Barton costs QPR in crucial match yet again - Report
Sunday, 22nd Feb 2015 23:19 by Clive Whittingham
QPR slipped to a 2-1 defeat against relegation rivals Hull City on Saturday after captain Joey Barton was dismissed for another act of stupidity in a vital match.
New manager, new philosophy, same penchant for self-destruction.
There’s a lot to like about Chris Ramsey and what he’s trying to do to restore pride and identity to a club that has achieved little through spending hundreds of millions of pounds other than alienating people and losing any sense of what it used to be.
The manager never fails to talk up Queens Park Rangers, the “prestigious” job he’s been given, and the privileged position the players are in pulling on the hooped shirt each week. He encourages them to play on the front foot, and press for victories, rather than talking about how hard everything is and surrendering away matches as mere bonus games. His team comes with a plan and his substitutes make positive impacts. He doesn’t make excuses when injuries strike and on Saturday at Hull he gave a Premier League debut to Paul Furlong’s son Darnell at right back rather than fielding a senior player there out of position. That decision was vindicated by a decent performance from the youngster, which in turn seemed to unite a large away support behind the team where other road matches this season have been punctuated with ugly scenes in the QPR end.
What he hasn’t been able to do is quench the club’s thirst for self-immolation. Here, despite all the positives - and there were plenty of those - QPR contrived to lose the game by being reduced to ten men in the first half and gifting two defensively shambolic goals either side of that flashpoint, one of them in the very final minute for the fourth time this season. Consequently, a relegation rival that showed little invention or idea of how to win the game of their own accord was handed a victory on a silver platter - the fourth, fifth and sixth points Hull City have taken from QPR this season when it could easily have been a draw and a Rangers win from the two games played.
Centre half Steven Caulker won’t need telling about his part in the first goal after a quarter of an hour. The former Spurs junior has full England caps and decent pedigree and knows you don’t head routine deliveries to the back post down into the traffic in the centre of the penalty area. Croatian striker Nikica Jelavic could scarcely believe his luck and duly dispatched a routine volley into the corner of Robert Green’s net.
That was a fair outcome from 16 minutes of football. Furlong had already shown good strength to beat Jelavic in the air in the penalty box and Hull’s other striker Dame N’Doye had a shot blocked immediately afterwards. A short time later Jelavic headed over and then, after giving his side the lead, looked set to nod in a second until Caulker intervened, and redeemed himself slightly, with a flicked clearance. The Tigers had started the stronger, and Caulker in particular was having a nightmare.
The game looked to be up completely after half an hour when Joey Barton yet again – yet a-bloody-gain – allowed his temper to get the better of him at a crucial point of a vital QPR match.
A foul by Furlong on Jelavic provoked exactly the sort of reaction you expect from a modern day Premier League team – particularly one managed by Steve Bruce and Mike Phelan, two of the stalwarts of Alex Ferguson’s two decades of referee baiting and influencing. The Hull players rushed to crowd around referee Anthony Taylor, trying to convince him to send off a teenager on his first ever professional appearance. Classy stuff. Tom Huddlestone and Alex Bruce were particularly brave and forthright and whatever the pair of them said, it provoked a reaction from Barton who spun around and punched Huddlestone straight in his gentleman’s area less than four feet away from the official who immediately produced a red card. He was never going to send Furlong off anyway – the youngster was booked. Steve Bruce later said he thought it was a good tackle.
Barton attempted to use the captain’s armband he continues to wear for a club he has consistently let down and disrespected since arriving three and a half years ago as an excuse, saying it was his job to “protect” Furlong from the gathering vultures. Some protection. His mindless actions condemned Furlong to play for an hour of his Premier League debut on a team a man short. I bet he was delighted.
What QPR needed on Saturday was an actual captain. Somebody to drag the team through a difficult start, grab hold of the midfield and start dictating the direction and tempo of play, fight and scrap for every ball, lead by example and things like that. Barton can do that if he chooses to. He did it brilliantly at Sunderland in the previous away game and at home to Southampton the match before that. That’s the Barton Furlong needed here, that’s the Barton QPR needed. Instead they got the Barton they’ve so often got, and paid through the nose for, before: the short tempered, impulsive thug.
It should have come as no surprise. Three times Barton has been sent off in the first half in his QPR career and on all three occasions – Norwich at home 2011/12, Man City away 2011/12 and now this match – they were games Rangers desperately needed results from to stave off relegation. None of those red cards have been issued for bad or mistimed tackles, they were all for violent responses to niggly provocation. The bigger the game, the more likely Joey Barton is to let QPR down.
“As one of the tallest trees, you catch the most wind,” Barton said afterwards. "I won’t shy away from it. It would have been easy for me to put my head down and say I’m not speaking but I’m a man of substance and a man of principle.” Pseudointellectual nonsense.
A man of substance who has been sent off in three absolutely vital games for this football club for head-butting an opponent, punching an opponent and hitting an opponent in the testicles. Clint Hill on the bench was seen on Match of the Day rolling his eyes and uttering “for fuck’s sake”. Charlie Austin said afterwards “there’s only so many times you can say sorry.”
I’ve said it before and I’ve said it again – Joey Barton isn’t fit to captain a pedalo.
The frustration with Barton’s moronic idiocy only grew as the afternoon wore on. QPR subsequently played the better football, created more chances and dominated the game for long periods. Hull struggled to threaten as their early momentum and confidence drained away. The home crowd, buoyed by Jelavic’s goal, quietened down, then grew audibly frustrated with their team, and eventually shut up altogether. The thrust was from the visiting team, the noise from the travelling 2,000 from West London, and Ramsey’s side equalised before half time despite their numerical disadvantage.
