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Nothing to see here – report
Thursday, 31st Oct 2013 17:26 by Clive Whittingham

QPR and Wigan fought out the most turgid of 0-0 bore draws at a rain lashed DW Stadium on Wednesday night, leaving Rangers three points behind league leaders Burnley.

There is a scene at the beginning of lamentably lowbrow 2000 teen flick Road Trip where Amy Smart, so desperate is she to sleep with Breckin Meyer, stands before him at the end of the bed and slowly peels away a flimsy t-shirt to reveal the naked breasts beneath.

I throw this in here mainly for something stimulating to talk about - because there was literally nothing of any note to come crawling out of 90 dire minutes of lethargic rubbish at the DW Stadium on Wednesday night and we’ve got to talk about something – but also because there is another sub-plot to Road Trip which feels strangely appropriate.

While the video tape – kids always video tape these things – of Smart and Meyer subsequently going at it is accidently posted to his girlfriend on the other side of the country, necessitating the stealing of a car and a school bus and a mentally disabled lad losing his virginity to an enormous gospel singer, one of the road tripper’s pet snake Mitch is left at home with Tom Green whose sole role in this depressingly dreadful movie is to feed it a live mouse at some point during the week.

Green, narrating the story, is captivated with his task and places the mouse in the tank immediately. For the next hour and a half we return to him intermittently to find him staring at the snake which steadfastly shows no interest in killing its prey to Green’s increasing, audible chagrin. “Unleash the fury Mitch” he yells. “Unleash the fury Mitch” over and over and over again.

With three minutes to go at Wigan on Wednesday Queens Park Rangers were awarded a free kick in a reasonably promising position some 40 yards from the home goal wide on the left. It was an opportunity for them to deliver a ball into a penalty box which they could happily have populated with Charlie Austin, Clint Hill and Richard Dunne – all fearsome aerial opponents – and hunt for a late winner. What they did instead, in fact what they did with all their free kicks at Wigan on Wednesday, was to quickly take it short and resume the aimless passing to nothing that suffocated the entire match.

It’s like QPR can, or could, but don’t want to. For a Championship team they have some outstanding creative talent at their disposal and an attacking trio of Niko Kranjcar, Charlie Austin and Junior Hoilett should have been more than enough to pose problems to a limited Wigan side. But somewhere along the line they’ve become lost in some football hipster ideal that a completed pass is almost as good as a goal; like 100 of them would count half on the scoreboard. Surely to goodness even Brendan Rodgers would concede that there’s no shame in delivering a last minute free kick to the heart of the penalty box? We’re not exactly suckling at the teat of Tony Pulis by doing that are we? God this was frustrating stuff.

QPR boss Harry Redknapp would tell you, and in fact did tell you afterwards, that this was a good result – and he’s not wrong. Wigan's position in the bottom half of the league owes more to the excessive workload heaped upon them by a Europa League campaign than the quality of their squad and the come with all the same parachute payment advantages that QPR enjoy. No visiting team has won at the DW Stadium this season in eight games spread across twocompetitions.

It could have been even better had referee Michael Naylor not inexplicably turned a blind eye to Wigan’s rookie goalkeeper Lee Nicholls shoving substitute striker Andy Johnson to the ground as he waltzed around him in ten minutes from time, and it could have been worse had Chris McCann’s header hit the back of Robert Green’s net in the fifty second minute rather than the outside of his post during a period of sustained Wigan pressure – Callum McManaman should have done more than hammer the rebound over the bar as well.

But in truth this wasn’t a game that deserved a goal, and it limped hopelessly into a rain soaked stalemate.

Redknapp would also point to injury problems in his midfield – Little Tom Carroll isn’t allowed up late enough to accommodate a midweek game at Wigan and Kranjcar limped out of the first half injured. Joey Barton was suspended which meant a recall for Ale Faurlin, who thankfully played better than he has done for some time, and Karl Henry was dropped in favour of Jermaine Jenas.

