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De Canio and his loan stars deal with Hull
De Canio and his loan stars deal with Hull
Saturday, 3rd Nov 2007 11:32

Luigi De Canio enjoyed a comfortable start to life in the Championship as QPR easily rolled over a very poor Hull side at Loftus Road.

One of the main criticisms of the club's decision to appoint Luigi De Canio as the new manager this week is his lack of knowledge of the Championship. People have pointed to our forthcoming trips to Stoke on a Tuesday night and Blackpool and Scunthorpe in the depths of winter and said he'll be like a fish out of water and turn out to be a disaster.

Supporters of the appointment have pointed at the diabolical standard of our recent trip to Preston and said that far from being some intricate mystery the Championship is in fact about as simple, low on quality and easy to deal with as anything De Canio will have seen before. I mean once he gets us launching aimless balls down the pitch and conceding free kicks every 30 seconds at the hands of an incompetent referee he'll fit in beautifully.

If the other teams in this league are going to make it as easy for De Canio as Hull City did on Saturday then he'll be wondering why he didn't move over here earlier. Boasting a former international midfielder on big wages scratching his arse and giving the ball away and a footballer barely good enough for the average Sunday league side in midfield the Tigers were embarrassingly bad. Phil Brown kept his side in for 45 minutes after the match and there's little wonder - they seem to regress every time they come to Loftus Road.

Okocha and Ashbee against Leigertwood and Buzsaky in the middle of midfield was where it was all won. In the gold of Hull City stood one of the Premiership's best ever players, looking about as interested and involved as David Beckham at a spelling bee competition. Injured he may have been but that can be no excuse for a lack of effort and commitment not seen at Loftus Road since Stefan Moore last took to the field.

Alongside him Ian Ashbee infuriatingly made the Hull team again. Infuriating because he makes me think I should be playing professional football somewhere. A midfielder that can't pass, can't run, can't position himself and doesn't score - I'd expect Gary Megson to be making an offer for him any time now. It's unfair to call him a pub footballer because I'd laugh in his face if he asked to play in my pub side.

Against them Mikele Leigertwood lined up in hoops - a man most QPR fans gave up on before he'd even kicked a ball after he suffered from Georges Santos syndrome. That is, for those who don't know, where a player is slated by supporters of his former club on the message board after we sign him and our fans take their word for it and decide he's a waste of money. "Legs of Wood" we called him before he'd even pulled on a shirt, on the say so of a group of supporters who hail Dane Whitehouse as a hero of theirs. He overshadowed Okocha as the outstanding attacking midfielder on show.

Next to him Akos Buzsaky who, while clearly not fully fit, added a passing and attacking flair to our midfield not seen since Inigo Idiakez returned to Southampton. He marched Ashbee up and down the field all afternoon until his lack of match sharpness forced his removal. His inclusion from the start meant Adam Bolder, last week's goalscoring hero, was dropped against his former club.

Surrounding Rangers' new look £1.4m midfield was a rare collection of loans and free transfers. Rowan Vine and Marc Nygaard started up front, Hogan Ephraim and Martin Rowlands played on the wings. At the back that same back five trotted out again - Mancienne, Cranie, Stewart and Barker in front of Camp, they've kept three clean sheets in four games and looked in the mood for another. Hull came at them with Windass and Man Utd loanee Fraizer Campbell up front but made little impact.

Hull started the brighter of the two sides but Okocha's poor delivery from a couple of corners and free kicks restricted their effectiveness in the final third. Early on it was clear that this was a different Hull side than the one I'd seen take apart Ipswich and Barnsley at the KC Stadium. They looked lacklustre across the park and a lazy wayward backpass from Delaney that conceded a corner from 50 yards out in the opening minutes summed them up on the day.

Rangers started nervously and I feared my concerns about a few of our player sulking over Mick Harford's departure were going to come true. We certainly didn't start as well as we had finished at Charlton last week but did start to come into the game from the quarter hour mark onwards. Akos Buzsaky nearly announced his arrival at Loftus Road with a fantastic goal. The Hungarian lashed a low 25 yard shot on goal which swerved, dipped and moved in the air before being flicked round the post by a decent save from Boaz Myhill.

Windass stung Lee Camp's palms and Nygaard headed a Buzsaky corner off target as the game continued to ebb and flow from one end to the other in entertaining fashion.

Then, after 25 minutes, Rangers took the lead. Martin Rowlands had earlier sprayed a hugely impressive pass to the left wing entirely by accident. This time he fed Ephraim with an equally good, but this time deliberate ball. Ephraim collected possession wide on the QPR left just inside the Hull half and set off on a run towards the penalty area, cutting inside and hammering a low drive on goal after beating a couple of opponents. The ball arrowed into the corner sending the home crowd wild - Hull, and Ricketts in particular, punished for backing off the West Ham youngster.

Windass went closer to scoring than any of his team mates in the first half. On the half hour he curled a low shot towards the far bottom corner at the Loft End from 20 yards out. Camp scrambled across and looked to be struggling with it but the ball didn't quite curl enough and flashed wide.

After a slow start Rangers had come right back into the game. Nygaard was working really hard and playing very well in attack which gave us a good focal point while wide on the left Ephraim was giving Sam Ricketts a torrid time. With the defence almost entirely untroubled and the two centre halves impressing again there were plenty of positives, and a one goal lead, to take into the second period.

