|Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Rotherham United|
Wednesday, 13th March 2019 Kick-off 19:45
QPR plumb new depths in Rotherham debacle - Report
Friday, 15th Mar 2019 00:07 by Clive Whittingham
Well, if you thought Saturday's debacle with Stoke City was bad, let me tell you about Wednesday night's disgraceful nadir against Rotherham United.
My word. How do you write jokes for that? Have I told you about that time I went to Prague on a work trip…
Let’s get serious here for a few minutes. We get it. We really get it, those of us that are left. The hangers on, the football tourists, the South Koreans and their Ji-Sung Park replica shirts, the ones who ran a coke dealership out of the bogs in the away end at Charlton Athletic and the morons who stuffed it into their face and then spent the second half attacking other QPR fans… they’ve gone. Melted away. Doing other things. Lost interest. It’s just us now, again, and we get it.
We get that Queens Park Rangers won the lottery twice and blew all the money. We get that the club has been chronically mismanaged down to the bottom of a very deep hole from which it will take many years to climb back out, even to the point of being an upper midtable Championship team again. We get that the parachute payments are ending, that the Financial Fair Play regulations paint us into a corner, that we’re rapidly becoming a ‘have not’ in a league full of haves. We get that it’s a tough job, being the manager of QPR, and that we don’t seem to get particularly better or worse for changing whoever is in that role. We get that the players are limited, but trying, and the slightly less limited ones are going to have to be repeatedly sold to keep us peddling along. It’s sapping. And we completely understand.
Chris Ramsey was savagely pilloried. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink loudly abused. Ian Holloway sternly criticised. And now Steve McClaren, on a longer losing run than any of them, just gets a bit of a ‘meh’. We’re numb to it. We don’t think there’s anybody better out there who would come here, and even if there was we don’t back our board’s ability to find them. And we get it. We get all of it. We have become a patient, understanding, empathetic and apathetic bunch. Most groups of supporters, most groups of QPR supporters down the years, would have been setting fire to parked cars and looting shops by now, but at QPR in 2019 standards and expectations have now slipped so far that we’re just sitting there taking it, with barely a cross word said. The team doesn’t even get booed off after these defeats, and that’s partly because people have stopped caring but mainly because this is a knowledgeable crowd that gets it. We get it. Got that?
Good. Because what we don’t get, what we must never get, what should never be acceptable to any team wearing our colours, what should never be served to us ever again under any circumstances, is that fucking disgusting pile of complete dog wank that was phoned in by way of a performance at Loftus Road last night. However tough it gets, whatever the circumstances, whoever the manager is, whoever the players are, that was a performance that shamed the entire club and everybody involved in it. We have sat through a 7-1 at West Brom, a 6-0 to Newcastle, a 6-0 at Fulham, a 6-0 at Man City, a 6-1 at Chelsea. And now we’ve been made to sit through this. And, in so many ways, this was worse. Even for this club, this was wholly unacceptable and must not be tolerated.
The context, we all knew. Rotherham United, third bottom, hadn’t won an away game all season. In fact, they’d only won three games of any sort on any ground in their last 30. In fact, they didn’t win an away game in the whole season the last time they were at this level either and it’s been 43 away games in the Championship since their last, which was almost three years ago at MK Dons. QPR are very charitable in these circumstances usually. Good QPR teams, QPR teams that knew what they were doing, QPR teams you’d pay to watch, QPR teams you were proud of… those QPR teams would always do something like lose to Swindon Town or let John Jensen score or concede a diving header to Lloyd bloody Doyley. Not a problem. It’s us. It’s part of the charm. But, again, not like this. This was something else.
QPR approached this task in three different and completely ineffective ways. Firstly, by booting long raking balls out to the wings in the vague direction of Jake Bidwell down the left or Darnell Furlong down the right. These often went into touch. Secondly, by doing that thing where they ponce around with the ball for a bit in their own half before passing it back to Joe Lumley for him to boot it down the field. These, too, often went into touch. There cannot be a team in world football that passes the ball back to its goalkeeper as much as we do. He’s like the default option, even when the man in possession is 70 or 80 yards down the field they’re thinking primarily of Lumley. And, thirdly, by just booting it. Full on, care free, sky high, Peter Kay-style whacks down the field towards nobody in particular. After a prolonged debate about where an early free kick might be placed, Jake Bidwell belted it straight into the Ellerslie Road stand. A free kick.
