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Refereeing and defensive calamities see QPR lose again - report
Sunday, 8th Mar 2015 23:35 by Clive Whittingham

QPR lost for the eighth time in nine outings on Saturday, going down 2-1 at home to Spurs thanks to a mixture of dreadful refereeing and even worse defending.

Another bad day for QPR, another day to forget for the Premier League’s embattled refereeing fraternity.

QPR aren’t getting thrashed this season. Apart from a couple of big defeats early in the season at the height of Harry Redknapp’s risible “bonus game” approach to the away matches, Rangers have lost consistently but rarely by much. Against Arsenal on Wednesday player fitness and unavailability was cited, along with Niko Kranjcar, in a one goal defeat; at Hull Joey Barton’s stupidity and ego was to blame; against Man Utd it was Eduardo Vargas’ wastefulness; against Southampton it was rank bad luck and lack of concentration at the death and so it has gone on. Each week different circumstances, different excuses, but ultimately the same disappointing results.

On Saturday at home to Tottenham, in a potentially vital game in hand, many left Loftus Road talking about referee Craig Pawson.

The Sheffield-based official, new to the Premier League list, had been to Shepherd’s Bush twice already this season prior to Saturday and awarded Rangers a penalty against both Hull City and West Bromwich Albion – both questionable decisions. Maybe he was minded to make sure a third didn’t follow, less questions be asked of his integrity, because against Mauricio Pochetinno’s side he turned down two stone-wall appeals and a third very decent looking shout.

The most obvious came a quarter of an hour from time. A corner form the right, a ball dropping in the area, and Charlie Austin was on hand to sweep home a goal his all-action, tireless overall display richly deserved. Except for Nabil Bentaleb, who bravely, but illegally, flung himself in front of the shot with both his hands raised above his head and palmed the ball away to safety. A brilliant save. If he was the goalkeeper. We’re told the interpretation of the ‘deliberate handball’ rule is the hands being in an unnatural position. Bentaleb’s could scarcely have been in a more unnatural position had he detached them and worn them as shoes. It was so astonishingly blatant it was laughable. Pawson, and his linesman, looked right at it, from two different angles, and waved it away.

That followed a first half incident where Mauricio Isla, recalled to the starting 11 on the right side of midfield ahead of Nedum Onuoha at right back, nudged a dangerous cross past visiting goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and then hit the deck as the French stopper caught him in the gut as he rushed out to meet his opponent with a flying star jump. Again, it was a penalty. Again, Pawson looked right at it and awarded nothing. There was another in the second half when Eric Dier, impressive otherwise, seemed to climb over the top of Bobby Zamora, who partnered Austin in attack, and illegally wrestle him away from the ball in the penalty area.

Ryan Mason, a wonderful player you’d kill to have at the base of QPR’s midfield, particularly on a day like this when Karl Henry and Sandro offered almost nothing positive in either direction, was allowed to commit two bad fouls before finally being booked for a third. When Henry nailed him back Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino was allowed to come out of his dugout, walk onto the field and drag his player away so prevent him reacting and being sent off. Ten minutes later Pochetinno was, bizarrely, out on the field again, remonstrating with Pawson for failing to give a free kick, while the play was progressing down the field. No action was taken.

In the first minute of the game Hugo Lloris staggered across his goal mouth and reached up to produce an unorthodox but effective one handed save up in the top corner as Bobby Zamora tried to angle home a clever header. Pawson awarded a goal kick. He thought it had hit the bar. That didn’t bode well.

It is universally accepted that the standards of refereeing in the Premier League this year are abysmal. Far worse than they’ve been for years, certainly as bad as we’ve seen since the officials turned professional.

