Familiar failings resurface as QPR lose at Derby – report
Wednesday, 4th Nov 2015 18:09 by Clive Whittingham
QPR lost 1-0 on the road for the second time in a matter of days at Derby on Tuesday night, in almost identical circumstances to the previous defeat at Brentford.
More than 500 QPR fans travelled through the fog, gloom and evening M1 traffic to reach Derby on Tuesday evening. If they’d seen the Brentford game four days previous, they needn’t have bothered. This was a carbon copy.
Embattled head coach Chris Ramsey changed the personnel and shape of the team in the wake of that 1-0 defeat in the West London derby, springing several surprises in the process. Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Tjaronn Chery and – most surprisingly given his threatening performance against the Bees – Massimo Luongo were dropped from the matchday squad altogether. Ale Faurlin made a rare start in midfield, Yun Suk-Young made his first appearance of the season, Charlie Austin returned from injury in attack.
Most weirdly, the whole thing was shoe-horned into a 4-4-2 formation. That was a rare nod towards public opinion from a manager who seems determined to do, and probably lose, his job his way regardless of what supporters may think, say and scream at matches. The selection of much-maligned Karl Henry on the right wing was much more Ramsey’s style.
That experiment got off to a shaky start when a ball was rolled into his path for crossing and Henry’s laughable attempt at delivering it into the area sent the ball bouncing off into a nearby canal. But, as at Griffin Park, the initial plan seemed to work quite well. Derby are in formidable form – nine unbeaten, seven of them wins – and even the most die-hard QPR fan would have been hard-pushed to predict anything other than an absolute shellacking here. But that didn’t materialise. The first half was a dull affair in keeping with the November weather, but with hosts as formidable as Paul Clement’s talented, well drilled, deceptively physical Rams that suited the visitors.
Neither keeper made a serious save before the break, but QPR had as many of the scraps as Derby. Charlie Austin moved menacingly towards and eighth minute cross that was flicked away from him at the last possible moment and then later Daniel Tozser shot hopelessly over from long range. The best move of the half from Ramsey’s side came just before the break with Yun Suk-Young’s hard running making a real difference down the left until he was annihilated by a fantastic tackle the likes of which haven’t been seen in these parts since the days of the Baseball Ground. Matt Phillips, selected up front to begin with, continued the move all the same with a cross that Austin headed down and Faurlin just couldn’t work space to get a proper shot away.
Of course there were scares at the other end. A Derby counter-attack midway through the half was pure-QPR, with several missed opportunities to clear the ball or tackle an opponent, and Yun and Faurlin inadvertently smashing into each other taking them both out of the game, but it came to nought when Johnny Russell’s shot was blocked behind by Hall – as did the next attack moments later when Nedum Onuoha slid in well at the near post to hook a dangerous low cross away. Paul Konchesky had been miles away from his left back station as that counter attack developed, but he later redeemed himself with a thumping tackle that won QPR a goal kick. What little momentum Derby were building at this point drained away with a nasty looking injury to Craig Forsyth which necessitated Stephen Warnock’s arrival from the bench.
Although the half ended with a chance for Chris Martin, headed wide from a free kick he’d won himself in an otherwise quiet half, the half time score was fair and Rangers were well in the game.
Then, it happened again. The home team upped their levels all across the park – everybody doing that little bit extra, that little bit quicker. Greater intensity, higher tempo, more purpose. QPR didn’t go with them. It was like, and I feel like I’ve written this before this week, they thought the whole frustrate them, quieten the crowd down, keep it tight job was exclusively a first half thing and wouldn’t need doing again after half time. Suddenly Derby were completely dominant and, just like Brentford on Friday, having not looked like scoring throughout the entire first half they could easily have had three goals in the first ten minutes of the second half.
They settled for one, crisply and accurately volleyed into the net by Andreas Weimann from 15 yards out after a touch off from Richard Keogh that had a hint of handball about it. Chris Ramsey was keen to point to that apparent mistake by referee Keith Stroud, but there didn’t look to be a lot in it at first glance despite Rob Green’s protests and really those complaints missed the point. Derby deserved to go ahead, QPR had done nowhere near enough to stop it happening since the second half began.
They could easily have gone behind second earlier when Jacob Butterfield was left completely unmarked in the centre of the penalty box but struck the post with a firm shot. And immediately after the goal Robert Green had to thrust his arms up and make a nervy parry when Bradley Johnson let fly with a ripsnorting shot that carried such venom it almost knocked the goalkeeper into the back of his own net.
Charlie Austin’s wild lunge on Cyrus Christie, an obvious yellow card, typified QPR’s loss of control in a game they’d worked hard to gain a foothold in.
The question now was could QPR do what they hadn’t been able to at Brentford – come from a goal down to take something from the game? The answer, fairly emphatically, was no. Rangers have retrieved seven points from losing positions this season, twice coming from two goals down to win against Bolton at Wolves. But against Lee Carsley’s team it felt like one goal was the winner, even though there was more than half an hour left, and this had exactly the same feeling about it. Junior Hoilett came on for Yun, presumably because he’d run out of gas after a very creditable first hour of his season, while Ramsey also removed Daniel Tozser to add Leroy Fer to his attack – something the team seemed to be crying out for in the last match. Later Tyler Blackwood, fresh back from a loan at Newport, came on for Faurlin who’d been tidy but quiet.
