|Hull City 2 v 3 Queens Park Rangers|
Saturday, 19th October 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Big test for QPR's new flying fullback ethos - Preview
Friday, 18th Oct 2019 14:13 by Clive Whittingham
Hull's Jarrod Bowen ran riot against QPR across 180 minutes last season, so will a change of personnel and tactics at full back make things better or worse for the Londoners as they prepare to face off again?
Hull City (3-4-4, DDWDWL, 16th) v QPR (6-1-4, WWWLLW, 9th)
Mercantile Credit Trophy >>> Saturday October 19, 2019 >>> Kick Off 15.00 >>> Weather – Grey with rain later >>> KCom Stadium, Kingston-Upon-Hull
Just to keep things interesting, and because I don’t worry about enough stuff during the day, I like to treat myself on a regular basis to a good night terror.
There’s a few I run on a loop. Caught in a burning hotel, always a classic. Brought about, I presume, by actually being caught in a burning hotel as a child, and soothed wonderfully by the very classy Premier Inn Gatwick sounding their fire alarm at 4am during my recent stay there. Sorry about the state of the sheets lads, but you did rather ask for that. Shitgibbons.
I have one about my teeth falling out, which I’m told is something to do with worrying about money too much, and one about running out of money, which I’m told is something to do with worrying about money too much. There’s another where I’ve got a History A-level coming up but haven’t been attending my history lessons, and one where I’m many hundreds of miles away from a QPR game trying to make it for kick off only for a series of misfortunes to befall my train/cars/legs – both of which I’m told are caused by me being a massive fucking geek nerd.
And to that collection Steve McClaren’s QPR added Jarrod Bowen. Here he comes, shock of blonde hair, teeth like a piano that’s been pushed down a flight of stairs, frolicking in the acres of space afforded to him by a defensive tactic of ‘let’s line up around the six-yard box and see how long we can hold out’. “We defend our penalty box with our lives”. Yeh, great, thanks, £535 a season ticket was it? More cold sweats and heavy panting in the middle of the night. God knows what the neighbours think I’m up to – almost certainly not this.
With Joel Lynch’s tendency to either go too high and tight and get rolled in behind, or stand off too deep and loose allowing somebody to waltz in from the wing and unload a free shot on the goal, it’s hard to think of a Championship footballer we’d have been worse off facing than Jarrod Bowen., Especially when you coupled it with Jake Bidwell’s tendency/instruction to drop so deep, tight and narrow in alongside Lynch that whoever was playing right wing for the opposition effectively had a quarter of the field to themselves, save for when Luke Freeman’s hip flexor allowed him to get back far enough to offer token resistance.
Hull scored five times against us last season and took four points from six – Bowen scored four of those goals himself.
It’s difficult to believe we’re watching the same QPR this season because, well, we’re not. An enormous changeover of players in the summer terrified us all, it looked wild and out of control and doomed to failure, but it was necessary to at least try and address the steady slide downwards of our team and it has made countless, significant improvements. Choose to focus on the defensive frailty and lack of clean sheets if you must, but I’m still at the breath of fresh air stage with this young, exciting, attack minded team that Mark Warburton has assembled for us. I’m particularly keen to embrace it because I know as well as you do that it will probably all still go to shit, so I don’t want to have wasted the happy days worrying about minor stuff like why we give a penalty away every 38 minutes or why our goalkeepers look like they could do with us using a ball with a bell in it.
Chief among the improvements has been Ryan Manning, a player grossly underused by previous management who probably didn’t figure in Warburton’s plans much until Lee Wallace got injured pre-season and he came in and made the left wing back role his own. Even allowing for the league’s pedantic, ridiculously harsh method of measuring assists (he got nothing for the first or second goals against Blackburn, officially) his stats going forward this season are unreal and he’s up there with Ebere Eze for the player of the season so far. It has led, in equal measure, to stories linking him with the Premier League’s lower lights (Southampton, Newcastle, that sort) and asking why he can’t get a Republic of Ireland call up.
