Redknapp blasts Foy as West Brom complete QPR double – full match report
Thursday, 27th Dec 2012 19:38 by Clive Whittingham
QPR slipped to another defeat, their tenth of a miserable season, against West Brom at Loftus Road on Boxing Day. After the match there was heavy criticism of referee Chris Foy’s handling of the game.
I doubt a desire to see Chris Foy referee again was high on Harry Redknapp’s list of reasons to return to football and take on such a difficult job at Queens Park Rangers.
A year ago Redknapp was warned by the Football Association for his post-match reaction to Foy’s eccentric performance in Tottenham’s 2-1 defeat at Stoke. On Saturday Foy was back in Redknapp’s sights for the first time since he returned to management at Loftus Road, but as much as things change they stay the same and having been beaten 2-1 again, this time by West Bromwich Albion, the QPR boss again accused the official of making “blatant errors” that cost his team the points.
Rangers were angered by two incidents at either end of the field, and the second could scarcely have been more clear cut. Liam Ridgewell, a QPR fan as a boy but a player who has developed a curious fascination with trying to cheat the R’s out of points for both the Baggies and Birmingham, was kidding nobody when he wiped his face pretending an injury time header from Samba Diakite had struck his nose rather than, in actual fact, the palm of his hand stretched high above his head in the penalty area. The interpretation of the deliberate handball rule has grown into penalising players whose hands are in unnatural positions and short of pulling his right arm out of its socket and waving it around in the air with his left it’s hard to know how much more of an unnatural position Ridgewell could have achieved. The linesman on that side, Harry Lennard, was mere yards from the incident and looking straight at it but lied to Redknapp afterwards and said he couldn’t see because it was dark. Redknapp said the official should have “gone to Specsavers.”
But the earlier incident that so infuriated the home team was more debateable. Whether Robert Green’s farcical own goal should have been allowed to stand or not was a real bone of contention. The goalkeeper, terribly accident prone since a summer move from West Ham, flapped the ball into his his own net under heavy pressure from Marc-Antoine Fortune and claimed a foul. Foy, dreadfully positioned and peering through a crowd of players, was nonplussed and allowed the goal to stand. Redknapp was perplexed.
But blaming the match officials for that goal was a microcosm of the game as a whole. Whether Green was fouled or not – I happen to think he wasn’t – would have been irrelevant had he adopted a better starting position when the corner was delivered, or commanded his six yard box better, or dealt with the descending ball more assuredly, or punched the ball with two hands instead of flapping at it with one. Similarly QPR may well have won a late point had a penalty been awarded against Ridgewell when it should have been, but it would have been a draw they scarcely deserved from a listless performance. Rather than pointing the finger of blame at Chris Foy, Rangers should be asking questions of themselves about why it took until after the hour mark for them to show any urgency, desire, heart and attacking intent.
Without inspirational captain Ryan Nelsen, laid low with flu, Rangers were forced to move Anton Ferdinand to centre half and bring Fabio Da Silva in at right back with Armand Traore down the left. Clint Hill was the only survivor from the defeat at Newcastle at the weekend in the same position. Further forward Redknapp reverted to the players and system that worked well for him against Fulham with Adel Taarabt behind Djibril Cisse and a midfield four of Shaun Wright-Phillips, Alejandro Faurlin, Stephane Mbia and Jamie Mackie.
But West Brom are a far superior side to Fulham, and set up in a different way. Taarabt, so key to that sole victory of the season so far, found his work space invaded by the superb Youssuf Mulumbu while Djibril Cisse was asked to play a lone striker role he’s ill-suited to against the physically imposing centre half pair Jonas Olsson and Gareth McAuley. By the end of the game, in which Cisse did actually manage to score QPR’s goal, the Frenchman was attracting harsh abuse from the stands.
To be fair, the QPR fans had every right to be grumpy. One win from 18 league matches and fresh from a 500 mile round trip to Newcastle for another poor performance from the team and a 1-0 defeat, they battled driving rain and appalling traffic brought on by weirdoes who think a Next sweater is worth scrapping with 7,000 other morons over and exacerbated by tube drivers striking for a Boxing Day working agreement even Jose Bosingwa would think was excessive to reach Loftus Road in the first place. Bring on the driverless trains.