Howard Webb, still the best referee in the country when he retired last season, has responded to this not by promising improvements and admitting problems, but by defending the indefensible. When placed on the spot on Monday Night Football early this season with clips of three hideous Manchester City tackles on QPR players that were punished only with the award of a free kick only for Mike Dean to then yellow card Sandro for a routine trip on the halfway line, his and Rangers’ first foul of the game after half an hour, he produced five mealy mouthed minutes the upshot of which was he believed Dean was right. Last week, after Kevin Friend had made a mess of Southampton v Liverpool that a deaf, blind, mute would have struggled to replicate and Roger East had sent the wrong man off at Man Utd before claiming that all the television footage you’d seen had fooled you and he was in fact right after all, Webb was treated to a three page blow job in the broadsheets about how he has to counsel the officials after every game because the criticism is so fierce. He insisted again that 95% of the decisions given this season have been correct, according to the assessors. The same assessors who watched Martin Atkinson referee Chelsea Burnley in a manner so incompetent it actually became dangerous for the players to be out there with him and concluded he’d got every decision right. How can standards improve when the people in charge of ensuring that happens don’t think anything is wrong?

Perhaps, as well as dropping this pointless façade about all the decisions being correct, which we can patently see is utter bollocks, Webb and Mike Riley, might like to look closer to home. There are 17 professional referees this season, down from 22 when they first turned pro. They are overworked. People make mistakes when tired. Why in the name of God was Pawson dragged down from Sheffield to London last Sunday to be the fourth official (monkey work) at the League Cup final, only to then be sent all the way up to Carlisle for a nothing League One game with Cheltenham on Tuesday, and then back to the other end of the country on Saturday for this? Was there nobody else to sit and listen to Mourinho’s conspiracy theories and operate the board at Wembley? Are there no League One referees to referee Tuesday night League One games at pissing Carlisle? A human being who has done nothing this week other than travel and referee made mistakes. Who would have thought it?

This is what you get when you take Mike Riley, one of the worst referees of the modern era, and put him in charge. The only surprise is he hasn’t yet introduced a rule whereby Manchester United get to take a penalty after every goal they concede, as he tried so desperately to effect when he was trotting around with the whistle wrecking football matches.

At which point we turn to the classic line the beleaguered football officials of this country like to trot out when their backs are to the wall like this and they’ve made clear, obvious mistakes that didn’t need television replays to expose. The players make mistakes as well. For all the justified complaining about Pawson and his decision making here, QPR were poor and deserved to lose.

It wasn’t Craig Pawson, for example, who looked at Matt Phillips suddenly playing brilliantly on the right wing, and grabbing four assists in as many games, and decided to move him to the left from the start here. A perplexing move from Chris Ramsey, a man who has done so much to reinvigorate Phillips’ career at Loftus Road in his month in charge so far. Phillips’ recent success has been based on a simple premise that he should get the ball tight to the touchline, take the full back on and deliver a cross. The results have been refreshingly brilliant. On Saturday, shifted to the left, he was back to the cutting inside, over-complicated bullshit he produced to no effect whatsoever when Harry Redknapp was shuffling him around and using him as a striker and other such total nonsense.

Nor was Pawson wearing a blue and white hooped shirt and standing in a back four that managed to craft two of the worst goals you’ll ever see from a defensive point of view for Harry Kane.

Kane had already provided a warning, as if one were needed, of his predatory instincts in the fifth minute when he headed powerfully towards goal after former QPR loanee Kyle Walker had got going down the right flank and crossed well. On that occasion Rob Green produced a fantastic, instinctive save, but the goalkeeper was badly at fault when the England hopeful opened the scoring on the half hour.

Initially it looked like QPR had actually engaged in the Premier League’s dark arts to good effect – Steven Caulker interrupting a counter attack with a tactical foul on Kane wide on the right enabling Rangers to get their defence back in shape. But when the routine free kick was delivered the whole thing turned to shit. Green started to come, then hesitated, then came anyway. Onuoha ducked out of the way to try and allow his goalkeeper a clear path. Kane headed into the empty net. Amateur hour. Green has had an excellent season, but that’s three highly suspect goals he’s conceded in three matches now at a cost of three points.

