End of term report 16/17 – Midfielders
Wednesday, 24th May 2017 09:02 by Clive Whittingham
Part three of the annual statistical run down and evaluation of the QPR squad looks at the midfield where Luke Freeman and Ryan Manning impressed, but several others did not.
2 Luke Freeman A
A really pleasant surprise, and not because I didn’t think Freeman was any good – I really liked the look of him at Stevenage – but because he’s been so good in the position we’ve picked him in. With a slightly dumpy frame, dopey expression and long straggly hair making him look like Sally Gunnell during a particularly traumatic session of colonic irrigation, I’d always considered him one of those maverick, creative, off-the-cuff number ten types. Not strong or defensive enough to be a defensive mid, not quick enough for a winger, not prolific enough to be a striker – yet another one of those attacking midfielder, Tjaronn Chery, types that QPR love to accumulate but then can’t fit in the team.
Having signed him, and seen what Holloway’s preferred system was, I expected him to play to the left of the forward three and cut in from there so it was something of a shock to see him slotting into the deeper lying three and being asked to go box to box. Needn’t have worried, he’s been superb and QPR are at their best when Grant Hall plays between him and Manning/Luongo with Pawel Wszolek ahead of them in a wide area supplying Smith or Sylla and Washington. The best example of this was at Birmingham where Freeman and Manning were absolutely insatiable, harassing Birmingham when they didn’t have the ball and carving them apart when they did.
There’s also the eye for goal, which we saw in creative strikes against Huddersfield and Rotherham. Times that in 12 appearances over a full season and you’re looking at eight to ten, which is what you’d expect of a central midfielder but something QPR have been chronically short of for several years – last season, infamously, the centre of midfield managed a grand total of two between them, one from Henry and one from Toszer.
The one concern is he’ll do very well to maintain the level he’s set in first few months at the club. Form dips up and down, players who start fast inevitably settle down to a more consistent level, and as we’ve seen from a select section of the support with Ryan Manning already it doesn’t need the form to drop off for long before the fans start to question whether he was any good in the first place and demanding yet more new blood to replace him. That’s a pessimistic view though and Freeman’s performances, attractive style of play, work ethic, creativity, set pieces and modified hair cut have given plenty of reasons for optimism so far.
12 starts, 4 sub appearances, W5 D2 L9
2 goals (Huddersfield H, Rotherham H), 4 assists (Birmingham A, Wigan H, Brighton H, Brentford A)
5 yellow cards (foul, violent conduct, foul, foul, foul), 1 red (Preston A, 2 yellows, foul, violent conduct)
3 LFW MOTM Awards (Huddersfield H, Birmingham A, Barnsley H)
LFW Ratings – 5, 7, 8, 6, 6, 8, 8, 7, 4, 7, 8, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6 = 6.5
Interactive Ratings – 6.31
3 Supporter MOTM Awards (Birmingham A, Rotherham H, Brighton H)
8 Jordan Cousins D
Regular readers (hello to both) will not only be very familiar with that joke, but will also know that while this site may be good for many things (work avoidance, keeping a record of Harry Redknapp’s lies, graphic sexual imagery) it’s not renowned for making accurate predictions. Which brings us to Jordan Cousins, who we tipped as potentially “pound for pound the best signing made by any Championship club” last summer. Sorry Jordan, blame us.
This is, on the face of it, another one of those examples of QPR buying a good player and ruining him. The idea that he was smashing all the pre-season fitness tests out of the park and setting “Olympic standard times and results” was probably my favourite bit of pre-season hype looking back to last summer – Olympic shot putter maybe? Or one of those people who make the horses dance? His injury problems have been persistent all season, and when you start hearing things like “hamstring muscle coming away from the bone” you start to get into Jack Robinson territory. But even prior to that Hasselbaink’s insistence that Karl Henry had to start more often than not, and Tjaronn Chery could only play ‘ten’, meant we hardly ever used Cousins in his correct position or role.
When we did, at home to Derby, he was excellent, and our best player, but sadly another injury followed quickly after that. Why Hasselbaink would talk so much about mobility and high press and then spurn the chance to pick Luongo and Cousins together in midfield, instead shunting Cousins out of position wide and picking Henry instead, one of the many mysteries we’ll never get to the bottom of.
