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QPR cash in their referee chips in Wednesday stalemate – report
Wednesday, 21st Oct 2015 20:15 by Clive Whittingham

QPR tightened their leaky defence, at the expense of the attack, and fought out a goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday at Loftus Road on Tuesday which left the visitors cursing referee Andy Haines.

Well, on a positive note, this shouldn't take too long at all.

Chris Ramsey initially built a team that scored more goals than any other in the Championship, but also shipped them faster than everybody else at the other end, and was roundly derided for it. On Tuesday night against Sheffield Wednesday he fielded a more pragmatic, tighter side with much smaller exploitable gaps between the defence, midfield and attack, sacrificing some of the gung-ho attitude in the process and kept a second clean sheet of the season.

The boos at the end told their own story. It will take a comeback of Paul Furlong proportions for Ramsey to win the majority of the QPR crowd back from here. He can’t do right for doing wrong in the eyes of a restless church.

The majority of the ire this time centered around the second-half removal of Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, selected up front alone with a three-man supporting cast and architect of QPR's best – only – attacking moment of the first half when he cut infield and unloaded a speculative shot which Kieran Westwood fumbled into the path of Tjaronn Chery who couldn't convert from two yards out. The Dutchman’s doing quite a number in sitters at the moment.

Emmanuel-Thomas was, however, less effective, less hard-working and less involved than he had been against Bolton and Birmingham in the last two matches. Ramsey said after the weekend game, where he'd been barracked for replacing the burly forward with Sebastien Polter four minutes from time when it perhaps would have made more sense to play them both while chasing a deficit in the dying embers of the game, that Emmanuel-Thomas is carrying a knock. That felt like a manufactured PR line cooked up afterwards when it was clear the supporters weren't happy with the change, but there was plenty to support it here – Emmanuel Thomas lumbered about and offered little.

Oddly, though, Polter didn't even make the bench on Tuesday – a decision which the striker described as a "fucking joke" on his personal Twitter feed, leading inevitably to a fine from the club. That left Ramsey to send on either Leroy Fer or the forgotten man Junior Hoilett in his place and – on paper, if not in practice – field players for a Paul Hart-style 4-6-0 formation. "You don't know what you're doing," inevitably drifted down from the stands. That Fer subsequently won his fair share of flicked headers - one of which cued up Matt Phillips to advance into space 18 yards out with no challenge and time to pick his spot before thrashing wildly, hopelessly over the bar – didn't matter.

The Polter situation rather sums up Ramsey’s standing with the majority of the QPR support now. The German striker is, fairly obviously, struggling to make an impact at QPR. In a recent U21 defeat to Brentford at Loftus Road he was marked out of the game by the visiting teenagers. Some QPR fans have long suspected the former Wolfsburg trainee isn't up to it - in fact back in July on a wet afternoon in Newport a section of the travelling support decided they'd already seen enough to start signing about a "fucking shit German".

By Saturday at Birmingham that had morphed into some seriously unpleasant abuse for Polter from a section of the support in the back left corner of the away end. Given Polter's lack of action, you'd have to be a serial attender at QPR youth and reserve matches and training to have seen him for more than a couple of hours collectively. Nevertheless, the opinion has been formed and, it seems, carries some weight. Chris Ramsey, who sees the player everyday in training, now feels the same – why else would he leave his only fit centre forward out entirely, with Emmanuel-Thomas apparently unfit, forcing his own hand into bringing a midfielder on for a striker with a goal required?

And yet, Ramsey is pilloried for that as well. Abused for bringing Polter on for Emmanuel Thomas on Saturday, he's now copping it for not doing exactly that on Tuesday. Ramsey was an idiot for not realising Polter is a "fucking shit German" when the Championship Manager veterans in the crowd did back in July, and now he's an idiot for agreeing with them.

He's also taking stick for, as usual, failing to fully utilize all three substitutions, but then as Fer's introduction showed there wasn't much he could have done that wouldn't have brought hell's abuse from three sides of Loftus Road. Daniel Tozser could certainly have been removed safely, but had Sandro, Matt Phillips, Massimo Luongo or Tjaronn Chery been taken off for any of the players on the bench the reaction would have been hostile.

