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Same old, same old from travel-sick Rangers - report
Wednesday, 3rd Dec 2014 20:40 by Clive Whittingham

QPR's miserable away form continued at Swansea City on Tuesday night with a 2-0 defeat leaving the R's ensconced in the relegation zone.

Queens Park Rangers’ failings in away games this season have been so repetitive, the games they’ve been involved in so monotonous, that I’m actually tempted to just copy and paste a report of one of the previous defeats and change the names.

Set up for 0-0, make no attempt to score a goal of your own, hand possession back to the opposition, concede a goal or four and slope off into the night. It’s a formula that Harry Redknapp is sticking to stubbornly in the face of overwhelming evidence that it’s not doing his team much good. The latest defeat, a 2-0 setback at Swansea City on Tuesday evening, means it’s now eight defeats from eight road trips in all competitions this season, with just two goals scored and eighteen conceded.

QPR have found a variety of different ways to make a pig’s ear of games away from Loftus Road this season, within the framework of Redknapp’s maddening approach to these so-called “bonus games”. A 4-0 reverse at Tottenham could be partly attributed to an ill-fated dalliance with a back three formation while a loss by the same margin at Manchester United was all about a pathetic, defeatist attitude to the fixture. At West Ham you could have questioned Rangers’ work ethic and effort levels, at Chelsea you could bemoan bad luck and a near miss and at Newcastle you could question why Rangers felt the need to be quite so lethargic, one-paced and negative against a team that – despite its recent winning run – isn’t actually that good.

At the Liberty Stadium in South Wales you probably just had to hold your hands up and admit that Swansea City are a far, far better football team than QPR. Stronger in every single department. Not so much taking candy from a baby as taking it from somebody in a medically induced coma.

The R’s could have done things to aid their cause. Stringing a five-man midfield out in a line with only Charlie Austin ahead of them meant that whenever the ball did make it far enough up the field for a QPR midfielder to take possession of it he found no movement or option for a pass ahead of him. Consequently the instinctive reaction of Rangers players receiving possession was to turn 90 degrees, or even a full 180, back towards their own goal and find a man to pass to there. All this does is allow the opponent to push further up, throw more caution to the wind, and eventually seize possession back when Rangers are left with only the pass back to Rob Green and a long kick down field option to take. It was like watching a Rugby League training drill at times, where forward passes are penalised by the referee. At points it seemed as though both teams were kicking the same way.

It was also mystifying just how and why Swansea’s formidable centre forward Wilfried Bony was allowed to run straight through the middle of the defence and into the penalty area on quite so many occasions. Bony had expert support from the excellent Gylfi Sigurdsson but was nevertheless, playing as a very obvious, beacon-like lone centre forward and therefore you don’t need Carol Vorderman to work out that one centre half should mark him and the other should take the next attacker or go to the ball. Redknapp recalled Richard Dunne after a ban alongside Steven Caulker and moved Nedum Onuoha to right back instead of Mauricio Isla but the new look back four allowed Bony these clear runs on goal all evening – three times Robert Green had to race from his line and make brave one on one saves from the giant Ivorian. It wasn’t even as though Bony’s runs were particularly deft or cunning, peeling off into wide areas or arriving late into the penalty box to meet a cross – he was just ploughing a straight line right down the middle of the field directly towards the goal. It was terrifying.

And having miraculously made it into the last 15 minutes of the game without conceding a goal – thanks largely to a Man of the Match display from Green – you could probably argue that Redknapp was slow with his substitutions. Swansea were vastly superior as it was but Garry Monk had also added two fresh players before Rangers made a change, and by that time the home side had taken the lead. With Charlie Austin lacking support, Joey Barton giving the ball away as if he’d been sponsored to do so for charity, and both Leroy Fer and Niko Kranjcar looking like leggly liabilities without the ball, a proactive substitution before falling behind seemed like a better idea than a half-arsed reactive one after conceding.

