Jekyll and Hyde QPR limp to another away loss – report Tuesday, 16th Dec 2014 00:14 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s latest away-day horror show played out much as expected at Goodison Park on Monday evening as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Everton.
A new system, more adventure, more possession, more shots, more threat. But, ultimately, more of the same. Now nine away matches, nine defeats, three goals scored, 21 conceded.
Harry Redknapp, hopefully tongue in cheek, suggested before this match that QPR had “tried everything” to get a result away from home this season. All they’d achieved for it was a rash from having their tummy tickled too often.
But you can’t fault Redknapp’s ambition here: setting up with Eduardo Vargas down the middle in the absence of the suspended Charlie Austin, flanked by Junior Hoilett and Matt Phillips. Jordon Mutch and Leroy Fer started in a three man midfield with Joey Barton which became a five out of possession.
The absence of Steven Caulker, adding kindling to that smoldering Christmas Party/Sunday Lunch story, did not result in a recall for Rio Ferdinand: Nedum Onuoha stared alongside Richard Dunne. Credit Redknapp once more: no favourites allowed.
It was different, it was attacking, and at first it looked like it was going to trouble Everton, who had only won four times in the league all season, hadn’t won in four matches before this one and looked tepid and nervous early on.
Hoilett, linked with a January move away from a club he joined with such high hopes but has rarely performed for, changed pace on an inward run from the left and set Vargas up for a shot that was blocked on the edge of the area after two minutes. Then Suk-Young Yun won a free kick after an enterprising move down the left and a whipped delivery from Vargas bobbled just wide of the near post off first Richard Dunne and then home defender Phil Jagielka.
The corner, typically, was badly worked short onto Yun’s un-favoured right foot but the South Korean still dug out a cross which troubled Everton and Phillips volleyed over when the ball dropped on the edge of the area.
The natives, who’d booed their tribe off at the final whistle of a recent home draw with second-bottom Hull City, were restless. Audible boos as attacking free kicks were worked short, and eventually back to goalkeeper Tim Howard. Roberto Martinez in the emperor’s new clothes?
There were occasional threats. Steven Naismith seized a well-judged pass wide left on a counter attack and crossed low through the penalty box just out of the reach of Romelu Lukaku charging in. Then, midway through the half, the Toffees briefly kicked into gear with first Naismith having a shot blocked inside the area – possibly by Dunne, possibly by Lukaku – then immediately Kevin Mirallas cut in from the left and shot a foot over Robert Green’s bar.
But Everton’s opening half hour could be better summed up by an early foray forward by Seamus Coleman where he hit the deck under no contact from Joey Barton and the ball rolled out for a goal kick. Tim Howard’s flap from a deep free kick, returned to the area by Hoilett, fell to Vargas in space eight yards out only for the ball to be blocked on the line. It would have been ruled out for offside, but Rangers were at least posing a threat not seen on the road so far this season.
And then the ego landed.
Joey Barton, boyhood Everton fan, has always wanted to play for the blue side of Liverpool and after half an hour here he started to fulfil that dream. There was no doubting the quality – and improbably ferocious power – in Ross Barkley’s outstanding thirty second minute opener that went fizzing past Rob Green via a slight deflection off Mauricio Isla from 25 yards out. But the whole thing had started with a typically sloppy pass, conceding possession with team mates committed ahead of the ball, from QPR’s captain fantastic who continues to act, play and talk like somebody with ten times as much ability as he actually has. He started his evening by giving the ball away after 38 seconds and that set the tone. Not fit to captain a pedalo, let alone our football club.
A blow, but not a terminal one. That came three minutes before half time. A bouncing ball on the edge of the area from poor play by Yun posed little danger until Barton intervened again: deliberately, needlessly and moronically elbowing Steven Naismith straight in the head. The Scottish international knew what his opponent had done and objected vehemently. Barton, as he always does, played the innocent. He was guilty as sin and the reward for his pure stupidity was a free kick from Kevin Mirallas that hit Vargas in the wall, wrong-footed Robert Green entirely and flew into the far corner.
Game over. Joey Barton, who to some QPR fans can still do no wrong, should retreat to the bench and the Twitter and stay there.