It does feel like he can't win now.

That despite Ramsey finally, finally leaving Karl Henry out of the starting 11. This was the second time he's sat out this season, and the second time QPR have kept a clean sheet. It's not a coincidence. Henry, terrifyingly, stripped down to his shorts and warmed up in the second half, hinting that he may have been introduced. To do so would have been tantamount to Ramsey signing his own death warrant.

Ramsey also recalled Clint Hill to the back four, albeit only with James Perch suspended and Gabrielle Angella carrying an injury and only fit for the bench. The difference in having a mean centre half willing to stick his head on the ball was clear – QPR looked far less vulnerable to the set pieces they've been conceding from routinely this season. With ten minutes left for play Hill produced a typically brilliant header to save a certain goal, deep inside his own six-yard box. That experience and physicality has been missed amidst Ramsey's quest for a central defence that can pass the ball out and start attacks.

It could easily have been the bedrock for a hard-fought 1-0 home victory against a team that had been unbeaten in six coming into the fixture. A deep cross in the seventy eighth minute found Chery at the back post whose first time volley would beat most goalkeepers in this league, but was excellently saved by the often-underrated Westwood who'd crabbed across his line expertly and covered the angle.

But it's hard to be too harsh on the opinion or reaction of anybody who paid to get in and see this. Not only was it a desperately dull, seemingly never-ending, game of football, but QPR were lucky not to lose it.

Ramsey has been slow to change things during games throughout his time here, and seems more likely to resign his post than change the formation mid-match. He's hamstrung, as Harry Redknapp was, by an over-supply of 'tens' who want to play in the hole behind the striker, and not enough actual wingers and centre forwards. But Chery and Luongo, two of those tens, were bought on his watch and now often have to play out of position on the flanks. Polter, too, was signed by this management team. Matt Phillips, so improved initially under Ramsey's coaching, was so dreadfully mediocre in this game after a poor performance at Birmingham on Saturday. He smashed a fine effort over the bar from an impossible position just after half time, then later missed a much easier chance by more.

Everybody present knows QPR were far more likely to lose this game than win it. Indeed, only the finishing of Barry Bannan and the refereeing of Andy Haines stood between Sheff Wed and three points.

Twice, once at the end of the first half and once at the end of the second, Bannan accelerated into space in the QPR penalty area, cut inside his man as the defence melted away in front of him, looked up to see the whites of the goalkeeper's eyes and then picked his spot high and wide, over the bar and into the stand. Thank goodness he did, they'd have been looting the shops long into the night if he hadn't.

Haines, meanwhile, gave a performance that, had it all been the other way around, would have had QPR fans recalling the days of Gurnham Singh and Rob Styles.

The first flashpoint came five minutes before half time. QPR had already had a warning what Wednesday could and would do if the centre halves dallied in possession – which they were forced to frequently by a lack of movement in front of them or option offered by Sandro and Tozser. Grant Hall was fortunate that Modou Sougou lost his footing when played in by Adrian Nuhiu – Hall had lost the ball in a dangerous area while looking for a pass to play.

Nuhui was something of a comedy character on the evening, lumbering around and offering little threat. At one stage he caught the ball cleanly in two hands – a crisp claim the likes of which Robert Green has only read about in books – presumably thinking he'd been pushed only for a free kick to be, rightly, awarded against him. Later, when he was actually fouled by Nedum Onuoha over by the South Africa Road stand, he tried to carry on only to realise a free kick might not be a bad result after all so very, very belatedly collapsed to the ground with nobody around him.

But there was plenty for the visitors to complain about in the forty second minute when Hill was caught flat-footed and lackadaisical in possession by Sougou. The Wednesday man was clean in on goal with only Green ahead of him. Hill, realising his mistake, lunged into a desperate tackle that took none of the ball and sent the Wednesday man sprawling to the ground. It was an obvious foul and red card. Haines looked at his linesman and didn't even award a free kick. Sougou was stretchered off under a blanket in a bad way.