It may also have been very different had Fer converted either of the chances he had. The first, before half time, was from close range after Kranjcar had caught the Swansea defence napping – you could certainly forgive them for mentally clocking off in this one – and hooked dangerous ball back into the heart of the goal mouth from tight to the byline. The Dutchman could only divert it straight to goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. Deep in the second half, from QPR’s first corner in the whole match, the ball fell Fer’s way on the corner of the six yard box but his instinctive, goal-bound volley was deflected behind.

But QPR struggled to exist as an attacking threat in the game all evening. A second half injury stoppage brought a visibly furious Charlie Austin to the touchline to discuss the thankless task he’d been given with the coaching staff. Moments later QPR’s top scorer snatched at a 20 yard volley and smashed the ball over the bar – the only sight of goal he had all night.

Overall you could do little else but conclude that QPR were just beaten by a far superior side.

After Niko Kranjcar had blazed a first minute free kick wide from 20 yards out, Green was forced to make a one on one save when Bony freed Routledge in the area. Green saved well from him, and then again when centre back Kyle Bartley attacked the near post at a corner and flicked a powerful header towards goal. Dunne swooped in to clear danger when Yun Suk-Young’s poor ball had Bony in space and a prolonged period of crosses into the box and possession round the edge of the area was nightmarish for the travelling faithful behind the goal. When a basic two v one situation was allowed to develop unchecked down the Swansea left Sigurdsson finished the move with a heavily deflected shot that Green made rather a mess of and must have been thankful to see bobble wide. Niko Kranjcar was beaten in the air by tiny Leon Britton at a particularly low moment.

When Joey Barton was booked by referee Kevin Friend for fouling Wayne Routledge on the left corner of the QPR box ten minutes before half time, Robert Green needed to make a world class save down by his left post to keep out Sigurdsson’s free kick after the goalkeeper had lined his wall up too far right. The goal line technology said the ball was 95% in – but that 5% makes all the difference.

Eduardo Vargas drilling wide from the edge of the area right on half time suggested there may be better to come from the Londoners, but Bony allayed those hopes by storming through on the goal again two minutes after the restart after Barton had passed Sigurdsson the football. Later he had more time than he allowed himself having been left free in the area once more – a first-time side-footed pass back to Green a real waste. Frustrated, the Ivory Coast international struck a fabulous improvised volley that drew the save of the night from Green away to his right.

There was Fer’s near miss to raise QPR hopes but really the only thing on their side by this point was the clock – the R’s would have to hang on for just another ten minutes.

Sadly, the task was beyond them. With Nathan Dyer’s pace added to the attack from the bench, Swansea came hunting the breakthrough again and finally got it when Ki Seung-Yeung squared up Onuoha in the area, narrowed the angle suggesting he was going to cross, then drilled the ball past Green and into the net off the base of the far post.

As usual QPR suddenly looked a lot more urgent than they had for the previous 80 minutes, and immediately sent on Junior Hoilett for Joey Barton who’d had a particularly poor evening. But Swansea’s possession-based game is not one you want to be facing while chasing a game and in actual fact it was the home side who were able to score the next goal and pull off into the distance. Leroy Fer this time the midfielder caught in possession in a bad area while searching for options further forward, Dyer streaked away into space and his square ball across the edge of the box set up former QPR man Wayne Routledge for a smooth low finish and a goal his overall performance richly deserved.
Three minutes of added time gave Bony a chance to turn into clear space in front of the goal again, but he struck the post with his outside of the foot finish. Three nil probably would have been a fair reflection.

The result moves Swansea to sixth and means that in seven away league games so far this season QPR have played five of the top six and nobody lower than tenth. With Everton and Arsenal to come before the turn of the year it means, weirdly, that the R’s will have played everybody in the top ten on the road apart from Man City in the first half of the season. Little wonder then, as a newly promoted side, that they’ve found points and goals hard to come by. Swansea, incidentally, easily the best team of those faced on the road so far.

But the fact remains that the approach QPR are taking to their away matches simply isn’t working, or even close to working. They don’t look capable of scoring, or keeping a clean sheet. They have to do something different, starting with finding a way to maintain possession higher up the field and actually pose problems to teams so they can’t just flood forward knowing they’re unlikely to get caught at the other end.