Potentially a big area of improvement for the team next season, if Cousins can get fit and into form, because I still rate him as an excellent Championship player. But we’ve seen with Robinson and Jamie Mackie just what a pig these types of injuries can be over a huge swathe of time once you’ve got a bad one so we’ll set the expectation bar a good deal lower for 2017/18.
19 starts, 2 sub appearances, W6 D4 L11
0 Goals, 1 assist (Leeds H)
1 yellow card (foul)
1 LFW MOTM Award (Derby H)
LFW Ratings – 7, 6, 6, 5, 5, 5, 6, 3, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 5, 5, 7, 5, 6, - = 5.45
Interactive Ratings – 5.46
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
10 Tjaronn Chery C
Tjaronn Chery was described as “statistical porn” for the new band of video analysts and number crunchers in the game when he arrived from his native Netherlands nearly two years ago sporting some of the best assists, corners and goals from direct free kick numbers of any player in the whole of Europe. And if you look at his numbers across his time with QPR – 14 goals and 12 assists from 47 starts and 19 sub apps in a mostly poor, struggling side – you can pretty well imagine the hype and excitement that would be building, fuelled by the obligatory YouTube music montage of his best bits, if he was coming the other way this summer.
When you look at his free kick against Blackburn (our best this season for me, contrary to the official vote), and particularly the assist for Seb Polter’s goal against Norwich in Ian Holloway’s first match, it’s clear he’s a talented boy. Against Swindon in the League Cup he came on as a sub for the last bit of normal and all of extra time and was such an absolute cut above anything else that had gone before or was left on the pitch it was actually embarrassing – Adel Taarabt levels of head and shoulders difference. And yet, approaching his thirtieth birthday now, he’s basically kicked around a few middle Eredivisie sides, had a fairly brief stint at QPR in the Championship, been linked with a move to a team in Israel and then sold out to play in the farcical Chinese top flight.
Just how good he was, or could have been, or is, we’re unlikely to ever know. I wasn’t sure by the time he left Rangers and I’m certainly not so desperate to know that I’m going to waste my time watching some of the sport’s biggest charlatans pisballing around in empty, smog-ridden stadiums in the Far East at weird and wonderful times of the day and night.
I think we have to bear in mind how poor Rangers were during his time here. Put Tjaronn Chery in this year’s Newcastle or Brighton sides and I bet he’d absolutely carve the division apart, although quite where he’d fit in their set ups isn’t really clear because the insistence that he had to play at ‘ten’ as he wasn’t a striker, winger or central midfielder caused QPR as many problems as he created opportunities. Muscly but tiny, and without blistering pace, stepping out of Dutch football into the physical rigours of the Championship and carrying a team as poor as ours must have been tough.
I certainly don’t think Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink made it easy for him – yes he picked him in his favourite position, and basically built the team around him, but by openly admitting he was our best player it gave opponents the chance to try and take him, and therefore us, out of the game, as Simon Grayson and Preston North End did best of all at Loftus Road in August. By playing too direct, too much long ball, and advertising Chery’s importance to the team we left him with scraps of possession to feed on in a ridiculously crowded area of the field. From that situation, he still extricated four goals and nine assists in half a season this year although his fall off in performance, and body language, during his latter games when he was clearly eyeing a move was disappointing.
A tidy, talented player who I enjoyed watching. One I think would have excelled in other teams at this level, but only did reasonably well at QPR. A bit of an enigma. But certainly, without a shadow of a doubt, an absolute waste of talent where he is now – though I doubt his bank manager thinks so.
22 starts, 3 sub appearances, W7 D6 L12
4 Goals (Leeds H, Cardiff A, Barnsley A, Blackburn H), 9 assists (Leeds H, Swindon H, Rochdale H, Rochdale H, Huddersfield A, Birmingham H, Fulham A, Norwich H, Norwich H)
4 yellow cards (dissent, ungentlemanly, dissent, ungentlemanly)
0 LFW MOTM Awards
LFW Ratings – 7, 7, 7, 7, 5, 7, 6, 6, 4, 5, -, 6, 5, 7, 5, 6, 6, 4, 5, 6, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5 = 5.66
Interactive Ratings – Unavailable
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
10 – Sean Goss N/A
Second favourite bit of QPR signing hype this season after the Jordan Cousins Olympian-in-waiting bit was the comparisons between Sean Goss and Michael Carrick – unless of course they actually meant they’re both slow and overrated. Goss may well come good for us in the future, but the fact he’d never played a senior game of football in his life before he got here kind of got lost in the £500,000 reported fee and the fact he was coming from Manchester United – you think John Curtis, Daniel Nardiello, Ji Sung Park, Fabio and others would have taught us something by now wouldn’t you?
