The view from the Pu – November
Thursday, 5th Dec 2019 17:29 by Steve Hardy
Wheels falling off a bump in the road? Steve Hardy is back to assess a tough November for QPR.
So into December we stutter after five games played in November giving us a measly two points. Was that noise, a bump in the road or the wheels falling off? I guess only time will tell. Let’s delve into what went well and what not so well in November.
Were there actually any positives to take in November? I believe so. Whilst it wasn’t the greatest month by any stretch of the imagination it was nowhere near as bad as some of the rank runs we went on under McClaren at the start of this year.
Let’s face it, of the three defeats this month they were against the teams placed first, third and fourth with two of those defeats coming away from home. We’re hardly talking about giving Rotherham their first away win in 463 games or losing to a Bolton team that are playing for free are we? So I do believe that an element of calm needs to prevail and to an extent it has – Twitter trolls notwithstanding.
This is quite blatantly scraping the barrel looking for positives to write about but I do think a bit of credit is due to Warburton for keeping calm and ploughing on. December looks a lot kinder on paper once we’ve got our annual home defeat to Preston out of the way and if we could pick up three or four wins from the month then everything will start to look a bit more solid again.
Reading the message board everyone is still happy to stick with Warburton and judging by the reaction at the end of the Derby game the fans are still on side so credit for everyone for remaining relatively calm there at least - it wasn’t that long ago that we were booing Chris Ramsey on the way to a 3-0 home victory.
It was always going to be tough to find positives in a month where you don’t win a game but in all honesty we should have chalked up at least the one win with how we started at Fulham away. That opening 30 minutes against Luton in the blazing sunshine feels so long ago now that we can’t buy a win and the days are colder than the back of my freezer, but that first half at Fulham wasn’t too far from our best football. I know we ultimately ended up losing the game in typical QPR fashion but for the first 20 minutes at least, I could only see one winner and it’s worth remembering how good we can actually be and have been at times this season. There will inevitably a few more disappointments as the season progresses but let’s not lose track of how good we can be at times. Call it delusion but I do believe that a win will make everything a lot better and maybe even put us on another good run of form and there is a good side there and although we did our charitable deed of allowing a striker who hasn’t scored in 10 months a brace, that first half at Fulham was a good showing and on another night we could have been home and dry at the interval. God I sound like a Brentford fan there.
So we end the month in our beloved 16th place, which is a good thing surely? Considering it wasn’t so long ago that a victory over Reading would have seen us in second place it seems like a silly thing to say but my pre-season prediction was that we would be this year’s Ipswich and touch wood this does not appear to be the case. We’re still performing way above my expectations currently and this is the biggest positive of the season for me.
I’ve got plenty to choose from in this section haven’t I? Let’s just stick to the obvious ones.
Let’s start with the errors, the gifts, the clangers, whatever you want to call them, they are starting to really grate on the supporters judging by the reaction at the end of the Fulham game. Although hopefully a corner has been turned after a lot more solid and professional performance at Wayne Rooney’s Derby County at the weekend. The one error that really did it for me though was that pass from Nakhi Wells during the Middlesbrough home game, I can’t remember such an incisive through ball since Faurlin (hearts in eyes) away at Reading in 2011, just a shame that it was to the player in the bright red shirt. I thought the same when Lumley squared the ball directly to Harry Cornick in the bright orange shirt when we played Luton which leads me to believe that these errors must solely be down to a lack of concentration. How to cut them out is fairly simple, stop doing them in the first place although that’s easier said than done, but to echo Clive’s sentiment our game management does need to change and there is nothing wrong with going a bit more pragmatic at certain times to steady the ship. Could always be worse I suppose, we could have Joe Denly in goal.
While I’m discussing errors when does missing chances constitute an error on the same scale as some of our defensive howlers? I reference the Fulham game again because for the all the chipped passes to their centre midfielder and leaving their lone striker with the whole penalty box to attack we could, and should, have been about three nil up. Now none of these were as bad as Jordan Hugill spooning the ball over bar from 1 yard but surely not taking your chances can hurt you as much? I don’t really have much of a point here but I suppose what I’m trying to say is that it’s well and good getting on Lumley’s back when he scuffs it out to the other team’s striker but try not to forget some of the chances we have also missed when on top in games, score those and the errors don’t matter so much.
So still no clean sheets. Not the words of a worker at the sex addiction clinic, the words we seem to be uttering after about 18 minutes of every game at the moment. I have done a bit of research (by a bit I mean I quick Google search) to see if any team has gone a whole season without keeping a clean sheet and it seems that it has never happened, although I did find out that the record for the most draws in a season is held between Exeter, Norwich and Hartlepool. Anyway, how do we fix it? I’ve seen a few people mention the need for an ‘ugly’ centre back who can do the dirty work and lead the troops, is this not ultimately the strengths of Leistner’s game? Personally I think that if we want to stick with this style of play then the answer would be to find someone like Barbet who is confident on the ball instead of asking an old fashioned centre back to play like Franz Beckenbauer. I’m a fan of Leistner and I feel we do look more solid with him in the team but it does seem like he has been a lot quieter this season, maybe he’s homesick or maybe having the armband given to Hall has affected him, either way if people are insisting on the need for this ‘old school’ style defender then look no further as we already have one.
It’s usually this point where I’ll try to write something witty or thoughtful but as this is the last time I will be rambling until next year just want to take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy new year. Come on your R’s.
Links >>> Follow Steve’s match-by-match reviews on Instagram >>> August 18 >>> September 18 >>> October 18 >>> November 18 >>> December 18 >>> January 19 >>> February 19 >>> March 19 >>> April 19 >>> 18/19 Season Review >>> August 19 >>> September 19 >>> October 19
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When Saturday Comes, and finally the U’s return to the league programme after what seems an age as a result of our international break. The Forest Green match has been rearranged for 21st December, the last Tuesday before Xmas, and it will no doubt be a chilly night on top of the hill overlooking Nailsworth. Originally billed as a 7pm kick-off, it seems to have been pushed back to 7.45pm now – better make sure before I set off on the short drive for that one. Talking of short drives, bravo to our U18s winning 2-0 at Swindon in the FA Youth Cup midweek, to set up a mouth-watering home tie against Arsenal in the 3rd Round.
When Saturday Comes #14 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #13 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #12 by wessex_exile
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When Saturday Comes #11 by wessex_exile
This blog is a little earlier than usual, to give me and Alfie time to load up the car and sally forth for our first awayday of the season together, on the road to Vale Park – “He who would valiant be, 'gainst all disaster, let him in constancy follow the Master”. Not quite sure who the master is in that analogy, but let’s hope it’s Hayden Mullins on Saturday. All being well, I’m looking forward to catching up with fellow U’sual boarders (Noah, Durham maybe?, anyone else) when I get there. I won’t be meeting up with Clampin (Covid) or Judge (calf injury) who will miss out on making the trip, nor of course Tchamadeu (see below).
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