Unfortunately in the current set up you could see this result coming a mile away, and the Everton and Arsenal games will likely go much the same way.

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Swansea: Fabianski 6; Richards 7, Williams 6, Bartley 6, Taylor 6; Britton 7 (Shelvey 79, 6), Ki Sung-yueng 7; Montero 7 (Dyer 70, 8), Routledge 8, Sigurdsson 8 (Carroll 87, -); Bony 8

Subs not used: Gomis, Barrow, Amat, Tremmel

Goals: Sung-yeung 78 (assisted Dyer), Routledge 83 (assisted Dyer)

Bookings: Taylor 70 (foul), Britton 75 (foul)

QPR: Green 8; Onuoha 6, Dunne 6, Caulker 6, Suk-Young 5; Barton 5 (Hoilett 80, -), Henry 5, Fer 5, Kranjcar 5, Vargas 6; Austin 6

Subs not used: Ferdinand, Phillips, McCarthy, Isla, Mutch, Zamora

Bookings: Barton 35 (foul), Fer 56 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Robert Green 8 Pretty obvious. Without a number of fine saves – the one from Bony’s first time volley in the second half the pick of them – this would have been a total shellacking.

Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 8 Controlled the game well, few controversial incidents, all the yellow cards just about right.

Attendance – 20,145 (500 QPR approx) Very difficult to judge how many QPR fans there were there, but it was certainly more than would have been without the free coaches. Not sure what Little Tom Carroll ever did at QPR to justify being booed when he was introduced late on. The Swansea fans stuck with their team through a frustrating game and got their rewards.

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RangerKIK added 21:49 - Dec 3
Excellent report as always. You always watch the same game as me!

I didn't post at the weekend as I didn't want to rain on the full steam ahead parade that beating Leicester had seemingly created. Some even posted that you report was overly mocking. I thought that was ridiculous. You just told it how it was but put a positive, not to say fun, spin on what most of know was one of the most tactically inept displays of football we have ever seen. We won on Sat by admirable determination AND a massive slice of luck. Football can be more Poker than Roulette Harry it really can.

Saturday 29th Nov - 'So boss what is the game plan for today' HR - 'Everyone do what you want and hopefully we will win'

Tuesday 2nd Dec - 'So boss what is the game plan for tonight' HR - 'Everyone panic from start to finish'

We were so outclassed last night is was frightening. No one played with any composure at all. BUT what makes these two games so frustrating is we are much better than this. Yes we lost to Chelsea but at least we looked organised and made them really have to work for any clear cut chances. Last night it was 'help yourself chaps, oh you missed, never mind here is the ball back, have another go'. Thank God for Green having an inspired night otherwise this could easily have been another 5 or 6 nil defeat.

Where has the Liverpool home form gone. Yes we lost but we know that was a freak. This Sat if we play against Burnley how we played against Liverpool......4 - 0 to us and no blood dripping off the tips of my fingers. Play on Sat like we played against Leicester.......who knows, toss a coin in the air someone.

I guess if we had got what we deserved against Chelsea and Liverpool it would have been a massive turning point and confidence would be so much higher. Maybe that explains last night. But it just so frustrating to see us seemingly, once again, to have no game plan at all. Has Sandro's and Zamora's absence ruined everything? Even Sat, after somehow getting to half time in the lead, did Harry tactically change the set up to fill the holes and slow the game down? Er no, seemingly said nothing. And when is he going to stop making excuses for everything! Apparently now he is saying the fixture list and quality of the opposition has conspired against us! Streuth!

But even through all this I still have a sense that getting away from the bottom 3 will free up the undouted talent in our team's legs. And Sat gives us this opportunity. Rodney has even gone so far as to say if we win Sat we stay up!!!! Hope you are right there Legend.

