Polter proves the strikers’ case – Report Tuesday, 29th Dec 2015 18:18 by Clive Whittingham
A first league goal for QPR from maverick German Seb Polter wasn’t enough to earn QPR three points against lowly Huddersfield on Monday, nor hide the shortcomings in the Rangers’ side.
Make that four draws and one defeat from Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s first five matches in charge of Queens Park Rangers – new manager syndrome once again proving as bouncy as your average house brick for the West London club.
One can only hope the Dutchman is a fast learner, and took plenty of lessons from this Bank Holiday game with Huddersfield, otherwise positives from a dire encounter were scarce.
Hasselbaink’s assertion afterwards that his side had been “a bit unlucky” not to win the game was troubling. Huddersfield were a limited side last season and have sold four of their best players without adequate replacement in the meantime. A more limited side, assembled at a lower cost, you’d struggle to find at this level and yet a draw flattered the hosts and Huddersfield could easily have won at the death. The only unlucky ones here were the 16,662 poor souls who had to sit through it 90 minutes of this footballing atrocity.
In mitigation, the fixture list at this time of year puts great strain on players and squads. QPR played 48 hours before this at Ipswich and play again in four days’ time against Hull. You could therefore understand, and indeed support, the decision to leave Ale Faurlin on the bench despite his recent excellent displays with his well-documented injury history. Sadly, Daniel Tozser’s completely anonymous, totally ineffective, almost entirely invisible display in his stead only highlighted how reliant Rangers still are on their Argentinean playmaker even after his three ACL ruptures in three years.
Other selections were harder to understand. German striker Seb Polter hasn’t exactly been burdened with too much football over the last six months but was dropped to the bench here, despite having a hand in the goals Junior Hoilett scored at Bristol City and Ipswich, in favour of a return to the utterly ball-aching system Neil Warnock introduced during his brief second spell at the club where Rangers play without a striker at all.
Midfielder Leroy Fer started as furthest man forward, but was so poor here Rangers effectively started the game with ten players. Yes he’s out of position, yes he’s obviously low on confidence and increasingly has the fans on his back, but my goodness his was an insipid contribution. Even when things aren’t going for you, you can still run about and cause nuisance value. He looked completely disinterested.
Despite playing very well wide on the right in the last two matches, Matt Phillips was moved infield to support Fer. This didn’t work either, as it never does, and so after 25 minutes QPR switched Karl Henry into the advanced ‘ten’ role. Bad enough Henry, the most defensive of defensive midfielders, was starting wide on the right in the first place, but to move him up to be effectively the second striker was a new low in a forgettable season so far. He wandered around like a child lost in a supermarket, contributing nothing, as you would expect from somebody who has previously only read about crossing the halfway line in books.
Henry, unlike Fer, Tozser and Sandro, can/did at least run about on Monday, but he won’t be a right winger or a number ten as long as he’s got a hole in his arse. That Massimo Luongo can’t even get ten minutes off the bench in this team is now mind boggling. I’m watching the wrong sport, and obviously have been for the last 25 years. I understand nothing about this game. Never mind a transfer request, if I was him and I saw Karl Henry being preferred in my position in these circumstances I’d be considering a change of career. Likewise Ben Gladwin, still stuck out on loan at Swindon. Likewise Michael Harriman, tearing it up for Wycombe. Michael Petrasso has once more sunk without trace. The big names, meanwhile, play every week, turning in the same performances for the same results.
Rangers, who are supposed to be chasing a play-off spot this season, took on one of the division’s strugglers, at home, with a line up and caution more akin to an FA Cup tie away at a good Premier League side. Huddersfield would have been happy with a point before kick off, and in the end the only saving grace was they didn’t realise all three were there for the taking until a good portion of the match had already passed.
The entire first half produced barely half a dozen moments worthy of note. Phillips and Tozser tested Huddersfield with a couple of devilish early corners but it took until the last five minutes of the half for a serious shot to be attempted on visiting keeper Joe Murphy’s goal – Fer scuffed one wide while Junior Hoilett, who can at least hold his head up after another decent performance continued his recent revival, curled one over the bar after executing a one two. Both were met with ironic cheers and applause from a crowd that could scarcely believe how bad their team was playing.
Huddersfield had the best two chances of the half. Nahki Wells, belatedly finding his feet and starting to look a real player at this level, fashioned an unorthodox header on goal midway through the half which forced Rob Green to improvise a similarly weird one-handed save. Later the former Bradford striker ran in behind the defence and cut the ball back from the byline but Green read his intentions well and snuffed out the danger with a swift bit of footwork and safe catch as visiting players rushed in behind him expecting to head into an empty net.
