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Riches to rags, beauty to beast, QPR crash at Cov - Report
Saturday, 19th Sep 2020 16:40 by Clive Whittingham

QPR turned a promising first half performance and 1-0 lead into a defensively shambolic defeat at Coventry City on Friday night, with a growing public relations storm thrown into the bargain by the host broadcaster.

Warmth, contentment, happiness, joy. It comes into my life so seldom that its arrival can often startle and alarm. Like somebody ringing your mum’s house phone after 8pm — oooh what’s that? Who’s that? What on earth? It’s QPR playing well Clive, away from home, on a Friday night, on Sky Television. Don’t worry, I don’t blame you if you don’t remember.

There they were though, in a proper away kit, out of the traps like a frog up a pump. Ilias Chair with a half-hearted penalty appeal after 15 seconds of play. Bright Osayi-Samuel allowed to go too far unchallenged and unloading a powerful shot straight at goalkeeper Marko Marosi. Lyndon Dykes clearly and obviously fouled while streaking away in a two v two situation but somehow penalised for handball during the fall.

What few problems Coventry posed were mostly inflicted on QPR by themselves. Possession conceded on ten minutes resulting in a two on two that Rob Dickie rescued. A slack first touch by Tom Carroll allowing Ryan Giles to feed Matt Godden before Dickie and Osman Kakay, ink still drying on a four year contract, swooped to kill. Dickie giving the ball away to expose us three against two but Yoann Barbet mopped up.

Mostly though, it was about Queens Park Rangers. Mostly. They pressed high and fast, they controlled possession and field position, they hassled and harried Coventry’s back three and wing backs into mistakes and give aways in potentially dangerous areas. The Sky Blues hadn’t lost in 14 league games when the lockdown came in March and were streaking away at the top of League One with an attractive, progressive style of play. QPR’s early dominance here had wise sages exchanging knowing Tweets about a broadening gap between the second and third tiers. When Lee Wallace ambitiously tried to meet a corner at the far post with a first time volley and sent it skewing high into the night sky in entirely the opposite direction — captain of Glasgow Shankers — it landed plum on Osayi-Samuel’s toe and we built again from there. It was the sort of thing that makes it feel like your night.

There wasn’t enough goal threat to go with it. The balance in the three behind Lyndon Dykes isn’t right, with Amos employed at ‘ten’ more for his pressing ability without the ball than anything he does in attack, meaning Dykes is at times isolated without support, with Ilias Chair struggling to influence the game as much as he can and should from wide left. But you don’t see a team this superior in a game without making it pay with a goal too often and sure enough when Chair took a quick free kick and Osayi-Samuel read the intention it was all too much for a slow and leaden footed Kyle McFadzean, who struggled at this level previously with Burton Albion, and his clumsy tackle drew a penalty from Three Amigos star Steve Martin after some considerable period of thought. Lyndon Dykes reloaded the flamethrower and Marosi very sensibly got out of the way.

To be honest, 1-0 was a bit of a disappointment. Nil nil would have been a travesty and what came next was heading out to the garage with a length of hose stuff. With two minutes to play until half time QPR contrived to concede an equaliser of staggering defensive incompetence. Count with me the problems and errors as first Amos makes a token effort to get back at his man, then Barbet comes haring out of position for no good reason at all and clatters into the back of Jamie Allen taking them both out of the game, then Kakay far too passively stands off Giles and allows a cross to come in, then Wallace for reasons known only to himself leaves Matt Godden unmarked at the far post to come across and cover space at the near, then Joe Lumley fails to sort his feet out quickly enough to keep out a downward header.

Even after three consecutive seasons of conceding 70+ goals, even after watching us let in 76 in 2019/20, I’m pretty speechless at this one. I always hold my hands up and say I’ve never played or coached football, I’m just some gobshite with a website saying what I see while following a football team around, but I would love somebody who has played left full back at any kind of level to talk me through the thought process of leaving the only striker Coventry had in the penalty box unmarked at the far, left, stick so you can trundle across and try and cover some space at the near, right, post. Sadly, with Ryan Manning apparently on his way to Blackburn Rovers, Wallace’s performance descended from these poor beginnings into the sort of thing you shake hands with a glass of whiskey over, talk about the good times in the past and wish each other well in the future.

It didn’t necessarily have to be a disaster though. QPR turned it into that with a start to the second half every bit as insipid as the first half had been proactive. You’ll rarely see a team for from being as superior as Rangers were in the first 45, to as inferior as they were after half time. Coventry, who had appeared a little scared and timid initially, clearly realised there was nothing to be afraid of and started to play. With new signing Gustavo Hamer pulling strings in midfield and Ryan Giles, Callum O’Hare and Fankaty Dabo impressing most in a collection of promising young players, they took the game over.