Come on you R's you are much better than this.
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ozranger added 21:59 - Dec 3
Thanks Clive. These must be getting harder and harder to write and perhaps you really do need to just cut and paste. However, I feel you have omitted something, though you do allude to it. That is, Harry was clearly out-managed by Monk in so many ways.
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QPRski added 22:06 - Dec 3
Awful match but a brilliant performance by Green.

I think he was penalised a point per goal! I would score him a 9.

Without him.we could have lost by a lot more. He deserved a clean sheet, but the rest of the team did not!
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isawqpratwcity added 23:01 - Dec 3
thanks, clive, great report as ever.

i like to look for your your cogent insights that resonate and unfold the game (you have a gift of that). today's was the bit about rugby and both teams kicking the same way. our setup was defensive, almost no attack, yet swansea are best when they have possession. still, i was disappointed that we couldn't hold out for the last 15 minutes.

despite showing a general lack of competence (green the huge exception) we did play with a fair amount of spirit. that does give me cause for optimism.

you rrrrsssss!
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Kaos_Agent added 23:50 - Dec 3
"Overall you could do little else but conclude that QPR were just beaten by a far superior side."

Exactly. I don't know how a different selection or setup could have overcome their accurate, incisive attacking or their constant pressure whenever we had possession. Heroic defending worked for a while on the former but we had no consistent response to the latter. As has been pointed out, at least the effort was there. If it's still there after playing all the top teams away, then we could at last see some away results in 2015.
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AussieRs added 02:37 - Dec 4
Great report Clive. Two great lines in particular - about both teams looking like they were playing in the same direction and that Barton was giving the ball away for sponsorship. He was uncannily shithouse.

We are so slow in midfield. Fer, Niko even Barton all players who want to stop the ball before playing. Our movement is ponderous. Certainly shown up by Swansea. I think that is why people keep saying how valuable the Chilean boys are because they do offer this movement. We cannot just sit back and defend but we lack the weapons to hit teams on the break.
Has Harry run out of ideas?
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Waithere added 07:26 - Dec 4
Was amazed that Little Tom Carroll came on as a late substitute. I'm not surprised he was booed! What was he thinking?
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pedrosqpr added 07:45 - Dec 4
While I have self imposed ban in away matches I can only take your word for how dreadful we are away from home.
That said at home we are far better so can't call for Arries ead
Perhaps a couple of astute signings in January specifically to address the lack of threat on breakaways , credit to Leicester saturday for showing how to move forward with pace.
What is annoying is Harry's excuse that the quality of opposition away from home, tired of the excuses I can indentify about 4 points we could have had away.
Moving forward our home form will define us and long may it continue.
Thinkibg about it since Harry's been in charge we have won very liitle away from home.
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cyprusmel added 07:48 - Dec 4
I don't suppose they would consider swapping Montero for Phillips and Hoilett in January, no I thought not. In my opinion when we play away Harry sets us up too narrow without any width and this means that the opposition has a free run down both sides of the field and Swansea with Montero and Routledge exploited it to the full. Ned is no right back and it seems that the only one that doesn't know it is Mr Rednapp. To me it seems he had already given this game up regards 3 points it could be the reason why Isla was left on the bench, to save him for the game against Burnley.
One of Charlies best assets is his heading ability but how many times does he get the chance to use it, put Charlie in the middle of the Swansea team with Routledge and Montero providing the crosses and he would score plenty.
I doubt very much under the present circumstances that Charlie will sign a new contract with us, he runs his nuts off every game and if you talk about 100% that's what he gives but you can see the frustration in his face. It does not matter how good a striker you are you must be supplied with the ball.
We need two fast wingers not wide midfield players like Phillips and Hoilett but out and out wingers that get up and down the pitch and able to support the full backs when needed where they will come from I don't know but they must be out there somewhere. Aussie R said our movement is ponderous and I make him 100% right it is.

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Marshy added 08:19 - Dec 4
If you set up and approach these away matches in a negative way there can only be one result. With the number of years that 'Arry has been involved in the game as player and manager, he shows astonishing naivety when it comes to tactics. Come on 'Arry get some PMA - Positive Mental Attitude!
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HastingsRanger added 09:37 - Dec 4
Clive, thanks for the report as always.