Everton’s far more understated – tattoos apart – holding midfielder Muhamed Bešić, meanwhile, gave a perfect example of how to play the position. Straight after half time he raced into his own area to head a decent counter attack cross from Junior Hoilett over the bar with Rangers honing in on a goal to bring them back into the contest. Bešić completely dominated the midfield, albeit with carte blanche from referee Neil Swarbrick to foul who he liked with no recourse. The outstanding performance in a match packed with midfielders who cost far more than he did. Man of the match by a street.
Any hope that prod may have provided the travelling faithful was swiftly extinguished by a disastrous 60 seconds. Dunne, who tipped the balance towards being QPR’s man of the match with a fend off on Kevin Mirallas at the start of the half that was more jaws of life than human arm, erred badly. The Irishman lashed the corner resulting from Bešić’s header hopelessly over the cross bar and then at the other end miscontrolled an appalling skied clearance from Rob Green, presenting possession back to the hosts who worked it wide to Mirallas. His cross picked out Naismith at the far post at the front of a queue of unmarked players left free to run into the area by Phillips and Barton failing to track back and the Scotsman’s header went in via a fine save from Rob Green and an unlucky deflection by Onuoha. Arguably an own goal. Undisputedly absolutely pathetic. The world’s biggest towel lobbed in from the sport’s quietest corner.
Just after the hour a counter attack saw Fer breaking into space down the middle of the field, but his shot was off target under heavy pressure from Bešić who could easily have been penalised for a foul. Earlier Bešić had chopped down Vargas tight to the touchline for an obvious free kick that referee Swarbrick gave as an Everton throw – excellent as he clearly was, the Bosnian was given an easy ride by the match official.
Everton appeared to have switched off, safe in the knowledge the game was won. One of Barton’s Hollywood passes to the right finally found the target and Isla cut the ball back for Mutch who should have done more than side foot over the bar when left in space. The former Cardiff man, injury plagued since he moved to West London, needs to assert himself more when given the chance. He’s almost going through the motions on his rare outings at the moment when he should be tearing up trees and smacking people round the head with them trying to get into the team.
With the foot off the pedal, and in truth playing well below their best throughout, Everton were starting to cede possession and field position. With a quarter of an hour left to play the game opened up for Junior Hoilett, dead centre, in the penalty area, but he decided to continue dribbling, tricking, flicking and eventually losing the ball. This was confusing, because until this point the Canadian had done nothing but shoot from all distances and angles. A ball dropping out of the sky 35 yards from goal was hacked into the Gwlady’s Street end full on the volley followed by a slap of the hands and a “damn” as if he scores full volleys from 35 yards out all the time. Shots dragged wide from ridiculously long range with better options available peppered Hoilett’s performance and yet when the chance for a shot in a reasonable spot occurred he shit out. The sort of player that will go somewhere else and do well, but somebody who QPR can only persevere with for so long. A tragic disappointment.
No matter. Redknapp introduced Bobby Zamora for Matt Phillips, once again well below the standard everybody expects of him, and Niko Kranjcar for Leroy Fer, the pick of a lousy midfield. Everton felt they should have had a free kick deep in the QPR half but Swarbrick made a mess of the advantage rule, allowing the Londoners to break down field. Mutch showed excellent control and drop of a shoulder to try and bend the ball around Howard and Zamora, after the American keeper turned the shot aside, tapped in his first of the season.
The Toffees responded positively with a powerful shot by Coleman saved by Green but the home crowd remained restless despite the score. Any positives gleaned from a late rally surely negated by the knowledge that this was Everton playing poorly, winning 3-1. Something the home fans seemed acutely aware of.
QPR could have prayed on those nerves with a second goal - God knows Everton conceded enough territory to make it happen - but when you win a corner, 3-1 down, four minutes from time and inexplicably try and work a short routine that has never once worked before, and within two touches the ball is 70 yards back downfield with your own defenders again, you deserve exactly what QPR got here: fuck all.
It could have been four had the post not come QPR’s rescue deep into four minutes of injury time. A bad injury to Kevin Mirallas, inflicted by Jordon Mutch with a challenge he was yellow carded for, prolonged the game long enough for his replacement Kone to tee-up Eto’o, on for a lazy and ineffective Lukaku, to drive a low shot against the woodwork.