Within five minutes they were two one up. Dabo escaped from the clutches of three QPR players without a glove being laid on him, Barbet and Dickie both horribly caught out by a low cross, O’Hare beautifully teeing himself up for a firm finish past Lumely, strangely rooted to his goal line. Like the first goal, a catalogue of ineptitude.

Now QPR were behind and things only looked like they were going to get worse from here. Lumley and Dickie got themselves in a horrible mess while pisballing about at the back in the fifty sixth minute presenting Godden with a chance to chip into the empty net from the thick end of 50 yards away. Mercifully, he snatched at the chance. Hamer had a sighter from long range himself after Allen had given Cameron something of a roasting. Then with Kakay all at sea against the excellent Giles once more a low cut back found the defence hopelessly sucked into its six-yard-box and Dabo had time to set himself and stride onto a rolling ball but a fierce strike just missed the top corner. Should have scored really. When Dabo then crashed through the back of Dykes and gave QPR a promising free kick on the corner of the Cov penalty area Ilias Chair made a mess of the set piece and then had to take a yellow card for fouling O’Hare and preventing the counter attack.

That rather summed up QPR’s second half. Several players — Lumely, Kakay, Dickie, Barbet — looked a bag of nerves. A couple of others — Wallace, Cameron — miles off the pace of the game. Some who’d shone in the bright initial opening disappeared from proceedings altogether when their team needed them to strap a pair on and start mucking in — Carroll, Amos, Chair, Osayi-Samuel. Dykes cut a forlorn, isolated figure up front, and stopped running. Too often attacks and attacking opportunities were interrupted, ended and wasted by players turning back inside and playing an easy, safe ball backwards. Chair was guiltier than most, particularly an incident where a counter attack with six Coventry players the wrong side of the ball was turned into possession on the halfway line with 11-men back in position in one swift pivot and pass in the opposite direction from that we were meant to be heading.

How we’d gone from that to this in half an hour was really quite something. But an escape route did open up. Just when all seemed lost, with the walls closing in, a crack of light appeared just like it does in the movies. There’d been a warning from an earlier Chair corner when Cameron headed down at the far post and Dykes was flagged offside amidst a tangle with keeper Marosi. Then, with 15 minutes to go, two Cov players went to head the same corner clear and got in each other’s way, allowing an unmarked Yoann Barbet to spectacularly volley into the roof of the net for his first goal for the club. Hell of a strike. Maybe we should have him on free kicks?

Warbs Warburton had slung on Paul Smyth by this point to chase the game and we settled in for the push for a winner. If we could get it, Rangers would be six points from six, with an early away win secured, and all thoughts of a weird half hour or so banished as one of those things.

But no. Of course no. Obviously no. Because what QPR decided to do instead was run a series of attack v defence set piece drills, without the defence. Coventry had three corners, on 77, 79 and 84. All from the same side. All outswung by Hamer. All delivered into an area populated by more QPR players than Coventry. All aimed at the same clutch of three v three around the penalty spot. All of them, all of them, all of them, ended up the same way — with a completely unmarked Coventry City player being allowed a free header at the QPR goal. The science is strong, but the test is only as good as the men carrying it out. The first time they tried, they failed. The second time they tried, they failed. The third time they tried, was the eighteenth of September, 2020.

You’re never going to get away with letting a Championship team, even a newly promoted one, have three goes at a simple task like that. Barbet, not for the first time, too busy flapping around and appealing to the referee for a foul as somebody steams in over the top of him. Still, he’s had a busy Saturday of publishing Instagram posts about the goal he scored in a defeat.

Mark Warburton was somewhere between prickly and angry when we pushed him on QPR’s woeful record of conceding goals from set pieces recently, railing back against fans who wonder whether we bother to practice them in training, “don’t be an arse”, and coming up with a myriad of reasons and excuses, some more reasonable than others, about sacrificing physical height and strength for a better ball playing team, sometimes falling victim to an undefendable delivery, sometimes having to mark a 6ft 4in player with a 5ft 11in one, and sometimes having to mark a £45k a week £8m centre forward with a kid starting out his career fresh from a youth set up. None of that, but none of that, applies to letting Kyle chuffin McFadzean have three cracks at a free header on our goal, and fans continuing to stand by the club and funnel money into it with no real return to normality in sight, have every right to be frustrated and angry about shit like that going on.