But that really was it. Sandro was very lucky not to be yellow carded by referee Brendan Malone for a stupid lunging tackle on Mustapha Carayol in front of the dug outs after 24 minutes, and that really rather summed up the Brazilian’s day. Before that, with barely a quarter of the game played, the QPR defence tried to clear its area after punting a Huddersfield corner away down the field and there was Sandro, deeper than any of them, struggling to get up to a jogging speed, blowing out of every orifice. Tozser, understandably, attracted much of the ire of the crowd, and in fact the decision to remove Sandro, rather than the Hungarian, for Seb Polter just after the hour brought heckles and booing from the stands, but my God “The Beast” was absolutely dreadful. He looks, and is, physically shot. Another big name QPR are pinning all their hopes on, ahead of younger lesser-known options, despite it yielding the same, negative, performances and results. He was baggage here from scarily early in the game.
Polter, after his introduction, proved once again, as he has done several times in recent weeks, that even playing with a mediocre striker is better than playing without one at all. The free-flowing Fer and Henry attacking dreamteam now mercifully broken up, QPR had a physical presence in attack, willing to work hard to stop Huddersfield playing out from the back, willing to challenge for headers and make a nuisance of himself, and capable of holding the ball in attacking areas. Fer was removed altogether shortly after Polter’s arrival and Tjaronn Chery introduced, to rapturous applause from the home fans, and Rangers were a thousand times better for it. Polter swiftly drew a booking from Mark Hudson for a bad tackle.
The former Wolfsburg trainee scored too. Not a goal that will be winning any prizes for artistic merit, but a goal that never, ever looked likely without him on the pitch. Third sub Jay Emmanuel Thomas looped a long throw into the area, Nedum Onuoha flicked the ball on and Polter controlled the ball with his back to goal before swivelling and smashing home from close range. Play a striker, score a goal, who would have thought it? Earlier, in literally the only attacking move QPR put together in the first hour of the game, Matt Phillips found himself with the ball at his feet, facing the goal, with no defenders around him after Leroy Fer had cleverly stepped over a low Paul Konchesky cross from the left. His finish was abject, easily saved, when it seemed easier to score, betraying Phillips’ lack of self-belief at the moment. Polter, with a much more difficult chance, didn’t mess about.
Defeat would have been harsh on Huddersfield. Jamie Paterson got caught under a cross 20 minutes from time and headed over when left unmarked in the middle of the QPR goal. They took him off and brought on Sean Scannell shortly after that, who on first glance looks to have eaten the original Sean Scannell, along with all the other food in Huddersfield, and assumed his identity. New German coach David Wagner also brought on Joe Lolley, a non-league star with Kidderminster recently revitalised by a loan spell in League One at Scunthorpe, and he quickly tested Green with a low shot from the edge of the area that the keeper was equal to in the bottom corner.
The equaliser they deserved arrived five minutes from time. Lolley was fouled by Tozser, Green challenged Wells to beat a tall wall containing both Polter and Emmanuel-Thomas by leaving the whole of the right side of his goal wide open and the Huddersfield man was more the equal to the task. By the time Green had got all the way back across the goal, the ball was already nestling in the bottom corner. Green has taken the blame on the Twitter, but it was the wall’s side of the goal and you have to ask why two Huddersfield players were allowed to park themselves in that defensive line up and part them so easily.
Now panicking, Rangers could easily have lost. Green flapped at a corner two minutes later and Scannell hit the rebound wide. Then deep into injury time a low cross from the right was allowed to trundle all the way through the goal mouth to the back post where Konchesky was caught completely on his heels, apparently thinking about other things, and only Scannell will know how he failed to convert from four yards out. In the end he bundled it straight into Green’s arms.
Plenty more food for thought here for QPR’s new management. The team selection for the New Year’s Day game on this ground will likely be a good deal more interesting than the match itself.
QPR Star Man – Seb Polter 7 Could yet turn into a bit of a cult hero down at Loftus Road. Works hard, closes down defenders, competes physically, causes a nuisance in the opposition area, and has now had a hand in QPR’s last three goals. And even if none of that was true, playing with a striker of any sorts is better than starting without one at all. Really chuffed he got on the scoresheet.
Referee – Brendan Malone (Wiltshire) 7 Fairly decent, not a lot to referee, generously let Sandro away without a yellow card in the first half.
Attendance 16,662 (1,000 Huddersfield approx) I actually thought there looked a good few more than that in for this one, with the Lower School End full of QPR as well. Good following from Huddersfield too, given their league position, the distance, the time of year, the amount of games at the moment and the flooding in that part of the world. Very decent crowd, such a shame it was bored into complete silence by a dreadful game of football.