To leave him parked on the touchline for weeks at a time only to then suddenly throw him into Championship games and wonder why he wasn’t up to the pace and physicality of the game was grossly unfair. This peaked at Brentford, always likely to be a tough game, against a very good team, directly opposite the excellent Ryan Woods, where Goss was then humiliated by being withdrawn at half time. What exactly did we expect?
There is a of course a wider point here about how young British players are brought through the system in this country. Goss was a young professional at Exeter City originally and, had he stayed there, one would have expected him to have in excess of 100 professional games under his belt by now – Matt Ingram is less than two years older and has played 140 senior games in his career already. Instead he was picked up by Man Utd, dumped in their academy with all the other excellent young boys, and has played zero games at senior level since. Fannying about on the pristine academy pitches against all the other tippy tappy kids, practising stuff you saw on Soccer AM and happily spraying passes around under no pressure while some clipboard coach talks to you about “moving through the thirds” until you’re well into your early 20s is no way to develop footballers. Understandable really, because the likes of Man Utd and Chelsea don’t want to develop footballers, they’ll just buy those – but they don’t want the next Dele Alli to end up at a rival again, so they stockpile whoever looks half decent as a teenager and park them so nobody else can have them.
The result is players like Goss – thin as a rake, unused to the pace and physicality of the professional game, now having to play big-time catch up. He certainly won’t accomplish that by being picked for the odd game here and there, completely at random. He needs a big run of games at some point to give him that chance to bed in, get up to speed and see how good he is. I hope we’ve picked up a hidden gem to polish here, but we shouldn’t expect anything in the short or even medium term.
3 starts, 3 sub appearances, W2 D1 L3
0 goals, 0 assists
0 yellow cards, 0 red cards
0 LFW MOTM Awards
LFW Ratings – 6, 6, 5, 6, 6, - = 5.8
Interactive Ratings – 5.29
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
20 Karl Henry C/D
Was I the only one that thought Karl Henry’s very well received, maybe-he-wasn’t-such-a-bad-egg-after-all letter to QPR upon the confirmation of his departure this week was actually a bit of a piss take? I mean, I was suspicious when he said he’d been “fortunate enough to play under some excellent managers and coaches and alongside some outstanding footballers” but when he then went on to thank the fans for supporting him and appreciating that he was fully committed every time he pulled the shirt on I was sure of it. “I’m sure you’ll succeed soon.” Alright Karl, sarcy bastard.
Players who play in Henry’s position, in Henry’s style, are rarely going to be popular with supporters. Particularly supporters who think Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Tony Currie and Roy Wegerle playing for their club for a bit in the dim and distant past entitles them to demand a certain type of swashbuckling football forever more. Even teams that do play that way need somebody on guard at the other end and, by and large, over his time at QPR, Henry did that job adequately.
I haven’t looked back but I suspect last summer I assessed him as possibly being worth another year as a back up. With hindsight, it was clearly a year too long. He was absolutely brilliant, like lots of others, in the opening day win against Leeds but dreadful after that. Hasselbaink’s persistence with him reinforced the negative image of the manager and his tactics, and burned off a lot of credit with supporters who turned on the Dutchman pretty quickly for that and a variety of other reasons. Releasing Ale Faurlin for not being mobile enough to get around the midfield in a supposed high press, which never materialised, was never likely to win many friends but then retaining Henry, who’s hardly Mr Perpetual Motion himself, made a mockery of the reasons given for it. One thing Hasselbaink may well take away from his short stay at QPR is the need to ‘play the game’ a little bit more – when one of the LFW team put it to him at the kit launch that he’d increased the pressure on himself by releasing Faurlin and Clint Hill he was genuinely surprised and asked us to explain why and what we meant. Ironically, having placed so much faith in Henry, his daft sending off at Nottingham Forest hammered the final nail in the manager's coffin.
