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QPR off to winning start as Sheff Wed pay penalty – match report
Sunday, 4th Aug 2013 23:05 by Clive Whittingham

After thrashings in the first games of the last two seasons QPR finally chalked up a victory on the opening day by beating Sheff Wed 2-1 at Loftus Road.

The road to redemption for Queens Park Rangers promises to be long and arduous. A 46 game season stretches out ahead of them and with the bookies making them favourites, Harry Redknapp in the dugout and this week’s signing of Charlie Austin suggesting the big spending days are far from over many sides will see the newly relegated Premier League team as a significant scalp.

The R’s will therefore be hoping they haven’t used up too much of their quota of good fortune on the opening day of the campaign. A visit from Sheffield Wednesday, perennially cash-strapped and embroiled in a relegation scrap for much of last season after a disastrous run of 15 defeats from 19 matches before Christmas, looked like a gentle re-introduction to Championship life for them in theory. But after a summer of optimism and big name signings 12 months ago gave way to an embarrassing relegation campaign of just four league wins QPR fans will be wary of ever judging football on paper again and the Owls proved awkward opponents.

Twice, either side of half time, the visitors had strong appeals for a penalty kick waved away by referee Scott Mathieson. Wednesday manager Dave Jones has only recently stopped prattling on about a spot kick his Cardiff City side should have had at Loftus Road back in 2011 and a prolonged post match rant about an impending anarchic civil war within football and Cameron’s broken Britain suggests we haven’t heard the last of his latest perceived injustice either.

Jones is a hard man to like but it was easy to sympathise with him on this occasion. His side, heavy odds against at the start of play, were already in the lead when the first controversial moment occurred.

The long suffering QPR fans would have been forgiven a sense of déjà vu when Albanian-born Austrian youth international Atdhe Nuhiu, signed on a free transfer from Rapid Vienna this summer, made the most of a powder-puff challenge from left back Armand Traore and a pocket of space on the edge of the QPR penalty box to smack in the opening goal from 20 yards in the nineteenth minute. A year ago the not-so-Super Hoops had been hammered 5-0 on their own ground on the opening day of the season by a Michu-inspired Swansea side and the awkward, rangy frame of Nuhiu coupled with deceptive skill and control sparked obvious comparisons. Earlier he’d taken in a pass on his instep while working space for himself in the penalty box in one fluid motion before dragging a shot across the face of goal. A good performance and goal on debut with the sun on his back is no real indication of how he’ll fare across a full Championship season but the early signs are promising for Wednesday.

He might have fancied the penalty himself had it been awarded just eight minutes before half time. Traore was again culpable, this time caught out by a simple long ball over the top from David Prutton and having allowed Michail Antonio to run in behind him and receive the ball the full back then appeared to send the Wednesday man to the ground amid a jumble of arms and legs. Mathieson was unmoved.

The official went one step further ten minutes after half time when Wednesday appealed as one for another foul in the QPR area. This time it was Joey Barton, surprisingly recalled to the starting line up by Harry Redknapp, of which more later, who hung a leg out and Wednesday substitute Jacques Maghoma who crashed to earth. Mathieson accused the fallen player of diving and showed a yellow card.

Neither Wednesday player did themselves any favours at all with the manner of their falls – backs arched, arms outstretched, faces contorted – and had they simply hit the ground naturally under the contact they felt they’d probably have got both decisions. On both occasions the players looked far too willing to go to ground and in fact Barton appeared to have withdrawn his leg before Maghoma even started his fall, although the reaction of the QPR man betrayed his guilt.

Ultimately the two players involved, and their team mates, were left to reflect on one of those days where nothing quite went right. Maghoma, a former Tottenham trainee promoted two divisions this summer after a 18-goal season with Burton Albion in League Two last season, almost ripped QPR’s left post out of the ground with a low shot that beat Robert Green all ends up 20 minutes from time. Antonio meanwhile somehow, implausibly, lifted the ball over the bar from little more than 12 yards out under no challenge whatsoever and with the goal gaping after Traore’s third abysmal piece of defending of the afternoon had allowed Jermaine Johnson to race clear into the QPR half and put the ball on a plate for his team mate.