QPR didn’t pass the ball, they didn’t pass the ball forwards, and they didn’t have shots at the goal. One Luke Freeman free kick midway through the first half was nudged towards goal by Tomer Hemed and saved by Marek Rodak in the Rotherham goal – should have scored – but that really was it. I’d describe it as kick and rush, but there was no rush, it was just kick. A front two of Hemed and Ebere Eze didn’t exactly scream hard yards on paper, but frankly a player of Hemed’s experience and ability should be abjectly ashamed of his 72 minute “contribution” here. Time after time when these aimless hoofs came down the field they would find him still very, very, very slowly coming back from the offside position he’d been ambling about in during the previous “attack”. Ihiekwe could have played him in a suit. I mean, just move your fucking arse man. We’re not asking a lot are we? Move about a bit. Look busy, we’re paying for this.
A fourth more effective tactic was a quick release from Joe Lumley, over the head of Joe Mattock, for Bright Osayi-Samuel to chase after. The former Blackpool man was treated to a rare start here with Pawel Wszolek benched and set about the task nicely. He was patently quicker than Mattock, and caused the full back problems right from the off, giving him a ten yard start and beating him to the first ball, then doing the same again moments later and drawing a foul and a yellow card from referee David Webb. This was wonderful. Exactly what you want: young, quick, talented winger looking confident; creaking, painfully slow, full back looking frightened and booked early. Keep doing that. Keep going there. Keep picking away at that. There’s joy there. There’s low hanging fruit.
McClaren, after 25 minutes, moved Osayi-Samuel to the other wing.
I’m sorry, I’m going to have a little swear now, feel free to skip this par. What in the name of actual fuck are you doing? What are you doing? What are you doing? Sitting down there drinking your fucking coffee, surrounded by a coaching cast of bloody thousands at a club that’s meant to be skint and saving money, and after 25 minutes you look at the situation and think the best thing to do would be to move Bright Osayi-Samuel away from the full back he’s already beaten twice, the full back he’s already got booked, the full back he’s got on toast, and move him to the other side of the field. Mind officially blown. I’ve never pretended to know anything about football, this is just fan’s eye view stuff, McClaren used to be the fucking England manager, he can drink me under the table with his talk about transitions and moving through the thirds and all that clever shit. But fuck me sideways. Is he fucking backwards or something? Jesus Christ.
Anyway. So that was the first half, and honestly I'd rather guide my dad into my mum than go through it again. The general consensus at half time was that Saturday’s brain tumour against Stoke had actually been a fun afternoon at the football compared to this shower and it was just as well that there was nobody there to see it. Later the club declared an attendance of 10,854, which was bold. And hilarious. I’ve seen more people in bus shelters.
Rotherham, for their part, were a nervous sort of ok. In Semi Ajayi - who looked like the worst centre half I’d ever seen in my life when Rotherham lost here 5-1 on their last visit - they had the best player on the pitch. Now a central midfielder, he dominated the middle of the park with a mixture of poise and power. Five minutes in he beat two QPR players to headers, collected the ball, unloaded what I’m led to believe is called a “shot on goal” and Jake Bidwell made a brave block. Later hard working but non-scoring forward Michael Smith nodded a back post cross back where it came from, over Lumley, and down into the six-yard box sparking something that might have resembled a panic if QPR had been conscious and alert enough to be panicked. Wiles went through on goal, Lumley slid under him well and saved, he’d long since been flagged offside.
To change this, McClaren did nothing. Second half, same team, same players, same completely disinterested lone striker, same midfield unable to pass the ball, same full backs having a mare, same centre backs whacking the ball out of play, same result. Mass Luongo and Osayi-Samuel could hold their heads up but everybody else looked knackered, or like they’d rather be somewhere else, or both. The manager retook his seat in the dugout, with his ten bazillion coaches, and his seven unused substitutes, and off we went again for, literally, more of exactly the same. More of the aimless, senseless, whacking the ball down the field. More of the passing it back to Joe Lumley. Nobody putting a foot on the ball. Nobody passing. Nobody having a shot. Having plumbed new depths in the first half QPR set about drilling down further, all the way through awful, pathetic, embarrassing and shameful until they finally got to the point where it was actually just completely unprofessional. Still no substitutions were made.
Over the public address appeal went out for Lawrence to contact the nearest steward. Clever Lawrence, that old blind date trick with the faked phone call. Wish I’d thought of that.
Just how simple it could have been was shown when Osayi-Samuel picked up the ball, got it under control, and ran with it towards the goal. Rotherham were completely spooked. What was this witchcraft? Chuck him off a cliff at once see if he flies. He cut the ball back through the area and nobody was able to apply a touch. This received a standing ovation. Liking what he saw, big Toni Leistner went marauding down the field next, like a dog loose on a school playground, again causing panic in a visiting team shot of confidence, before teeing up Osayi-Samuel for a shot over. See. See. Just do that. Run with the fucking ball towards the fucking goal. It’s over there. It’s the white metal thing with the net hanging off the back of it and it won’t fucking bite you. Try a few things. Have a few shots. Attack. What is this weird style of play we’ve got ourselves into where we value possession for the two centre backs more than we do scoring a pissing goal?