The fans had gone full on postal with Henry by the time he came on as a sub after an hour against Wolves at Loftus Road to a cacophony of boos – people upset that Sandro was being withdrawn, at a time the wilful ignorance of the Brazilian’s physical condition among the Football Manager and Fifa veterans of Loftus Road was at its height. Holloway defended him publicly after that but when Henry had a go at the new manager in training for denigrating the work of his predecessors Holloway told him he could “fuck off” and that is now what he’ll be doing after half a season out of the picture altogether. An inglorious end to a difficult chapter of his career, in hindsight a year later than it should have come.
14 starts, 1 sub appearance, W4 D5 L6
0 goals and 0 assists
6 yellow cards (Ungentlemanly, Repetitive fouling, dissent, foul, foul, dissent)
0 LFW MOTM Awards
LFW Ratings – 8, 6, 6, 4, 4, 6, 5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 5, 3, 4, 5 = 4.933
Interactive Ratings – 5.48
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
21 Massimo Luongo B/C
We’ve seen it, we just need more of it, more often. Luongo was named in Who Scored’s top 20 Championship players this season and regularly tops the division stats for interceptions, pass completion, tackles won. At Leeds away, where it was a toss up between him and Onuoha for MOTM, he was rated as 10.0 by that stats site, which means every pass, interception, dribble, cross, shot he attempted was completed successfully. At Fulham away, where Tom Cairney and co ran amok despite Rangers winning the game, he basically played their whole midfield by himself. When he’s good, he’s really good, and you’ll do well to find two better executed, more skilful assists than the balls he put in for Seb Polter’s equaliser at Burton and Idrissa Sylla’s winner against Bristol City.
There just needs to be more of it though. He has finally broken his goal duck, albeit against a dreadful Rotherham side and as part of one of the worst goalkeeping performances I’ve seen at Loftus Road since Ademola Bankole was rampaging around terrorising the villagers, but one goal in two seasons is pathetic – miles and miles away from where we need it to be and where it should be for a player of his ability. His regular goalscoring for Australia only makes it harder to fathom, although they spend their time playing Iran and Bangladesh which might have something to do with it. Three assists is, again, pitifully low when you look at the ones he did register and how good they were.
Those international trips, from which he usually only returns on the Friday, remain a headache. He’s rarely selected the weekend after and his form noticeably dips for several matches after that – not much use through August, September and October when the league works in three week bursts of seven matches followed by another trip to the moon and back. When you see Aaron Mooy coming back from the same trip with the same national team and immediately carving Leeds apart at Elland Road for Huddersfield you start to think this is a surmountable problem that Mass and QPR should set about surmounting, rather than just writing it off as an unwelcome irritant that comes with signing Australians.
There are a lot of ifs and buts in our midfield for next season – if Freeman can maintain his form, if Manning can continue to progress, if Hall and Cousins can get fit and stay fit – and Luongo is certainly one of those. If a good few of those things happen, and Luongo can be the Luongo of Leeds and Fulham away more often than the anonymous, non-scoring ghost he too-often regresses into, then we’ll see a big improvement next season. A really big, important campaign ahead for him and the team.
36 starts, 2 sub appearances, W12 D5 L21
1 Goal (Rotherham H), 3 assists (Burton A, Bristol City H, Forest H)
9 yellow cards (foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul)
4 LFW MOTM Awards (Leeds H, Bristol City H, Villa A, Sheff Wed H)
LFW Ratings – 8, 6, 5, 5, 6, 7, 4, 6, 6, 6, 7, 8, 6, 5, 7, 6, 5, 5, 5, 4, 4, 7, 8, 3, 7, 6, 5, 5, 7, 7, 7, 8, 7, 5, 6, 6, 6, 5 = 5.947
Interactive Ratings – 6.08
6 Supporter MOTM Awards (Leeds H, Burton A, Fulham A, Leeds A, Villa A, Sheff Wed H)
30 Sandro F
I’m going to take a run at this one Cyril.
I mentioned this in the Nedum Onuoha write up and it’s a theme that will return further down this page when we eviscerate Ravel Morrison, but sometimes QPR fans let themselves down. Good professionals, steady players, people who try their best for the club, represent it well, put everything in on the pitch, maybe aren’t quite good enough but are rarely as bad as people make out, get scapegoated and abused. Meanwhile, every now and again, we afford a free pass to an absolute cumrag who treats the club, his team mates and the supporters with utter vile contempt in return.
