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JET-powered Rangers secure last second victory - report
Monday, 5th Oct 2015 14:11 by Colin Speller

After the thrashing at Fulham, QPR returned to Loftus Road to face lowly Bolton for a game that many were billing as a ‘must-win’ for under-pressure manager Chris Ramsey. Colin Speller was there for LFW.

It’s early on game day in West London and in places far and wide, QPR supporters begin the pilgrimage to W12. At the same time, numerous keyboard warriors, the vigour of their opinion unfettered by non-attendance, power up their device of choice and prepare to bury rather than praise.

These are troubled days at Loftus Road – the aftermath of relegation from the Premier League, a manager for whom the most generous description would be ‘unproven’, a track record of shipping more than two goals a game and the pain of yet another hammering at Craven Cottage still not fully subsided. And all this against a background of uncertainty around training grounds, main grounds, fines from the Football League and the long-term commitment of the current owners. Oh, and let’s just throw in the fact that with Charlie Austin out with a hamstring injury and Seb Polter still recovering from one, there will be no ‘recognised’ striker available to Chris Ramsey.

It was the team selection that delivered the first outburst of passion in the pubs and a mini-meltdown on the internet. No doubt with the trouncing at Fulham still painful in the mind, Ramsey benched both James Perch and Ale Faurlin. Grant Hall came in as centre back alongside Gabrielle Angella, with Nedum Onouha moving to right back and Paul Konchesky at left back. Daniel Tözsér came into the midfield alongside the ever-present and much-maligned Karl Henry, with Tjaronn Chery on one flank and Matt Phillips on the other. But it was up front that the real surprise was sprung, with Leroy Fer making his first start playing just behind Jay Emmanuel-Thomas - also his first outing and this time in the unusual role of lone striker.

For Bolton Wanderers there were two changes from their previous game – a 2-2 draw with Brighton – Darren Pratley replaced Wellington Silva in midfield and Dorian Dervite came in for David Wheater in defence.

The game got underway in pleasant conditions but – as often happens at this time of the year – the opposition chose to kick towards the School End in the first half, so that they did not have to face the low sun in the second. Wanderers showed little evidence of their lowly league position in the early exchanges with a couple of decent attacks, though it was QPR who delivered an early effort on target with a firm header from Onouha following a Tözsér free kick.

It was all a bit disjointed and end-to-end in the first few minutes but then in the eighth minute it all broke loose in the game and online as well. Bolton broke down the left, the ball was cut back and a good, but not exceptional, cross was delivered to the far post where Gary Madine – alone, unmarked and no doubt a little lonely – had the simple task of heading in. It was surreal, really – he was so unmarked that I initially thought he must be offside, but he wasn’t. He simply strode unchallenged through the yawning gap between the two centre-backs and was where he needed to be when the ball arrived. Green had stayed on his line and merely pointed his hands to the ball as it passed him. Oh dear – the sixth unanswered goal since we took the lead at Hull in the game before last and one so poor it would have not looked out of place in a documentary about match fixing.

Worse was to follow three minutes later. A long throw from the Ellerslie Road side of the ground made its way to the near post where Onouha, back-pedalling from his full back position, delivered a weak, clearing header. Pratley did well to get an instant shot away, low to Green’s left. Green parried but only to Feeney, who swept home. It was another pretty dismal goal, really. Angella was better placed to deal with the first header, but Onouha either did not get a shout, or ignored it. Green was caught by the Pratley’s speed of execution and it always seems to be the case that the opposition get to the loose ball before we do.

Meltdown – online and in the ground. Boos rang out and the chant of ‘Ramsey, Ramsey – sort it out’ echoed from the Loft. To be honest, at that point in time I had absolutely no idea what I was set to witness. The QPR team looked demoralised and the midfield and defence was doing a pretty good impression of warm butter reacting to a hot knife. Fortunately, there was respite.