This weekend is an interesting test for all of that. The first reason McCarthy isn’t picking Manning for Ireland is because he’s a stubborn old git who doesn’t like being told what to do. If anybody thinks public or media clamour for his inclusion will help his cause they’ve another think coming, as Bersant Celina found during his loan spell at Ipswich. McCarthy would probably rather pick Terry Connor there than bow down to any sort of exterior pressure over his team selection. “Eeeeeee they talled mi it cunt be dun, talled me I dint knor wharrarus talkin abowt, but TC’s dun a grand job for mi there.”
The second is that most of Manning’s big numbers are being posted going forwards. This is great for QPR fans, brought up on the likes of Clive Wilson and David Bardsley but more recently accustomed to full backs basically being used as extra goalkeepers. Manning and Kane piling forwards, contributing to our vastly improved goalscoring threat, is like an Oasis in a desert of backwards thinking about using centre backs out of position down the sides of your defence in case you get beaten in the air close to the touchline. Just seeing them cross the halfway line is a bit of a novelty, and we’re lapping it up.
McCarthy doesn’t lap that sort of thing up though. He’s a defensive manager, and for all Manning’s brilliance this season (and he has been brilliant) we are conceding goals down his side. Warburton’s style and shape means the centre backs are often exposed in the channels, with full backs pushed high, and this has resulted in several goals in open play (Blackburn’s second) and several penalties being conceded by Yoann Barbet the left centre back (Swansea and Huddersfield both particularly supportive of this theory). They didn’t get any joy from it, but it was really noticeable that Blackburn kept knocking crossfield balls trying to get over and around Manning during the first half at Loftus Road last week.
The potential to expose us there hasn’t been missed by Championship teams, and it does make me worry a little bit about tomorrow. It’s not Manning’s fault by any means, he’s been incredible, it’s a fault of the system that won’t change regardless of who plays there. It could be tomorrow that our ability to attack from deep down the flanks pushes Bowen, and Grosicki on the other side, back into defending reducing their impact, or pulls Kevin Stewart out from a central role he’s been impressing in to try and help an exposed full back in Hull’s own 4-3-3 set up. Or it could be that having been battered by Bowen last year because we went way too deep and narrow from full back, perhaps we’ll get the same this season for the opposite reason – being too wide and high.
I hope not. Nobody needs a smug Mick McCarthy in their lives.
Links >>> QPR on Wembley trail – History >>> Bowen retained but problems remain – Interview >>> Bad news – Referee >>> The Royal Clint – Podcast Hull Official Website >>> Hull Daily Mail – Local Paper >>> Tigerlink – Blog >>> Amber Nectar – Blog and Forum >>> Not606 – Forum >>> Ground Guide
Geoff Cameron Facts No.69 in the Series – Geoff Cameron qualifies for Ireland after successfully visiting every McCarthy’s Bar on the island in a calendar year.
Team News: Very few injury problems for Mark Warburton to deal with – Mide Shodipo and Charlie Owens the only long termers now Lee Wallace is back fit – but plenty of selection headaches to deal with all the same. One would assume it’s Liam Kelly in goal ahead of Joe Lumley for the duration now unless he goes on a bad run of form. Todd Kane, on loan with Hull last season, continues to battle Angel Rangel for the right back spot. Choices to be made about whether to go with a back three of Hall-Leistner-Barbet now all three are fit and suspension free, or revert to a two with two defensive central midfielders. Josh Scowen, Geoff Cameron, Luke Amos and Dom Ball all await news on that to see who starts in the middle. Ryan Manning’s form continues to keep Wallace out of the team. Further forward one would think it will continue to be Ebere Eze and Ilias Chair with two from Bright Osayi-Samuel, Nahki Wells and Jordan Hugill depending on the midfield configuration but Marc Pugh, Amos, Matt Smith and Jan Mlakar all continue to wait patiently for a chance.