There are still QPR fans who have time for Joey Barton, who rate him as a player, who think he was good for the club – this a man repeatedly sent off in crucial matches we needed to win, who stated publicly he had no intention of playing for us in the Championship, who repeatedly slated the club and its players in interviews while still under contract, who talked openly about his desire to move to Marseille (who didn’t want him) or Everton (who didn’t want him), who placed bets against us while he was drawing a colossal wage from the club, who harangued legends of the club on social media. We need to get some more self-respect.
Sandro fits in with this as well. Just about the most disgusting and disgraceful transfer we completed during a horrible five-year period that brought us the likes of Chris Samba, Julio Cesar and Jose Bosingwa. A player whose papers, visa and passport looked like the work of Roger Hargreaves. The assertion, right to the end, the Brazilian was only 27 years old is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard – you’d even get people at the club saying off the record they believed him to be late 30s. When he registered at his local gym, he refused to put his date of birth on the database and told staff there he wouldn’t run on the running machine because he “does enough running in training”. When QPR thought they’d got rid of him, to Sporting Lisbon, he was returned to sender after a failed medical.
And yet a section of our support still liked him. Despite it all, despite the enormous wage, despite the obvious physical failings, despite him being completely unable to play professional football, every team selection for weeks would be met with “pick Sandro, where’s Sandro, why not Sandro” and other such unmitigated piss. They bought, hook line and sinker, the doctor’s note he published on social media from a Dr Nick Riveira stating that his elastic bands and chewing gum knee was in actual fact completely fine, and all facts, appearance figures and numerous failed medicals suggesting the opposite were cruel and untrue.
This only got worse when he dragged his arse out onto the pitch long enough to score two goals from corners in the League Cup against flamboyant League One showmen Rochdale. He did so again in the next round against the worst team in the Premier League and people pointed to this as an indication that he could play after all, conveniently forgetting that he collapsed into such a dreadful wheezing state for the last half an hour of that Sunderland game that prolific Premier League marksman Paddy McNair scored twice – the first with Sandro positioned deeper than Alex Smithies.
The idea he would ever be fit to play for us wasn’t based in any fact at all. It’s said that he’s struggled since suffering a bad knee injury at Tottenham, ironically against QPR at Loftus Road, but the numbers show he was never fit before that. Having arrived in this country in 2010 the number of league starts he’d made per season up to this one are 11, 17, 22, 10, 17 and 15. And yet people insisted he should be picked by QPR, despite it all, despite everything, despite clearly not being fit enough to play, despite Sir David Attenborough being able to get around the field better than he could. I mean, if age and physical condition are no consideration when slagging the team selection off, why aren't we still picking Frank McLintock?
Some suggested he should be picked to put him in the shop window, despite every fleeting appearance just further confirming to us and anybody who might have been watching and tempted to buy him what an absolute monstrous crock he was. The reason charity shops ask you not to put your shit stained old y-fronts in their donation bags is because they don’t make a particularly enticing window display. His performance in a 1-0 loss at Rotherham, one of only five wins the Millers managed all season, was biblically bad. His turn for the Rotherham goal, which I’m still not sure has been completed to this day, was like watching them try to refloat the Costa Concordia in real time. The bloke has all the sharpness and manoeuvrability of the International Space Station.
Mercifully, the nightmare ended in January thanks to that ever-useful dumping ground for British clubs that have made colossal mistakes – the Turkish “Super” Lig and mighty Antalyaspor. A three year deal - God bless you lads – but one it has cost QPR a colossal sum in fees to his agent to force through. Since arriving there more than five months ago he has managed, wait for it…. wait for it…. six starts.
5 starts, 3 sub appearances, W3 D0 L2
3 goals (Rochdale H, Rochdale H, Sunderland H), 0 assists
1 yellow card (foul)
1 LFW MOTM Award (Rochdale H)
LFW Ratings – 8, 6, 6, 4, 5, 4, -, 6 = 5.57
Interactive Ratings – Unavailable
1 Supporter MOTM Award (Rochdale H)
41 Ryan Manning A
There are lots of things I’ll never understand about Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink – chief amongst them who in their right mind would want to give him £50,000 say “it is what it is” for 45 minutes after dinner – but the emergence of Ryan Manning only after the Dutchman had been sacked is pretty high on the list.