Wednesday were chasing an equaliser by that point after undoing 40 minutes of solid first half work by conceding two goals in three minutes just before half time. First a short corner from Barton set up a chance for Junior Hoilett to fire in a cross-come-shot which found defender Nedum Onuoha at the head of a queue of unmarked QPR players at the far post and he could scarcely miss from four yards out. Onuoha, I suspect, will pick up the club’s Player of the Year award this season if he avoids long term injury.

Infused with confidence and a palpable sense of relief from that equaliser the R’s quickly set about taking the lead. Onuoha’s centre half partner Clint Hill headed down into the arms of Wednesday keeper Chris Kirkland from the next corner and although the gangly stopper then raced from his line to keep out a Joey Barton header at point blank range when Hoilett’s cross was deflected into his path he was powerless to do anything about the rebound which was crisply struck into the back of the net by Andy Johnson – another who could star this season if his body allows.

And that was far from a smash and grab raid. Johnson had seen a speculative 20 yarder deflected an inch wide of the bottom corner with Kirkland beaten, and cleverly used his chest to manoeuvre space for a powerful volley that the keeper palmed aside with the time still in single figures. Bobby Zamora, ineffective for the most part, was also denied by a fine save when he went for power from a narrow angle after Johnson had flicked a cross from debutant Danny Simpson into his path. And only Junior Hoilett will know how he failed to score from all of three yards out with a first time volley from an inch perfect Barton cross.

Rangers, who failed to score a goal in open play in their final six matches of last season, certainly weren’t wanting for creativity. Hoilett, who last season seemed to have dealt with a crisis of confidence by consuming excessive amounts of chocolate buttons, looked slim and brimming with self-belief here. When Barton sought him out with a raking crossfield pass immediately after half time he was able to glide into the heart of the penalty area past two challenges and was only denied a goal his all-round performance deserved by another fine stop from Kirkland. This was much more like the player who impressed so much at Blackburn prior to signing for QPR.

And Barton was impressive too, though his inclusion raises issues that may haunt Redknapp and QPR further down the line this season. QPR have made much of their desire to bring in “the right sort” to play for the team this season after a succession of incidents during the calamitous 2012/13 campaign. It’s difficult to see how Joey Barton can possibly fit in with that ethos given his behaviour since he arrived at the club, the infamous red card at Manchester City and subsequent 12 match ban, and the constant disrespect shown to the club and its supporters through his Twitter account.

Even if you ignore all of that, Barton turned up two days late for pre-season training and didn’t go on either the tour of Devon or the trip to Austria. Other players who did – Esteban Granero and Stephane Mbia for instance – were rewarded for their summer of turning up on time for gruelling fitness work and a variety of ball acheing friendlies by not even making the bench on Saturday. What kind of message does Barton’s inclusion send to the rest of the squad? Redknapp has point blankly refused to adopt Neil Warnock’s one-rule-for-one… approach with Adel Taarabt and yet seems happy to use it for Barton.

His performance here was impressive, punctuated with several high quality deliveries into the penalty box from wide areas, but that’s hardly the point and in actual fact, having been booked a short time earlier for a typically cynical lunge on Jeremy Helan out by the corner flag, he’d more than likely have picked up the third red card of his QPR career had Mathieson awarded the second penalty when he should have done.

Almost as perplexing as Redknapp’s decision to pick him from the start was the reaction of the QPR fans towards a player who has been nothing but trouble for the club since the day he arrived and even in the lead up to this game had his agent publicly courting a move to Everton while he Tweeted incessantly about a desire to move to Marseille. Bobby Zamora, admittedly playing poorly, got an ironic cheer from the crowd when he finally won a ball in the air during the second half and the decision to replace him with Charlie Austin a short time later got a rapturous reception. Zamora’s behaviour and performances have been nowhere near as bad as Barton’s during their respective time with the club and yet he’s heckled while Barton had his name sung during the game and was given a standing ovation when he left the field to be replaced by Shaun Wright-Phillips ten minutes from time. I’m afraid someone will have to explain to me why Zamora, Jose Bosingwa and others are bad while Barton is some sort of returning hero because the logic is totally lost on me.

I personally felt that the widespread fawning over Barton on Saturday smacked rather of a lack of self-respect.