When Tottenham made mistakes, QPR weren’t as ruthless. A misjudged back header towards Lloris from Walker fell short after 20 minutes and suddenly Austin was in on goal but the French keeper saved, and survived the subsequent melee with his clean sheet intact. Later Caulker caused panic in the visiting ranks by joining the attack after passing the ball left giving QPR an extra man up front. The space it created opened up for Austin who blasted a powerful shot past Lloris this time only for the ball to rebound back into play off the underside of the bar.

There was the Isla penalty appeal, and a deflected Kyle Walker shot that Green did well to save, before half time but any hope QPR would be reinvigorated after the break soon melted away. Christian Eriksen beat Green from 25 yards but struck the post and Kane muffed the rebound. A bad pass from Caulker gave Townsend a sight of goal against his old club but he dragged a shot wide. QPR couldn’t rely on this profligacy continuing and Kane wasn’t as forgiving when given a second sight of goal midway through the second half. Rio Ferdinand’s lazy tendency to drop four yards deeper than the rest of the defence, while still appealing for and somehow expecting the offside flag to be raised, finally caught his team out when Mason fed Kane and he waltzed round Green to score.

Ferdinand, after encouraging displays at Sunderland and Hull to give hope that there may be life in his overpaid legs yet, gave a performance here that reaffirmed the urgent need for him to retire. He looked like a dad in a dads v lads match. Not one of the good dads either.

Zamora's penalty appeal was followed by a volley from a tight angle that flew wide through a combination of Lloris and the outside of the post. There was then a ludicrous incident where he stood perfectly still with his arms by his side to make his point to the referee that he was being sinned against rather than the other way around under a long throw, and Pawson gave Spurs the free kick anyway. But QPR weren’t particularly effective with or without the ball. Matt Phillips seemed set to go through on goal at one point but he was tackled and the ball flew behind for a corner which he duly wasted with a dreadful delivery.

The game became niggly. The Mason and Pochettino incident was followed by Bentaleb hacking into Henry for a deserved yellow card. Ramsey introduced Junior Hoilett for Mauricio Isla, Reece Grego-Cox for a Premier League debut instead of Henry who’d had his worst game for some time, and then ridiculously deep into injury time Shaun Wright-Phillips for Sandro. Hoilett did at least cut in field and shoot over the bar to provide some sort of threat, but the thinking behind bringing on Wright-Phillips, a player who has contributed the square root of fuck all to QPR in his four years at the club, with just 90 seconds of time to go, was lost on me. It did little more than waste our own time. For the first time audible boos were heard from the home fans directed at the winger. June, and the expiry of his ludicrously long and lucrative contract, will be celebrated with a barbecue at LFW Towers. You’re all invited.

It was increasingly Charlie Austin against the world in front of the watching Roy Hodgson, and a visiting manager who could do worse than have QPR’s leading light at the top of his shopping list this summer. When Green saved from Kyle Walker in a one on one situation just before the hour and the ball fell loose in the goal mouth the game seemed well and truly up, but remarkably Austin turned up on his own goal line, 100 yards from his actual position in the team, to execute a last ditch clearance. He was everywhere, playing every position superbly. He’s getting better as QPR are getting worse. He’s wonderful.

A little stint on the right wing shortly after the second Spurs goal saw him cross low to Zamora who laid the ball off for Sandro - so commanding on Wednesday, so anonymous here – to hammer in his first goal for the club from 20 yards. Suddenly the game was in the balance, and could have been drawn from the penalty spot had Bentaleb’s obvious handball in the six-yard box been penalised.

You can debate whether a team that defended in the manner it did for both Spurs goals, and made an absolute mess of all its own attacking set pieces, deserved the good fortune of a penalty award to get them out of jail. If QPR had done their own jobs properly, Pawson’s incompetence wouldn’t have mattered. But it was a penalty all the same, and another point lost.

Throw it on the pile with all the rest.