This is all finger-drumming stuff. QPR are always going to struggle against the better teams in the league away from home and so far, in eight attempts, this was the most of a struggle they’ve actually put up. Good enough, in the end, for a 3-1 defeat against an out of form Everton side, playing so poorly that even their own fans were abusing them while leading 3-0.
So far it seems Harry Redknapp and QPR are focusing on winning the home games against teams around them, which they’re successfully achieving, with – presumably – the idea that they’ll win a few of the away games against the league’s lesser lights in the New Year. But in the Premier League you cannot afford to hand the ball to any team - be it Man City, Everton, Burnley or Leicester – in dangerous positions and not pay for it. All three Everton goals this evening were scored in such a way – two of them from Joey Barton literally presenting scoring opportunities to Everton just when it seemed QPR were getting a foothold in the game.
Pressure back on Saturday’s home match with West Brom then but the league table, with QPR third bottom, shows that all the good home form in the world won’t keep you up while you’re handing out gifts like this on your travels.
The overriding feeling from this one is that Everton, in poor form, were a million miles from their best. And were still handed a 3-1 win. You can all do your own caption for this one.
Subs not used: Hill, Henry, McCarthy, Feridinand, Wright-Phillips
Goals: Zamora 80 (assisted Mutch)
Bookings: Mutch 88 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Richard Dunne 6 Says a lot that the man with a big hand in the third Everton goal gets the top man award. I admired Eduardo Vargas early on, but I thought he faded out of the game when he realised it was loss. Dunne did as much as he could.
Referee – Neil Swarbrick (Lancashire) 6 Little to referee really but got plenty wrong – thankfully all of it relatively inconsequential. Bešić, brilliant as he was, was permitted to kick his way through the QPR team with no comeback including one in the first half where he hacked Vargas onto the track at the side of the pitch and an Everton throw-in was awarded. QPR’s goal should have been an Everton free kick at the other end – one of several examples of him making a mess of the advantage rule.
Attendance 34,035 (500 QPR approx) Any QPR fans in attendance entitled to an evening with Kelly Brook. Please see the desk for details.
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Barton was not the only culprit, just the biggest. Phillips was totally anonymous, Yun was poor again (he is regressing after several promising games a few weeks back, and tonight his distribution was pretty poor), Mutch did nothing of any note, and Hoillett, despite a few promising runs, showed no cutting edge or any kind of ability to strike a football. There is barely room for one passenger in this league, but QPR had several tonight. Hopeless.
Apart from some tidy play in the middle third, there was no hint of a damaging final ball or killer pass that marks out the better teams. Krancjar was no better when he came on. No creativity.
More pressure on the next home game as a result of these dire road efforts. Another six pointer against West Brom.
The Everton match played out pretty much as I expected, with us looking reasonable at times, but ultimately letting in goals that could have been avoided. Like nearly all our matches this season both home and away, we look very vulnerable at the back when the opposition go on the counter. I quite like both Isla and Yun, but in my view are far better when going forward than they are at defending. Therefore this means that in a four man defence, more often than not we only have two decent defenders. (Any two from Caulker, Dunne and Onuoha.) This wouldn't be so much of a problem if were capable of scoring loads of goals, which we are not. Priority in my view in the January Transfer Window is to sign at least one decent defender, and one striker. Put Henry back in, and leave Barton on the bench. Phillips and Mutch certainly do not look up to Premiership standard.
Our midfielders may be good on paper but they are a poor midfield unit on the pitch and Barton is by far the weakest link. He found his level in the Championship last season but is an extremely average Premier League player imo.
I thought it was a bit harsh on Fer having to come off in the second half as I felt he had a better game than Hoilett but frankly any one of them could have been taken off last night. As soon as Everton scored there was only going to be one winner.
Redknapp was full of optimism in the post match interview but the league table doesn't lie and its fanciful to think we'll survive purely on home form. Our away record should be a source of embarrassment to all concerned - bah humbug!
Very worrying that the management team, with all their years of experience, appear to be unable to make the obvious changes that were required during this match. Following Barton's 1st half performance and at 2-0 down it should have patently obvious that Barton needed to be replaced by Henry and we needed a more potent threat going forward. But oh no, we wait until we are 3-0 down before making any changes.
