Rampant Newcastle inflict record defeat on sorry QPR - Report
Wednesday, 14th Sep 2016 18:39 by Clive Whittingham
QPR suffered the worst home league defeat in the club’s history on Tuesday night as title favourites Newcastle ran riot at Loftus Road.
A worst ever home defeat in the league for Queens Park Rangers, and yet the overriding emotion by the end of the night was ‘thank God it wasn’t a lot worse’.
Newcastle, as rampant and dominant as you’ll ever see an away side in any game at any level anywhere in the world, registered 28 shots on Alex Smithies’ goal – not far off one every three minutes. Certainly the best team I’ve ever seen in this division, and running white hot with it.
They settled for six goals, but could easily have had twice that. Smithies, filling the role of coconut in a coconut shy, saved spectacularly to deny Matt Ritchie before half time then somehow tipped a header from Mitrovic onto the underside of the bar in the second before racing from his line to deny Ayoze Perez in a one on one situation. That could have been nine and when you consider Newcastle also had a goal ruled out in a borderline offside decision in the first five minutes, and missed literally scores of other chances besides, it doesn’t really bear thinking about. The lions v Christians bouts of ancient Rome were less one-sided.
We’ll do this bit first, because while it isn’t an excuse it is worth saying… Newcastle should thrash QPR when they play them.
Rangers have been criticised for not bringing in a proper, line-leading, Championship goalscorer this summer but as they cut their cloth according to FFP constraints after years of excess, they simply can’t afford one at current market rates. Those Championship market rates have been grossly inflated largely by two clubs the size of Newcastle and Aston Villa coming into it. Suddenly somebody who looks half decent for Bristol City for nine months aged 26 costs £15m, Ross McCormack sets you back £12m despite being 30 years old, Dwight Gayle is rewarded for failing in the Premier League with a £10m move. Hell, even Daryl Murphy, as run-of-the-mill a Championship centre forward as you’re ever likely to see, and 33 years old at that, cost Newcastle £3m and just to really put the tin hat on it neither Gayle nor Murphy can get in this team.
Newcastle – whose starting line included Matt Ritchie (£12m), Aleksander Mitrovic (£14.5m) and Jonjo Shelvey (£12m) – were able to leave Gayle, Mo Diame (£4.5m), Grant Hanley (£5m) and others on the bench while Murphy didn’t travel at all. Even at their most excessive, QPR would have struggled to afford this team and those days are long gone in Shepherd’s Bush – Rangers now forced to take £1.5m punts on players from dark corners of Europe and hope they adapt to the English game. Every one of the Newcastle substitutes, possibly with the exception of goalkeeper Karl Darlow, would have got into the QPR team and been one of its star names.
Throw in a manager who beat Barcelona and Real Madrid to a league title in Spain with Valencia, and later won the Champions League with Liverpool, and it’s fair to say that Newcastle should be beating QPR 95 times out of 100 in their respective current forms. As the Premier League television money continues upwards, while the Championship imposes draconian FFP rules on its members, so results like this will become more common place, as teams buoyed by ever increasing parachute payments steamroller lesser lights into the dust. It was always a possibility that QPR would be mauled here.
But you don’t fucking lose 6-0 at home.
The fact that it’s never happened to Rangers in 130-odd years of football tells you everything you need to know. QPR are not a big club, they’ve had some rotten sides down the years, and there have been some sixes along the way in recent times against Chelsea and Fulham. But we’ve never lost a home league game 6-0 – Man Utd, Liverpool, the great footballing dynasties of this country, none of them have come to Loftus Road and won 6-0. It happened once in the FA Cup of course, but it took the supremely gifted Arsenal team of Dennis Bergkamp et al against the worst QPR team in living memory to do it, and even then Rangers helped them on the way with three own goals.
Newcastle will almost certainly run away with this division this season, but they’re not unbeatable. This isn’t the Brazilian World Cup winning side of 1970, it’s a team that was beaten at home by Huddersfield a couple of weeks ago – who operate on even more meagre resources than QPR – and also lost down the road from here at Fulham without scoring on day one. QPR may well have been bringing knives to a gun fight, but they could have at least had a couple of slashes with them.
To simply hold your hands up and say ‘well what do you expect, look at the players they’ve got’ is to let a few QPR players, and certainly the QPR manager, off the hook here. It's also not much of a strategy for other similar fixtures still to come this season. QPR still have to go to St James' Park of course - maybe they'll let us pick Smithies and Matt Ingram that night.
Jonjo Shelvey dominated this match completely from the centre of the Newcastle midfield. A talented player, only at this level through personality flaws, he’ll do that to a few teams this season. He set the tone for the night in the first 12 minutes – three nasty tackles, two rows with QPR players, one argument with referee Andy Davies who really should have booked him, one shot which deflected into the net off Perez who was flagged offside, one shot drilled just wide and then one shot into the net via two deflections to give his side the lead. Nice clear message stamped all over the game – we’re not here to piss about, we mean business, we’re already 1-0 up, what have you lot got?
Answer? Nothing. I felt like a child watching his dad get beaten up for the first time. God I still love you Dad but don’t just let him hit you like that.