People talk about all goals being equal in terms of ‘counting’ but timing is sometimes a dimension of a goal that is only appreciated in hindsight. Bolton had us on the ropes after 11 minutes and if the next goal had come from them could have been a turning point in QPR’s history given the impact of another heavy defeat on the manager’s future. Fortunately, the next goal was ours and it arrived promptly. QPR attacked, Phillips stabbed the ball hopefully into the area, it broke to the left where Chery rescued it and turned in a decent cross that JET nodded into the far corner.

So, 13 minutes of mayhem and we sat down wondering what to expect next. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the game settled down. I think Bolton realised that they were vulnerable on the break and elected to play more cautiously whilst QPR, like a patient recovering from injury, clawed their way towards some sort of basic coordination. It wasn’t pretty and each time Bolton came forward they seemed likely to score, not least because the QPR centre backs didn’t win a single header in the first half. Indeed, it wasn’t unusual for a Bolton attack to be founded on two consecutive headers carrying the ball from the relative safety of midfield to the heart of the QPR penalty area.

But, despite this, the host’s reward for patiently re-learning the game was to be level at half time. They had threatened a few times, not least when another Tözsér free kick was headed firmly on target by Emmanuel-Thomas, parried by Amos across the goal and hooked away to safety. The equaliser involved a very similar move – a cross from the right by Phillips, headed powerfully towards the goal by Fer, parried to Chery who tried to hook it home, but it bounced off Amos to Fer again who tapped home. All square at half time and much to debate.

The second half followed much the pattern of the latter part of the first and to be honest was pretty dull fare at times (more of which below). But, just after the hour came a moment of sheer beauty as Tjaronn Chery, on the left, turned back, cut inside and then from the corner of the penalty box ‘did a Taarabt’, i.e. curled in a shot that bent over and around the keeper and into the goal at the far post. It was a moment of magic and great to watch from my position on the halfway line in the Ellerslie.

So that’s twice this year we had seen QPR come from 2-0 down to lead 3-2, but whilst the Wolves game stayed that way, this one was destined for yet more fun. Within moments of the Chery goal, QPR had an excellent chance to wrap things up when Phillips, put clean through on goal by Fer, managed to beat the keeper but put it just wide of the far post. Then Sandro, on for a tiring Leroy Fer, won the ball in midfield, strode forward and unleashed a powerful, swerving shot that Amos did well to touch over. At either point, 4-2 would not have flattered QPR and they should have had things wrapped up.

But this is us and we don’t do things that way. As the half wore on we managed to find it easier and easier to give possession to the other side – hacked clearances, poor headers, failure to win the second ball and fecklessness when in good possession. So, I suppose it was no real surprise when on 85 minutes and a series of indifferent interventions by QPR players Wellington Silva cut into the box and fired powerfully past Green. With time still to be played out thoughts of a disastrous 4-3 reverse were not far from the surface, but in the final seconds of injury time Emmanuel-Thomas intervened again, picking up the ball in the middle of the Bolton half and running powerfully towards the goal, making an exaggerated switch to his right foot to shake off the defenders then curling the ball in from just outside the box. It was a staggering goal in manner and timing, with the final whistle coming seconds later.

So, in the cold light of day, how do I assess what we saw? It’s an understatement that this QPR side is proving hard to pin down. At Wolves when we were 2-0 down I thought we would ship five. In the end, it could have been 5-2 to them, 5-2 to us or a 5-5 draw. At Hull, I thought we were by far the better team and, had Chery not shanked the ball over the bar from underneath it, we should have won. At Fulham we were woeful – but so was every QPR side in recent history. Against Bolton we were ‘all of the above’ – pathetic at times in defence, confused in midfield, sometimes devastating in attack.

On the positive side, the set pieces – the subject of many a Speller rant in recent seasons – are a lot better. And the spirit of the team seems to be good and capable of dealing with being two goals down without panicking (though in both cases the timing of the first come-back goal helped enormously).