Goal line technology and the post saved us from the default stuffing of 0-4.

I fail to see why we are so poor/frightened/inept/tactically stupid away from home in the Premiership - it was the same under Hughes. Warnock managed to get points away from home in this league.

To rely on fortress Loftus Road is naive too, since it has been noted that we have played the top 10 away in the first half of the season, so presumably we have to play them all at home in the second half!
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DaiHo0p added 12:37 - Dec 4

Harry wouldn't let us cross the half way line in the first half - pathetic!

On a positive note, no chucking out of me for a change!
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enfieldargh added 14:10 - Dec 4
I think I would prefer to see us play route one football away from home with OBZ, Austin upfront with Vargas and Fer hopefully feeding off the scraps we may occasionally get.

Caulker ,Dunne & Ned can kick the ball quite far, I think this basic form of football would be far more productive than the bilge they try and play at the moment.
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Burnleyhoop added 14:39 - Dec 4
Is it me, or has Ned's defending been shocking in the last two games? His failure to stop shots or crosses coming in from the flanks defies belief.

Got to wonder what our coaching stuff are up to. Team selection, tactics and game plans make no sense. We need to get a grip quickly, our lack of pace ,power and movement since the introduction of Niko and Barton is becoming painful to watch again. Would like to see Mutch and Fer in central midfield roles as JB & CH are too pedestrian for me. We will need to play high intensity stuff again if we are to beat Burnley on Saturday. The small compact pitch scenario will suit them just fine and they will be more than up for trading blows. The team that wants it the most will come out on top. Ings v Austin.....winner takes all...
1

dixiedean added 19:00 - Dec 4
on the bright side at least it only cost me 25 quid inc match ticket & coach to watch that dross . When will HR wake up to the fact that away matches actually count for something and are not to be frittered away for a laugh ? Is he still living off the theft of 3 pts from Chelscum last time and thinks lightning might strike twice ? Putting Ned on Montero seemed a logical enough move after he tore Chambers a new arse, but he never got close enough to tackle him and consequently got slaughtered. And Yun had his worst ever game- shocking. And Barton looked like the park player he once accused Henry of being. I know which of those 2 I'd have in my team on current form. The midfield desperately needs some pace & energy , but the only people with those qualities are the least consistent ( Phillips/Traore/Hoillett ) And Krancjar can't be picked for away games as he's a passenger in this ' system' if that's what you can call it. So Harry will put his all his chips on beating Burnley and hope his number comes up. We did have one tactic though- knock it long and get Fer to flick it on - which he did , but mostly off for throw-ins. great plan Arry !
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romfordranger added 21:01 - Dec 5
Again a complete lack of ambition away from home, my third away game of the season, why do l bother. Its as one sided as a boxing match where one of the boxers won't throw a punch, but is prepared to shoal up the pressure on the ropes and somehow avoid a knock out punch and scrap a draw. Almost impossible, just like us away from home. Credit to Swansea, appointed an unfancied manager who is quickly proving to be very astute and forward thinking! Unlike us, a complete dinosaur who trots out excuse after excuse, players settling in, then not fit another, then too fat, and now unlucky enough to be playing the inform team! I don't blame Austin for not signing a contract extension, why would you if you are ambitious and want to win things. Come on chairman, wake up, can't you see what is happening.
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TacticalR added 13:01 - Dec 6
We were outplayed in all departments. We simply could not hold on to the ball. Swansea pressed us and all the players like Barton and Onuoha with poor ball control and passing ability were cruelly exposed.

Green. Had a fantastic game and kept us in it until Swansea scored. It could have been an avalanche without him.

Dunne. Another commanding performance.

Fer. One of the few players who did not give the ball away, and almost got a goal.

Vargas. Another player who did not give the ball away.

Onuoha. As at Newcastle, the man beaten for the first goal. Surely the word has gone round the Premiership that he is the man to target if he's playing at right back?
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