Gorkss haunts lifeless QPR again as winless run goes on – full match report
Monday, 5th Nov 2012 23:46 by Clive Whittingham
Another game with Reading, another defensive shambles, another goal for Kaspars Gorkss, another game without a win, another match ticks by, another two points dropped.
In an interview with Junior Hoilett made up of submitted questions from supporters, the official QPR matchday programme was actually brave enough to ask the Canadian winger whether he regretted joining the club in the summer, spurning a potential European campaign with Borussia Mönchengladbach in the process.
“Definitely not,” he said. “I’ve never regretted anything I’ve done, I know we’ll do well with the players and staff that we have got here.” He went on to say he sees his long term future in W12 because of “the direction the club is heading.”
There’s a lot of this sort of rhetoric coming out of Loftus Road at the moment. A sort of weird mix of Andre Villas Boas, David Brent and former Iraqi information minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf – more commonly known as Comical Ali who became famous in the UK for talking about how the Americans would be burned in their tanks as Baghdad fell in the background behind him.
“The overriding feeling at the moment is one of frustration,” we’re told and “there’s a lot of quality in the building.” Training is “upbeat”, “high tempo” and “confidence is high.” Chairman Tony Fernandes preaches patience and stability but on Sunday he sat in the directors box to my right and watched a first half that, by the end, had me struggling to stifle laughter.
I wonder when QPR are going to realise that simply saying you’re heading in a certain direction doesn’t actually make it true. Saying that things will turn around soon doesn’t actually mean they will.
Immediately below Fernandes, myself and the other unfortunate souls on the South Africa Road side of the ground stood Mark Hughes, a man who our chairman admitted “interviewed QPR” rather than the other way around when he was appointed. Hughes is collecting quotes like this that make him look like a bigger fool with each passing winless match – ten now at the start of this season following this dire draw with an equally awful Reading team – and this week followed up his “this will never happen again while I’m here,” post-Man City belter with an ill-advised two minute burst of quotes about how the current predicament isn’t affecting his sleeping pattern.
I was reminded of a moment in the middle of the Rugby League season just passed when Leeds coach Brian McDermott – a former Marine it should be said – was asked if he was panicking as another home defeat left his reigning champions in danger of not making the play offs at all. Leeds always come home with a wet sail, in the same way that Mark Hughes’ teams have done up to this point, but compare McDermott’s response at the time to this weird, lethargic “it’ll be alright in the end” attitude that seems to prevail at Loftus Road at the moment.
McDermott said: “I am panicking. I don’t like being eighth. I want to be first in the league; I want us to finish top and not mess about waiting for this mythical back end of the season before Leeds switch on. That is a very dangerous route for us to go down and this is not helping this group. I know everyone else is saying we are all right after what happened last year, but I’m panicking. I’ve just asked the team if they’re in the comfort zone, wondering if this mythical back end will happen for us.”
Leeds finished as champions again four months later.
Speaking of comfort zone… sitting behind Hughes on the bench was striker Bobby Zamora, who took time out of his hectic schedule this week to inform the Mail on Sunday that he’s actually pretty fed up of football these days. He doesn’t watch it, it doesn’t interest him, he’s just not that bothered really. Frankly, I’m not sure he should ever play for the club again.
Nor, in an ideal world, should Jose Bosingwa. This is a man who has won the Champions League with two different clubs and has 24 Portuguese caps. Here he began a performance that could only be described as embarrassing by allowing Reading veteran Jason Roberts to turn him on the byline and play in Jobi McAnuff whose low cross almost provided Noel Hunt with a tap in inside the six yard box. Within two minutes Hunt did get the ball in the area, but dragged a shot through the goal mouth and away for a corner via a deflection.
Bosingwa spent the rest of the afternoon conceding mindlessly stupid free kicks and knocking aimless, lazy long balls up to a small QPR strike force playing against two big Reading centre backs. His entre performance smacked of a player treating our club as little more than a cash machine. He was pathetic and he wasn’t alone.
While we’re talking about full backs, how about Mr Porcelain himself on the other side Armand Traore? He graced us with his full attention for 70 minutes and then demanded to be taken off and replaced by Nedum Onuoha for 15 minutes until the change was finally made – as he has done in pretty much every match since he arrived. Traore wasn’t the only one looking longingly at the bench and limping about with one knock or another either. I’ve never known a team with so many players so keen to be substituted. Telling.