Often in such circumstances you see the beaten team picking up bookings for frustrated tackles and kicks out at opponents – QPR didn’t even get close enough to Newcastle to commit a foul and referee Davies’ cards stayed firmly in his pocket. There never seemed to be any inkling that we should change formation, limit the damage, add a man to the middle of midfield, get some men behind the ball and at least try and hold out for ten minutes, maybe commit a few fouls to disrupt the play, or anything really. It was barbaric. Almost cruel. I honestly thought they were going to get double figures. Never mind not at the races, QPR weren’t on the same planet.
If Shelvey’s first goal was fortunate – personally I still think Smithies should have saved it, despite it deflecting twice – his second straight after half time which killed off all lingering QPR hopes was absolutely sublime. The perfect 20-yard shot, started high and wide of Smithies and then drawn back down and round into the top corner with absolute precision. Even the home fans applauded. But then he will do that if you leave him completely unattended 20 yards from goal from a simple throw in – the marking non-existent, Nedum Onuoha’s half-hearted attempt to get out and block the shot pathetic.
That made it three nil. Earlier Perez had seized on a wonderful ball round the back of the QPR defence from Ritchie and netted at the second attempt after drawing a smart save from Smithies with his first shot. Perez shot wide after turning in the area, and Mitrovic did likewise after the Spaniard had bust the offside trap again and cut the ball back to him. Newcastle were very, very good indeed, but the defending was shambolic – the early disallowed goal came after first Onuoha and then Caulker headed the ball straight up in the air in their own area while trying to clear a corner.
I, we, know nothing about football relative to the people who play it and coach it for a living, and I’m sure if any of the professionals ever did read a site like this one they’d laugh at the sheer naivety of somebody who’s spent his whole life as a journalist talking about formations and systems and what not. I always find it supremely arrogant when the national football hacks talk with such authority about who should be playing where and why.
But I could spend 40 days and 40 nights at Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s house and have him explain to me very slowly, carefully and methodically with condiments on the table or a blackboard and chalk or a set of fucking finger puppets and never get close to understanding the logic of his set up for this one.
The Dutchman has been very cautious since he arrived at QPR, and Burton Albion fans had told us to expect that. The focus is on the defence and the clean sheet, there’s no Kevin Keegan-style stuff here. He almost always plays the continental 4-2-3-1 system and the two central midfielders stay deep and central protecting the back four. By the end of August QPR had faced the fewest shots of any team in the division, but had also taken only four points from nine in three home games against the Championship’s bottom three teams and not scored a goal from open play. Against a diabolical Blackburn side at the weekend, Hasselbaink persisted with the two deep-lying holding midfield players until about eight minutes from time with the score at 1-1.
Now when the team was announced for this one and Steven Caulker was recalled at centre half but James Perch kept his place – two of seven defenders plus a goalkeeper named in the starting 11 – it looked like the system would be kept, with Cousins switching back to the right of the three, and Perch coming into the two alongside Henry. Some were even brave enough before the match to suggest that playing against better teams who have more attacking intent could suit Rangers’ miserly approach, with more space left behind them to counter attack.
But no, having stayed ridiculously defensive throughout two dire games with Preston and Blackburn, here Hasselbaink decided to open the team up into a 4-4-1-1, with Perch employed on the right wing of all places until a horrible looking injury saw him leave the field after 18 minutes to be replaced by new winger Pawel Wszolek. Why would you play so defensively against the worst team in the division, then open the whole thing up against the best?
Hasselbaink said afterwards he felt the Perch injury was crucial, and he’s kidding himself. Newcastle had scored one, had one disallowed and gone close on two other occasions by then. They were absolutely dominant and could conceivably have been 4-0 up. He should have put his hands up and admitted that, as a young manager learning his trade, he got this hopelessly wrong. Washington was totally isolated, Cousins and Henry outclassed, overrun and dominated.
And while I’m having a bit of a rant, here’s something else for you. Inverse wingers. Another namby pamby, tippy-tappy, over-thought, too-clever-for-its-own-good trend of the modern football shitstorm. Presumably thought up by somebody with coaching badges coming out of their arse, and all very well and good when your winger is Gareth Bale, but a crock of absolute shite otherwise as anybody who’s had the misfortune of sitting and watching wallies like Andros Townsend wrecking one attack after another by cutting in to shoot from 30 yards all the live long day will testify to.
Right footed winger? He plays on the right wing. His job is to go past his full back, get to the byline and deliver a cross as often as possible. It really is as simple as that. It’s why Mo Shodipo has looked a cut above his senior colleagues in his three starts this season – because that’s all he does. Probably as a result of coming out of a youth set up where Andy Impey coaches – Impey who lived and died by a self-imposed target of beating his full back and delivering a cross five times a half.
Occasionally, very occasionally – I can only think of Nasser El Khayati v Charlton last season and Townsend for QPR at Aston Villa a few years back – the dog will have its day and having cut in field the winger will indeed smash you a nice goal in from the edge of the box. Otherwise all it ever does is starve the strikers of decent service, further crowd the area around the edge of the box that the forwards and creative tens have to work in, make it easy for a defender to read, and make it easy for a defence to sit deep and tight and narrow against you. And yet QPR do it all the time at the moment – Yeni Ngbakoto frequently played on the wrong flank for his favoured foot.