That carnage delayed the kick off by 15 minutes, with one wit in the Crown and Sceptre suggesting it had been done to allow QPR fans extra drinking time to cope with 90 minutes at the hands of Anton Ferdinand.
When play finally did get underway in monsoon like conditions the sides traded early long range shots off target – Mbia for QPR, Morrison for the Baggies –and then settled into a dreary, uneventful period of play where nobody did anything of any note whatsoever for about 20 minutes. West Brom were solid in shape, economic with possession and happy to hold their point and see if the opportunity for more came their way while QPR were simply bloody awful.
When something finally did cut through the monotony it came from an unlikely source. Shaun Wright-Phillips, much maligned by the QPR faithful but improved here, danced through two would-be tacklers on the corner of the penalty box and delivered a fine cross which Jamie Mackie headed wide at full stretch when he should have at least found the target.
The idea that Rangers might actually be dangerous after all stirred West Brom into life. Just before the half hour Chris Brunt collected possession 30 yards from goal and, afforded acres of space and hours of thinking time, calmly dispatched a fizzing low drive into the bottom corner of the net for the opening goal. Two minutes later James Morrison was similarly unattended on the edge of the box - so much so that he had time to flick the ball in the air to set himself for a volley which dipped just over Green’s crossbar. While Mulumbu sat deep and prevented any similar spaces opening up in front of West Brom’s defence, QPR remained wide open in that crucial line between the back four and midfield all afternoon and the away side revelled in it. Ale Faurlin, so wonderful against Fulham, followed a poor display against Newcastle with an abject showing here while Mbia never gave up in his attempts to do the work of two men, but was always fighting a losing battle.
It was Mbia who was first to attempt to equalise. The Cameroonian launched an effort from distance that probably would have gone wide but concerned Ben Foster enough for him to glove it around the post. Adel Taarabt curled the resulting corner onto the roof of the net. Then, after typically hard work by Jamie Mackie down the right flank, the Baggies conceded another corner from which QPR should have been looking to take advantage of the confusion created by an injury to Goran Popov who had to be quickly replaced before the kick was taken by Liam Ridgewell. Once more the kick was poor and easily cleared. Perhaps, if he was feeling brave, Chris Foy could point to the ever growing list of abysmally taken set pieces by Queens Park Rangers players and the countless wasted opportunities to put quality balls into a populated penalty area in response to Redknapp’s criticism of his refereeing. Get your own house in order and all that.
Ten minutes before half time the referee did side with QPR when he decided that Cisse had been tripped as he shot from the edge of the box, when another official may have given Zoltan Gera the benefit of the doubt. Taarabt took the free kick, curled the ball over the wall, and missed the goal by a foot. West Brom responded with a corner that Green punched away and Wright-Phillips was then able to set Taarabt away on a counter attack but where Rangers had been so lively and positive against Fulham, here they were back in couldn’t-give-a-toss mode and having turned in field to find that not a single team mate had joined him on the counter attack the Moroccan was crowded out of possession by three Albion players. Fabio one of several players barely jogging at this point, rather than busting a gut to join the attack.
Clint Hill headed the first half-decent corner of the game wide at the back post but his defending was more of a concern in three added minutes at the end of the half. First he and Traore became embroiled in the sort of defensive farce and confusion that has been all too common at Loftus Road this season and from a position of neutral possession engineered a situation where James Morrison was able to steal the ball and unload a shot on goal. Next it was Ferdinand’s turn to look confused by his own feet as a long ball was headed in his direction by giant striker Romelu Lukaku. Morrison was starting to get the picture now – loiter near QPR defenders and let them do the work for you – and this time he beat Green with a curling shot after putting Ferdinand out of his misery and robbing him of the ball but the shot wasn’t bar-wide and flashed past the post.
Rangers were fortunate to only be one goal down at half time and had another narrow escape immediately after the restart when a powerful, direct run into the area by Lukaku sparked panic and a scramble for the loose ball which the Belgian striker won but could only poke straight at Green.