The reward could and should have come from the penalty spot. Scott Carson, who always has been prone to the odd brain fart, slid in on Hoilett as a loose ball dropped in the six yard box and although the Canadian clearly got to the ball first and toed it away from the keeper, the subsequent contact wasn’t deemed enough for a penalty by Keith Stroud. I make him wrong on that, it looked a stick-on to me.
But what else did the visitors offer? Answer, not much. The half bumbled and mumbled along for the final half hour. Bradley Johnson was booked for dissent for questioning why Stroud had awarded QPR a free kick as a Derby corner came in – unofficial reason was the corner had materialised in the first place from a Derby throw in that should have been a QPR ball and Stroud knew he’d made a mistake. Later the linesman on the opposite side left the field bored/injured to be replaced by the fourth official.
Matt Phillips had a great chance to plant a shot on target in injury time when a free kick was awarded for a foul by Johnson on Fer 25 yards out from goal. Unforgivably, he blasted the ball miles over the bar.
I’d say that rather summed Phillips and QPR up, but there was a better microcosm still to come. James Perch had already been booked for one reckless lunge on Stephen Warnock, and been penalised for a foul throw after repeatedly ignoring Stroud’s warnings about pinching yards whenever the ball went out, when he launched into an injury time tackle on Chris Martin. This was a challenge so utterly moronic it almost looked like he wanted the second yellow so he didn’t have to play on Saturday. Executed high, late, from behind, on a player with his back to goal going nowhere, it was one of the thickest pieces of play I’ve ever seen. Not only that, but having left his team to chase the game with ten men through six minutes of injury time, Perch then walked off the field rather than running, wasting even more of the precious few seconds that were left.
Given his form, his body language and now his behaviour on the pitch, I now refuse to believe to neither Michael Harriman nor Darnell Furlong couldn’t do a better job than Perch at right back. He’s been little more than abysmal since he arrived here and this was completely unprofessional.
There are a few cases like that. Would Ben Gladwin, now apparently staying on loan at Swindon for the entire season having started very well for them in his second stint for the club, not be worth a go in such a one-dimensional, one-paced midfield? Why has it taken this long for Yun to get a go in the team, given how well he played here and how poorly Paul Konchesky continues to play?
There are lots of sticks like this to beat Chris Ramsey about the head with at the moment, and the increasingly hysterical online QPR community is wasting no time at all in doing exactly that. But a week ago people wanted Ramsey to start playing two up front, start playing 442, start picking Ale Faurlin, start doing this, stop doing that. Here, in a 442 set up, with Faurlin in the team, with two up front, Rangers were still beaten.
QPR are a midtable Championship side. They beat the teams at the bottom, they lose to the teams at the top, and they draw with the ones in the middle with them. Sack Ramsey if you think it’s his fault that this is only a midtable side, but don’t expect it to change. QPR are not one recalled midfielder from Swindon or one youth team right back or one less Karl Henry or one more Yun Suk Young or a change in formation away from turning this all around – there’s in fact nothing to turn around, this team is what it is. The effort levels are there, there have been no capitulations which are usually the hallmark of a team throwing its manager under the bus, so any new manager coming in will struggle to get that extra 10% that usually sparks a ‘new manager bounce’. Chris Ramsey isn’t holding this all back massively, because there isn’t anything to hold back.
The sack now seems inevitable for him. But it would be a brave/stupid man to take this job on given the expectation levels around the place.
Derby: Carson 6; Christie 6, Shackell 6, Keogh 6, Forsyth 6 (Warnock 21, 6 (Baird 77, 6); Hendrick 6 (Hanson 83, -), Johnson 7, Butterfield 7; Russell 6, Martin 6, Weimann 7
Subs not used: Grant, Bryson, Bent Pearce
Goals: Weimann (assisted Keogh)
Bookings: Christie 41 (ungentlemanly), Johnson 57 (dissent), Weimann 85 (foul), Russell 90 (kicking ball away)
QPR: Green 6; Perch 4, Onuoha 6, Hall 7, Konchesky 5; Henry 6, Faurlin 6 (Blackwood 84, -), Tozser 6 (Fer 76, 5), Yun 7 (Hoilett 66, 5); Austin 6, Phillips 5
Subs not used: Doughty, Smithies, Angella, Polter
Red Cards: Perch 89 (two yellows)
Bookings: Yun 41 (ungentlemanly), Austin 48 (foul), Perch 72 (foul), Perch 89 (foul), Fer 90+2 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Yun Suk-Young 7 Out of position on the left wing, first appearance of the season, away at one of the division’s strongest teams, and QPR’s best player. Seems odd that he’s been out of the picture for as long as he has.
Referee – Keith Stroud 5 Chris Ramsey felt there was a handball in the lead up to the Derby goal but on first glance without a replay I didn’t think there was a lot in it, and that’s all the referee gets to see. The foul on Junior Hoilett by Scott Carson in the second half was a penalty, however, and looked exactly that at the time. By awarding a goal kick, he was admitting that the keeper didn’t get any of the ball. Perch red card absolutely correct.
Attendance – 28, 502 (536 QPR) Lively back and forth between the QPR fans and the Derby fans to the left of the away end in the first half. That rather died away in the second as the QPR performance wilted, leaving their fans to listen to the increasing fervour from next to them while watching their players let them down again on the pitch. Still, at least the substitutions didn’t spark a meltdown as they have done in recent games.
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