That injury caused a prolonged stoppage. When play did resume, Matt Phillips quickly lunged in on Wednesday's Rhoys Wiggins – late, nowhere near the ball, reckless, another obvious foul and a yellow card. With the Wednesday bench now spilling out onto the pitch in rage, Haines again waved play on. Earlier he’d booked Sandro for a wild lunge which other referees would have judged more harshly.

Once is an accident, twice is careless, a third time? Plenty of conspiracy theorists among the impressively large travelling support making their way back up the M1 last night I suspect because six minutes into the second half Lucas Joã, on for Forestieri at half time, appeared to be clearly tripped from behind as he accelerated into the QPR box. No penalty given.

There's a danger Rangers have used up all their refereeing decision in one evening. How many lives Chris Ramsey has left, remains to be seen.

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

QPR: Green 6; Onuoha 6, Hall 6, Hill 6, Konchesky 6; Tozser 5, Sandro 6; Phillips 4, Luongo 6, Chery 5; Emmanuel-Thomas 5 (Fer 69, 5)

Subs not used: Doughty, Faurlin, Henry, Hoilett, Smithies, Angella

Bookings: Sandro 8 (foul)

Sheff Wed: Westwood 6; Palmer 6, Loovens 6, Lees 6, Wiggins 6; Sougou 6 (Wallace 42, 6), McGugan 6 (Lee 69, 6), Semedo 6, Bannan 5; Forestieri 5 (Lucas João 45, 7), Nuhiu 4

Subs not used: Wildsmith, Pudil, Sasso, Hutchinson

QPR Star Man – Massimo Luongo 6 Best of a very mediocre bunch, just looks a slight cut above with his touch and passing. I’d have given it to Clint Hill but it doesn’t seem quite right somehow! QPR’s actual Man of the Match was the referee…

Referee – Andy Haines (Tyne and Wear) 3 Obviously from a QPR point of view he was absolutely wonderful, apart from his aversion to carding Nuhiu, but if we were in the Wednesday end I’m sure I’d be ranting on now about bias, incompetence and failing to ensure the safety of the players. Several massive, not particularly difficult, decisions wrong – all in QPR’s favour. Cashed in all our chips for the season in one match I reckon.

Attendance – 15,471 (1,800 Sheff Wed approx) Looked a questionable declaration given the number of empty seats in both lower tiers behind the goal and the end of Ellerslie Road. Topped up by a really impressive following from Sheffield on a Tuesday night. Neither set made much noise mind, although they both tried – bored into submission.

The Twitter @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

Photo: Action Images



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extratimeR added 23:37 - Oct 21
Thanks Clive.

Yes, grim night, Referee's performance was extremely odd, (thank god!).

Its going to be a very long season.
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snanker added 04:32 - Oct 22
Sure he is older & without match fitness & somewhat off the pace but he straightened the defence right up and showed some faint hearts how to get about the park with presence,authority and good ol' 20th century vigor. Yer he was lucky to get away with errors that a lack of game time highlights but give me that commitment and competitiveness any day of the week and I'm easily pleased. Typical it has to come from a 37 y.o. who hasn't featured in ages for the equal leakiest defence in the Championship Clint Hill welcome back MOM !
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TheChef added 08:09 - Oct 22
It was pretty much like every QPR home Championship game I saw between 2004 and 2010. After the boom and bust of the past few seasons, in a perverse way I enjoyed it!
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BlackandGoldR added 08:17 - Oct 22
Feel a 4 for Phillips is a bit harsh, at least he created some chances out of nothing. Definitely offered more than chery who got a 5. But other than that excellent overview of the game as usual.
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PinnerPaul added 08:48 - Oct 22
Agree with comments on ref with two exceptions, the penalty shout in 2nd half looks a lot less compelling on screen than it did in real life and Sandro's challenge was very early - in the 8th minute - should not make any difference whatsoever but at this level and above it does - so yellow was what I expected.

Hill's red card foul looks more obvious with each viewing, can , just about, make a case for it being a yellow, using a bit of referee technical waffle, but to not even give a free kick.............................