At the Loft End, Stephane Mbia continued to be one of the few actually trying to make things happen but after he won a free kick in a wide area and Taarabt delivered a perfect cross into a dangerous area at the near post both were left to lament the commitment of their team mates – the penalty box count as the cross was delivered stood at eight v three in West Brom’s favour. Three men in the penalty box for an attacking free kick in a wide area. I’d say Rangers may as well give up but at this stage it looked like they already had.
Despite the numerical advantage West Brom cleared the ball behind for a corner. Taarabt decided to look for Mbia this time but the mad African’s heading ability leaves something to be desired and having got himself free in the centre of the goal and with the ball delivered perfectly for him to head in an equaliser he contrived to direct the ball straight back out to Taarabt with a firm header. Stifling a laugh, the Moroccan delivered the same ball again and although Mbia did manage to turn his face towards the goal and plant the ball that way this time he couldn’t get the ball on target.
Then, a killer blow and controversial moment. Rangers were fortunate not to concede from the incident that lead to the critical corner as Ferdinand once again fell over his own arse in the six yard box and diverted a low cross inches wide of the bottom corner with Green watching it go and praying.
The resulting corner was headed up into the air by Traore and from that moment on Green had a problem. His starting position, two yards behind his own line, put him at a disadvantage and he found his path back to safety blocked by Marc-Antoine Fortune. This marking of a goalkeeper is not a new thing that West Brom came up with for this match – they’ve been doing it all season – but Rangers didn’t think to mark him with a man of their own and so he was free to stand his ground on the line and prevent Green from making a clean contact with the ball. Nine times out of ten you’ll see a foul awarded in this situation but Green was banking on that throughout the incident, rather than keeping goal properly and dealing with the situation himself. He flapped the ball into the net and then chased Chris Foy down the pitch to remonstrate with him. Personally I didn’t think Fortune did too much – he didn’t push Green, he didn’t back into him greatly, he didn’t jump with him, he just stood where he’d been standing throughout the incident and did nothing. Green has only himself to blame and Foy was within his rights to award the goal.
The goalkeeper redeemed himself slightly with a fine save in a one on one situation with Lukaku as the Baggies cut QPR apart again, and was then grateful to see Mulumbu drag a shot across the face of goal after he’d been played into the right channel. One way traffic at this stage and when Faurlin tried to force the issue with an ambitious pass Shaun Wright-Phillips was never likely to reach the Argentinean then had to run back and fell Lukaku to prevent another counter attack. Faurlin has rarely played worse than this and it was no surprise to see him hooked as Redknapp attempted to change the tie back in his favour by introducing Samba Diakite to the midfield and Junior Hoilett to the attack with Fabio Da Silva the other player making way.
Initially the changes seemed to have made little difference – Lukaku ran through on Green again two minutes after they’d been made but was flagged offside – but totally out of the blue and against the run of play Rangers did halve the deficit at the midway point of the half. Mbia collected the ball in midfield and threaded a perfect through ball into the feet of Cisse who finished calmly over Ben Foster for his fourth goal of the season.
Cisse may be a moody, sulky sod and his work rate can leave something to be desired but he remains a goal threat when serviced in the right way. I felt some of the criticism that subsequently came his way in this game, when he was being asked to challenge the giant Olsson in the air for hopeless long balls, was unjustified, especially considering he’d actually scored the goal that got QPR back into the game in the first place.
Rejuvenated, Rangers went in search of an equaliser. Jamie Mackie actually showed a previously-unseen trick and step over to ghost past one man and deliver a low shot at Ben Foster. Then Taarabt, again hampered by a lack of support from midfield, also tried his luck from distance but could only find the keeper’s gloves.
Steve Clarke sent on Shane Long for Lukaku to give QPR something different to concern themselves with and the Baggies set about turning the game into a slow, stop-start, niggly affair. Foster’s time wasting was flagrant and unchecked by Foy and the six minutes after the substitution were taken up exclusively by corners – four for West Brom and then one for QPR which Mbia headed down and wide. As frustration grew Mbia dived in midfield looking for a free kick that never came, and then snapped back at Long and was booked. Down on the touchline Redknapp had to restrain his assistant Kevin Bond when the West Brom coaching staff also started to take their time returning the ball to the field after yet another stoppage.