Hasselbaink said his team would be the fittest in the league, he said he wanted them to play at a quick tempo, he said he wanted a high “full court press”, he released two club legends because he didn’t believe they had the legs to fit into that plan… and then when the season came around QPR were dreadfully negative. Tight, deep and narrow as regular watchers of modern football have come to know and loathe as the go to style for cautious managers, with no width, no pace and no mobility. QPR had no legs, particularly in midfield, isolating their striker horribly while teams – notably Newcastle and, even though Rangers won, Fulham – carved them up through the middle. Karl Henry remained the first name on the team sheet. Nothing Hasselbaink said materialised on the pitch.
Manning emerged within two months of Hasselbaink leaving after Ian Holloway had noticed that he was topping all the fitness, endurance and running tests in training. Low and behold when given a first team chance he covered in excess of 14km a game – George Boyd levels of insanity. There’s since been a goal against Fulham (though his finishing certainly needs work and a bad miss in defeat at Preston sticks in the mind) and skilful assists against Reading and Forest. But it’s his engine, legs and ability to get around the place that seem like a key asset to him and would seemingly have made him ideal for everything Hasselbaink said he wanted to do. His performances at Birmingham and Blackburn were excellent for a player of such little Championship experience. Hasselbaink wasn’t shy of picking youngsters – Nico Hamailenen and Mide Shodipo both featured for him before disappearing without trace under Holloway – and yet he never spotted this perfect cog for the machine he was supposed to be designing.
Fair play, neither had anybody else. Regular watchers of the reserve grades at Rangers weren’t overly impressed and now the new boy shine has worn off a bit there is a small but noisy group of critics – who won’t have been impressed with a dreadful display at Norwich on the final day where he gave the ball away for fun. Manning was on the verge of being released prior to this big breakthrough, so it wasn’t just Hasselbaink who wasn’t overly fussed about him.
I do wonder, particularly with our struggles in that position and his past on the wing, whether he may eventually find himself as the left sided defender in the system where Grant Hall plays deep in midfield. He was tremendous there having been switched from midfield in the second half of the home loss to Brighton.
Overall though I’m seriously impressed and hoping the meteoric rise of the last six months continues.
17 starts, 1 sub appearance, W7 D2 L9
1 Goal (Fulham H), 3 assists (Reading A, Birmingham A, Forest H)
8 yellow cards (foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul, foul)
3 LFW MOTM Awards (Fulham H, Blackburn A, Brighton H)
LFW Ratings – 7, 6, 7, 8, 6, 8, 7, 6, 8, 6, 6, 7, 5, 8, 6, 5, 7, 4 = 6.5
Interactive Ratings – 6.49
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
49 Ravel Morrison F
Positives: I’m hoping the last five months has put an end to the short-sighted, infantile, spoilt-brat “announce Ravel” horseshit the club gets battered with on social media every transfer window. Negatives: Everything else. Cracks fingers.
Let’s dispel a prevailing myth right here and now. This idea that we wouldn’t have been promoted in 2013/14 without Ravel Morrison is a crock of shit. Yes, there were some very good performances and goals from him during that loan spell – at home against Forest and mighty Yeovil, away to Birmingham and Middlesbrough. But this was in a period of time when QPR were too far adrift of the top two to go for automatic promotion, but too deeply embedded in the play-offs to risk missing out altogether. This was a long, drawn-out, boring period of treading water awaiting the end of season knockouts where Morrison played abysmally in the first leg away to Wigan and was then dropped for the second leg and the final. Rob Green, Richard Dunne, Clint Hill, Charlie Austin – these people got you promoted, Morrison had relatively rock all to do with it.
Then there’s this other idea that won’t go away, that Morrison was the best player Alex Ferguson had ever seen come through the academy at Man Utd. That would make him better than Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs, of course, but this was said around the same time Ferguson was ignoring Paul Pogba and picking Ji Sung Park with Rafael Da Silva in midfield instead so maybe all that red wine had started to take effect in his old age. Morrison may well have been brilliant then but what has he done since? One great goal for West Ham at Tottenham, one showy back flick captured on cameras in England U21 training, and a few good ones for us in the aforementioned meaningless games. He’s 24 now, lots of kids look good at academy level and never make it, how long is he planning on living off that one throwaway comment, which is obviously nonsense anyway?
Now we’ve said before that a club like QPR has to embrace the negatives in players like Adel Taarabt, because otherwise why on earth would a player that talented end up at a club like ours? If there wasn’t something wrong with Taarabt, Morrison etc they’d be playing for bigger, better, more successful clubs. But Taarabt scored 19 goals and got 21 assists in a QPR title winning side, Morrison’s done nothing like that for anybody despite being given multiple chances at some really good clubs under some very experienced and successful managers – none of whom have been able to do anything with him other than uber short term.