A game that could have been won and should have been drawn was now lost, although sub Dom Ball’s late effort from the edge of the area looked goalbound before it inadvertently struck Dykes as he was passing through.

You could have filled two hours of broadcast television analysing the utterly shambolic efforts of the QPR defence. What the host broadcaster decided to do instead was focus on the fact that neither team “took the knee” in support of the Black Lives Matters movement before the kick off. Cov boss Mark Robins helpfully chucked QPR under the bus saying it had been our idea. Now, neither team took the knee prior to the first match either. QPR, in fact, haven’t been doing so since Wigan away last season I believe, bar West Brom on the final night. Several rugby league teams and players have chosen not to, or done so originally and now stopped, or done alternative gestures of respect. Quite why it’s suddenly a story now, in this game, I’m not sure, and you really could not have picked a worse club than Queens Park Rangers to come after for it.

This society, this country, and this sport, loves a grand gesture to make itself feel better about its vile failings. What people who work for the NHS want is proper pay, proper levels of staffing, proper PPE. What they get is ministers who vote against all of that clapping outside their house for a minute or so on a Thursday night. Modern football engorges itself on this sort of crap to try and cover what a despicable cesspit of greed and dirty money it has become. The players spit at each other, dive over each other and try to con penalties out of referees, bitch and moan demanding other players are shown cards, cheat to get other players sent off, but don’t worry because they line up before the game to shake hands in the name of fair play while the official Premier League theme tune blasts out. Football works hand in hand with the gambling industry, plastering marketing all over stadiums, shirts, television coverage, pushing more and more young people towards “mental accas” and online roulette. The biggest sports news channel in this country spills out rumour after rumour after rumour, literally thousands of which don’t happen, while Sky Bet runs books on which might be true and which are lies. But it’s ok, because every now and again "Jeff and the boys" will do an ad where they tell you to “gamble responsibly” and “when the fun stops, stop”. Equal opportunities for black coaches remain a pipe dream, black managers in the professional leagues are like fucking unicorns, players are routinely racially abused on social media, black players are routinely set upon by white pundits and fans for classic dog whistle tropes like “laziness”, but don’t worry because we’re taking a knee before the matches now. There were points in lockdown where we had to have a line up of the teams, then we had to stand and have a bit of a clap for the NHS, then we had to take the knee, and then we could kick off.

These gestures are fine, important in their moment, but they should not be indefinite, they’re not a cure, quite often they’re just done to make the sport feel better and look like it’s doing something, and they shouldn’t in anyway take the place of some actual tangible action. Leeds United have been taking the knee, but they’ve also been making goalkeeper Kiko Cassilla their captain, just months after he served a ban for racially abusing Charlton Jonathan Leko on the pitch, something for which he’s yet to apologise for. Liverpool have been taking the knee, having previously printed t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez after he’d racially abused Patrice Evra. Chelsea have been taking a knee, while at the same time committing millions of pounds to mount a robust legal defence against scores of complaints of systematic racial abuse of youth team players by their coaches at the club in the 1980s and 1990s. Aston Villa have been taking the knee while employing John Terry as assistant manager — somebody who while England captain served a four match ban for calling a QPR player a “fucking black cunt” on the field of play. Terry's even been seen taking a knee himself. I mean the absolute brass fanny of it.

QPR did take the knee, as was right and proper, but have now decided the moment for that gesture has passed. Meanwhile, in tangible action, QPR employ more black coaches than the rest of the EFL put together — no exaggeration. They have a black director of football. They have a black director of their academy. Two of their last five managers have been black. They have been giving first team opportunities to black teenagers, often black teenagers who’ve been turned away from multiple other clubs. They have a best in class community department working a diverse corner of West London. They've handed the naming rights to their stadium over to a charity set up in the name of a murdered black teenager, promoting and supporting his dad's fight to tackle knife crime among the capital's youth. They did immediate, beneficial things for the residents of Grenfell Tower while powerful white people were busy wiping their laptops and voting against laws that would prevent tower blocks being clad in solidified lighter fuel in the future. There have issues, like every club, particularly on social media, and they bubbled to the surface during Ebere Eze’s early struggles, as we’ve written about previously. But a more diverse and accepting fanbase you’d struggle to find.

The club need to get out ahead of this story less they become a poster child for exactly the sort of “all lives matter” troglodytes they deplore, and hopefully if he’s minded to do so then Les Ferdinand will be front and centre Monday morning with a big fat “errrr, excuse me…” interview. But being hectored to by Sky Television, a broadcaster without a black executive among its management team, a broadcaster without a senior black commissioning editor, a broadcaster that has frequently sought out John Terry’s input as a pundit? Nah. Not a chance mate. Into the fucking sea with you.