And then there’s Anton Ferdinand, whose body language gave Harry Enfield’s Kevin the Teenager character a run for its money in the sulking stakes. Ferdinand spent his afternoon anywhere between five and 25 yards deeper than the rest of the defence, playing the Reading strike force onside, and on the rare occasions the defence did actually deal with the danger and clear successfully he trudged up the field at less than walking pace, back hunched, head down, apparently cold, fed up and too bone idle to get his expanding arse into position. This is somebody apparently trying to fight for a place in the team. Compare this to the off the ball work you see from teams like Newcastle and West Brom, who presumably QPR feel they should be competing with, and the difference is alarming.
It was hard not to feel sorry for veteran Ryan Nelsen who was, as he has been in several games this season, immense. The 35-year-old should be winding down a successful career, not attempting to hold back the tide surrounded by younger players with twice his speed and half his attitude.
I mention the back four in isolation because that’s exactly what it was: consistently far, far too deep and operating completely independently of the midfield in front of it. Low on confidence, low on morale, low on effort, low on commitment – a group of three individuals contributing little and one veteran free transfer signing trying to hold the job together. Further forward a midfield unit of Esteban Granero, Samba Diakite, Adel Taarabt and Junior Hoilett sat totally separate from the four players behind and two in front. They set about making Mikele Leigertwood and Jay Tabb look like Ballon D’Or candidates.
Tony Fernandes must have sat at the front of the director’s box during a truly, truly awful first half performance from his expensively assembled team and wondered what on earth has gone wrong. He backs his manager in the transfer market, he keeps him employed when many others would have swung the axe, he communicates with the supporters, he spends money on the club and the more he does all of this the worse the team gets.
What is wrong is that this extortionate squad of players and coaches lacks heart, attitude and feel for the club. And you can’t buy that stuff.
There were positives, provided by the players who did actually appear to want to be on the field, and were willing to show for the ball. Junior Hoilett, who had a decent first half and a poor second as opposed to the team which did at least go the other way, collected Reading’s first corner and drove down the field before setting up Taarabt for a shot that deflected wide. Djibril Cisse, recalled at Zamora’s expense, ran purposefully into the danger area and then lashed a shot over the bar. Hoilett did likewise but missed wide of the target.
But let’s be perfectly honest here; this is a Reading team that has proven wholly inadequate at dealing with the rigours of Premier League football so far this season. During the week the Royals conceded seven against Arsenal Reserves to lose a match they had led 4-0 at one stage in the first half. Despite that they were far, far better than QPR in the first half: Roberts, when he wasn’t chewing the ear off referee Michael Oliver, was a pacy, physical pest; Noel Hunt, consistently won a physical battle against defenders who were happy to allow him to do so rather than engage him and possibly get hurt; Leigertwood and Tabb dominated the middle of midfield while Ale Faurlin sat on the bench, unused.
After a quarter of an hour the visitors took the lead. Reading have been running the same corner and free kick routine all season - previously it was Alex Pearce at the heart of it but in his absence Premier League debutant Sean Morrison came up from the back, ran round late to the far post and then tried to head a deep cross back into the danger zone. Despite Reading doing this in every match they’ve played so far, Rangers were dumbfounded. The home team also - despite him playing for QPR for three years and scoring against them from the same position at the same end of the ground in the League Cup – neglected to pick up Kaspars Gorkss. Morrison was permitted two attempts at his free header, the second of which rebounded back into play off the bar and Gorkss stuck in the rebound.
And apparently Reading running the same set piece routine all season, and scoring from a set piece in the League Cup, and now taking the lead from a set piece in the league as well, wasn’t warning enough. All afternoon Rangers left visiting players unmarked from corners and free kicks. Morrison could have had a hat trick. Visiting players, hundreds of them, wearing bright yellow shirts, completely unmarked all match.
I’m drawn to another of Mark Hughes’ recent quotes about how his coaching staff prepare the team “meticulously” for every game to give them “the best possible chance of success.” Really Mark? Really?
With the going now really tough, that problem of players hiding started to become prevalent. At the midway point of the half Samba Diakite collected possession, looked up, and found nobody. In the end he carried the ball half the length of the field himself, bypassing three visiting defenders before delivering a low cross that Cisse miskicked when he should have scored. When faced with the same situation a moment later Anton Ferdinand chipped an aimless, lazy long ball up down the middle and only hard work from Jamie Mackie turned it into anything like useful service. Mackie teed up Taarabt who shot over and on the next attack the Moroccan miskicked on the edge of the area having driven to the heart of the Reading team.