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Just when it appeared the whole thing was coming together........the honeymoon comes crashing back to earth. The test for JFH now is how quickly he can assess this motley crew and make the tough decisions. Perhaps it is time to move the so called big hitters on, sick of waiting for them to step up. Would like to see some genuine honesty from the manger now. Anything else would be an insult to the knowledge and patience of the fans.
I, like others was happy for JFH to be appointed, with hope of some better tactics/selections and substitutions and looked forward to us being a little braver and a tad more exciting to watch while working towards the correct blend and attitude on the pitch. I still hope he will get it right but yesterdays selection did leave me frustrated and disapointed. Polter is not that bad, he is not great but at least he can occupy defenders and at Ipswich he kept running trying to close defenders down. I cant see either why Luongo has not at least been introduced as sub for Fer or even started instead of him. I just thought it was a very negative line up for a home game v Huddersfield, or any side come to that, it seems not being beat is more important at the moment than playing well or even winning. It's understandable that some coaches may want to build the foundations from the back, get that right and slowly move forward, but these foundations were already here and playing Fer when out of form, Phillips out of position and Henry as a winger does nothing to help consolidate those foundations, it just takes a big chunk from underneath them. Still hopeful it will come good but a bit more concerned than before.
In all my years of watching QPR. this was probably the worst team performance I have seen in many a year. With a team selection containing no recognised right back, a defensive holding midfield an no recognised striker left a disjointed team it was no wonder the crowd was so quiet watching this sleep inducing performance.
The team appeared to be set up for the first leg of an away semi final at Old Trafford. If we intend to rest players over the hectic Christmas period, then at least play with one recognised striker - especially at home.
As for the free kick leading to the equalising goal, from my position sitting in the Upper Loft, it was as clear as day that the ball would be struck towards the two Huddersfield players standing on the left hand side of our wall, who then parted for the shot
Clive,as you write in your match summary, there must be a number of players wondering why they cannot make the starting selection, givien poor performance like this. Hopefully JFH will recognise the problems with this unbalanced team selection and make appropriate tactical team changes this Friday.
Hasselbaink moaned about bad luck, it wasn't anything to do with luck. It was rank stupidity, a starting 11 that completely defied logic. There was nothing clever about this, and if he had named that team the morning of the game I wouldn't have bothered turning up. Apart from Hoiletts return to form, what is the difference from Ramsey? If I was Luongo, I would just hand in a transfer request. As for the youngsters, what is the point. Imagine seeing the likes of Fer strutting around without giving a toss, or Sandro shuffling around panting out of his arse, and still not getting a game. I can only think Hasselbaink met up with Louis van Gaal in Amsterdam for a few wacky baccies in an Amsterdam cannabis coffee shop, came back stoned, and thought it would be a good idea to start against a struggling team with no recognised forwards. This was one of the worst performances I have seen, simply clueless but this time not the players fault. Let's put Green up front and play Chery in goal, it does almost seem like he is completely taking the piss! Rant over, but I will give the Hull game a miss, my blood pressure can't take any more of this.
Thank you Clive for taking the time to write such a detailed report without really having anything to 'report'. Just looking at the selection made me realise that all my enthusiasm for the appointment of JFH was almost certainly misplaced. Has he even bothered watching any previous matches with this line up? I really thought he would make the radical changes that so glaringly need making and put the likes of Toszer Fer and Henry back on the bench at best and bring in some creativity and speed with the likes of Chery and Luongo and put faith in youth. But no it's the same old....Clive you are right there is something so wrong with the club I've been supporting for over 40 years. Not going to take myself to watch that anymore this season.
Clive as usual your reports seem to be kept simple and to the point, which makes reading them all the more disheartening. The lack of game time for Luongo is mind-blowing considering some of the players who have now either started or come on over the last 5 games. If we give JFH some Leigh way and allow him the credit to possibly be using his squad, then it’s not working. So are we left to believe he doesn’t rate either Luongo or Gladwin (I know he’s on loan, why I can’t understand though), were both not purchased because they had fantastic seasons last season and JFH knows that too , both were said by Ramsey and Ferdinand to be exactly the type of young player, hungry for success that we need to build a team around !!!!!! here we are now with Henry and Tozzier now being what we require, Me thinks something has gone a rye. Who exactly is buying these players , players that seem to be exactly what we require at the minute but the age old adage of experience is thrown out as a smoke screen , over the last 5 games we haven’t been kicked off the pitch or physically been overpowered , so called lesser sides have played the better football against us because the team itself seems to lack the self-belief it needs because every time that bit of magic we require is needed , whom ever is in charge is afraid to show a bit of courage and throw them in at the deep end , Loungo especially seems to suffer because of this , we seem to be turning into a team made up of over paid , lack lustre , has been premier league players who just fancy an easy few bob for their remaining days and I for one thought that was what we were told wouldn’t happen again ,,,,,,
Neil Warnock must be laughing his face off sitting by his mobile (if he's got one) waiting for the Judge to give him another Six months. I can hear him now "Henry in the number 10 position, Sharon get me my coat"
Thanks Clive I came away scratching my head and completely deflated after this game but after your report i now know its not me with the problem !. I feel nothing for these players and was not bothered when Huddersfield scored , a feeling i have never had in over 30 years of supporting the club. The one person i did feel sorry for was Polter , you could see how much it meant to him to score, it would have been great for him if it was the winner. This was supposed to be a treat for me and my kids , it could not have been more opposite. They are 14 and 12 years old, i have told them we wont be going again this season, i did not have to explain to them why, if they can see it why cant the powers at be see it. We will be back but not for a while. Just cant justify the cost for that.