A miserable, embittered end to a night that had promised so much.

Links >>> Photo Gallery >>> Ratings and Reports >>> Message Board Match Thread

Coventry: Marosi 6; Ostigard 6, McFadzean 6, Hyam 6; Dabo 7, Shipley 6 (Sheaf 90, -), Giles 7, Allen 7, Hamer 7; Godden 7, O’Hare 7

Subs not used: Mason, Rose, Pask, Walker, Bakayoko, Billson

Goals: Godden 44 (assisted Giles), O’Hare 50, McFadzean 84 (assisted Hamer)

Bookings: Shipley 60 (foul)

QPR: Lumley 5; Kakay 5, Dickie 5, Barbet 5, Wallace 3; Carroll 5 (Smyth 71, 5), Cameron 5; Osayi-Samuel 6, Amos 5 (Ball 82, -), Chair 5 (Thomas 82, -); Dykes 5

Subs not used: Kane, Oteh, Masterson, Kelly

Goals: Dykes 41 (penalty, won Osayi-Samuel), Barbet 75 (assisted Chair)

Bookings: Chair 65 (foul), Wallace 88 (foul)

QPR Star Man — Bright Osayi-Samuel 6 Best of a pretty mediocre bunch.

Referee — Steve Martin (Beverley Hills) 7 There’s one angle of the QPR penalty where it looks like McFadzean has got a good toe on the ball, but first look at normal speed and from most replay angles it looks a penalty. Very poor call to penalise Dykes for handball in the first half when he was running clear and had obviously been fouled himself. Not too bad overall though.

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HastingsRanger added 17:58 - Sep 19
Clive, outstanding piece - even at the level you set!!!

I cannot think anyone can explain what went through Wallace's mind for the first goal, totally insane. Not even amateur. Threw away 45 minutes of good team work.

Equally, I cannot get over how the free headers were continuously unchecked, as you rightly point out. Shambolic. Coaching staff have to tackle this full on - these are gifts.

And a real shame, as this was not a great opposition, the first half was an outstanding effort from a team that has lost Eze. Points thrown away here.
Ironically, it would have been 3-3 but for Dykes errant positioning.

Very disappointing - and then to endure the moral high ground from Sky Sports of all people!

WokmR added 18:08 - Sep 19
As a very long term lurker, this must be the first time I've ever disagreed with you.
I was dismayed by the style of football in the first half.All that possession then backwards to Lumley or Barbet who hoofed it out of p!ay. And Amos and Carroll in the middle of the park??!??

ericgen34 added 18:46 - Sep 19
Brilliant report as always.

I missed that stuff about taking a knee. How appalling and brilliantly summarised, thank you!

Bushman added 18:56 - Sep 19
Fock the football

The piece holistically on taking the knee is brilliant and at the same time heartbreaking indictment of the shitfest we live in

HordleHoop added 20:39 - Sep 19
Really excellent piece. Thank you

Geoff78 added 21:05 - Sep 19
Excellent on taking the knee, and tackling racism, but Rs can't let themselves be out-manipulated. Of course as a club our record is one we can be proud of, but we should still take the knee, shallow gesture or not.

I read your interview with Warbs and tbh he wasn't convincing on the defensive weaknesses. I'm sure they practice defending, but they clearly don't practice it enough or well enough. Surely there must be someone on the coaching staff with the relevant experience and if not get someone in. Teams with poorer squads than ours are frequently better drilled.

Burnleyhoop added 00:35 - Sep 20
Utterly perplexed by Chairs performance, constantly took the impetus out of promising attacks by holding the ball up and passing it backwards. I was honestly grinding my teeth in frustration.

No surprise to see Chair, Amos and Carrol hooked in the second half....painful to watch. Chair needs to go central with Thomas and BOS out wide. Ball in for Carroll......for pity’s more.

And has Dickie got wooden legs....!


timcocking added 01:43 - Sep 20
They already have tried Barbet on free kicks. Hopeless thus far.

timcocking added 01:46 - Sep 20
I'm still not a fan of the away kit; no resemblance to QPR in any way, shape or form. Took me a while to work out which team was QPR. At least it's a red and black i suppose, good macho colours instead of Tiffany i suppose.

timcocking added 01:56 - Sep 20
Well said.

snanker added 02:51 - Sep 20
Nothing out of the ordinary, bog standard QPR lack of defending as ever !! As Bushman says fook the football tho' !! Never mind a knee jerk reactions follow up blurb as your articulation Clive is an absolutely outstanding piece of journalism. Great work.

cornwallmike added 09:05 - Sep 20
Thundering good piece, Clive. Hope you sent it direct to Sky.

