park dropping further back to help out Mbia and Taarabt moving closer to Zamora. Once Mackie was on Rangers were back into a similar shape that they used to win five crucial home matches at the end of last season. This did at least seem to stifle West Brom a little better, and the hosts were nowhere near the free-flowing force we’d seen in the first half after the break. Long got caught under a great looking Morrison cross in the early stages of the half, but Mbia did likewise with a Granero corner before the hour mark and the game was much more even all in all.

Rangers were indebted to Ryan Nelsen who bravely blocked a Gera shot with his face on the hour but Steve Clarke had seen enough to suggest a new sort of threat was required and he introduced the raw physical presence of Romelu Lukaku in place of the more cute and considered Long, and sent on Markus Rosenburg instead of Odemwingie as well. Hughes subsequently replaced Mbia with Hoilett.

The changes certainly did more for the hosts than the visitors. Morrison let fly from 30 yards with a scorcher that luckily flew an inch too high and wide with Cesar beaten. Lukaku then bundled the ball against the base of Cesar’s post but had previously been flagged offside and then finally the game was put to bed when Mulumbu, one of the outstanding players on the day, rolled home from close range after a slick and incisive five pass move had cut the QPR defence to ribbons.

I’m amazed it took that long really. Had West Brom continued their first half performance into the second this would have been a rout and yet that third goal, deserved though it was, was probably the first instance of really good football they’d played after the break. Even more amazing was that QPR almost got a point regardless.

First Hoilett, as he had done at Spurs, delayed too long over a presentable shooting opportunity in the area, then when four minutes of added time was indicated Esteban Granero – one of few QPR players who didn’t deserve to be on the losing side – showed his quality with a calm finish into the top corner to halve the deficit once more.

Suddenly West Brom, so dominant for so long and so clearly superior in every department, were panicking. Fans bayed for the final whistle as Mulumbu collected a yellow card for time wasting.

They were right to be worried as well because had Bosingwa done what he should have done with the last piece of action in the match Rangers would have escaped with a 3-3 draw.

That in itself should be a positive. As poor as QPR were here and against West Ham they could easily have taken things from both matches. They’re finding a way to stay in games, but not to win them, and they’ve now lost four on the bounce.

What you have to remember here is we were playing a team from a stable club, built in a considered manner over a period of time, used to playing with one another in the system they use. None of that can be said about QPR and only time can ever put us in a position where we can emulate what Albion are achieving in this situation. Sacking managers only hinders the process further.

The question Hughes needs to answer more than any other, and the one I suspect he’d struggle with the most if anybody sat him down and asked him, is what his ideal starting 11 actually is. If everybody was fit and in form, what team would he pick and in what shape? Essentially, what are we working towards here as players slowly return to fitness?

Is Mbia a defender or a midfielder? Is he to replace Samba Diakite, play alongside him, or play behind him? What is the centre back pairing? Nelsen and Ferdinand? Hill? Mbia? Are we playing two holding midfielders or one? Or none at all? Is Park a winger, a holding midfielder, a central midfielder or simply here to sell shirts? Does Junior Hoilett get into this ideal starting 11 and if not why not? Are we playing a lone striker? Or three up front? Or two?

I would be so bold as to suggest that Hughes himself doesn’t know the answer to any of this. That would be fair enough if he was picking a horse for a course and selecting the QPR team on the relative weaknesses of the opposition, but in the last two games we appear to have picked a team that caters to the strengths of the teams we’re playing against.

Make that 18 away matches without a win as the one year anniversary of the last one approaches. I despair.