Never mind, I'm sure the management team will come up with an alternative game plan on Boxing Day where we will pack the midfield and play with a lone striker v Arsenal.
Don't worry lads, I look forward to reading on the official website how Barton is "pi$$ed off" with how we rolled over. What the hell has Reknapp been watching this season to decide that Jesus Barton would do a better job in there than Karl 'flavour of the month' Henry?? I know a lot of people on this site laugh that Henry should be starting ahead of Barton but I can't for the life of me see why it's so funny. Henry every day of the week for me over anyone else in the centre of that midfield - most especially Barton.
'but when you win a corner, 3-1 down, four minutes from time and inexplicably try and work a short routine that has never once worked before, and within two touches the ball is 70 yards back downfield with your own defenders again, you deserve exactly what QPR got here: fu ck all.'
hehehe..good stuff mate.
Yep, that was the highlight of a truly memorable evening, topped off with a repeat of 'pointless 'and the mrs showing me a picture of a kitten trapped in a fish bowl.
I think the reason Clive got the report out so quickly is that he can now write away reports from a template and just has to fill in the blanks for the home-team's goalscorers. The rest writes itself ! The most frustrating thing is that Everton were allegedly injury-hit ( esp in midfield, where they still had the games' 2 best players) and had the most anonymous centre-forward's showing from Lukaku. Yet they still scored 3. I thought I was alone in thinking Barton's a liability, yet it seems many others share that view. The wrong message was sent out at Newcastle when he was shoe-horned back into the team wide right, when he should have been on the bench. If he were the only problem though.... The team seemed a good set-up on paper and there seemed ( for once) some rational thought about how to play v Everton- shut down the full backs and press high up the pitch, which we did well for 30 mins or so. A pity games last 90 mins. Hoilett has an uncanny knack of always making the wrong decision , whether to pass, shoot or dribble. Phillips should have been hooked at HT if not before. Yun is now reverting to the player HR never rated in the 1st place.Mutch and Vargas bottled out of 50-50 tackles too often. For the umpteenth time this season we were bossed in midfield- Song at WHU, Wanyama at St Marys', Britton ( Britton FFS !) at Swansea to name but 3. Sooner or later the gravy train of home victories will end and most of us would expect that is likely to happen before we get an away win, which will crank the pressure up even more. How about banning Barton ( and to a lesser extent Green) from media appearances until we win away ? I'm sick of hearing their voices on the radio every week with opinions on everyone else. My suspicion is that everyone at the club is scared of Joey and he does what he likes when he likes.
In parts we played quite well. Everton were not playing well and this was a real opportunity. But we were too easily beaten. It was the ease at which goals went in and we failed to look dangerous that is alarming - like a Championship side drawn away to a Premiership one in cup.
The second goal was a disaster, it was too easy. Green's timing of his cock up was dreadful and it is game over. The midfield was critical in this game - Much looked very ordinary, I thought Barton played reasonably well apart from the obvious points and Fer looked reasonable.
Glad to see an improved Onouha in his correct position.
This is the sort of game we had a real chance, a low confidence side - you could pencil in Hull/Sunderland/West Brom etc... for similar away games and this really worries me.
Great report as ever. as mentioned we started well and Everton were poor. The crowd was unbelievably quiet and it was in this first half hour that we had to take the game to them. It was inevitable that Everton would improve so once again we let opportunities pass us by. The players need to believe in their ability more and instead of wild shots at goal take the extra pass and try and commit their defenders as the crowd were extremely nervous and it was affecting their play.
we are playing so far below our best in away games and this is the biggest frustration. The formation last night is the way to go in away games but take out Phillips for Austin and Barton for Henry. I'd still persist with Hoilett as he needs games and although his end product was poor he did start the game well but like the rest accepted defeat too easily.
I must admit when it started I thought hang on we're taking the game to them, this looks positive, and then.....
A couple of weeks ago Andre Schurrle took his eye off the player he was marking, who then scored at the far post, Jose Mourinho immediately dropped him for the next game.
Why does the manager allow his Captain to do what he wants, continually give away possession, and not do the job he was signed by the club to do, break up play, track back, general holding mid-field work?
Sadly Sandro looks a permanent injury in progress, because he does this work much much better than Barton. Henry has much more discipline, and does keep possession, even allowing that as a player he is more limited.
