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Another long night by the river – autopsy
Saturday, 26th Sep 2015 22:00 by Clive Whittingham

Another London derby, another heavy defeat, another game over before half time, another humiliation for the long suffering QPR fans at Fulham.

On Saturday March 14 this year QPR were beaten 3-1 at Crystal Palace in the Premier League having trailed by three goals at half time. Afterwards, I wrote this…

“Blame Furlong and Yun, blame Phillips and Wright-Phillips, blame Caulker and Onuoha, blame injuries, blame Chris Ramsey, blame who you like really, but consider this… QPR have been in the Premier League for three of the last four seasons. In that time they have played 27 London derbies in league and cup. They’ve lost 18 of those and drawn four. This season they’ve lost seven and drawn one of the games against the other London sides. They’ve conceded 45 goals in those 27 games and scored just 18. On two separate occasions they’ve conceded six goals. This has been under four different managers, with vastly different teams and players. When the going gets a little tougher, the atmosphere gets a little hotter, the intensity increases – QPR cannot live with it.

“There isn’t the quality to match Arsenal and Spurs and there isn’t the attitude, stomach, pragmatism, strength and resolve to match sides like Palace and West Ham. Remember Fulham running riot, remember that Monday night when Sam Allardye bullied Granero and Faurlin with a massive three man midfield? QPR are playing at being a Premier League club and on days like this they’re playing at being a Premier League team, wanting to play with inverse wingers and false nines and young kids and wide open midfields and all of this sort of trendy shit without any sort of foundation or base. It’s naïve and it’s arrogant. Whether Furlong and Yun and Wright-Phillips start or not, whether Ramsey is the manager or somebody else, this will happen again while that attitude persists. It will happen again.”

On Friday September 25 at Craven Cottage it happened again, as it was always likely to. Two London derbies so far this season, QPR are six nil down on aggregate and have been abject in both.

Chris Ramsey will carry the can for the latest disaster and his ever growing band of critics have plenty of material to work with. Fulham aren’t regarded by their own fans as particularly well coached or managed, but they absolutely had Rangers' number here from the first four seconds of the game. It looked like they’d watched every QPR game so far this season and meticulously picked areas they could exploit, QPR meanwhile turned up and played in exactly the same system and style as they have done all season as if there’s no difference between Blackburn, Forest, Charlton or Fulham and Rangers are simply good enough to play as they like against everybody. It looked like we’d never seen Fulham before.

Neither of QPR’s full backs are playing well – Paul Konchesky unsurprisingly, because he’s been poor for several years prior to arriving here, James Perch more puzzlingly because he seemed like a decent signing after two Player of the Year awards at Wigan. Furthermore, the formation QPR play every week exposes them with Matt Phillips and Tjaronn Chery, not noted for their defensive ability anyway, pushed forwards into the attack. Fulham feasted on that, overloading the visiting full backs with two men in every attack and giving them lots of ball. That, in turn, pulled the defence left and right trying to cover, leaving space in the number ten slot for Ross McCormack to run amok. Special mention to Karl Henry, who as defensive central midfielder should be covering that pocket in front of the centre backs – as I said previously, if this is him protecting the defence I’d hate to see him exposing it.

Ramsey, and Rangers, were far too slow to realise and react to that weakness and Fulham’s obvious tactic to target it. When a substitution was finally made, the game was lost and throwing Jamie Mackie on for Tjaronn Chery didn’t change the system and succeeded only in pissing off the departing player, who was no more or less at fault for this than anybody else.

But this propensity to completely collapse in London derby games is not a new phenomenon resulting from Chris Ramsey’s management. QPR change managers far too frequently, and turn over their entire squad every 18 months, but as much as things change this stays the same. Neil Warnock’s QPR lost 6-0 here, Mark Hughes’ QPR lost 6-0 at Chelsea, Harry Redknapp’s QPR lost 4-0 at Spurs and went 3-0 down here before half time, and now Ramsey has this and the Palace debacle on his CV. To be losing these London games so often, and completely blowing out in them with such monotonous regularity, is not a coincidence and given that it’s happening despite the rotation of managers and players it’s not something to lay solely at Chris Ramsey’s door.

Another running theme is the timing of the goals. QPR are out of these matches before they’re in them. On our last three visits to Craven Cottage we’ve conceded goals on 1, 2, 8, 19, 20, 22, 31, 38 and 41 minutes’. At Palace we conceded after 21, 40 and 42. At Chelsea they went in on 1, 13, 19 and 25. At Tottenham they scored on 12, 30 and 37. Six games there, Rangers never anything less than 3-0 down at half time. Games over before they’ve begun.