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West Brom Foster 6, Tamas 4 (Jara 46, 5), McAuley 7, Olsson 7, Popov 7, Yacob 6, Mulumbu 8, Morrison 8, Odemwingie 6 (Rosenberg 62, 6), Gera 7, Long 8 (Lukaku 68, 6)

Subs: Daniels, Dawson, Dorrans, Fortune

Goals: Morrison 5 (assisted Long), Gera 22 (assisted Long), Mulumbu 85 (assisted Jara)

Bookings: Tamas 25 (repetitive fouling), Mulumbu 90 (time wasting)

QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 3, Nelsen 6, Ferdinand 3, Hill 3 (Traore 46, 5), Mbia 5 (Hoilett 70, 5), Wright-Phillips 4 (Mackie 58, 5), Park 5, Granero 6, Taarabt 7, Zamora 5

Subs: Green, Onuoha, Faurlin, Cisse

Goals: Taarabt 25 (assisted Granero), Granero 90 (unassisted)

Bookings: Park 45 (foul), Mackie 87 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Adel Taarabt 7 Looked tired in the last half an hour, but then it must be quite hard work carrying a whole team around on your back. Looked confident, sharp, creative and willing to take the ball to feet in all situations – in stark contrast to all his team mates.

Referee – Mike Jones (Cheshire) 8 Very few complaints. Can be a little over fussy at times but kept a very good control of this game. I was impressed by the way he never seemed to be more than four or five yards away from every decision he made – always a good sign of a confident referee on his game.

Attendance 23,987 (1,500 QPR approx) I’ve never seen an away end empty like the QPR one did after the third goal but you could hardly blame the travelling faithful for that, and that they traveled in such good number and voice despite the start to the season is a credit to them. The same cannot be said of the mindless minority of pond life off to the right of the away end who booed Anton Ferdinand and sang “there’s only one John Terry” at one point. Subhuman scum.

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shooters47 added 07:41 - Oct 9
Breaking News: Mark Hughes not nominated for Premier League September manager of the month, shame really as that usually changes the teams fortunes and so we might win a game!! Fernandes said on the radio yesterday that apart from Swansea we havent been outplayed this season....give me strength!! must be because the football team has 2 more points than the racing team. Rant over see you all at the next game.

ozexile added 07:42 - Oct 9
Great report. Surely now Hughes must look at his preparation for away games and change something. Send a different scout to look at the opposition? Let Bowen pick the team? Travel up on the morning rather than on a hotel. To keep persisting with something that clearly isn't working is insane.

R_in_Sweden added 08:00 - Oct 9
Agree with your sentiments entirely Clive. Was a little worried that you were giving this all up after the game as your report took a little longer than usual to appear (not a complaint).

Why pick SWP when we've bought Hoilett?
Why did he drop Adel after the Swansea match?
What the f*ck is he doing?
And who would have thought that Nelsen would emerge as one of our better signings?
Etc, etc, etc...

The fans have been very patient but it won't last forever. Oh and that booing of Ferdinand, I thought that I heard it on TV but wasn't sure, an absolute disgrace still Terry would have been proud of those neanderthals. Looking forward to my trip to the Everton game, I want redemption.

AgedR added 08:03 - Oct 9
If anything, upbeat Clive.

You are right that Albion are a stable club, built from a medium term business plan and we are built on a desperate need to feed a PR machine and catch the new Prem League Sky dollars next season. (When I put it like that WBA sounds a bit dull though doesn't it?).

I think Hughes is here until the situation is desperate; which it clearly isn't yet and 6 points out of our next 4 games and we'll be off the bottom and off and running. That said, what concerns me most is the apparent glaring selection errors he seems to continually make. Anyone with a passing allegiance to a hoop based football team was mouthing FFS on seeing SWP in front of Hoilett again and Hill preferred at left back to Traore (even if the later does appear to be made of glass). Add a straight swap of Park for Faurlin, shift Hill for the woeful Ferdinand and you have an XI that cries out to be picked.

The excuses about lack of defenders wears a bit thin, after you have signed 1,000 players in the transfer window. Stop whining Hughes, show some resolve and use the mass of resources you have at your disposal to build a team good enough to beat the shixte around us at the bottom end of the table, before the club falls back down the trap door in to a basket case wilderness.

qprmick added 08:06 - Oct 9
I wonder how many points we would have if Hughes had played Hoilet and Taraabt right through. More than fkn two, I would suggest. Warnock and Holloway mostly knew how to defend. Any one in the crowd could have toll Hughes that Hill is no longer a left back. Nelsen and Hill were at least reasonable in the heart of the defence. He at least has two weeks to learn, read and listen, at the moment he doesn't have a clue.