There are fewer complications and politics among the footballing WAGs of this country than there is in the Hull team news, so let’s crack on. Marcus Henriksen started twice for Norway during the international break, in 1-1 draws with Spain and Romania, but his only football this season has been played for his country and he will not be recalled by Hull while he continues to refuse a contract extension, paving the way for a cut price/free transfer in January or next summer. Shrewd devaluing of an asset you turned down a £1.8m bid for just nine months ago there. Jackson Irvine had played every game this season prior to missing the 3-0 defeat at Huddersfield with a hair extensions issue – he played twice for Australia during the break, scoring two goals in a 7-1 win against Vanuatu, so is in theory fit to return assuming he hasn’t got a touch of the Massimo Luongos. Fellow midfielder Jon Toral has been out for seven weeks having a row in a pub but he’s back in training and ready to go. Key centre back Jordy de Wijs misses out for the first time this season and will likely be replaced by summer arrival from Peterborough Ryan Tafazolli. Two summer loanees from Everton – Matthew Pennington and Josh Bowler – are yet to start a game between them. Former QPR keeper Matt Ingram has only played in the League Cup. Brandon Fleming, Stephen Kingsley and fit again Callum Elder draw straws for the left back role.
Elsewhere: The Mercantile Credit Trophy swings back into action tonight, with a riveting pick from Sky Sports Leeds featuring The Eleventh Annual Neil Warnock Farewell Tour at home to Sheffield Owls. Treat.
Further mouth-watering telly morsels come your way on Saturday in the form of the Mad Chicken Farmers against Huddersfield Imps (ooooooooooh) on Saturday lunchtime and then Wigan Warriors at home to Nottingham Florist’s cast of a thousand footballers on Sunday (aaaaaaaaaaah). Cowley sisters Danni and Nikki starting to work their magic in West Yorkshire – seven points from nine and consecutive wins to nil after eight defeats and a draw to start the season suggested a recovery might be underway prior to the internationals. Only Stoke and Hull they beat mind, but anyway.
Nine games left for Saturday at 15.00 then. Sebastien and Tarquin have come down off the top of that tube train (Canning Town lads, what were you thinking, you get a shoeing there for buying The Guardian at the newsagent) in time to get up to Stoke in a gender-neutral, solar-powered vehicle made entirely of organically grown moss.
PSV Derby meanwhile head to Charlton fresh from the news that the punishment for racing around in the middle of the night three times over the drink drive limit in high powered vehicles, smashing into each other, fleeing the scene of the accident for an hour, ending the career of a team mate and risking the lives of countless others in the process is not being allowed to drive (for a bit), doing some unpaid work (probably football coaching kids) and a fine in an amount Tom Lawrence and Mason Bennett probably had kicking round in their back pockets. To be fair, Lawrence said that prison would “mess with his head” (and his bumhole), as opposed to all those people who enjoy spending time behind bars, and that he’d been proper sad after his mum died. As anybody who’s lost a parent will know, the first thing it pushes you towards is getting absolutely off your face and then jumping behind the wheel of your car to see if you can rob anybody else of their loved one. Bennett, meanwhile, was described as a model father to his four-year-old daughter, who’d be deprived of her dad if he was jailed. Quite how any of that tallies with getting so steamed up you vomit the contents of your stomach into a urinal and then drive home regardless, again, is unclear. Proof, if proof were needed, that you’re more than welcome to recklessly and drunkenly brandish a a lethal, petrol powered, steel weapon around in this country as long as it takes the form of a motor car. Absolute joke.
What else do we have for you? Reading. Ahhhh Reading. We usually gloss right over their fixture because, well, who fucking cares (?), but we’ll stop long enough to marvel at the latest victory for The Taffia which is in full flight in Berkshire. Mark Bowen, best remembered at QPR for his car crash Open All R’s podcast interview at the height of the troubles, arrived in the summer as a director of football at a club that was already being advised on random, left field managerial appointments and player acquisitions by, wait for it, Kia Joorabchian! Nice to see the band back together. When excessive spend under random manager yielded only eight points and a spot in the bottom three and a change of boss last week, Bowen was charged with hunting a replacement. Who better to do this than a man who has never held a managerial position or director of football role anywhere else in the game before? Bowen’s search immediately saw Mark ‘Sparkless’ Hughes installed as favourite owing to his faultless record of never having been relegated before, and being the only other person in the known universe apart from Eddie Niedzwiecki that Mark Bowen has ever heard of. As we know though, Hughes thinks the Championship is a bit beneath him, despite his repeated attempts to end up in it, and so Reading failed his interview. Bowen subsequently appointed himself. Which has gone down like a sack of shit. They’re losing 2-0 at home to Preston Knob End this weekend.