It’s unprofessional, or arrogant, or naïve, or a combination of the three. On these highly charged occasions it’s important to get into the game, to build a platform. In that first ten minutes you don’t give possession away cheaply, you work the ball around and give everybody a touch, you don’t take risks, you don’t over commit, you get in your shape and settle into the task. Get a shot off early if you can, give the keeper a loosener. Snap into a few tackles, let them know you’re there and they’re in a game. Concede a couple of free kicks, disrupt their rhythm, niggle. Once that foothold is gained, then grow from there into a more expansive game if that’s the plan. Rugby league coaches call it “getting into the arm wrestle”. Simply put, don’t get beaten before you’ve got started.

QPR turn up in these fixtures and seem to think they can just tippy tappy about and do as they please and Fulham, or Palace, or Spurs, or Chelsea are just going to stand there and fucking admire it. QPR kicked off last night. They had the kick off. Free possession, on the centre spot, without an opponent within ten yards of them. They could have done any number of things with that, but a sensible idea might have been to hold onto possession for a few passes, give players an early touch, get Fulham running early. Instead they did what they’ve done with every single kick off they’ve had this season – overloaded the right side, laid it back to one of the deep lying midfielders, and then pumped it high into the air. On almost every occasion so far this season it’s bounced out for a throw in. This time it flew straight onto Richard Stearman’s head. Either way, four seconds in, and free, uncontested possession had been handed straight back.

Thirty seconds later the ball was deep in QPR territory, being shepherded behind for a Fulham corner by Karl Henry, to the bemusement of the Fulham players in attendance, presumably because he believed it was going to be a goal kick for some weird or wonderful reason. It was a piece of play so moronic, so lacking in concentration, that even the linesman standing three yards away struggled to believe what he’d seen and paused for a moment, wondering if he’d missed something, before signalling for a corner. Two Sunday League-standard pieces of play in the first 30 seconds and two more followed in the next 30. First Rob Green, who has been in dreadful form throughout 2015 whatever his happy band of fan club members say or believe, came out for the corner and dropped it under no pressure. Then when Fulham worked the ball wide, Matt Phillips stood off James Husband and allowed him to deliver a beautiful left footed cross that Moussa Dembele could hardly miss from six yards out dead centre of goal. Within a minute of starting the game in possession on halfway, QPR had contrived to concede a goal of pathetically amateur standard.

At this point our group agreed we would leave when it got to 4-0. And it was a ‘when’ rather than an ‘if’. When you’ve followed this club away from home as regularly as we have for the past few years you recognise the signs, even after sixty seconds, and you know what the result will be and you know there’s no stopping it. Sick and tired of being let down, we were back in the Boathouse in Putney before the full time whistle.

One thing Chris Ramsey can’t really be blamed or legislate for is players who were fantastic one week turning into dog chocolate the next. At Hull a week ago, where QPR did stay in shape and did establish themselves in the game and did play well, the three best players in Hoops were Charlie Austin, Ale Faurlin and Gabrielle Angella. Here, the latter two were just about the worst. Faurlin, in particular, had his worst ever game for the club – calmly passing the ball straight to Ben Pringle on the edge of his own area after 20 minutes allowing the former Rotherham man to stroke the ball into the corner of the net.

The only slight hint that things may turn out differently came after a quarter of an hour when Rangers put together their one and only move of the match, working Massimo Luongo free in the penalty box with four crisp, one-touch passes. But the Australian, as he had done against Blackburn, bottled out at the crucial moment and finished weakly into the side netting. That was it by way of response. It was 2-0 soon after, and 3-0 soon after that.

Twice Fulham got Tom Cairney free, one on one with Faurlin, at the back post for deep corners. Twice the Argentinean got involved in dangerous wrestling games with him. Twice referee Kevin Friend could have awarded penalties. Husband was roasting Perch, crossing low after 24 minutes forcing Angella to clear behind inside his six yard box. The Italian, supposed to be our ball playing centre half, distributed the ball here with all the accuracy and finesse of a drunk giraffe. McCormack’s third, crisply finished from Cairney’s pass on the half hour, was embarrassingly easy.