After half time Rowan Vine, who'd been pretty quiet in the fist half, really came into the game. First a break from deep, similar to the runs that caused Charlton so many problems last week, had Hull on the back foot but he just couldn't find Buzsaky with his pass, Ashbee poked the ball narrowly over his own bar for a corner. Seconds later a similar run ended with a shot into the side netting as Vine backed himself, I must confess I thought this was in and was busy trampling all over Northern the Elder as referee Tanner pointed for a goal kick.

Hull's first attack of the half yielded a free kick when Campbell was crudely upended by Mancienne. The Chelsea defender was booked for the tackle but Marney's free kick was comfortably cleared.

QPR were playing some decent football and ten minutes after the break they ended the match as a contest with a fantastic second goal. Excellent passing football between Vine, Buzsaky and Ephraim down the QPR left worked the ball into Leigertwood who moved into space fifty yards from goal, travelled forward, cut inside and curled a sumptuous long range shot round Myhill and into the far corner of the net. That's goal of the month for November all tied up, and it will take a very decent strike to beat it for the season award as well. No more than Leigertwood deserved for an outstanding afternoon's work.

After an hour of almost completely anonymous refereeing Steve Tanner suddenly reared his head with a succession of yellow cards. Chris Barker and Damion Stewart both got one within a minute of each other for fouls on Dean Marney and Hull sub Stephen McPhee respectively. Later in the game Rowan Vine was very harshly booked for time wasting - that's four cards for him now this season including two for dissent and one for kicking the ball away.

If you thought De Canio's influence would be limited after just four days of training you were wrong. The final 15 minutes had a distinctly Italian flavour to them with Rangers slipping into a 4-5-1 formation, bringing everybody behind the ball and preventing Hull building momentum with three well timed substitutions. Nardiello, Bolder and Ainsworth all came on for a run out as QPR shut up shop.

Hull managed to break through the increasingly impressive QPR back four twice. First Dean Marney, a hard worker let down by his fellow Hull midfielders, was denied a goal against his former club when Lee Camp turned his 20 yard shot round the post. Hull removed Okocha for Featherstone but that was a change that really needed to happen at half time and it made little difference coming with just 20 minutes to go.

Then Stephen McPhee, sent on for Richard Garcia on the hour, flicked a loose ball into the bottom corner but he had long since been flagged offside. Other than that QPR were rarely troubled with Stewart again impressing and Cranie looking like a man who doesn't need to change out of his club suit for games at this level. The frustration was all too much for Michael Turner who hacked down Vine and was became the sixth and final booking of the game or his troubles.

All in all then a very good display, and an excellent start for Luigi De Canio. The problem we have now is this is being built almost entirely on loan signings. The attack has come to life in the past couple of weeks thanks to Ephraim and Vine. Hogan's third and final month is now coming to an end and he will have to return to West Ham until the transfer window, Vine is yet to extend his spell from Birmingham and there's doubt surrounding his future following the departure of Mick Harford. Both need to be top priorities in January and we will struggle without them until then. Vine's short term loan can be extended again - Ephraim's cannot.

We saw this with Stoke City last season, loans can be great if you're happy to pay for some decent ones but it's almost impossible to get any kind of consistent team selection or performance level with them because people are always coming and going.

Martin Cranie is a superb player at this level and between them him and Stewart kept Windass and Campbell very quiet. I'd be surprised if that's not Hull's worst performance of the season and play off chasing Coventry will provide a tougher test on Tuesday.

QPR: Camp 7, Mancienne 7, Cranie 8, Stewart 7, Barker 7, Rowlands 7, Ephraim 8, Leigertwood 8, Buzsaky 7 (Ainsworth 86, -),Vine 7 (Nardiello 90, -), Nygaard 7 (Bolder 81, -)
Subs Not Used: Cole, Timoska
Booked: Mancienne (foul), Barker (foul), Stewart (foul), Vine (wasting time)
Goals: Ephraim 26 (assisted Rowlands) Leigertwood 56 (assisted Ephraim)

Hull: Myhill 5, Ricketts 5, Turner 6, Brown 7, Delaney 4, Garcia 5 (McPhee 58, 6), Ashbee 4, Marney 7, Okocha 4 (Featherstone 71, 6), Windass 7, Campbell 6
Subs Not Used: Duke, Dawson, Livermore
Booked: Turner (foul), Delaney (foul)

QPR Star Man - Mikele Leigertwood 8 - With Okocha starting the game after injuries you probably wouldn't have found too many people before the game tipping Leigertwood to be he star midfielder on display. Far from the holding man we were told to expect he's working superbly as an energetic box to box midfielder. He already has two goals to his name and could have had two more on top of that - good to hear De Canio has been working on his shooting because if he can reproduce his beautiful second half strike here then he's going to be a hell of a player for us. Very impressive.

Referee: Steve Tanner (Somerset) - 6 Not a bad display at all but suddenly went a bit card mad in the second half when the game didn't really require it. Still, we've had a lot worse for sure.

Attendance: 12,375 (800 Hull fans approx) Rangers fans gave their side decent backing in the second half nice they were ahead, and gave Nygaard a bit of an ovation when he went off which is a welcome change. They were quiet before that while the travelling support from Hull remained almost silent throughout.

Photo: Action Images

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