His inclusion was far from the only surprise sprung by Redknapp with his team selection. Barton played well enough to justify the faith but the same cannot be said of Armand Traore, another who looks set to leave the club and has played very few minutes of the pre-season games but was nevertheless started ahead of Yun Suk-Young despite the South Korean starting nearly every match during the summer. The Senegalese full back was at fault for the Wednesday goal and two other rank bad pieces of defending should have resulted in further scores.

And then there was Ale Faurlin – dropped from the first team friendly at Southend last Friday completely and forced to play with the stiffs against Leyton Orient behind closed doors on Saturday only to suddenly pop up as a starter here. Redknapp doesn’t seem to like the popular Argentinean, partly that’s down to his poor form since the former Spurs boss arrived at the club and possibly also because the manager is a little sick of hearing from supporters and board members what a wonderful player Faurlin can be. After a disastrous showing in an FA Cup thrashing by MK Dons in January, Redknapp made a pointed remark about being let down by players he’d been assured were excellent and then loaned Faurlin out to Palermo for the rest of the campaign. Then suddenly he threw him in from the start here.

The result was somewhere in between the performances of Traore and Barton. Faurlin struggled in the first half and when he inexplicably played in Jermaine Johnson for a shot across Rob Green’s goal at the start of the second half it seemed as though we were watching the final moments of his QPR career. That could still be the case but he grew into the match after that – strong in the tackle and clever with the ball, he’s another who looks leaner and fitter than at any point last season. Again though, the effect of suddenly including a player who’d been ignored for the latter stages of the pre-season ahead of those who probably thought they’d start on Saturday may pose problems later in the season.

A 2-1 lead can be a nervy affair in the closing stages of games and given that Wednesday hit the post you could argue that was the case here. But the visitors seemed low on ideas and demoralised towards the end to me. They’d already lost Joe Mattock through injury in the first half and slung on Gary Madine for Nuhiu and Rhys McCabe for former QPR youth teamer Giles Coke during the second period to no obvious benefit at all. It seemed they’d accepted it wasn’t to be their day.

QPR meanwhile spurned chances to make the game safe. New big-money buy Charlie Austin betrayed his rustiness by guiding a header from a fine Danny Simpson cross past the top corner when last season he’d have scored it in his sleep. Another back post header landed plum in the hands of Kirkland and Hoilett had a speculative shot blocked. Redknapp sent on Wright-Phillips for Barton and Jermaine Jenas for Hoilett by way of clock running but five minutes of added time passed without incident.

It won’t have escaped Dave Jones’ notice that Wednesday probably should have had a free kick on the edge of the box with the final kick of the match but Mathieson decided to blow the whistle for full time instead. A pinch of salt for the wounds and the Owls will no doubt consider themselves unlucky. It could easily have finished all square, but QPR looked a more accomplished side with the ball than Wednesday and perhaps just about deserved the victory penalty claims notwithstanding. A lesser goalkeeper than Kirkland probably would have conceded at least a couple more.

With games against Ipswich, Leeds and Bolton to come the August fixtures have not been gentle with Rangers and so getting a win on the board on day one was far more important than laying down any kind of performance marker. A win’s a win, and Rangers did just enough to get it.

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QPR: Green 6, Simpson 6, Onuoha 6, Hill 6, Traore 4, Barton 7 (Wright-Phillips 79, 6), Henry 6, Faurlin 6, Hoilett 7 (Jenas 87, -), Zamora 5 (Austin 68, 6), Johnson 7

Subs not used: Murphy, Dunne, Suk-Young, Derry

Goals: Onuoha 40 (assisted Hoilett), Johnson 43 (assisted Barton)

Bookings: Barton 56 (foul)

Sheff Wed: Kirkland 8, Zayatte 6, Gardner 6, Mattock 6 (Maghoma 37, 7), Palmer 6, Johnson 6, Prutton 6, Coke 6 (McCabe 69, 6), Antonio 5, Helan 6, Nuhiu 7 (Madine 76, 6)

Subs not used: Davies, Semedo, Taylor, Llera

Goals: Nuhiu 19 (unassisted)

Bookings: Palmer 19 (foul), Maghoma 57 (diving)

QPR Star Man – Andy Johnson 7 Looked bright, confident, relaxed and happy. Most importantly of all he looked fit and was a constant goal threat in the QPR attack. He could easily have scored twice before he finally did notch, and while the goalkeeper was absent for that one there were two defenders back on the line and he controlled his first time shot brilliantly, making it look easy when it was anything but. If that knee can hold up, he could be in for a great season.