Also a change of manager up at Grimethorpe Miners’ Welfare, without a win since the opening day of the season and facing Swanselona at home this weekend. Quite what was expected of Daniel Stendel having lost his goalkeeper and both centre halves over the summer, and only having the division’s lowest playing budget to replace them with, goodness only knows. Good luck to whoever takes that one on – Paul Heckingbottom has already ruled out returning to Oakwell from Hibs.
What fun. Let’s rattle through another few quickly now – Champions of Europe are at home to Birmingham, Bristol City have snuck a little Spanish striker in under the radar this week ahead of a trip to Lutown, and Middlesbrough v West Brom can compare notes on life after Tony Pulis has turned the soul of your club into brown sludge when they meet on Teeside.
Our old favourite Gareth Ainsworth may yet be the new manager of Millwall Scholars, but they remain under caretaker charge for one more week at least, and that’s less than ideal as they face probably the toughest game of this or any other season, away at Spartak Hounslow.
Referee: The last time Tony Harrington refereed QPR he gifted Bristol City a scandalous last minute penalty to win them the game at Ashton Gate, followed by a farcical period of stoppage time in which half a dozen QPR players were booked before and after the full time whistle for telling him what a festering cumrag he is. Prior to that he was the referee in charge for our 1-0 defeat at Blackburn when Conor Washington had a rare goal disallowed because three feet over the line isn’t enough, apparently. Not an ideal appointment for a northern away game this one. Details and stats.
Hull City: It’s been a patchy, inconsistent start to the season for Grant McCann’s team – four wins, five draws and four defeats in all comps. They had put a six match unbeaten run together (albeit including four draws) through September only to lose 3-0 at lowly Huddersfield in the game before the international break. At home they’ve already been beaten by Blackburn (1-0) and Bristol City (3-1) while a poor Wigan side escaped with a 2-2 but they did take four points from Cardiff (2-2) and Sheff Wed (1-0) in their last two league games here. City are unbeaten at home against QPR since 1991, although there was of course a big gap in there where we didn’t play each other at all. Since we reconnected with a 0-0 here on the opening day of the 2005/06 season it’s been three Hull wins and five draws. Neither Matt Ingram nor Josh Bowler (on loan from Everton) have made a league start for the Tigers yet this season.
QPR: QPR have only drawn once this season, it’s either been one thing or the other, and that’s particularly stark when you look through their five away results. Three wins have already been plundered on the road - all 2-1 at Stoke, Millwall and Sheff Wed – which equals their total for the whole of 2017/18 and is only two behind the five they managed in 2018/19. In the other two games, however, they’ve been beaten 2-0 and 3-0 by Bristol City and Cardiff. These five games contribute to a wait for a first clean sheet this season in this their fourteenth game in league and cup. Along a similar theme, Nahki Wells’ opener against Blackburn prior to the international break was his sixth in the league and seventh in total, drawing him ever closer to the seven and nine he managed last season. Ebere Eze also scored against Rovers, meaning he’s already matched the four goals he got in 2018/19. Yoann Barbet’s penalty concession in that game was his third of the season already, and the fifth time QPR have conceded from the spot overall. No other Championship team has conceded more from penalties than QPR’s five this season or 15 since the start of last term. Only one has been missed in that time – Fernando Forestieri poking one over the bar on the last day of last season at Sheff Wed. The last time a QPR goalkeeper saved a penalty in a non-shoot out situation it was actually Matt Ingram at Brentford in April 2018, done while suffering from concussion which forced him from the field a short time later. Our referee this Saturday, Tony Harrington, has awarded three penalties against Rangers in his last two games with us.
Prediction: Our Prediction League this year is sponsored by The Art of Football. Get involved by lodging your prediction here or sample the merch from our sponsor’s QPR collection here. Last year’s champion WokingR says…
“With Hull having won only two of their six homes games so far I'm looking for us to continue the excellent away form we have shown this season. As we always concede though I'm looking at another 2-1 win for the R's with Eze getting back on the scoresheet…”
WokingR’s Prediction: Hull 1-2 QPR. Scorer – Ebere Eze
LFW’s Prediction: Hull 2-2 QPR. Scorer – Nahki Wells
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