JB007007 added 08:12 - Oct 9
Thanks Clive,
I didn't see this one and for once am probably glad I was invited to a rugby match.
You are probably right on Hughes not knowing his favoured starting 11 and formation, which to be fair the injuries have not helped. He should however, know that Park and SWP are contributing little and we have and have had better options even with the injuries. Personally I would play two holding midfielders. If fit, Traore and Bosingwa the full backs, but the centre of defence remains a problem because I have little faith in any of them from the 7 or 8 games I've seen.
I hope Moyes gets the manager of the month award as thats the only hope we have of beating Everton!

RonisRs added 08:29 - Oct 9
as usual bang on Clive
does Mark Hughes have a log on, so he can read your weekly reports and get some tips ?

nadera78 added 09:18 - Oct 9
I've never liked the 4-1-4-1 formation because it leaves huge areas of space either side of the sole holding player. It's simply too big an area for him to adequately cover, and it means that opposing players who drop into that space are either left unmarked to pick up the ball and then run at the defence, or that defenders have to come forward to mark them and thus leave space in behind for an intelligent forward to exploit, dragging a centre halve out with him.

Looking at our squad the formation that leaps out immediately is two deep (1 to destroy, the other to dictate) and then three further forward (creativity and pace) and one up front(hold and lay. That does, of course, rule out Cisse from a starting berth but we simply don't have the right players to play Hughes' preferred 4-4-2.

MelakaRanger added 09:23 - Oct 9
Never has a teams supporters been so 'understanding' and patient with such poor results. I am pleased that Tony F has come out and categorically stated that Mark Hughes is here to stay. We need stability.

But we also need to start winning, and fast. Tony F and Hughes think we have not been outplayed recently. What the.......... West Ham & WBA both played us off the pitch. We were woeful in both games. And maybe thats part of the problem. They both think we are just unlucky rather than accepting that we are actually playing badly, with bad formations and tactics and plan the next game of this basis.

And the excuses given of 'injuries' and 'needing more time to gel' are just that, excuses. There are no excuses for our predicament and despite being a firm supporter of Hughes and his vision for the club, it is he more than the players who is responsible for our woeful start to the season.

He doesn't seem to learn from his mistakes


dixiedean added 09:34 - Oct 9
not that I'm a great MH fan ( I used to love Macca kicking lumps out of him) and we all know Clint is struggling at LB,but is there an obvious alternative when Fabio & Traore are not fit ? I'm not aware of a great youngster in that position and the only other constructive suggestion I've seen is Park ( who a lot of other people want to be dropped ! ). So aren't we with stuck with Hill until Traore stops imitating Glass Man Matt Rose and can play a few games ? When fit he'd be my first choice,but he rarely is,so to be fair to MH his hands are tied at LB. Let's criticise constuctively where we can ( eg the SWP blind spot ,which we're unanimous on) but don't think we can blame him for picking Hill when there was no other obvious candidate available. And who would have picked Onuoha ahead of Hill after his last shocker ?

Northernr added 09:45 - Oct 9
Agree Dixie - hence I said "for want of a better option"

QPRski added 09:48 - Oct 9
Unfortunately it is an accurate report.

Lesson learned "Clint Hill is not a left back". A pity we were not more adventurous with out of box solutions.

However, two cracking individual goals. But I long to see a team effort where we roll the ball into the net.

It is going to be a restless wait for the next game. I hope we use this time wisely to cement (gel is too woobly) a team.

BromleyHoop added 09:49 - Oct 9
It seems to me that the Reading loss did for our confidence completely. There is a complete lack of pace in our game which makes it difficult for us to get behind teams before they've had the chance to reorganise. Every pass between team mates is laboured and almost painful to watch.
That is why the selection of Taarabt, at the moment, is a must. He has the skill to unlock a defence when the rest of the team are playing lke statues.