Huge respect to Emmanuel-Thomas – if ever a chance was seized with both hands, this was it. I doubt that he saw himself playing the loan striker role (and neither did we), indeed I guess that prior to yesterday he was wondering if he would play any significant role in the side. But, he applied himself with energy and enthusiasm, he made a nuisance of himself, he scored one then crafted a last minute winner of entirely his own making. One Swallow and all that, but the first game without Charlie passed without him hardly being missed.

Leroy Fer was also a positive force, at the heart of most things and also scored. It was good to see him going about his business as if it mattered to him and he will be a valuable part of the squad in the coming weeks.

But, there is still so much on which to work. The defence looks to be all over the place, which given the individual quality is a surprise and a disappointment. OK, so Onouha at right back comes into the definition of madness as ‘repeating the same thing with the hope of a different result’. But the failure of Hall and Angella to get their heads on the ball in the first half was a real issue. Indeed, whilst they had a better second half it seemed to be based on Hall ‘mopping up’ second balls rather than competing for the initial header. Konchesky was better than I’ve seen before – at Hull he was the weakest link with many a promising attack coming to an end because he did not seem able to pass or even kick the ball with any degree of accuracy, but his contribution in this game was much better and he crossed the ball well.

Then there is the midfield – oh, Lord! We do so miss a fit and functioning Faurlin. Understandably benched after his showing at Fulham, when on form he offers so much creativity and was very much the fulcrum of the come-back at Wolves. Tözsér’s dead ball work was excellent but he still seems to be finding his feet in open play. And Karl, dear Karl Henry. I remember the story of a cricketer called Cunis whose bowling was described by one wag as being ‘neither one thing nor the other’ and that just about sums up Henry. His tackling is often lame, his distribution – even of simple passes – is often poor. He seems to play better in the high-skilled environment of the Premier League but in the Championship, where the onus is more on him to make the running whilst, paradoxically, often being under more direct pressure, he is often found wanting even in terms of delivering simple passes.

But, there are more fundamental problems in my humble opinion. Several times in the game QPR broke forward with men over in space, but simply did not seem to know what to do. Players hesitated, then headed as if magnetised to the most crowded areas of the pitch. The choice of final ball was often wrong and poorly executed. It was as if they had been told they couldn’t simply run at the goal, but had no idea what to do instead. It was this lack of nous in attack that gave Bolton so much possession in the build up to their equaliser.

And the defence… Well, the stats speak for themselves really. Ten games, more than two goals a game conceded and a negative goal difference despite the league position. There is something very, very wrong.

I suppose, in summary, QPR are best described as a work in progress. There is individual talent aplenty and from time to time this works to deliver a positive outcomes. But there is little evidence of synergy – a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. In truth, though, that is the Holy Grail that every manager in every division is seeking and it would be interesting to speculate which teams truly have it at the moment. Birmingham City would be my suggestion from our league – something we will have chance to examine in more detail after the international break.

In other news from the game, Henry, Tözsér and Chery all picked up yellow cards for various fouls whereas Bolton avoided any such sanction despite a tendency to literally (and persistently) get to grips with QPR players. And a mention of the crowd – more than 16,000 was a pretty good turnout given the Fulham result and the fact that the Bolton support was fairly modest in number. Fortunately, Emmanuel-Thomas’ first goal stemmed the tide of ugliness that was threatening to sweep over the ground and his second prompted wild scenes of celebration that did much to erase memory of the worst that had gone before. Having said that, the mood of the church was not good – ‘We heard the C word an awful lot today’ I heard one guy remark as we left the ground.

And where does this leave Chris Ramsey and his army of critics? Well the internet might have exploded at least four times yesterday – once when the team was announced and after each of the Bolton goals. But, the result and the drama of its achievement will send the bulk of the QPR faithful into the international break in good spirits and the manager has more time to impose his authority on proceedings. ‘Good day at work today, dear?’ I can imagine Mrs Ramsey asking on Saturday night. ‘It ended well’ would have been the most appropriate response.