The mood in the away end was ugly by this point, having been so loud and supportive to start with. The travelling thousands were being publicly humiliated by their team yet again, and they didn’t like it one bit. The idea behind the Mackie substitution was grounded in some logic – switch to 4-4-2, drop two traditional wingers back in front of the full backs for some cover and defensive help, introduce a willing runner – but the game had already gone and it only served to anger Chery, and further rile the away supporters who he stormed out in front of. Ramsey was harangued on the long walk across the pitch at half time. His persistence with Perch and Henry in particular a theme of the half time ranting.

It never rains. Mackie was withdrawn injured at half time after just ten minutes of action. Charlie Austin soon followed him with a worrying knock. Chasing the game, Rangers were left with four defenders and six midfielders – somewhere Paul Hart bristled with pride. With Sebastien Polter nursing a hamstring injury, that’s something we might have to get used to ahead of Bolton next week. Leroy Fer’s re-appearance after a long injury absence provided some solace, but it didn’t stem the tide.

The away end went all the way through anger into black humour, and sang to the end. The performance went all the way through inept and embarrassing to catastrophically hideous. The fourth goal, scrambled in from close range by McCormack in farcical circumstances after Angella had hit his own cross bar then hung out a lazy leg to try and divert the rebound away, summed it all up and we were away down the steps before it even hit the net.

QPR have now conceded 17 goals in nine matches, only bottom of the table Bristol City have conceded more.

Absolutely fucking abysmal.

Links >>> Knee Jerks >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Photo Gallery >>> Message Board Match Thread

Fulham: Lonergan 6; Fredericks 7 (Voser 77, -), Stearman 7, Ream 6, Husband 8; Cairney 8, Tunnicliffe 6, O’Hara 7 (Christensen 65, -), Pringle 8; McCormack 8; Dembele 7 (Woodrow 76, -)

Subs not used: Lewis, Mattila, Kavanagh, Burn

Goals: Dembele 1 (assisted Husband), Pringle 18 (assisted Faurlin), McCormack 30 (assisted Cairney), 62 (assisted Angella)

QPR: Green 3; Perch 2, Angella 2, Onuoha 2, Konchesky 2; Faurlin 2, Henry 2; Phillips 3, Luongo 3, Chery 3 (Mackie 35, - (Fer 45, 5)); Austin 4 (Tozser 59, 5)

Subs Not Used: Hall, Smithies, Doughty, Gladwin

Bookings: Perch 79 (foul)

QPR Star Man – N/A

Referee – Kevin Friend (Leicestershire) 7 Guessed at bits and pieces, getting some right and some wrong. Little to referee in an uncompetitive game.

Attendance – 19,784 (4,500 QPR approx) The travelling support was a credit to the club. Early leavers, us included, entirely forgiven. Medals for those who stayed and sang to the end. You all deserve so much better than this.

The Twitter @loftforwords

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rbala99 added 09:41 - Sep 28
My suggestions:
1) Perch is out of position at right back. Let Perch takeover from Henry in defensive midfield.
2) Move Onuaha to right back.
3) Bring Yun to left back.
4) Bring Grant Hall or Clint Hill to partner Angela
5) Phillips in right wing , Sandro in front of Perch, Luongo in left wing.
6) Chery and Austin upfront...but Austin needs to hold up the ball like Zamora. If Austin injured we need Chery + 1 other.

I didnt think Fer was any good, Very lazy, doesnt track back. Watch Nott Forest or Derby or any decent C'ship side - all their players track back. Total offence, Total defence.
Tozser is lost. Bench: Faurlin, Tozser,Smithees, Doughty,JET and then Fer in that order.

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Burnleyhoop added 10:22 - Sep 28
We were second to every loose ball. We are powder puff in midfield and completely pedestrian in the holding midfield areas. Our centre backs were abject but had absolutely no cover from midfield. We have started slowly in pretty much every single game this season. Surely to f*ck, this "slow out of the blocks" issue is the top of the agenda every Monday morning when the players roll in to training?

Ultimately we have no spine. Green needs to go, Henry needs to go and we need a central midfielder that controls the tempo of the game and organises. Barton anyone? Luongo should not be occupying that role.