Despite that upheaval there was some reasonably decent stuff from the Londoners early in the game. Kranjcar shot over in the third minute and the move of the match at the midway point of the half worked Benoit Assou-Ekotto in on the overlap for a cut back cross that Gary O’Neil struck towards goal but, farcically, right at his own man Austin who was flagged offside as a result.

O’Neil later had a proper shot saved by young Phillips, impressive in difficult conditions on a full home league debut, and Austin side footed wide after a long period of pressure seven minutes before half time. Clint Hill headed a corner off target in the first half and Richard Dunne did likewise in the second when on both occasions the QPR man looked favourite to score. So it wasn’t like QPR were dreadful, in fact they were much the better of the two teams, they just seem so anaemic and limp at times. No thrust and urgency. No tempo to the play.

Wigan - who made three changes before the game with Ryan Shotton, Callum McManaman and Jordi Gomez coming in for Thomas Rogne, James McClean and Ben Watson after a 0-0 draw at Charlton on Saturday - were even worse. Shining light Nick Powell cut into the area in their first attack of the game and executed a clever step over that fooled the otherwise excellent Danny Simpson but he could only fire into the side netting. But mostly the Latics were restricted to long range shots and set pieces in the first half – Jordi Gomez whipped a free kick over the bar after Faurlin had been penalised for a foul on the edge of the area, Green looked nervous punching away a Powell delivery from wide but got the job done well enough.

McManaman and Gomez both had shots wide in open play before the break, both coming after QPR had been caught fannying around with the ball deep in their own half – it’s hard to deny that the R’s are becoming reasonably easy to play against, with pressure high up the field enough to induce panic and chances.

Manager Owen Coyle removed lumbering oaf Grant Holt at half time and tried a different adding a bit more pace to his attack with former West Brom striker Marc-Antoine Fortune and that seemed to have an effect for a while with a succession of early corners culminating in the McCann header and McManaman miss. But they soon reverted to type as the game slumped back into the slow, meandering pattern of the first period.

The Latics secured a loan deal for Aston Villa’s Marc Albrighton right on the cusp of the deadline and he was slung on for the final quarter of an hour alongside Brain of Britain James McClean with McManaman and Gomez making way – but QPR’s defence stood firm and Wigan lacked sufficient imagination to break through.

A free kick for the home side deep into the second half of the game bobbled around the QPR penalty box after first Assou-Ekotto and then Gary O’Neil failed with attempts at headed clearances but, again, the chance of a serious shot on goal went begging. Robert Green didn’t have a taxing save to make all evening.

Neither, really, did Nicholls although his handling and penalty box command was exemplary for one so inexperienced playing in awkward weather. Hoilett hammered a cross shot through the goal mouth agonisingly out of Jenas’ reach and Matt Phillips, who is still to find any kind of fitness and form since a summer move to W12 from Blackpool, found substitute Johnson at the back post but he could only toe the ball wide.

Rangers did look slightly more threatening once Johnson was on – much needed support for the previously isolated Charlie Austin – but it was only relative to what had gone before and Wigan were hardly quaking in their boots. The Nicholls foul on Johnson apart they didn’t look overly threatened by the London side at any point and to be fair to referee Naylor he seemed as bored as the rest of us in the last ten minutes of the game and made some peculiar decisions – Phillips aggrieved that a goal kick was awarded when his late strike deflected over, Owen Coyle onto the pitch at the end to remonstrate with the officials over two robust late challenges from Hill on Fortune and Dunne on Powell that were for some reason given as QPR free kicks.

The possession stats for this one are heavily weighted 63-37 in QPR’s favour. I’d estimate that 98% of that ball retention went absolutely nowhere.

Unleash the fury QPR. Unleash the fury.