I can only agree with the above comments. It's still early days for JFH, but his team selection here really doesn't bode too well. What can Polter and Emmanuel-Thomas be feeling when the starting 'strike force' comprises two massively under-performing midfielders. How or why Fer, Toszer and Sandro start any match is a mystery. Henry and Phillips aren't much better. We have the superior Luongo sitting on the bench if he's lucky...what does he have to do to get a game? Without Austin & Faurlin we look a complete shambles. It's about as poor a QPR team as I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of poor QPR teams since my first visit in 1961. It's probably not do-able, but we pretty much need a complete overhaul of the squad. And when we start bringing in fresh blood, please don't let whoever is responsible for buying the current shower have any kind of input. Hull should be interesting.
Must rank as an all time worst selection of a team. No strikers but 2 named on the bench. No one in midfield with any hint of creativity. Fer the lone man upfront with no effort whatsoever. Phillips missed an absolute sitter. I doubt at the moment he would even score if the ball was on the line. As far as Tosser is concerned it would be an insult to even describe him as a footballer.
Something clearly is not right. No manager in his right mind would voluntarily select a team based purely on past reputation, whilst leaving decent players on the bench who want to play, and at least have some desire. Is JFH being coerced by those above. Is it that players like Phillips & Fer are on display for the purposes of the January transfer window. Well if that was the intention, with this performance it would have had the entirely opposite effect to that intended. To me and I'm sure thousands of other R's supporters, none of this makes any sense at all.
The selection reminded me of the "must win" home game v WHU when we were first treated to Henry on right mid.if that was a Ramsey team he'd have been abused with You don't know what you're doing. Not advocating giving JFH stick as the booing idiots get on my tits but this nonsense of Phillips up front has to stop. We're all agreed Seb is no world beater but as a live said an average striker has to be better than none. And Green should have done better with the free kick. He moved JET to the end of the wall as he presumably expected a left footed shot. Can't think why else the wall was halfway to the corner flag.
If the manager's name was blanked of the match reports, it wouldn't be glaringly obvious who was in charge. We have the same baffling selections, inconsistency of performance and mediocrity of results.
I am still disappointed that Ramsey was dismissed, but here we are. How do we improve? Well, playing a striker would be a f*cking good start.
What is the story on the selections? Current theories include orders from on high to play the 'big names', conservatism by managers to stick with more familiar options and some kind of dressing-room revolt. I don't buy any of these but I'd really appreciate it if we could get a functional team together soon.
You know they say you should never return to a club that you left as a hero. I question what Sir Les is doing at QPR!? Surely he understands the game enough to see what is going on, surely he sees that the promise of youth and squad development is even further from a reality than Karl Henry not being involved in the build up play to conceding another lame goal. In all my years I have never scratched my head more. I have gone past embarrassment of supporting this team to complete apathy, QPR seem to have the ability to strangle the life out of football supporters thirst for the game, maybe a bit like an alcoholic going off booze overnight! Tony should stick to running low cost, low thrills airlines instead of high cost low thrills football clubs.
Thanks for the reat write up as usual Clive. Ive read most of the boards and have yet to find a positive spin on this display. Not sure where to begin reall so I'm just going to write it off as JFH having a bad day at the office. I said early in the season that i didnt think our players were good enough to get promoted, I actually hoping to god that we dont now.
Feel sorry for the youngsters who must have been promised so much when they signed only to get shafted by the owner and DOF. Loungo need to get out now to save his international career and what the others need o do to get game time is a mystey to me. You dont have o be a conspiricy theorist to see something very wrong is going on behind the scenes. Ill await the next episode of this soap opera with baited breath.
QPR, which one of the below does not apply ?. 1. to conjure a state of little or no sensibility; benumb the faculties of; put into a stupor. 2. to stun, as with a shock, or a strong (confused) emotion. 3. to overwhelm with amazement; astound; astonish and bewilder.
Answer None......................spot on again Clive, its like a Kafka novel......................