Clarke sent on Gabriel Tamas for James Morrison to add extra security, and thought his team had wrapped up the points when Fortune beat Green with a low shot but he’d been flagged offside.
The five minutes of added time at the end of the game could scarcely have been more frustrating for QPR. They created and spurned more chances in that period of time than in the entire 90 minutes that preceded it and can count themselves unlucky that one goalbound shot from Hoilett was headed wide by a defender, another was blocked almost as soon as it had left his boot, and then a decent cross after he’d received a short corner was headed wide by Ferdinand when he seemed certain to score. When Taarabt took a corner from the other side and found Hill the defender was denied his long overdue first ever Premier League goal by a splendid low save by Ben Foster.
And then there was the Ridgewell incident. QPR fans with decent memories will recall a match at Birmingham City where the same player punched the ball into the Rangers net and wheeled away to celebrate before telling the referee to “fuck off” when he spotted the offence and issued a yellow card. They’ll also remember his outrageous time wasting at The Hawthorns last season when the Baggies held a 1-0 lead for which he was booked, and a pathetic attempt to cheat a penalty by diving to the ground for which he should have been. This seems odd behaviour for somebody who claims to be a boyhood QPR fan – I’m not saying he should try a bit less against us but he certainly shouldn’t be going out of his way to cheat – but I’m not sure it’s conduct reserved solely for games with the Super Hoops. Ridgewell, recently pictured wiping his backside on £20 notes, seems like an objectionable individual whoever the opponent and pretending his face needed a wipe after punching the ball behind when Diakite directed it back across the goal convinced nobody inside Loftus Road apart from the two fools that mattered: one with a flag, the other with a whistle.
Given how stoppage time played out West Brom can consider themselves fortunate to win, and QPR will no doubt make a big play of the perceived injustice and late rally as reasons to hope better times are coming. But in truth the Baggies were much the better team for the majority of normal time while only ever really playing in third gear and overall they deserved their three points.
Even ignoring their more dangerous attack, better organised team, greater physical presence and superior ball retention, West Brom simply worked harder than QPR. While that’s the case it seems churlish to complain about poor luck or bad refereeing.
QPR: Green 4, Fabio 5 (Hoilett 64, 6), Ferdinand 5, Hill 6, Traore 5, Mackie 5, Faurlin 4 (Diakite 64, 6), Mbia 6, Wright-Phillips 6, Taarabt 5, Cisse 6
Subs not used: Cesar, Derry, Granero, Dyer, Ehmer
Goals: Cisse 68 (assisted Mbia)
Bookings: Mbia 83 (foul)
West Brom: Foster 7, Jones 6, McAuley 6, Olsson 6, Popov 6 (Ridgewell 35, 6), Morrison 7 (Tamas 86, -), Mulumbu 8, Gera 6, Fortune 6, Brunt 7, Lukaku 6 (Long 76, 6)
Subs not used: Myhill, Dorrans, Rosenberg, Odemwingie
Goals: Brunt 29 (unassisted), Green og (assisted Brunt)
QPR Star Man – Stephane Mbia 6 A great assist for the goal, but more importantly on a day when I thought West Brom worked a lot harder than QPR and then went home to watch Stoke hammer Liverpool almost through workrate alone, he was one of the few players on the QPR side that actually put as much into the game as those in red shirts. Run close by Wright-Phillips for the same reason.
Referee – Chris Foy (St Helens) 4 Could easily have given a foul for the second goal, but personally I think it was fair enough and more to do with poor goalkeeping than anything illegal Fortune was doing. That was a 50/50 call, but the late penalty was absolutely blatant and could be seen clearly from all over the ground. Throw in the failure to clamp down on the time wasting and this was a poor display from the official.
Attendance 17,782, (1,600 West Brom approx) Almost totally silent inside Loftus Road for the first hour, but given the Christmas hangovers, the weather and the dreadful football out on the pitch and that’s understandable. The R’s fans showed at the end they will make noise and atmosphere if given something to get behind. I felt the abuse directed at Cisse was uncalled for – he’s no more a target man striker than Wright-Phillips is and yet Rangers are insisting on using him as that. When they played to his strength – a low ball to feet when he’s on the shoulder of the last defender – he scored.
Pictures – Action Images
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