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

QPR: Green 5, Onouha 5, Angella 5, Hall 4, Konchesky 6, Henry 5, Tözsér 6, Phillips 6, Fer 7 (Sandro 76, 6), Chery 7, Emmanuel-Thomas 8

Subs not used: Doughty, Faurlin, Luongo, Perch, Smithies, Polter

Goals: Emmanuel Thomas (assisted Chery), Fer (assisted Phillips), Chery, Emmanuel-Thomas

Bookings: Chery 45+2 (foul), Tozser 55 (foul), Henry 74 (foul)

Bolton Wanderers: Amos 6, Pisano 5 (Wheater 45, 5), Gouano 5, Devite 5, Moxey 6, Danns 6, Davies 7, Feeney 6, Pratley 6 (Spearing 64, 5), Clayton 6 (Wellington 80, 7), Madine 6

Subs not used: Vela, Rachubka, Casado, Dobbie

Goals: Madine 8 (assisted Feeney), Feeney 11 (assisted Pratley), Wellington 85 (unassisted)

QPR Star Man – Jay Emmanuel Thomas 8 Well on the way to getting my vote before he won the game single-handedly. I was really worried about how QPR would manage without Austin, but JET showed real energy, application, a decent work ethic and, at the death, pure brilliance. Honorable mentions to Leroy Fer for making a strong impact on his return and Paul Konchesky for a much better performance.

Referee – Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire) 7 Didn’t really find myself taking notes about the ref, which is a good sign. Not sure that the distribution of the cards was strictly fair but other than that I thought he was reasonable, calm and competent. Neil Lennon disagrees with that quite passionately, it would seem, but I’m afraid I did not see the Konchesky tackle that upset him so. All I can say is that his player, apparently clinically dead one minute, was trotting away the next. As far as the alleged bias in favour of QPR was concerned, I just saw a lot of pushing, grappling and tugging by Bolton players, only the worst of which got penalised.

Attendance 16,026 (800 Bolton approx) A bigger home crowd than might have been expected threatened to turn ugly at 2-0 down but lowered their pitchforks and flaming torches when JET pulled one back. After that they were pretty much absorbed by the drama and in the end were dancing in the aisles.

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PinnerPaul added 14:41 - Oct 5
One small point, Bolton kicked off in 1st half didn't they?

If that was the case we chose the way to kick 1st half - maybe wanted to get off to a good start!!!!!!!!
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Antti_Heinola added 14:43 - Oct 5
Great report Colin, but christ, I thought that ref was comfortably the worst of the season and far, far worse than Deadman the other week. Got to the point where every time he blew I wasn't even sure which way he would point. Terrible management of the game, poor decisions throughout, and only lucky that there weren't any properly contentious moments. Utterly dreadful.
Also, were people really shocked by Fer playing as a No.10 and JET on his own up front? I thought that was exactly what he;d do - was there really surprise at that?
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GetMeRangers added 14:45 - Oct 5
At the same time, numerous keyboard warriors, the vigour of their opinion unfettered by non-attendance, power up their device of choice and prepare to bury rather than praise.