Ramsey can no longer persevere with this formation and personnel. He changes it now, or he and we will be in big trouble.
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Rangers67 added 11:17 - Sep 28
Dear Chris, time to go old chap. Well to be honest you should never have been shouldered with this responsibility in the first place. But having been appointed you have done your best, only it,s not good enough. This is based not on one result but on your regime since the day you took over. The team lacks direction, no plan A yet alone plan B, a very predictable formation that you will not or cannot change hence getting torn apart by nearly every opposition, the players are either totally confused by your tactics or more likely don,t believe in them hence the alarming lack of confidence in the team, your failure to inject any real pace into the team has also left us hamstrung as anyone with the most basic of coaching qualifications will tell you that is exctly what you need. Lets be honest Chris, without Charlie ( as we will be now for a while) we would be bottom of this league by a mile, that's how bad you are and how bad you have made this team. Your persistence with picking Rob Green in goal and Perch at right back is contrary to anything approaching common sense, Hall has been playing very well at center half surely you could have put him in and moved Ned to right back about four games ago, but no you stand there on the sidelines watching the same games as me and do absolutely nothing. As much as I like Ned as a player, he is no captain. So in order for everyone to feel better and the team to progress it is time to fall on your sword and resign, I am sure if you speak to Tony he will let you go back to coaching the youth team where I am sure your talents will be appreciated and hopefully produce a decent future of home grown talent. Lastly there is no disgrace in having tried and failed, anyone with any ambition has experienced this but sadly you are out of your depth and when the team are looking for a bit of guidance and leadership there is none to be found either on the pitch or on the sidelines.
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londonscottish added 13:00 - Sep 28
I'm still shell socked by just how sh*t that was. I thought I'd seen in all in the first half against Blackburn. I never dreamed that that squad could put in a performance as bad as that for the full 90 minutes. In fact I was really looking forward to it and the banter on the board on Friday was excellent (Disco's Ibiza thread and Konk's FFC musings). It's the hop that kills you...

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R_from_afar added 13:40 - Sep 28
Great report, Clive, especially the opening section on how we never shine in derbies. You could tweet that to Uncle Tony. What's wrong with us?

Some thoughts:
- Angella didn't do anything for their first goal. Could his recent head injury have put him off vying for the header?
- Why not get a wily old head, someone skilled in the ugly side of the game (closing games out, marking, pressing, wasting time subtly when you're ahead) to help Ramsey? What about Olly?
- Would the reaction to the defeat have been less visceral if it hadn't been against a local rival?
- Barton was not worth keeping and would probably have got sent off in that game. Remember, his sendings off traditionally cost us one win per season.
- I don't think enough credit has been given to Fulham. They were superb. This might also be our one thrashing of the season. It might be coincidence that it happened to come against a local rival, yet again.

A horrible night for all Rs fans but the players should, I think, take more of the flak than Ramsey. They just forgot how to play football. They weren't doing the basics. The closing down and pressing was pathetic. They know how to do that stuff, they have all been professionals long enough and been told often enough, by umpteen different coaches, what they should be doing.

RFA
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tsbains64 added 15:38 - Sep 28
Damn glad I cancelled SKY but think this report is an over reaction .....
Lets giove Ramsey and co until next April before we decide if he is up to it or not. Dont forget we are SUPPORTers
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dixiedean added 16:51 - Sep 28
I've been pro-Ramsey all along but I have to admit , many more performances like that ( or even 1 more) and he'll be hanging by a thread and very few managers turn things round from that point, esp with injuries to key players . Perch has been massively disappointing. I expected a solid 7/10 every week man like Simpson, yet he has been shocking in most games. No pace to get forward or back, no crossing, weak tackling. Maybe rbala99's midfield suggestion is a good one. If we have a recall on Furlong we should do it now. When things are tough suddenly everyone thinks others are the miracle cure and the Bring Back Barton Brigade will soon be in full voice . I don't remember our midfield being that great when he was in it, so careful what you wish for. Most worrying for me was lack of leadership/guts/bolx , call it what you will The signs where there when Forest scored. Heads down, no belief we could score with 10 men with inevitable consequences. I pray we don't go 1-0 down to Bolton because the Booing merchants will start and the whole thing will turn toxic. After all that's gone before I don't think TF will sack CR so we need to get behind the team and not boo at every misplaced pass. It's going to be a tough few weeks, and we must beat Bolton before 2 weeks off to re-group. Confidence must be low all round so booing ain't gonna help that. As for Chery, I have to say he's a difficult player to accommodate and we haven't worked out how to do it. Sorry to say it but on current form he is like a ' luxury player', but not one as good as Adel in promotion year where we could afford to indulge him. EG for a dead-ball expert I don't think any keeper has been troubled by his free-kicks and most of the corners ( except Hull) have been poor. And Charlie is not a target man so let's forget about people playing off him. His back to goal play isn't up to that and he needs a BZ or similar, as was proven last year. I do wonder how much stomach still has for this. Seemingly every managerial decision he makes backfires and what with the airline issues , new ground etc, I do wonder if he needs the grief.
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dixiedean added 18:59 - Sep 28
Last bit should read " ..... how much stomach Fernandes still has for this .... " Oops
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Myke added 22:17 - Sep 29
Ah lads seriously - get a grip. Massive over-reaction. Yes we were crap in every department. We always seem to be on TV. But calling for Ramsey's head is just ridiculous. He is only in the job 5 minutes. Why do we think a new manager is the solution? Have we not learned from Hughes, Rednapp et al that changing managers every few months only works when you are Chelsea and can buy real quality players. He is still learning his trade. Why are we in such a rush back to the prem? Have we not learned from past disasters either?
We have all agreed that we have approached the transfer window in the right way this season. Buying young players with a point to prove. When you totally overhaul your squad there are going to be wildly inconsistent performances until they gel. What do you want to do? Sack Ramsey and bring in another load of new players in January? I mean seriously? Ramsey is quite correct when he says individual errors have cost us. If Green hadn't imploded against Forest we would have won the game. If Chery hadn't missed a chance against Hull which my granny would have scored (and she is dead with over 20 years) we would have won that one too. If Faurlin had not gifted goal number 2 V Fulham we could have got back into it, we've done so before. And so on and so on.