At the other end Smith again caused a goalmouth scramble with a backpost header, and then later missed an absolute sitter with his head from eight yards after being left completely unmarked for a left wing cross. Two massive warning signs, and still no substitutions. Perhaps the problem is there’s so many of them down there decisions like substitutions have to be put out to consultation and it takes a while. My hatred for Lawrence grew further.
Then, 20 minutes from time, it happened. It had been coming, and it happened. Ajayi, no surprise, with a powerful shot from the edge of the box, through a crowd of players and into the bottom corner. Now, wouldn’t you just know it, all the substitutions. Couldn’t make a fucking substitution quickly enough now. Veritable hive of activity down on the touchline now. Seventy one minutes of liquid faeces, absolutely fine. One bloke sticks one in the bottom corner and suddenly the entire team needs a rejig does it? Come on mate, have a day off. Off went Warrior Hemed, as if he’d ever really been on in the first place. On Came Nahki Wells, who promptly went through on goal and poked the ball wide of the post. Off went Jordan Cousins, with a pass completion percentage in low single figures, and on came Mide Shodipo. Off went Ebere Eze, and on came Pawel Wszolek, a winger to play ten between two other wingers.
This sparked something resembling a reaction. It had taken 80 minutes, and a Rotherham goal, but QPR were now playing with something sort of resembling urgency and tempo. There was some running about. There were some passes played forward. There were some shots on the goal – Wells’, which was a sitter, and then Osayi-Samuel’s, which went straight in the net for the world’s most underserved equaliser after good approach work from Wszolek and turned a catastrophic result back into just a shit one again. Celebrations were low key.
Just as well really because rather than push on, rather than force the issue, rather than salvage the win, rather than take advantage of Rotherham’s brief wobble, QPR decided to go back to what had worked so, so, so well for them before. This included the concession of a series of mindlessly dumb free kicks in their own half, the final one of which was given up by Darnell Furlong to cap a retched personal performance and planted by substitute Forde plum onto the head of Ajayi for a winning goal with the last kick of the match. Ajayi deserved it, Rotherham deserved it, and Queens Park Rangers really, really deserved it.
Match Gallery: 15 photos
Afterwards Steve McClaren said his team had been “poor”. Oh for poor. Poor is a world away from this. Poor is something to aspire to. Poor is a roaring coal fire on a cold day. Poor is an ice cold beer in 30 degrees of heat. Poor is a soapy tit wank. I’d take poor. I’d enjoy it. At least he didn’t carry on like his shit didn’t stink - if he’d given it the classic “there was only one winner at 1-1” bollocks I’d have had to be physically restrained. But this wasn’t poor. This was a long way from poor. And he’s lucky to still be employed after it.
QPR: Lumley 5; Furlong 4, Leistner 5, Lynch 5, Bidwell 5; Osayi-Samuel 6, Luongo 6, Cousins 4 (Shodipo 72, 6), Freeman 5; Eze 5 (Wszolek 80, 6), Hemed 3 (Wells 72, 5)
Subs not used: Ingram, Cameron, Scowen, Manning
Goals: Osayi-Samuel 86 (assisted Wszolek)
Bookings: Bidwell 43 (foul), Furlong 90+4 (foul)
Rotherham: Rodak 6; Vyner 6, Ihiekwe 8, Wood 6, Mattock 5; Taylor 7, Ajayi 8, Towell 7 (Crooks 64, 6), Newell 7 (Forde 83, -); Smith 6, Wiles 6 (Jones 90+2, -)
Subs not used: Palmer, Price, Yates, Williams
Goals: Ajayi 71 (unassisted), 90+5 (assisted Forde)
Bookings: Mattock 17 (foul)
QPR Star Man – Mass Luongo 6 Him and Bright. Apart from that… Luongo couldn’t really have done any more, tried any harder, run anywhere else to try and make things better here. But he was fighting a losing battle.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 6 Gave a lot of free kicks, but then QPR committed a lot of fouls. Bit fussy, and as during the Derby game did a lot of gesturing towards his watch during blatant time wasting and then added a pitiful three minutes onto the end of the game (though played a more realistic five).
Alleged Attendance 10,854 (330 Rotherham) Biggest laugh of the night this one. Apparently just 783 people fewer than were here for Leeds in the FA Cup when they sold out the School End. I certainly wouldn’t want whoever counted this up to be measuring me for a carpet. Perhaps it includes McClaren’s legions of staff?
The Twitter/Instagram @loftforwords
Pictures – Action Images
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