Barton needs to sit on the bench for a week or until he accepts that he is not Patrick Vierra, Roy Keane or Peter Storey, he is Joey Barton a mid-field holding player, playing for a bottom three premier league club.
Is there a more futile endeavour than sending a long ball Hoillett's way? Or expecting him to retain possession when he does get hold of the ball? Or to make a sound decision while he still has possession? A waste of space, as is Barton. Everyone else was either mediocre or inconsistent. Kudos to the away fans.
Although a lot of our players had an off day, I didn't think the overall performance was that bad. It was certainly an improvement on Swansea, although in some ways more frustrating as it felt as though we might have got something from the match if we could have got a goal earlier on. Like you I thought Bešić was man of the match as he roamed around snuffing out our attack.
Mutch. Why was Mutch taking corners? Looked out of it for most of the game, but did well to get the shot in that led to the goal.
Fer. Some very good passing from Fer. I don't really get the anti-Fer lobby.
Hoilett. At a purely individual level he played quite well, but in terms of the final pass to get the ball to a teammate in attacking areas, sadly lacking.
Onuoha. In our last three away games (Newcastle, Swansea, Everton) he has been the man marking the opposition player who has scored the first goal.
Barton. Put in a shift, but once again roved too far forward and left the back four exposed.
Vargas. Had an impossible job as the lone front man, and should never have been on the end of the wall for the free-kick which led to the second goal.
Both Hoilett and especially Philips have had more than enough chances to stake their claims. Both promise so much but fail to deliver time after time. Ship them both out and replace with Townsend and Lennon. Barton culpable for the first two goals, but bemused by Fer's withdrawal. His passing can often go astray but I like his energy and strength. Mutch needs game time but will come good, especially if we can get Sandro back in there and ditch the liability that is Barton. Not happy, but with another mini clear out (of anyone whose name contains Philips will do for starters) and a few additions and I believe we are moving forward. Just not sure it will be quick enough to save our season.
"looking good Harry, I notice you only wear that suit for away games, are you superstitious?"
Don't get the praise for Besic at all. He's an absolute thug. His gbh on Vargas by the touchline was his second bookable offence (if it wasn't a straight red) and we didn't even get a free kick! To me Barton was the pick of our mid-field. The wide players are not PL standard and hopefully will be shipped out next month. Fer, considering he was playing central midfield which he prefers was poor (and it was his poor pass to Barton which set Barkley away for the first goal) while Mutch was anonymous. Vargas tried hard, but not surprisingly faded after being battered and received no protection. It was probably a good game for Austin to miss, give him a chance to recharge the batteries and see off Palace. If we can get to 20 pts by the turn of the year at least we'll be in with a shout - and then Messrs' Keane, Defoe et al are bound to send us flying up the table!! P.S Was that the first time we had Dunne, Mutch and Yun on the pitch at the same time to sing THAT song!! Mind you there wasn't much evidence of accurate triangular passing from said three lads (or anyone else for that matter!)
You may as well cut and paste this report for the Arsenal match. Whats worrying is the manager Harry Redknapp who we can also cut and paste his away day press conferences. Need an extra striker with quality not 3 loan players out of contract etc .. BTW what really happened at that lunch with the Palace players.
Could have sworn it was Barton's slack pass through to Fer that set Barkley on his way. Barton appeared more influential and composed in the latter stages of the second half, but by then the game was over as much of a contest.
the driving pace and movement of Naismith and Barkley seemed more influential for the goals and Everton's win than the competent Besic to me.
FFS get fit Sandro and far koff woeful captain Barton. JB setting the tone after 45 seconds with a pass from 5 yards straight to an Everton player.
Two examples show where his priorities lie: 1)The morning after his spit display and the 3-1 easy tonking, JB spent three hours on the twitter holding forth about Lewis Hamilton's tax. 2)Just like when he took his lad Cassius to Goodison for his first derby while his current employers and team 'mates' had a big game at St.Mary's and could have done with his support much more than his beloved Everton.
Pedrosqpr writes: "You may as well cut and paste this report for the Arsenal match." I don't see why Old Pedro's so confident the Gunners will only score three,I'd double that.
No more mindlessly optimistic,flying in the face of reality pre-match 'win away' forum posts from me before an away match this season.