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Wigan: Nicholls 7, Boyce 6, Barnett 6, Perch 6 Shotton 6, McManaman 7 (McClean 74, 6), McCann 6, Gomez 6 (Albrighton 74, 6), Powell 7, Holt 5 (Fortune 45, 6)

Subs not used: Watson, Pollitt, Espinoza, Beausejour

QPR: Green 6, Simpson 7, Hill 7, Dunne 7, Assou-Ekotto 6, Faurlin 7, Jenas 6, O’Neil 6, Kranjcar 6 (Phillips 44, 6), Hoilett 5 (Johnson 75, 6), Austin 5

Subs not used: Henry, Murphy, Chevanton, Onyewu, Traore

QPR Star Man – Danny Simpson 7 Since signing for QPR in the summer Simpson has quietly gone about settling straight into the team and playing consistently well – he looks like he’s played for QPR all his life and is an unfussy, reliable right back. On Wednesday he hardly put a foot wrong either with or without the ball – although it says something for the match that I thought the top player in it was one of the right backs.

Referee – Michael Naylor (South Yorkshire) 5 Not a lot to referee for 75 minutes or so but, perhaps through boredom, he turned the last quarter of an hour into a bit of a farce, inexplicably failing to award a foul and card for the Nicholls attack on Johnson and then seemingly trying to even that decision up with several very harsh calls against the home side that had Owen Coyle on the pitch at the end of the game having a strop. To be fair, at least it livened things up a bit.

Attendance – 13,143 (600 QPR approx) A very creditable size of following from QPR for such a long trip on a Wednesday night. Not much atmosphere around the DW but to be fair to everybody who was there on a filthy night there wasn’t a great deal to get excited about.

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BrixtonR added 19:29 - Oct 31
Even more creditable we had 737 there ! Well done to those that went 4 days after the Burnley trip.

tsbains64 added 19:35 - Oct 31
well done to the R fans that made the trip. Pretty good point me thinks-Wigan look pretty good. Great report Clive-just need to turn the conrer and get back into winning ways

probbo added 19:39 - Oct 31
Thanks Clive and credit to all those R's fans for making the journey north. Its unfortunate Wigan's Europa league exploits required a rescheduling but surely a Sunday afternoon would have been better?

I tell you, this inability to create chances and score goals is going to cost us dearly. Most of those teams chasing promotion don't seem to be anywhere near as goal shy as we are. I think we've got the players to do the job (a bevvy of midfielders) but i'm still not sure Redknapp knows his 'best' team. All that said, we are third, well in the mix and a couple of home wins will hopefully build some much needed momentum. You R'ssss.

komradkirk added 20:09 - Oct 31
agree with all of that.
loads of possession and the more composed side for long periods but lack of cutting edge has cost us a top two spot.
thought wigan were as cynical and anti football as they were lost season.
you better hope that rat mcclean doesn't see the word Britain in the same sentence as his name.

Myke added 20:12 - Oct 31
Thanks Clive and may I add my admiration to all who traveled so far so soon after Burnley match, especially as another blog I follow couldn't muster a single representative to report on the game. I thought after scoring 2 goals in 3 successive games that we were over that particular hump but it seems not. As others have said its something we need to address , at least it was nice to get back to clean sheets again. The fixture list has been a bit bizarre throwing up a succession of home and then away games, hopefully it will settle down now, We knew the latter half of October was going to be tough and so it proved so it will be interesting to see if we kick on from here or end up spending the remainder of the season on the periphery.
With regard to the constant passing of the ball Clive, I know you are not a fan. You didn't like Brendan Rodgers style at Swansea and I know you would advocate somewhere between him and Pulis. Personally I'm a big fan of ball retention - if you have the ball the other team can't hurt you - and always advocate that the teams I coach should pass sideways or backwards if forward is not an option. Obviously, this takes time to perfect, especially as on these Islands ( Republic and Britain) we don't have many players who are technically comfortable on the ball. The problem is compounded if these players are older (like Henry) and are being asked to play in a way they are not familiar with. If teams are going to press us high up the pitch, then there are obvious risks to this strategy, as perfectly illustrated for Burnley's first goal on Saturday. However, equally, this should create gaps further up the opposition's end (either between their mid-field and defence or behind their defence, depending on how high they are pressing) which can be exploited when we become more adept and incisive with our passing. I guess this is a long winded way of saying keep faith with the passing until they become incisive - Harry's teams have always been good passers but not 'tippy tappy' for the sake of it and I believe we will get better as the season progresses