They’d fired a warning shot prior to Austin’s goal. Matt Phillips skinned Hull left winger Robbie Brady and was deliberately hauled to the ground. It should have been a yellow card, and indeed when N’Doye went past Phillips in the second half and was hauled back in identical circumstances, referee Taylor didn’t hesitate to issue a caution, but on this occasion a free kick was deemed sufficient punishment. Phillips whipped it in with menace, but neither Bobby Zamora nor Charlie Austin had positioned themselves correctly to profit.
That was unlike Austin, and he didn’t need asking twice. When Phillips delivered again ten minutes before half time the former Burnley man, who would have been a Hull player 18 months ago but for a failed medical, climbed highest and planted a firm header past goalkeeper Allan McGregor. It was a beautiful goal you could see coming from the moment it left Phillips’ boot – old fashioned wing and centre forward play executed to perfection. Game on.
The second half was always going to be tough for Rangers with ten men, and Ramsey was required to use his substitutions wisely. Bobby Zamora and his bad hip was an obvious choice for the first withdrawal, particularly after Taylor had carded the veteran centre forward for repetitive fouling after three offences. Again, QPR could point to inconsistencies with the decision – Huddlestone had stormed round the midfield like a human wrecking ball, committing three separate fouls in the game himself without so much as a word.
On the ball Huddlestone was influential, drilling a shot wide with Green well beaten before the change of ends, but he was a lone beacon in a Hull midfield that completely failed to take advantage of the situation. Jake Livermore alongside him, £8m worth of midfielder allegedly, contributed nothing other than a wild shot over the cross bar.
Ramsey sent on Michael Doughty after his impressive cameo at Sunderland. He and Karl Henry delivered exactly the sort of performance Rangers needed from Barton in the middle of midfield – disciplined, tireless, and effective. Proper captain’s knocks while the actual captain was in the dressing room sorting his hair out and composing his latest bile for the good people of Twitter.
Phillips looked to be struggling but had to play a full 90 because Charlie Austin’s foot injury saw him withdrawn and later Niko Kranjcar pulled up with cramp. Positive changes were made – Mauro Zarate was introduced but booked for his first foul of the game after ten seconds when he actually looked to have been sinned against. Huddlestone continued to escape punishment. The away end asked “where’s your yellow gone?” at volume and cheered as if they’d scored when a rare free kick was awarded in their favour by an official who, like the majority of his colleagues on the elite list, is having a dreadful season.
There was a growing belief that, as they had done at Wembley in May, QPR may force a winning goal despite having a man sent off. Had Phillips crossed low to the near post, rather than high to the far, two minutes from time then Zarate may have had a tap in having sneaked in front of his man.
But there was heartbreak to come. For the fourth time this season, Rangers were destined to concede in the last minute.
They thought they’d got away with it when Robert Green produced an astonishing save at full stretch when N’Doye headed what looked like a certain goal having stolen in unmarked for a cross. But the warning wasn’t heeded. The Senegalese striker, recently signed from Dynamo Moscow, was still unmarked when the ball was returned to the area from the opposite flank and Green, with adrenalin still pumping, foolishly ran out behind him to catch a cross that was never his. N’Doye headed into the unguarded net.
There was still time for a handball appeal in the Hull penalty box that looked blatant from the stand but hasn’t been mentioned since and wasn’t appealed for by the players at the time. A trick of the angle presumably.
QPR had lost, and it wasn’t Anthony Taylor’s fault. It’s hard to believe, having watched them play so well with ten men, that Rangers could possibly have lost this with 11. The blame lays squarely at the feet of one man. Hull fans outside the ground could be heard singing Joey Barton’s name as they made their way home.
Hull: McGregor 6; McShane 5, Dawson 6, Bruce 5 (Ramirez 55, 6), Emohamady 6; Meyler 6 (Aluko 82, -), Livermore 5 (Hernandez 67, 5), Huddlestone 6, Brady 6; Jelavic 7, N’Doye 7
Subs not used: Davies, Harper, Robertson, Quinn
Scorers: Jelavic 16 (unassisted), N’Doye 89 (assisted Brady)
QPR: Green 6; Furlong 6, Ferdinand 6, Caulker 4, Yun 6; Phillips 6, Barton 3, Henry 7, Kranjcar 5 (Traore 78, 6); Austin 6 (Zarate 75, 6), Zamora 5 (Doughty 64, 7)
Subs not used: Hill, McCarthy, Wright-Phillips, Vargas
Scorer: Austin 38 (assisted Phillips)
Sent off: Barton 31 (violent conduct)
Bookings: Furlong 31 (foul), Zamora 57 (repetitive fouling), Zarate 74 (foul), Phillips 79 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Karl Henry 7 In a central midfield a man light, I thought Henry’s work rate and effectiveness stood out. Ably assisted by Doughty when he came on from the bench.
Referee – Anthony Taylor (Cheshire) 4 Got the sending off right, which was the big decision in the game, but was horribly inconsistent otherwise. QPR players – specifically Phillips and Zamora – were shown yellow cards for offences that Hull players – specifically Brady and Huddlestone – were let away with. In Phillips case he pulled N’Doye back, just as Brady had done to him in the first half with no card. Zamora was booked for repetitive fouling after three, Huddlestone committed three without being cautioned. Overall, another dreadful weekend of Premier League refereeing. The elite officials in this country are approaching a state of crisis – not a single one of them is in any kind of form and the shambolic decisions and individual performances are piling up. Mind you, when you put Mike Riley in charge, this is rather inevitable.
Attendance 24,466 (2,200 QPR approx) A large, noisy travelling contingent, and a noticeable difference in the mood. This was a positive, united and well behaved away support, as opposed to what we’ve seen at Southampton, Stoke, Charlton and several other places over the past 18 months. Chris Ramsey’s attitude seems to be having effect on and off the field.
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