Other teams must be rubbing their hands together at the thought of playing us; we are a very, very easy team to play against.

PhilmyRs added 10:22 - Oct 9
Good report, a few things I would have added.

Thought Granero’s pass for the goal was worthy of more praise than a ‘ball played up to him’. It’s a difficult pass to execute, maybe Pirlo playing them for fun in the summer has made us all think it’s an easy skill. Sticking with Granero, I know you acknowledge he was one of the few bright spots but I would have perhaps noted the quality of his goal a bit more. First of many hopefully, but it was genuine quality placed shot in to the top corner and although the game was seemingly finished, still a class finish.

I also think Adel can do much more. I fully understood why he tired in the second half as he hasn’t played much but from the moment the left back was on a Yellow I felt Adel can have caused him more problems, not just cut in but go on the outside a bit more. Having said that the goal was worth a good few extra marks, and his pass for SWP was good, but even so I felt Granero played better.

I’m not like most on this board in that I can see the logic behind Hughes selecting SWP, but on Saturday he was as ineffective as I’ve seen him and you’re right to raise Hughes selection headaches. It’s funny, he reminds me of when I used to play Champ Manager years ago when I was a kid –before it got too technical. You change your team every week, keep losing and know a sacking is around the corner. The difference is Hughes’s can’t save the game and repeat it if it doesn’t go well. He needs to pick his best eleven and stick with it and try and gain some continuity.

DesertBoot added 10:49 - Oct 9
I think Park is purely a commercial purchase, SWP I have no idea why he still plays. I cannot think of any other team outside the top 5/6 that would see Hoilett anything other than a must in any starting XI.
Hughes away record is pitiful, I really don't know where the next win is coming from.
What did me make of Granero's interview where he states Hughes told the players what to expect from West Ham but they let down their manager.
Why did Hughes pick a totally ineffective midfield if he knew what to expect?
At the moment I cannot see us winning anything other than Goal Of The Week - we cannot rely on individual brilliance every time and WBA's third goal was everything that we should be aspiring to do.
We have good players but their manager is letting them down badly.

THEBUSH added 11:02 - Oct 9
Can't disagree with any of that report.
Perhaps if Hughes has everyone available he would go for, Cesar, Bosw, Onouha, Nelson, Traore, Park, M'bia, Granero, Hoilet, Taarbt, Zam, ugh, who knows, I don't have any idea, what our best team is !!

neilrudge added 11:21 - Oct 9
Agree completely with the sentiment around not knowing where we are headed. Supported the club for 30 plus years and during our successful times (even when we have been in lower divisions) you have always known how we'll play and who our starting 11 would be.

We also seem very reluctant to put players in to a position. Park is a decent footballer as he showed at ManU but we are not getting the best from him and I can't believe playing a different role and position every week helps. We need to establish his role in the team and then stick to it.

The injuries have been unfortunate but all clubs get them it's part of the game. We have bought enough players (some of whom have dreadful injury histories so can hardly be a surprise) but we haven't bought a balanced squad. I hope Hughes uses this two week break to make some firm decisions on what formation, style and personnel to prioritise.

My last point is I wonder who at the club thought it wise to run a full page piece on how wonderful it was that Kieron Dyer is fully fit in the Evening Standard following which he has been injured. I presume the injury is a result of shooting in the foot!

YorkRanger added 12:28 - Oct 9
My main concern is the point you raise Clive about not having a set formation that we adopt every week. 4 - 2 - 3 -1 must be the answer and we have the players to make this work. This can then be adapted when req'd, e.g. when we need an additional player quite central.

I also agree that MH will fast lose (what is left of) spectator suppport if he continues picking SWP, who is clearly out of form and out of confidence (see Message Board thread SWP v Hoilett). The defensive injuries etc, you can feel some sympathy for MH, poor team set ups and picking out of form players when more than adequate replacements sit on the bench is unforgiveable.

QPunkR added 12:55 - Oct 9
DesertBoot - I agree 100% with every word there, fantastic post

baz_qpr added 13:11 - Oct 9
I'd argue that he does have in his head the formation he wants to play because:

He bought Diakete to play in it and as soon as he was available last season we played it.