Referee – Scott Matheison (Cheshire) 5 QPR haven’t had much luck with Mr Mathieson over the years, winning just one of 11 outings with him which includes the first part of the Vauxhall Motors debacle back in 2003. Dave Jones must wonder what he’s got to do to get a penalty at Loftus Road but perhaps QPR were owed the rub of the green from this official, who refereed one of the five defeats in Rangers’ 2010/11 promotion season as well. Impossible to give him a high mark though, given that he appears to have got two massive decisions wrong in the match and cost Wednesday a point, even allowing for the theatrical falls from both players in mitigation.

Attendance – 17,626 (3,000 Sheff Wed approx) Had QPR started the season with a “welcome back to the Championship” sort of a fixture against a club with a smaller travelling support then falling behind in the game when they did could have been a disaster. Empty seats and a demoralised home crowd could quickly have had this develop into a continuation of last season. But with a full house and a huge travelling support it almost felt like a Premier League game, and the QPR fans deserve huge credit for sticking with the team after it went behind. All in all the atmosphere was great and really helped Rangers get the right result. Small issue – why have smoke bombs suddenly become the must-have accessory for the travelling football fan and how on earth do you get them into the ground when I get stopped trying to take a bottle of Diet Coke in if it’s got the lid on?

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qprmick added 00:56 - Aug 5
Take your point about the flares, every terrorist must be licking his lips, if you can get a large flare into the ground, when will we get a bomb. Enjoyed the game for the start of rebuilding, we will be playing better teams so those points were important.
Barton was OK but it is not hard to find a bloke on the other side of the field in acres of space. He is such a petty little man, he just has to wind the opposition and ref up. One thing in his favour he shows more passion than most of the impostors we had last season. I have always liked Traore but we those howlers I don't expect to see him again. Now for the hard part, a cup game.
1

isawqpratwcity added 01:15 - Aug 5
Nice report, Clive. Three points and two goals were at the very edge of my expectations for this game. I have to put my 'Harry's-shaping-up-as-bad-as-Hughes' rant away as last week HR suddenly started doing a hell of a lot more things right than wrong.

That included starting both Barton and Faurlin. With Barton especially Harry was rewarded with a performance better than those you suggest get preference because the queue for selection only starts at the training ground.

As for the penalty, I didn't think it was one, but it's difficult to escape one anytime these days, and if your name's Joey Barton, you know you're not going to need to be worried about the hot shower water being used up by the time you get to it.

Tbh, I didn't think Barton's performance was good enough for the ovation (some lovely passes, some not; he didn't exactly dominate the mid-field; the penalty challenge was, at best, ill-advised; and let's be completely candid, he's got a warehouse load of history to come back from, but I was pleased because it said to me that the fans will not be blind to when he does do something worthwhile. Even better was the rage of some of the "Barton? Never, ever again!" camp on the forum.

I couldn't give a rat's fundamental orifice about the cup game on Tuesday (though we do have the squad to give it a decent crack). Huddersfield's next important game.
1

ozexile added 03:13 - Aug 5
I must admit the Barton situation is a strange one. There is nothing to like about him and they way he's treated the club is terrible yet I was pleased when I saw he was starting. I think after the dross of last season we realise if Barton plays at least we'll get a commited performance.
I think we have a much better chance of getting promoted if he plays every week. And I want us back in the premier league.
0

singapore_dave added 07:14 - Aug 5
Good report Clive.I agree about Onouha. Even last season I think he generally did a very decent job when he was picked at centre half. I still have huge doubts about Clint Hill though,hopefully Dunne will step up.
A more realistic assessment of Faurlin's performance than most I have read aswell. I thought he was poor for the first hour but he did come good in the end and finished very strongly.Henry did not play very well but it is sad that he already seems to be the scapegoat in waiting,especially if Austin replaces BZ as widely expected.
Neither were penalties for me either although I admit I would have been screaming for the second one at the other end. Also, I don't see why Barton would have been booked even if the ref had given the second one. He was clearly trying to withdraw his foot so a booking would have been very harsh.
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N12Hoop added 08:05 - Aug 5
Had the ref have given the 2nd pen, whether or not Barton would have then have been sent off, every fan would have had a completely different view of him, there would have been an outpouring of abuse against Redknapp for picking him and our start of season would have a completely different complexion about it. It's a strange old game.