He also missed a late lunge on Hill right in front of Ellerslie in the 1st half.
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Antti_Heinola added 10:28 - Oct 22
Thanks Clive
And cheers Pinner - anyone else seen the penalty shout? At the time I was sure, but I sit in Clive's area, so I'm miles away. My only thing was not a single Wednesday player seemed to even appeal. Either they're very disciplined, or he lost his footing.
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Northernr added 11:14 - Oct 22
Seen it since and it's a penalty.
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TacticalR added 12:19 - Oct 22
Thanks for your report.

I've only seen the highlights, and they weren't much to write home about. We really did get away with one in terms of refereeing decisions.

Onuoha watch. I know I am developing an unhealthy obsession with Onuoha's errors, but I couldn't help noticing that Banham turned Onuoha inside out in the box exactly the same way that Wellington Silva did for one of Bolton's goals in the last home match, and that Onuoha's poor ball control led to him getting caught on the ball which led to the long pass from Sheffield Wednesday that put Clint Hill in trouble.
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PinnerPaul added 12:26 - Oct 22
Good decisive refereeing there Clive :-)

Tactical - Yes sadly Ned is struggling for form and more so when played at RB, he seems to drift inside an awful lot when played there.

Not as exposed as v Bolton as whole team defended better without the ball but still a concern.
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TheChef added 14:43 - Oct 22
TacticalR - Onuoha is not a right back. Play him centre back with Hill and he'll be fine.

You look at the shambles of a back four we've had this season, plus you've got Green behind them, no wonder he is low on confidence. We saw how well he did alongside Dunne in the 13/14 season, hopefully Hill can do a similar job to Dunne.
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dixiedean added 14:54 - Oct 22
as you said Clive, in the eyes of some Ramsey is the Devil incarnate, so he is damned for whatever he does ( or doesn't) do. I thought Chief had a shocker - worst player on the pitch by far. Hall is not rugged enough for a defender IMO. Reminds me too much of Matt Connolly. Nice neat player but not tough or nasty enough to be a CB. Towards the end they broke away and he could have shoved their player in the back near centre circle , yet let him bring it down and lay off to the runner who had acres to run into. Should have fouled him and probably wouldn't have got booked for it. Yes we got the better of those 3 big decisions from the ref, but then again the ref bought Donaldson's soft pen on Saturday. Does Perch walk back in now, seeing how back Ned was ? Both poor on current form. Strange that Furlong is now out of favour when he was given a few outings last season and most thought he'd be our RB this season.
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Patrick added 17:34 - Oct 22
Absence of alternative right back is not a plus point for our management. "To lose one useful young RB on loan and then need him may be unfortunate, but to lose two is careless" (to coin a phrase). On a night for the defence, even with the unfortunate incident, that man Clint Hill my MOTM easily - Clint by name, Clint by nature. Nobody laughs at his mule.
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Marshy added 19:06 - Oct 22
Taking JET off was an absolutely diabolical decision. Ramsey just hasn't got a clue. I couldn't believe that Tozer remained on the field for 90 minutes. Has he become the new Karl Henry - not one forward pass in the entire match. On a more positive note Luongo and Clint did put in good performances, and at least we kept a clean sheet.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that its only a question of time before Neil Warnock will take over as manager, and he will bring in Shaun Derry as his assistant. Add in a role for Clint Hill and it would be the dream team. Wishful thinking I know.
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062259 added 19:33 - Oct 22
I'm beginning to wonder why we didn't take the £12 million from Leicester for Austin. Really, what was the point? And I bet Austin now wishes he'd gone there.....

If we're lucky he'll leave in the next window for £5 million, otherwise he'll leave at the end of the season for nothing. And for what? Brinkmanship over the summer. An expensive way of digging your heels in.

If you think this season is going to be bad, wait for next season.
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HastingsRanger added 00:35 - Oct 23
Hill certainly gave organisation at the back which has been lacking. What are the terms of the loan players, as being short of a right back is ridiculous? Why is Yuk-sing not being considerd? Massing played ok. I thought both teams looked toothless in attack though. Surprised we are 10th after this run and cannot believe the ineptness of the ref.
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