He started the season trying to play it against Swansea

When 4-4-2 came undone he tried to play it again at the weekend this time with Mbia in the sacraficial lamb role.

The same result has happened each time as it did when Warnock tried to play it against Sunderland and it was the game that got him the sack IMHO.

So Mark Hughes preferred formation is 4-1-4-1 and that is deeply worrying when everyone else is playing 4-2-3-1

Neil_SI added 13:21 - Oct 9
On the subject of fill in left backs, Nedum Onuoha has played really well out there, so much so, I prefer him there than when he's at right back. He's certainly got more pace than Clint Hill and matches him in the strength department, so it was a surprise that he wasn't used at all.

Eltham_Ranger added 13:57 - Oct 9
Thank-you, great report!

I actually think when you look at our players they are suited best to the 4-2-3-1. I've been impressed with the way a few teams have used it recently. Spurs play with Defoe as the main striker (certainly not big) and Man City can use Agyero and Tevez there as well as Dzeko and Balotelli.

I think the one can actually be Cisse but I would pick Zamora. But in the midfield 5 positions we have plenty of options. The sitting 2 can be anyone from Diakite, Faurlin, Derry and M'Bia. The attacking 3 can come from: Taarabt, Granero, Hoilett, Park, Mackie and Wright-Phillips. I think it suits the midfield players (our best players) and shows off their natural strengths.

Personally I felt confident even before the Swansea game that our team should be: Green; Fabio, Ferdinand, Nelson, Traore; Derry, Diakite; Mackie, Taarabt, Hoilett; Zamora. Now that Faurlin is back fit and we've signed Cesar, Bosingwa and Granero I am even more sure that this formation fits the players.
My 11 would be: Cesar; Bosigngwa, Ferdinand, Nelson, Traore; Diakite, Faurlin; Taarabt, Granero, Hoilett; Zamora. With back ups of Green; Dyer, Onuoha, Hill, Fabio; Derry, M'Bia; SWP, Park, Mackie; Cisse.

Next up step captain Nelson. A leader by example and by his voice...

Finally does anyone else think they could all do with a few nights out together and actually look as if they're having a good time. They look like strangers, they need good old English team bonding. i.e. a lot of beer and some laughs...

30yarder added 14:06 - Oct 9
Cesar is still better than Green but will Green play against Everton?
Bosingwa is better than Onuoha at r/b but not when still injured
Nelson is our best centre back
Ferdinand is average but is our 2nd best centre back
Hill is still over the hill
Mbia is confused and will play at right back and left back before the season ends
SWP has lost all confidence
Park is no captain and can't play as a winger
Granero won't be here next season
Taarabt is god
Zamora can't head the ball and doesn't like jol
Traore is better than hill even when still injured
Hoilett came on but didn't have a clue where he was playing
Mackie wants to play up front but is better than SWP at right wing
Our fans are brilliant and deserve better
Fernandes is brilliant aswell and also deserves better
....when we beat Everton

Nov77 added 14:13 - Oct 9
Agree that the first goal was quality all round, good movement from adel, (would like to see him make more runs like that and get in the opposition penalty area more often, defenders are scared to tackle him there), the pass from Granero was superb to get it up and down over the centre half, and finally, just to be a pedant, adel controlled it on his chest not his thigh, superb finish.
Hard to see where the next away win is going to come from, already dreading our visit to the emirates.

AshteadR added 15:04 - Oct 9
Thanks for the report Clive. Through gritted teeth, on the way into the ground, you said he's only gone and picked him again.

And most would seem to agree, that SWP and Park are not adding any value to our team at the moment - either going forward or defensively.

I agree that the options at the back have been limited due to injuries, but I'm not convinced they're going to make a huge difference even when they're all fit - maybe attacking wise, but not defensively!

I wonder if the reason Hughes takes so long to settle is because he keeps trying different players / formations until he gets it right / lucky. Let's hope he gets lucky soon.

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