Johnson for me was without doubt the best player on show for us. His movement and touch is Premiership class and if he stays fit he will have a significant impact on our final position. I just hope other players can get on his wavelength because he creates opportunities for others with his movement and touch as well as himself, yet without Adel they will usually go unrewarded
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Neil_SI added 09:03 - Aug 5
I actually felt the referee had a decent game, especially in the sense of letting it flow. It was obvious early on that he was going to let the teams play and get a little bit physical, and I liked that, and the players liked it as well once they clocked on that was his stance.

The penalty decisions were close calls and could have gone either way and while we rode our luck a little bit with them, if anybody deserved to win the game it was us.

It was just nice to see everybody again, see a competitive and relatively even game of football for the entire ninety minutes, and a full house full of genuine fans.

The Championship has improved as well, in terms of the quality of the football across the division, but it's something that's not always immediately obvious to the eye. It's a great league, and for me, probably the most competitive in the world.

Some further thoughts here: http://www.qprtoday.net/
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essextaxiboy added 09:11 - Aug 5
I think its a bit patronising to suggest that 14-15k Rangers fans collectively 1/ "fawned" over Barton and 2/ Lost their self respect ? There is a thread suggesting the same so maybe its just the put down of the week ?

Could be they just wanted to put the last two years down to experience and get behind whoever was wearing a shirt and try and help get a win on the first day .

Whats the point of giving stick to someone you hope is going to help you win ? It doesnt make sense .

I think it shows, together with the Faurlin selection that Redknapp will just pick the team he thinks will win the game regardless of the past or the players ultimate intention to stay or not , relying on just the attitude and effort he has seen in training..

IMO
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RonisRs added 09:14 - Aug 5
overall a positive result, and can only get better.
Barton will always be controversal, but at least he plays with passion, and that is what we need, ie the right sort, people who care when they are on the field.
good to see Faurlin play, he will need to work hard and hopefully he gets better and better. AJ is looking very good.
a win is a win, which is better than we can say for the last 2 seasons' opening matches.
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PinnerPaul added 09:25 - Aug 5
How about we, as fans , stop picking over every harry quote, Tony twitter and Barton rant and start enjoying the football.

Harry et al are with these players every minute of their working lives and despite the modern, see all world,know far more about each one than the keyboard experts at home.

How about we let them pick the team on merit and pass comment on the selections/performances based on footballing merits and not some tweets or quotes that were made days/weeks months ago?

I'm especially puzzled by the theme of your report clive, after you stated in the matchday programme your hope this season was to see some decent entertaining football matches and then the resulkts would take care of themselves.

May i humbly suggest you add to that enjoy the football AND ignore all the politics, and then also the results will take care of themselves.

The two "penalties", looking at them again both decisions correct for me. Tellingly the angle from camera high and behind LR goal on the 2nd one suggest that Barton didn't actually make contact and of course the ref also saw the incident from "behind" as it were.

Its 3 points people, enjoy that, try not to get too worked up with each coming and going that will happen in the next 4 weeks, i guarantee NONE will be the end of QPR as we know it, and try to enjoy the season based on the football not all the other stuff that surrounds it.

Try it, you might even start to enjoy supporting the Rs again!

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Myke added 09:31 - Aug 5
I don't have a problem playing Barton from a professional perspective (from a personal view point I think he is a despicable a human being ). We're paying him so as long as he's here, pick him if Rednapp thinks he is the best player for his position. Ditto with Cesar, Mbia, Remy et al. If their ours, fit and can contribute something then play them . I don't really think it will effect team morale down the line. It should if the players left out were the 'right sort' and committed to the club, but as pretty much all players are mercenaries these days it probably won't matter to them whether they are in or out - as long as they get paid
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tsbains64 added 09:56 - Aug 5
great report as usual. Barton plays with passion and skill and in my opinion wasnot treated righjt by MH and his gang after the Man City game. Hope he stays but dont think he will
Agree with you about the double standards but hopefull Granero will stay and get a chance to flourish
Impressed with Simpson,Faurlin,Onuha and Johnson
Looking forward to a great season
-2