You can also talk about his difficult background, tough childhood, bad family circumstances and what have you. But he’s not the only person in the world who’s had it tough, and his football ability gives him a magnificent opportunity to leave all that behind. Instead he turns up late, when he turns up at all, he pays no attention to his fitness and he remains persistently overweight. Hanging round with scum bags in souped up cars on empty retail parks, being charged with threatening to throw acid in your girlfriend’s face and have her house blown up, intimidating witnesses… sooner or later you’ve got to abandon this idea that this is a kid from a difficult background who just needs yet another well-paid opportunity at yet another big football club to sort his life out and conclude that he’s just one of life’s genuine arseholes.
The idea that a known dickhead, who’s been a dickhead at clubs like Man Utd and for managers like Sam Allardyce, is going to come to a shambolic club like QPR and suddenly knuckle down is fanciful. We had all the usual bullshit from Holloway about looking into his mum’s eyes and making her a promise, all the usual Morrison Twitter garbage about “no more messing about”, and then more of the same – can’t keep time, can’t keep fit, can’t behave, can’t keep his weight down.
His cameo performance against Cardiff, where he spent the final ten minutes preserving our own goal lead by hurling his ample frame into opposing players and conceding dangerous free kicks, was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen on a football pitch. Against Brighton I wondered if his deep-lying midfield role and conservative passing game was him showing Holloway he could be disciplined and follow instructions – the manager’s post match comments revealed that he’d actually wanted Morrison far further forward (as you would expect) but he just wasn’t fit enough to get there.
And now he’s gone. Hopefully for good. Hopefully taking the “announce Ravel” Twitter twats with him.
QPR, listen to me now, if it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck it’s a fucking duck.
1 start, 4 sub appearances, W3 D0 L2
0 goals, 0 assists
0 yellow cards, 0 red cards
0 LFW MOTM Awards
LFW Ratings – 4, 6, -, 4, 5 = 4.75
Interactive Ratings – 5.22
0 Supporter MOTM Awards
A few to whip through here… I thought Ariel Borysiuk (8 starts, 3 sub apps, W5 D3 L4) looked quite good in his few fleeting outings, and it would have been nice if he’d stayed long enough for one of those 35 yard screamers he attempted every game to find the top corner one day, but a poor performance over Christmas at Brighton, homesickness, and Ian Holloway’s distaste for non-English speakers who can’t understand his concise, incisive pearls of training ground wisdom was always likely to bring his stay to a premature end. He's scored one in a dozen starts since moving back to Poland on loan.
I maintain Ben Gladwin’s (4 starts, 4 subs, W3 D0 L5) game time is nowhere near enough for anybody at QPR to pass judgement – half a dozen starts at a level he’s never previously played at – but given how he has played in those, how he did on loan at Bristol City, and the fact he wasn’t even in the Swindon team by the end of their relegation campaign this year suggests it’s a bit too much for him. Still don’t understand the level of vitriol towards him though – young kid trying to make a way in the game.
Michael Doughty (2 starts, 2 subs, W2 D0 L2) has been linked with Peterborough this summer and really, even though there’s a year left on his deal, it’s probably time he bit the bullet and made that move. Ian Holloway really rated him at Swindon so if he can’t make the breakthrough under Ollie he’s unlikely to ever do it now. Posh would be a good move, they’ve a record of developing players and he played very well against them for Swindon in the first half of last season so they’ve seen something they like. He may well come back and bite us when they sell him for big money further down the track but at the moment the lack of pace and engine, cruelly exposed by Alex Pritchard at Norwich on the final day, means League One is probably his level.
The decision to toss Michael Petrasso into the Sheff Wed game, out of position at wing back, having not made an appearance for a year, was disgraceful, and massively unfair on the lad. He got shunted around three different positions in 45 minutes and withdrawn at half time. Bet he felt great about that. I’m not convinced he’s going to make it but we’re not going to find out like that.
Josh Bowler looked good in a cameo in the final game of the season at Norwich, and is now being linked with Premier League moves by the clickbait sites. Brandom Comley returning from a half season loan at Grimsby to play two minutes for us at Reading before going back to Grimsby, where he hasn’t done particularly well, was odd.
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