The referee incurred the wrath of an increasingly frustrated home crowd around the half hour as he first of all bought an obvious dive from Roberts on halfway and awarded Reading a free kick, then penalised QPR again over by the corner flag when it appeared that Mackie was the man dragged to earth, and was then quick with the whistle again when Tabb hit the deck under minimal contact but Shorey struck the ball over the bar from a similar position to the one he’d scored from in the cup game here a month ago. Oliver did however show a yellow card to Hunt for a firm foul on Diakite, and then rather kindly let the striker off without so much as a warning when he deliberately used his hand to set himself away down the line. Other referees would have issued a second yellow card – but then I do often say we don’t come to football to see people sent off so I won’t criticise him for that.
Cisse and Taarabt combined well ten minutes before half time but the French striker mishit his shot. Then a purposeful run from Mackie drew a foul on the edge of the box and Granero saw a fine free kicked tipped onto the bar by Reading keeper Alex McCarthy with his finger tips. Bosingwa stuck the rebound over the top. Promising, but again anything good QPR did came from Mackie, Taarabt, Hoilett or Diakite running with the ball for want of a better passing option, ot through any structured attacking plan. QPR’s “meticulously planned” attacking strategy for this match could have been written on the back of a stamp with a thick pen.
The second half could scarcely have been worse than the first and the early signs were promising for Mark Hughes. Another lung busting run from Diakite drew a foul from Tabb and Granero struck the free kick into the side netting after a prolonged argument with Taarabt over who should take the kick. Cisse had a shot blocked and Jamie Mackie had what looked like a very decent penalty shout waved away by Oliver as he fell to ground chasing the loose ball. Then Hoilett went on a mazy run from the left flank to the heart of the penalty area but shot wide via a deflection.
Better, but Bosingwa was in a giving mood down at the School End in front of a paltry following from Reading. The hapless full back stupidly fouled McAnuff when he was going nowhere by the corner flag which gave Reading a chance for another free kick and, wouldn’t you just know it, Rangers left Morrison unmarked and he should have headed in a second.
Rangers made Morrison pay for that miss, and a botched attempt at a diving header clearance in his own area, with an equaliser halfway through the second half. The Reading man was attempting to clear a low cross from Bosingwa but having missed the ball completely he left space behind him which allowed Djibril Cisse to take one touch to control the ball and then divert it into the bottom corner with his second. A fine finish and proof once more that Cisse should be in the team whenever possible for his goal threat alone, even when he’s not playing particularly well overall.
Within two minutes Taarabt had called McCarthy into action from long range and there was a sense that a weight had been lifted from the home team’s shoulders with the equaliser. But the slapdash nature of their defending, and the way the back four was consistently far too deep inside its own half, meant Reading were always dangerous. Having sent on Jimmy Kebe for Garath McCleary the Royals boss Brian McDermott almost reaped rewards when the Malian ran fully 80 yards unchallenged before shooting wide after Bosingwa had farted about dancing in front of Tabb and then delivered a lousy cross that set Reading away on a counter.
The game then became a bit of an end to end farce. Bosingwa’s back post header was important at one end, Diakite’s driving run and shot at the other rather wild. Oliver awarded a generous free kick to Cisse, Taarabt and Granero argued over the free kick, the Spaniard shot into The Loft. Hughes sent on Bobby Zamora – nothing better to do with his time on Sunday apparently so he decided to turn out – and Reading introduced Hal Robson Kanu for Jobi McAnuff. As much as things change, they stay the same: ten minutes from time another corner, Morrison unmarked again, this time he headed wide of the target. Excuse me a moment while I tear off my own face and throw it at somebody through the pure frustration of watching the basics of football neglected to such a bloody huge extent for an entire afternoon.
Eight minutes from time, something amazing happened. QPR actually put together a structured attack, that cut through the Reading defence very deliberately. Three QPR attacking players actually linked up, they looked like they knew each other. Hell it was actually good to watch. Zamora killed the ball on halfway and played a crisp pass up to Cisse, he in turn fed a perfect ball through to Taarabt who remained composed enough to check inside his man and then just when it seemed easier to score he tried to place a shot and allowed McCarthy to make a fine save.
After 15 minutes of waving and limping Traore finally got his wish and left the field to be replaced by Nedum Onuoha. Reading in turn introduced Adam Le Fondre for Roberts when QPR’s piss weak defence would surely have sweated more over an introduction for Pavel Pogrebnyak.