Links >>> Knee jerks and talking points >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

QPR: Green 5; Onuoha 6, Caulker 5, Ferdinand 4, Suk-Young 7; Isla 6 (Hoilett 71, 5), Sandro 5 (Wright-Phillips 90+3, -), Henry 5 (Grego-Cox 88, -), Phillips 5; Zamora 6, Austin 8

Subs not used: Hill, Kranjcar, McCarthy, Comley

Goals: Sandro 75 (assisted Austin/Zamora)

Yellows: Henry 59 (foul)

Spurs: Lloris 6; Walker 6, Dier 7, Vertonghen 6, Davies 6; Mason 7, Bentaleb 6; Townsend 7 (Dembélé 65, 5), Eriksen 6 (Stambouli 88, -), Chadli 6 (Lamela 79, 6); Kane 8

Subs not used: Rose, Soldado, Vorm, Fazio

Goals: Kane 34 (assisted Townsend), 68 (assisted Mason)

Yellows: Bentaleb 61 (foul), Mason 79 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Charlie Austin 8 The improvement in his all round game from the start of the season is there for all to see, but him limping around on that troublesome foot injury by the end of the game shows the potential cost of him trying to do absolutely everything in his power to keep QPR up, which is now seeing him pop up on his own goal line to execute clearances when necessary. Fantastic clubman, great player, the heart and soul of the team.

Referee – Craig Pawson (Sheffield) 2 Shambolic.

Attendance – 17,992 (1,800 Spurs approx) Unfortunately there was a quiet resignation to QPR’s apparent fate around the ground as well as the team on Saturday. As silent as Loftus Road has been all season.

The Twitter @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

Photo: Action Images



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WallyRanger added 00:06 - Mar 9
I felt we were unlucky at times, thought we played as well as I expected an injury hit side to do, especially with a bench containing 2 kids, a winger who's flattered to decieve, 2 players well past their best and someone impersonating a footballer. Can't really fault the effort and if we were any other side that shot that came back off the crossbar would've gone in off it. Hopefully results pick up but it all seems inevitable atm sadly.
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Marshy added 00:20 - Mar 9
I think we would all agree that the refereeing was absolutely atrocious, and effectively lost us the game or at least a point. By far the worst I can recall seeing at Loftus Road. Officials aside, why we do we insist on keep playing the long ball. Have we forgotten how to play football? Unfortunately Spurs haven't and they passed and moved, and were prepared to take on our players and go past them. I don't see the the point in punting the ball upfield in the vain hope that someone might get on the end of it. I suppose the answer is we just don't have the quality to do otherwise.

I was really disappointed to see that Chris Ramsey hadn't learned from Wednesday night, and had Zamora in from the start. Where was Vargas and Zarate? Not fit I presume, but surely we could have conjured up a better line up than this. I would also agree that Phillips on the left made no sense at all, when he had been so effective previously on the right flank. Ferdinand predictably was was a disaster just waiting to happen, and SWP on for 90 seconds was laughable. A deeply disappointing week. Oh well, it can't get any worse. Can it?
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ozexile added 02:04 - Mar 9
I think we'll see the long punt up top for the rest of the season unfortunately. Does anyone know Ramsey's preferred formation? Last few games its been 4-4-2 but Sunderland was different.
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WallyRanger added 02:45 - Mar 9
Unfortunately, Vargas and Zarate have been lost to a conspiracy in which they fake their injuries, Vargas going as far as posting a picture of himself pretending to be injured...
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joolsyp added 06:29 - Mar 9
Bit harsh on Sandro - thought he deserved at least a 6. Broke play up well and put in some crunching tackles (and scored of course). But alongside Henry in a 2 against a 5-man Spuds midfield including Erikson and co - he's never going to dominate is he? He lasted 90 mins and will be crucial against the likes of Palace, Baggies, Villa, Everton ...
1

ngbqpr added 07:24 - Mar 9
I've seen a few Rs relegations in my time, and it's around this time of the year you start to conclude, "yep we're going down." That's how it feels now. Still clinging onto that faintest of hopes that there are several other teams as rubbish as us....only problem being that all bar two of them currently have more points than us...and points is something we're forgetting how to earn...
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billericaydicky added 08:45 - Mar 9
Listening to Talkshite (yes I know...) it was, as expected, the Harry Kane wnkfest - and of course little old QPR are going down...we know that, it just feels like it always has done.

