Luongo, Hall and Rotherham talking points - Knee Jerks
Tuesday, 21st Mar 2017 00:33 by Clive Whittingham
A team hopelessly adrift at the bottom of the table that had already beaten us 1-0 this season - it all had a strong whiff of Swindon 1994 about it. But for once, QPR did what you should do to poor teams reports Antti Heinola.
Who doesn't love a thrashing? Ainsworth announcing himself to us with an opening day double in baking sunshine v Blackpool; Dennis Bailey turning Denis Law's commentary into a disbelieving splutter; Royston destroying Luton; Adel annihilating Swansea; Bobby Gould forced to resign after a Loftus Road hammering; Byrne and Bannister v Chelsea; Mike Sheron having his day against Middlesbrough. Great memories all.
But there are great wins and there are great wins and as enjoyable as Saturday was, I confess, yes, I felt a bit sorry for the opposition. Because they really were terrible. Their interim boss Paul Warne said they threw in the towel at 65 minutes. I disagree. The towel was lying in the ring from kick off. Only a wonder goal, some luck, and the width of the post saved them from a score even more embarrassing. QPR did the professional job - a mercy killing. But Rotherham didn't look like a lame duck - more like a plucked duck choking on wet bread.
Danny Ward was comprehensively battered by a ruthless Lynch. Our sometime nemesis Frecklington was nullified. And Rotherham's centre back, on loan from Cardiff, Semi Ajayi (did Warnock think he was doing them a favour) might be the worst player I have seen at this level ever. A non-league defender masquerading as a championship player. Lee Charles would have taken him to the cleaners.
So it was wonderful and for the first time in forever, as Princess Ana once sang, I was relaxed after about an hour. But poor Rotherham and their poor fans. How on earth did Warnock keep this lot up?
On the enjoyable official podcast, Andy Sinton was chatting about how Ollie is changing not only tactics, but style every week. He feels at Blackpool his team were too easy to read after half a season in the Prem, so now he's decided to be more unpredictable. And he is. Not only is the actual team impossible to predict from week to week (on Saturday he seemed to want to rest all the players called up for international duty - smart thinking) but so is our style. Against Cardiff there was some long ball, and a lot of pressing. Against Barnsley, it was all action with some wonderful passing football through the midfield. On Saturday it was, for the first half at least, undeniably route one, with the midfield often being bypassed completely and Luke Freeman only scoring because he was feeding off scraps, rather than a great move from the back.
To some degree it worked, but the feeling by half time was that if we did play a little more football, add a little more width, then Rotherham were there for the taking. So, another change in style: sod defence. Hall moves up, Yeni moves up, 4-3-3. Yeni takes over. Instant rewards. By the end, we had the outrageously talented Ravel in easily his best cameo so far, and the promising Goss playing in deep midfield and pulling the strings rather beautifully.
Earlier this season some people were asking what was our set up, what is our style. Ollie's idea seems to be to have about four styles, and if we can be comfortable in all of them, how can teams prepare for that?
Ah yes, the dangers of judging a player too early. I was laughed at on here for suggesting he was part of some burgeoning choices for Ollie in terms of offence. But there's always been something there. Saturday, he was anonymous in the first half, playing an unfamiliar role while Pav warmed up menacingly on the touchline. But once he was moved into the front three, he scored one and set up the other two. He seems very popular with the players (the team look very happy generally) and with each game he's getting better. He has pace, delivery, and a wicked shot. When even Ravel doesn't argue if he wants to take a free kick, you know he has something special in his locker. Think there is a lot more to come from him.
I know I often talk about Hall, but I'm a bit staggered by his whole career with us. Bought for nothing, completely unheralded, Ramsey even suggesting it was a hopeful buy more than anything. But he forced his way into the side, did lose a bit of form, but was still Player of the Season. Then got asked to play in midfield by Ollie in what seemed like a classic Ollie move of playing centre backs everywhere except centre back, but he's nailing it. He gives us so much flexibility, without the need for substitutions. We went from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 just by shifting him up a bit, and he looked comfortable. On top of that, in the space of two second half minutes, he executed a lovely outside of the boot through ball, a blind nutmeg that would've given Adel a boner, and a crunching, smashing challenge that could have been a red card were it not such a beautifully timed tackle. Marvellous.
Law of averages, I guess. Ollie tried with Palmer, Bignot, Santos, Rose and I'm sure one or two others, but finally the defender-turned-midfielder trick is working a treat.
Very unlucky not to score, as he keeps his run going of either scoring or hitting the frame in pretty much every game. If he'd been on from the start I'm sure he'd have made enough hay to fill a barn. If Rotherham struggled with the dual threat of Sylla (wonderful assist for him, by the way) and Smith, they had absolutely no answer to the pace and movement of Washington and Yeni buzzing around them and popping up all over the place. Hope it goes well for him on international duty - like Yeni, there's more to come.
Thought he had a decent game, nothing spectacular, looked a little lost in the first half. But just to say: at last. Hopefully the floodgates will now open and he'll score two next season. Come on Mass! Popular goal with the players too - suspect he's been the subject of some classic training ground bantz about his lack of goals.
Pictures – Action Images
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