dixiedean added 10:28 - Aug 5
Granted that I hate everything about Barton ( esp that he still wears the treasured Hoops) I can't claim to be impartial or objective. That said, I fail to see what he did above the ordinary on Sat apart from that pass to Hoilett. The fresh air shot in front of SAR was comical and the pass into Ellerslie with no R's player within 30 yds was mystifying. Appallingly weighted pass to Simpson ( went for a goal kick) when he'd made a lung-bursting 30-40 yd overlap , to name a few. One deserved yellow and a 2nd for the pen-that-wasn't would have been a very different story. Barton red card and a 2-2 draw. The 1st pen claim was a joke but the 2nd one would have been given by 70% of championship refs. As Clive said, the hero's reception was bemusing- we must have a lot of very tolerant/ forgiving fans or ones with the memory span of a goldfish. As for BZ , I'm no fan of his but I think he was treated harshly- He was against the tallest player in the league and we kept pumping balls 3' over his head, so hardly a surprise he didn't win many (any?) Service to him was appalling and our worst spell in the game coincided with that being our only tactic. When it was on the floor we were far better with Hoilett looking the player we thought he was and AJ's terrific movement. We will get better but satisfying start - Sat was all about getting 3 pts. Certainly better than 0-4 or 0-5 !
1

GloryHunter added 10:55 - Aug 5
I must have been watching a different match to everyone else. Hoilett MoM for me, by a mile.
-1

Northernr added 11:23 - Aug 5
I probably would have given it to him if he'd scored mate, but that was a hell of a sitter in the first half so I thought Johnson just shaded it.
0

Monahoop added 11:25 - Aug 5
Good report Clive. Nice to start the campaign with a win. There has been a little too much emphasis on a certain player since Saturday. Yes him, Barton. Surely he contributed to the teams efforts on the day and may not have had a bad game, but let's not let the individual draw away the fact the victory was not from him or about him, but from the rest of the team who pulled together reasonably well to beat a tough Wednesday side.
There's a long way to go and there will be tougher adversaries than the Owls, but an encouraging start all the same.
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sevenhoop added 11:26 - Aug 5
As is always said, it’s a game of opinions. I completely disagree about Faurlin having a poor first half. Seems that judgment is based on one (admittedly potential costly) first half misplaced pass, but I thought he was superb throughout. Just shows what we have been missing. I also don’t agree that he was rubbish last season. He was no worse than most and I thought quite good most times (the away game at Spurs stands out for me).
And why was he so good? Because he was having to play for two people, as Henry was an absolute passenger throughout and, when he did get involved, all he could do was pass it 5 yards to a teammate who was invariably in a far worse position to deal with the ball than Henry had been. His performance was a real worry and I hope Harry isn’t weeded to him in that position – far rather Chris Baird if he signs.
As for Onouha, I like him, but thought he was outmuscled on Satruday and Clint had to cover for him a lot. TBH, I think the whole back 4 (with Zero coverage from Henry) looked bloody awful.
0

QPunkR added 11:31 - Aug 5
Spot on with the assessment about Barton there, Clive. Although I would say that, given the 'lack of self respect' thread I started.
It's true though - why the blue hell did a large portion of our fans laud this execrable piece of shít that has done absolutely nothing but mug off our Club and us supporters?? I presume these same people wouldn't be w@nking over Jose Boswanker in the same way had he not finally been gotten rid of.

Really, honestly, what's the difference between these two? All I can see is that one's Portuguese and one's Scouse
0

QPunkR added 11:33 - Aug 5
Also, I thought Faurlin was brilliant defensively on Sat, I counted 12 big challenges he put in, winning the ball each time. Great to see.
0

Antti_Heinola added 12:44 - Aug 5
Not quite sure how the awful Henry and the on-par Faurlin both got a 6. One worked his ass off all over the pitch, contributed passing and tackling, one did nothing at all except duck out of headers, dally on the ball, and rarely make a challenge all game. Strange.
Otherwise excellent report as usual. No one was great, most of the team barring Henry, Zamora and Traore were about average, with AJ, Barton and Hoilett playing well.
Thought the welcome for Barton was funny, to be honest. Not going to get upset about that. As football fans, it's pretty difficult for us to claim to have integrity and QPR fans have done far, far worse than clap someone who plays for us.
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Jigsore added 15:52 - Aug 5
I'm with you on the Barton debacle, Clive. I can't say I like Barton wearing the hoops, but if he plays well I can live with it. What riles me is the attitude of some fans towards him i.e treating him like a fecking war hero.