Little talk of the appalling Mr Pawson, but Chris Ramsey isn't Jose so wont be given two hours of air time on Sky to bleat about how hard done by we were (and we really were) so the Premiership circus moves on to the next round of games and the inevitable next refereeing calamity. Big team decisions are seriously pssing me off - perhaps we might be seen as the 'big team' in the Championship next season and get the decisions in our favour? Don't hold your breath.

Oh yes and Rio Fedinand is really shite - back to his early season form.
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PinnerPaul added 12:34 - Mar 9
Here we go I can see why he didn't give all 3 "penalties" and the earlier foul given against BZ Clive mentions WAS one of the most blatant pushes in the back you will see.

As Clive said, defend properly and Charlie and to a lesser extent JH take their very good chances, we win.

Not lucky enough, not good enough - a lethal combination.

1/3 to go down now - that's about right to me.
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probbo added 14:12 - Mar 9
I note the comments about poor refereeing and can't argue with that (its a league wide phenomena) but lets face it you can't rely solely on ref decisions to win matches. The stats in the league table don't lie - 22 points from 28 games, the joint third worst goal difference in the league and one away win all season.

I'll remain ever optimistic, as there are still 30 points up for grabs but unless we can get some sort of run going asap I'm struggling to see where the points are going to come from.
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dixiedean added 10:20 - Mar 10
I agree with Clive's adulation of Charlie - if we do stay up, it'll be 90% down to his efforts- but in the harsh light of day he missed 2 gilt-edged chances when it was 0-0 and that cost us the game as much as the defensive blunders. When you know your defence is going to hand the opponents a goal or 2 it puts added pressure on strikers to take those chances, but we desperately need to score first in one of these games to have a serious chance. We can't keep playing catch-up in games.Ditto Green. Easily runner-up to Charlie as POTY , but 100% at fault with the 1st goal. His starting position in 6 yard box was terrible , combined with hesitation. Still , only critical of those 2 as they've set such high standards, so don't mean to be churlish. Despite his aberration v Arse, surely Niko was worth 5 mins at the end to see if he could conjure up a free kick or actually deliver a decent ball into their box ? Instead we had Reece-Cox ( sorry, but that seemed tokenism to give the lad a game- was he really going to have an impact ? ) and then SWP of all people, who definitely wasn't going to have an impact. Then again, that was the weakest bench imaginable. Hoilett's woeful shot was shocking , not just for its execution but because Sandro was screaming for him to lay the ball back to him, as BZ did for the goal. Hoilett thought he was better placed , even when off balance. Yeah right. Clearly Ramsey isn't going to breathe life into him as he has done with Philips. I'll bring some chicken drumsticks to the SWP farewell BBQ . Look forward to it ( his farewell) .
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dixiedean added 10:56 - Mar 10
Apologies to the lad- I meant Reece Grego-Cox, not Reece-Cox !
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TacticalR added 22:21 - Mar 13
Thanks for your match report. It's come to something when half of it is about the referee. Despite that we were the authors of our own misfortune - we played a lot of aimless balls forward, and a lot of hospital balls, and Spurs eventually realised we weren't going to do anything.

Austin. Amazing save on the line and provided the cross for the goal.

Henry. You have given Henry low marks, but I thought he did a very good job on Eriksen.

Ferdinand. A goal-conceding disaster. Let Kane go for the first goal and played Kane onside for the second goal.

I agree with dixiedean's points. Charlie hitting the bar cost us, and bringing on Grego-Cox felt like tokenism.
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