No truer words written. Sad isnt it

Thanks for the report, in place of Clive. Very enjoyable read. For all its incompetence and moments of brilliance, the roller coaster of emotions, it was a game I really enjoyed... especially at the end.
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simmo added 14:55 - Oct 5
Well done, Cole train. A sterling effort in the absence of Clive. Now about those ratings....
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SimonJames added 14:56 - Oct 5
Excellent report.
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simmo added 15:07 - Oct 5
FAO Antti - There is no way in a million years the ref was worse than Deadman. I saw 5-6 very odd decisions in that Blackburn game, at least one of which I have never seen before in a football match!
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Antti_Heinola added 16:20 - Oct 5
Thought the same on Saturday mate. He was dreadful in the easiest game he'll ever have to ref. Didn't seem to have ever played the game, or had any feel for it at all. Chery getting blatantly pulled back then immediately yellow carded when he tried to recover was bad, but the time the Bolton player backed in then didn't go for the ball, meaning Hall flew over him was a decision that shows a total lack of knowledge of the game. Really bad. Most of the rest of the decisions it was a toss of the coin which way it was going to go. Total joke.
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Neil_SI added 16:27 - Oct 5
Very enjoyable read Mr Speller, cheers.
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gigiisourgod added 16:52 - Oct 5
Thought Sandro made an impact when he came on. Looks like he will eat players at this level. Let's hope we can keep him fit and stick him in there alongside Ale.
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Myke added 16:56 - Oct 5
Great report Colin although I object to the implication that non-attendees view is any less valuable than those that go to the games. Respect to those who travel the width and breadth of the country but we are all Rangers fans at the end of the day. Also I certainly don't 'bury' Rangers on-line - on the contrary as was evidenced by post after the Fulham game. That all said I agree with you fully; we're a work in progress, hampered so far by costly individual errors
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QPRCambs added 19:03 - Oct 5
Thanks for the comments. On the line-up, I meant to say 'kick towards' rather than 'kick off towards' :-) But you are right, it must have been Rangers who chose to kick that way. Goodness knows why - the sun must be more of a problem in the second half.

On the ref - well, to be honest in all the mayhem I didn't watch the ref that much. All I know is that I didn't recall getting agitated with him so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.

And, Myke, I did not aim that comment at you. Of course everyone's opinion is valid, it's just that in a game of 90 minutes I do wonder why the internet world comes unglued with each each negative twist and turn. And I really do think some of the comment about Chris Ramsey, Les Ferdinand is vindictive and unnecessary.
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Patrick added 19:04 - Oct 5
Just a thought given the boss's wish to give younger players a go. If I were Michael Doughty, I'd be wondering what has to happen before I get on the pitch. Go on Chris, make a "tough" decision and give the lad a chance.
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dixiedean added 19:09 - Oct 5
great report Colin - my only disagreement was the ref who was overly officious and often blew up, then seemed to consider whose foul it was with an exaggerated arm gesture. Not as awful as Deadman though IMO. Booking Chery when he had been fouled was a masterpiece of incompetence. Our support seems to be split into the more rational ones who get behind the team with " Come on you Rs " and the " Ramsey, Ramsey sort it out " and " you don't know what you're doing " brigade" who want Ramsey gone full stop. Even Mourinho's Mugs have been conceding all over the place, but their lot have not stooped to booing. I must admit I've been slipping from being pro-Ramsey to thinking he has to be able to sort out this defensive malaise, but I think credit is due to him on 2 fronts ; firstly for Chery's performance which was his best in a long while, so credit to him & CR for sorting out the Fulham debacle. Secondly his tactical nous in working out how to cope with the night club bouncer by doing what Palace did to BZ last year and drop a midfield player in front of him to cut off the supply. Result- zero input from Madine in 2nd half. That said if we give a 2 goal start to a Boro or Derby it's game over, so it was lucky we did it against BW who have a worse defence & keeper than us . God help them. What is it with Green's obsession with dropping a cross and then running after it like a puppy chasing a cat ? He'd be out if Smithies had been convincing. Hopefully Sandro's return will solve midfield conundrum, at least until his next injury or visit from HM Border Control. I think CR was reluctant to take off Henry for fear of the jeers he'd have got. Let's hope he 'rests' him for Brum.
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tsbains64 added 19:22 - Oct 5
good clear report. Think our expectations are too high but what a great comeback and two fantastic goals! Defense needs a lot of work but we need leaders,at the moment there seem to be too few on the field-to me that is a bigger problem
Great to see the aftee the game celebrations-there is team spirit there
Ramsey has an opportunityy to shine but is not rising to the fight -needs more bolder substitutions A great game because we won
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AgedR added 20:05 - Oct 5
Thanks for the report Colin.

I'm glad we won obviously, but, I did spend a lot of the game lamenting how Karl Henry was able to stay on the pitch, when Sandro and Faurlin were available.

I'm sorry I cannot and never have been able to find one reason for his presence in the starting eleven. This was epitomised by him booting the ball into the paddock under no pressure midway through the second half.