Cisse did his best for the cause in five minutes of stoppage time – first keeping a long clearance from Cesar in and crossing wonderfully for Zamora who bundled the ball straight into McCarthy’s arms from close range. Then with the very last kick he lashed an inch wide with a shot the keeper actually injured himself trying to save. But Reading could easily have snatched the match as well – Kebe cut inside and saw a goalbound shot blocked, Leigertwood shot over the bar after Bosingwa gave the ball away again, and the Zamora chance actually came after Robson-Kanu had been left unmarked in the QPR penalty area and planted a free header straight at Cesar from a long throw. There was also a yellow card for Le Fondre when he dived attempting to win a penalty from Taarabt, of all people, back in his own area.
At the end of the day these match reports are simply the long winded rambling of a dyed in the wool QPR fan who just wants to see the team succeed. I’m no kind of authority, I’m regularly wrong about just about anything, so feel free to disagree and tell me I’m being harsh. QPR, after all, had more shots than Reading for whom the goalkeeper was the stand out performer. Rangers went closest to winning the game and should have done given the chances they created in the second half. Had they taken a couple of those and won 3-1 – they could easily have done so – I’m sure I’d be pouring forth about the relief that everybody is feeling and how it’s onwards and upwards from here. Write this off as an over-the-top, knee jerk reaction if you like. It could well be just that, and we’ll all look back and have a jolly good laugh at how I thought Bosingwa was appalling against Reading and then he went on to win the Player of the Year award and I wrote about a draw at home like it was the end of the world when it actually turned out to be the start of the revival and whatever.
However, in my opinion, not only could you compile a very long list of very basic things QPR did wrong on the field, but you could also start putting together a worrying dossier of examples of poor attitude, dreadful body language, and quotes from players and management that suggest they either don’t grasp the seriousness of this situation, or they don’t give a toss, or both. And yes, I’m aware that it’s always the first wail from a supporter that the players don’t care enough and aren’t trying and more often than not it’s just reactionary nonsense from some beered up idiot. That could well be what this is, but I looked at the way Bosingwa and Ferdinand carried themselves in that game, I’ve read what Hughes and Zamora have said this week, and I’m looking out there at all these players who cannot bloody wait for their number to go up on the substitution board and I’m both worried and heartbroken.
All I ever am is honest, and honestly, I thought that was an utter fucking shambles.
A terrific advert for the Championship, which is where this fixture will be played next season if both teams don’t start pulling their collective fingers out soon.
QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 4, Ferdinand 4, Nelsen 8, Traore 5 (Onuoha 84 -), Hoilett 6, Granero 6, Diakite 7, Taarabt 7, Mackie 5 (Zamore 81,-), Cisse 6
Subs Not Used: Green, Hill, Derry, Wright-Phillips, Faurlin
Goals: Cisse 66 (assisted Bosingwa)
Reading: McCarthy 8, Gunter 6, Morrison 6, Gorkss 7, Shorey 6, McCleary 5 (Kebe 62, 7), Tabb 7, Leigertwood 7, McAnuff 6 (Robson-Kanu 79, 6), Roberts 7 (Le Fondre 88, -), Hunt 6
Subs: Federici, Pearce, Cummings, Pogrebnyak
Goals: Gorkss 16 (assisted Morrison)
Bookings: Hunt 33 (foul), Le Fondre 90 (diving)
QPR Star Man – Ryan Nelsen 8 A beacon of quality, hard work, ability, commitment, heart, experience and organisation at the heart of a defence that was an abject embarrassment to its profession and looked thrilled to death about it.
Referee – Michael Oliver 7 I actually came away from this thinking he’d had quite a poor game. He allowed Jason Roberts to pretty much follow him around all afternoon saying whatever he liked and influencing decisions and several times awarded free kicks when he’d clearly been conned by a dive. I also thought Mackie had a decent case for a penalty. However, on reflection, the game was controlled reasonably well, and the big decisions were correct including the late booking for Le Fondre.
Attendance – 16,797 (900 Reading approx) With the form that both teams are in, the early kick off, and the presence of the television cameras, a low crowd was to be expected, especially as the match was graded in the ‘extortionate’ ticket band. Reading actually brought less than they did for the League Cup game which is very poor for a local Premier League game. I’m amazed at how patient the QPR fans are being with the team and management, and I wonder how long it can continue.
Pictures – Action Images
Photo: Action Images
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