E15Hoop added 10:44 - Sep 20
At least Wallace had the grace to look horrifically embarrassed at the final whistle, showing that we've made progress from the days of Jose "tough sh*t if we've been relegated, because I've already been paid" Bosingwa!

BTW, we're not top of the league anymore, in case anyone hadn't noticed..

JohnMcCo added 11:48 - Sep 20
Outstanding response to any suggestion that Rangers ain't front of the pack when it comes to not being racist pricks.

It was a strange thing for Robins to say and whilst my day was thoroughly ruined yesterday I did take heart from Warburton's response to it all, he was thoroughly livid about both the knee thing and our defence.


E15Hoop added 13:30 - Sep 20
Just looked again at Coventry's third goal, and its actually clever work by MacFadzean to make sure that Dykes can't get close to him by shoving a team mate of his just slightly in front and to one side of him, American Football-style, thus blocking Dykes completely off. Not much you can do about that defensively, even with this referee, as if you shove back, the opposing player doing the blocking off is obviously likely to go down for a penalty.

Another example of the dark arts that Rangers would be well advised to learn..

tomers added 15:16 - Sep 20
Well said Clive regarding taking the knee issue and the hypocrisy at the heart of the football business. I’m proud to be a Ranger with the clubs community and anti-racist work. Not so proud of our defence though!

derbyhoop added 18:15 - Sep 20
AT U18 level I got taught about opening up your body as a defender, so that you can see what is going on behind and beside you. If any of those coaches had seen what Wallace did for the first goal they'd have crucified him. Quite rightly. OK there was a catalogue of errors and Lumley wasn't happy about his failure to keep out a decent downward header, but if we'd gone in at HT 1-0 up, as we should have done, would Coventry have come back into it? I doubt it. Barbet was p*** weak for the winner as well.

As for taking the knee, I think real decisions like having Ferdinand, Ramsey, Hall, Furlong and Impey as trusted employees says far more than symbolic gestures that are easily forgotten.

extratimeR added 15:17 - Sep 21
Well done Clive, agree with every word.

It really is tear your hair out, bang your head against the wall time listening to Sky going for quick tabloid utter nonsense, using QPR!!!!!!! as an example. Really????

Jesus, god help us.

The football stuff you wrote was very good as well Clive, loved the " take hose to garage bit"

We are lucky to have someone like you who can put our views across in such a factual and balanced manner, but why the hell are we having to do it in 2020.

Thanks Clive excellent as always.

Myke added 21:13 - Sep 21
Superb piece Clive. Any fears of you diluting your comments after the Warburton have been fully allayed!.

To be honest, while our second half performance was abysmal, our first half was at best insipid. Coventry were there for the taking, but we never imposed ourselves on the game. When you are playing out from the back, in order to hurt the opposition, you have to play the ball FORWARD QUICKLY through the lines whenever possible. Apparently, Carroll was really good at this against Forest, but there was no evidence of it here. Too often, we turned around and played backwards, despite not being under any kind of pressure. Kakay was particularly infuriating in this regard.
Had visitors in the house so watched the game on mute and switched off at the final whistle so missed the 'racist' conversation. All I would say is that it was inevitable that SKY would try to scapegoat a club in order to give some credibility to their cosmetic 'black lives matter' campaign. It was equally inevitable, due to their well renowned lack of research into any 'news' story, that they would choose a club who least fits the racist criteria.

TrulyHooped added 11:21 - Sep 22
Here a bit late in the day because of personal stuff but not to comment on a forgettable performance by the team but to commend Sir Les, Lee and Clive for defending our club against the slur by Sky. Les and Lee had summed it up well I thought and made me feel proud. But I confess to a lump in my throat reading Clive's final few paragraphs. Absolutely nailed the hypocrisy of some clubs, players and organisations.

Rodney added 12:53 - Sep 22
Outstanding piece of journalism, Clive, thank you: a great piece of analysis of the game and the crucifixion of Sky's posturing deserves a MUCH wider audience.

TacticalR added 20:58 - Sep 25
Thanks for your report.

Fortunately I was out, so missed this one. Looking at the highlights, that was some very limp defending, and at times we looked half asleep.

As someone who lived through the very upfront racism of the seventies and eighties, it's curious to see all the corporate bodies scrambling over themselves to display their anti-racist credentials.

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