One blip from Barton and that's it IMO. Players lose form, thats fine. Sometimes players get red cards - as long as its not for violent conduct thats fine, but if he flaps his big gob or nuts someone again then Harrys got some explaining to do.
1

francisbowles added 16:41 - Aug 5
Henry didn't look too impressive but in his defense, he was playing deep as we were open to the counter. In fact this continues to be a real problem as we lack pace in the middle of midfield and are slow to get back. Much as I like Faurlin, I remember thinking in the Norwich home defeat, before the injury, that he was really slow getting back after we lost possession.

Hoilett had a really good game but his finishing was wayward at times and he really neelds to convert some chances, to fully restore the confidence, if he is to continue to pay well throughout the season.

I thought Onuoha continued with his fine form from the end of last season whilst Traore on a number of occasions played silly little balls inside from the back which put midfielders under pressure. I thought Barton had a good game, much better in the wide midfield position than in the centre. For all the 'baggage' I think Harry should pick him if he is the best we have and we continue to pay his wages. I thought Harry might have removed him a bit earlier though as he was obviously tiring, which nearly proved very costly.

For me the m.o.m was AJ. Always threatening, always working hard and so rarely offside unlike Zamora and Mackie last season. He showed his class with the finish as well. Hope he can stay fit!

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cranieboy added 19:16 - Aug 5
I too thought the reception for Barton was strange, but was also glad there was no negative reaction as that would be no good for anything. As others have said, if HR is going to play him lets just get behind the team. AJ had a good game and is always moving, he made several good runs in the second half but no-one tried to slide him in. I thought Faurlin had a decent game and I would forgive him the odd bad pass just because he plays the ball well mostly and always tries, one stage in the second half he completed three clean tackles chasing back, only to be let down by no one with him to reclaim possession, he was certainly trying hard.
I thought we deserved the win but made it harder for ourselves by not killing them off and then going off the boil after a good start to the second half.
I didn't think the second penalty shout was a pen either, I think Barton just about managed to get his leg back in time. I found it quite hard to really assess Henry on that performance, not good but not sure if he was that bad either.
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Kaos_Agent added 22:46 - Aug 5
With much of the focus on Barton (who remains an overall liability IMO) what deserves mention is the huge importance of an opening day win for beginning to restore the dressing room confidence and spirit. Compare that to 0-5 Swansea last year which immediately sent us reeling. Good to see Junior looking fit and incisive.
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TacticalR added 23:42 - Aug 5
The team looked more fluid, although the defence looked vulnerable. As much as anything I was trying to assess the level of the opposition. So far it looks like you can get away with more mistakes in the Championship, because the opposition is not as skillful - Antonio is no Michu. However, although Wednesday were a bit lacking in finesse, they could easily have won the match as they hit the post and didn't get the penalty (in the ground I didn't think it was a penalty, but when saw it on TV I thought it was a penalty).

Johnson. A couple of good shots before he scored, and good composure and technique for the goal.

Faurlin. Really threw himself around. I am worried he's going to do himself a mischief.

Simpson. Looked solid.

Onuoha. Did well to place the shot for the first goal.

Hoilett. His game seemed more natural than last season, and he didn't hang on to the ball as much.

Henry. Very anonymous and his confidence looks shot to pieces. I really hope this is a temporary thing, otherwise we've bought a complete dud.

Barton. He could have given away a penalty and got sent off, but that was an excellent cross-field ball in the second half. I can only guess the pro-Barton sentiment is because he is seen as 'one of the lads'.

Perhaps there could be a LFW special feature on how to smuggle smoke bombs into a ground? Or possibly a wider look at the whole smoke bomb phenomenon? I see that we now have a special man with a special bucket who deals with smoke bombs, which is very reassuring.
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BlackCrowe added 15:12 - Aug 7
Wasn't at the game so this report gratefully received. Whatever the reasons, to label a large portion of your fellow supporters as lacking self-respect could be a bit condescending no?
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