Patience my friends patience. Just because we kept Austin/Phillips doesn't give us automatic promotion as a given - and after last year why would we even want it? To me, we are exactly where I expected us to be - good and bad in equal measures. Remember we are also in the toughest league in the world, where anyone can literally beat anyone.
Finally, re the Green debate, I think he was one of our best players last season. But his form is poor this year. We will see how Smithie progresses, but I think selling McCarthy was a mistake - especially at this level
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Myke added 23:24 - Sep 29
I think Wolves beating Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage tonight sums up the division perfectly
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marty7 added 15:26 - Oct 2
It's simple as always Clive!
You speak the truth!

No one in particular can or should be blamed for this or any previous debacles. Anyone in any profession needs to "put a shift in". If they don't, there is only one result. Substandard!

I (as we all do) love my R's, but...
I did feel as though we were pulled completely apart due to our shape and formation on Friday though, and didn't see much of a reaction from CR in remedying that. Like for like (energy levels), Mackie for Chery, but no real solution to a glaringly obvious problem.

I agree with many other's appraisals of some of the regular playing staff this season.
I'd like to see Smithies given a chance, if only to justify the hierarchy's vision of the future. After all we bought and sold a better goalkeeper in McCarthy, even if it was for the fact he had higher aspirations. Who knows whether he'd have stayed or not, given a run in the team at any stage last season. Do we need to lose another decent keeper by giving Green "one more year"?

Perch? Well, there's an enigma!
Onuoha? Nothing that anyone else hasn't already said. Not a leader, and probably better used in "the enigmas" position!
Angella? Looks "half" decent, with the emphasis (as you can see) on the half. Thought it a bit unfair on Grant Hall, who was starting to look OK.
Konchesky? Don't think he's done a bad job overall, and until Friday, growing in stature. I'd give Yun a chance again, but I think would be one of the more difficult calls.
I'd certainly bring Hill back in for the next couple of games. Why? Glaringly obvious!

Faurlin? He (whilst like everyone else, I love him!) isn't the same player we all remember! He's a yard off it most of the time, and when he's under pressure, his distribution isn't as good as it once was. Sentiment?!
Henry? F*** off! What does he do?
Doughty should now be holding down one of these two positions! Absolutely no doubt in my mind about that whatsoever!

Diamond 4?
I want to start by saying that I don't think Fer and/or Sandro have the heart (or guts) for this fight! By which I mean the campaign ahead.
Austin (when he's fit) obviously!
Chery, who I believe has already shown signs, will (I am absolutely convinced!) come good long term.
Luongo, simply because, he's the only one who's shown that he IS actually up for the fight, week in week out, and actually possesses a bit of talent too.
Phillips? Sorry, never been convinced. Yes, he did well the second half of last season, and started well this one, but as someone previously mentioned above, "goes AWOL"!
I think Seb Polter could be a good backup for Charlie, if he ever gets the opportunity, not necessarily in terms of goals, but for sheer graft. After all, isn't that what this team needs!
PS I like the look of Ben Gladwin too!

I'd also like to see CR be more flexible with formation, as I do think we're being controlled in midfield, a little too often.

It will be a long hard season, and we will stick with Chris Ramsey, simply because of the message that TF and the board have put out there this season. Too much egg on the face not to!

COYR's!!!
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