I mean as if it wasn’t difficult enough for Pawel Wszolek – in the country a week, never played in English football before, just introduced to new team mates who speak a different language, lacking the same pre-season as everybody else – to have to come on for the injured Perch after 18 minutes and step into this hurricane of piss, he then spent the second half playing left wing when he appears to be so painfully right footed you may as well cut the left one off and donate it to medical science. On the rare occasions QPR did get him any ball he’d move towards the point where you think a cross might conventionally come in, only to have to drag the ball back onto his right, slowing the attack, letting the defence get set and, almost inevitably, then going 15 yards back to the hapless central pairing of Cousins and Henry where, almost without fail, disaster and possession concession awaited.
Inverse wingers are the new short corners. Kill them. Kill them with fire.
Hasselbaink may also reflect that the three goals which swiftly followed around the hour mark could and should have been prevented by even a modicum of competent defending. Kieran Clark’s goal, headed straight in from a Ritchie corner, continued a recent trend of Rangers looking vulnerable from wide set pieces – in fact, Mitrovic was the nearest player to him as he powered this one in, the two of them both left alone to mark each other.
Rangers appealed for offside when Mitrovic tapped in the fifth, but in actual fact the ball had come to him off Grant Hall. Grant Hanley, on as a sub, was also unattended when he tapped home a Clark cross. Even when Smithies did deny Perez in a one on one situation Steven Caulker almost managed to make a complete hash of clearing the loose ball as it threatened to bobble out for a corner, spaffing it horribly off the side of his right foot and almost into the roof of his own net. Doesn’t matter what your formation or tactics are when you’re defending like this. Newcastle were good enough to win as it was, without being handed goals for free.
In reality, it didn’t really matter who the QPR manager and starting 11 were last night, nor how they set up and performed. Newcastle were unbelievably good and, importantly, completely physically dominant. This is a big, nasty, athletic, aggressive side, with Shelvey in midfield and Mitrovic up front leading that particular element of the performance. They humiliated QPR with the ball, and bullied them without it. You can be outclassed in the football stakes, but quietly shuffling your feet and getting pushed around on your own patch isn't on. At least Idrissa Sylla went about his work with some purpose and physicality when he came on, but this was the sort of massacre usually followed swiftly by hurried government legislation to outlaw the weapon it was committed with.
But, and I can’t believe I’m bringing up Harry bloody Redknapp in a positive light here, you don’t allow yourself to lose 6-0 at home. When, back in December 2012, Luis Suarez tore QPR a new arse so deep and wide you could look into and see through time, Redknapp took striker Djibril Cisse off at half time when 3-0 down and sent on defensive midfielder Shaun Derry to limit the damage. Three nil losses you recover from, 6-0 home shellackings can have profound effects on players – particularly the younger ones, particularly the goalkeeper – and crowds. I think you’d have found a reasonable number of QPR fans with doubts about Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink yesterday morning, and a two or even three goal defeat against a side this good may not have even registered. But 24 hours later there are now hundreds who want him sacked immediately and were making their feelings known by the end of the game.
Needless to say, yet another change of manager, just ten months after the last one, and yet more upheaval so soon after a summer where Hasselbaink and Les Ferdinand added another seven new players to try and play the way they want to play, is not a good idea. And it’s important we recognise just how good Newcastle were on the night and don’t do anything silly.
But there’s no denying that this, this, was a total fucking embarrassment.
QPR: Smithies 5; Onuoha 3, Caulker 3 (Lynch 89, -), Hall 4, Bidwell 4; Perch 5 (Wszolek 18, 3), Henry 3, Cousins 3, Ngabokoto 4 (Sylla 57, 6); Chery 4, Washington 3
Subs not used: Borysiuk, Ingram, El Khayati, Shodipo
Newcastle: Sels 6; Anita 8, Lascelles 8, Clark 8, Dummett 7 (Hanley 65, 8); Gouffran 7 (Atsu 61, 7), Hayden 8, Shelvey 9, Ritchie 8; Mitrovic 8 (Yedlin 74, 6), Perez 8
Subs not used: Colback, Gayle, Diame, Darlow
Goals: Shelvey 12 (assisted Mitrovic), 48 (unassisted), Perez 30 (assisted Ritchie), Clark 56 (assisted Ritchie), Mitrovic 63 (unassisted), Hanley 79 (assisted Clark)
QPR Star Man – N/A
Referee – Andy Davies (Hampshire) 7 Nothing to really referee, with QPR rarely close enough to Newcastle to put a tackle in and commit a foul. Two borderline offside decisions, one given as a goal which looked about right, one disallowed which looked generous. Shelvey could easily have been booked in the first ten minutes but other than that he was essentially marshalling a procession.
Attendance – 17,404 – (2,800 Newcastle approx) Fantastic support from Newcastle on a Tuesday night, and their rewards for bowing to the ridiculous Football League demands of making this trip on a weekday were rich and plentiful. For the poor QPR fans, what can you say? What is there to say?
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