Myke added 20:29 - Oct 31
Oh and on the subject of McLean is it not far better to state ones convictions than to follow the crowd sheep-like? To me the whole poppy situation is getting slightly ridiculous. It use to be 'poppy day' to commemorate the war heroes, but now it's what? Poppy Week? Poppy Month? I think this a classic case of more is less and the over use of a symbol actually devalues its original honorable intention. I wonder how many of our so-called 'celebrities' who sport an over-sized poppy for days (weeks) on end, actually truly understand its original symbol, or merely regard it as another 'must have' fashion accessory, another piece of bling to show off.

BushRangerW12 added 20:32 - Oct 31
It was a pleasant surprise to see so many R's at Wigan after 2 away games prior to another 200mile plus trip for most R's. I have to say how alarmed I am with how poor Hoilett is. Its just not working for him at QPR. Literally every time he had the ball last night he lost it or it went nowhere. Have a look at my latest QPR blog at

TacticalR added 20:38 - Oct 31
This really doesn't sound good (and it didn't sound good on the BBC commentary either). I can't help suspecting that because of all our late wins earlier in the season there is a conviction that a goal will turn up from somewhere, and that's beginning to look like a false belief.

extratimeR added 21:33 - Oct 31
Thanks Clive

Yes, it sounded grim on the radio as well, more game time for Faurlin can only help.


smegma added 21:54 - Oct 31
Very good of the highways agency to part close the dual carriageway back to the M6 with only 1 lane in use AFTER THE GAME. Couldnt they have waited until the crowds had cleared ??? Even if the contractors were called 'URS' they were causing more congestion !!

Kaos_Agent added 02:10 - Nov 1
Thanks Clive. You rated Jenas 6 and he was not referred to as a friendly ghost (appropriate as it's Halloween tonight over here), so that must be a high point for him. Good to see AJ back with no apparent issues. Opinion on Junior seems to be well split - if he could stay healthy, avoid impersonating SWP re being dispossessed, pass it a bit more on the attack, and show his proven shooting prowess now and again, he might even be a worthy successor to Townsend. Lots on that to-do list.

isawqpratwcity added 02:47 - Nov 1
Thanks for the report, Clive.

I struggle to see how we are going to improve. After Burnley I reckoned start AJ and Austin together, but that will only diminish a mid-field that already suffers from a disconnect with our attack.

How is it we manage to turn decent signings into shadows of their former selves? Is it Harry's set-up, or do we need a decent coach?

DesertBoot added 09:09 - Nov 1
Two points from three away games. Early days but can we say we really gave it our best shot? I'd say no.

AshteadR added 14:18 - Nov 1
Thanks Clive, it was a truly awful game.

I was fortunate / unfortunate (depending on your point of view) to be able to coincide a work trip to the north. Hoillett and Phillips didn't offer any real threat and I lost count of the times they gave the ball away.

We've flattered to deceive so far this season and need to be a bit more adventurous with the ball rather than passing sideways and backwards the majority of the time.

Still, if we can win our home games and not lose away, we'll be well up there. And it's still a lot better than last year - some good honest performances (if not spectacular)!

Antti_Heinola added 16:46 - Nov 1
Thanks for the review clive and well done for making the long trek along with the rest of the faithful. What a dreary game that sounds like. There's no earthly reason why we need to be so timid. Let's hope we pick it up tomorrow.
Glad Faurlin did well. A few more games and maybe his confidence will really start to come back. Could be a sort of Aaron Ramsey situation with him.

Burnleyhoop added 09:11 - Nov 2
"Unleash the fury"...............unleashing 3rd gear would be a start !

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