Sorry, he's so pant it was only the glorious JET finale that prevented a proper hump.

Ditch him Chris.
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Monahoop added 20:05 - Oct 5
Good report. Loads of concerns about the defence still so it would seem, but what the hell, we won in the end. Sounded like one of those typical do or die games one has come to expect in the Championship. Expect some more of the same as the season progresses.
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Marshy added 20:27 - Oct 5
I still can't fathom out Ramsey's tactics, and reluctance to make substitutions at crucial periods of games. Surely it's time to change the 4-2-3-1 approach in favour of 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. The problem we have been suffering from for a long time now is that with Redknapp he managed (debatable), but didn't coach, and with Ramsey he coaches and doesn't appear to manage. As I have posted previously I'm not against Chris Ramsey and would be happy for him to remain with us, but in my opinion he lacks the tactical expertise to take us forward. Therefore he needs help, and we either get someone in to help him (unlikely), or we part company and recruit someone who can coach and manage. We just got away with it against Bolton, and by the end of the match I was an emotional wreck. Thanks Chris.
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YorkRanger added 21:04 - Oct 5
Good report Colin.
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PunteR added 21:07 - Oct 5
Enjoyed the report. Cheers.
I thought the ref had a poor game though imho.

I've backed Henry on the message board but i agree he's having a poor season. I expected him to step up more since Barton left. I'm not sure if its because he's getting used to the new players around him,their movement and where they want the ball etc.
I don't rate Tozser from what i've seen so far but early days.
Good to see Sandro and Fer.
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romfordranger added 21:53 - Oct 5
A huge relief getting the 3 points and JETs 2nd goal did surprise me with the finish,great composure. Cut and paste from previous comments - defence again poor and please Mr Ferdinand, get CR a defensive coach to sort out the shambles. We will remain under pressure with a defence leaking so many goals. Not impressed with the 2 guys from Watford, haven't improved the team. Henry is having a nightmare, but with Sandro and Fer back, let's hope things improve.
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CiderwithRsie added 23:17 - Oct 5
"Cunis; strange name, neither one thing nor the other" - John Arlott. Heard that on a TMS retrospective Saturday morning
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isawqpratwcity added 00:10 - Oct 6
Thanks for the great report, Colin. A touch of wry humour there worthy of a very sardonic CW.

I felt at half-time that we weren't going to lose this game (a feeling that did desert me occasionally in the second half) but it was encouraging that the team could find the guts to fight back after a bad start. I hate it when a team turns up its toes at the first set-back and I'm heartened by some real spirit.
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Trom added 00:38 - Oct 6
Good match report. I'd the issue with Hall being rated lower than Angella. Criminal non-contest of the ball which led to their equaliser at 3-3. Could have cost us the match.
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snanker added 05:04 - Oct 6
A good read CS and a pure R's result in all ways. Certainly feel more time is needed to work out the right team mix and to be 3 pts from play offs at this stage we all would have taken at of seasons start. But for our inability to defend with a bit of discipline and nouse the scenario would be even better and ALL energies need to be fully focused on SORTING this out ASAP as well echoed. Yes 4-2-3-1 I agree Marshy well worth a try if we can tighten up at the back first. Will be a tough outing at Brum and perhaps this result doesn't need an international break so soon but this is the Championship and expect plenty of the same roller coaster to follow
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dixiedean added 11:29 - Oct 6
One person who hasn't been mentioned is Caulker. Granted his form last season was poor, but he'd be a notch or 2 up on the current lot for sure . Is he on loan at Soton for the season or can we recall him, seeing as he doesn't seem to be anywhere near their 1st team and perhaps he wouldn't mind actually playing a game ? Something about Hall doesn't convince me- he reminds me of Matt Connolly. Good footballer but somehow needs to be tougher to be a proper CB . I'm always wary of " ball-playing CBs" - that's a bit like a keeper being described as " good shot-stopper " ie can't catch crosses.
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