|Barnsley 3 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 27th October 2020 Kick-off 19:00
Alarm bells ringing after another Barnsley humbling - Report
Wednesday, 28th Oct 2020 16:59 by Clive Whittingham
For the second season in a row QPR suffered a chastening, multi-goal defeat to Barnsley at Oakwell, collapsing mentally and tacically after Rob Dickie's foolish first half red card.
Let’s begin shall we? I won’t take my coat off, I’m not stopping.
Initially, badness. News filtering through in time for inclusion in our match preview, Tweeted out several hours later as “Sky Sources”, that Bright Osayi Samuel would not be part of the matchday squad because of his contract situation, which has changed in some way in the 72 hours between Saturday’s draw with Birmingham and this match with Barnsley at Oakwell. If you’re confused about how it might have changed then fear not, because it’s important to be open and honest with the fans, and too many players have run down their contracts and left this club for free, though we’re absolutely not saying that about Brighty because he’s a terrific lad, but you have to question whether somebody who is out of contract at the end of the season will be making the maximum effort in games, not that this is the case with Brighty who’s been a model professional, but this club is not in a place where it can afford to turn down £150,000 from Swansea for a first team player only to let them deliberately try to leave on a free in a deal that works for them but not the club, which isn’t necessarily the case with Ryan who’s a splendid fellow, but nevertheless it’s important that people in the team are committed to the club, not that we’re for one moment suggesting Brighty and Ryan weren’t committed to the club because they’re excellent young pros, however it just felt like their heads weren’t quite in the right place, not that they’re unfocused because they’re the most focused boys playing the sport professionally in this country today.
So, yeh, no Bright. Best player we’ve got left.
Shuffle the tiles together with me please as we welcome Albert Adomah from the start in Bright’s position, Ilias Chair flitting in and out of proceedings from the left to support Macauley Bonne behind Lyndon Dykes. Geoff Cameron, every minute of every game so far, finally rested; Dom Ball promoted; Little Tom Carroll, had some Calpol off his mum and a few early nights, starting after not even making the bench on Saturday. At the back Captain of Glasgow Rangers injured, so in came Royal Duke of Umlauts Niko Hämäläinen, still at least a fortnight away from us not being able to label him the boy with more years on his contract than he has QPR league appearances. Osman Kakay, another with an eyebrow-raising four-year deal in the bank, started right back. Whether the fear and regret the Manning and Osayi-Samuel situations have sparked back at the School of Science justify this rush to nail down vastly inferior players to them on exceptionally long contracts will be one for the reviews when all this is over – or, as they’re increasingly looking likely to be, inquests. Seny Dieng in goal behind Rob Dickie and Yoann Barbet. And that’s Crufts.
Barnsley. Let’s do a little bit on them now for padding. Barnsley is a large market and college town in South Yorkshire, England, between Leeds and Sheffield in the Dearne Valley. Its former industries include linen, coal mining, glassmaking and textiles, but we don’t make things in this country any more so now its people man call centres to speak to people on behalf of places that do until it’s time to go to the pub. If they were allowed pubs any more. Which they're not. Unless it's a Wetherspoons and they have a chlorinated chicken pie with their pint.
Football wise the club spent several seasons very happily swapping places backwards and forwards in this league and the one below with near neighbours Rotherham United. When they won just one of their first 18 matches last season that looked like being repeated once again, until QPR rode in on a white horse with a handy morale-boosting 5-3 for them on this ground last December, and then ate out to help out again in June with a pathetic 1-0 defeat and another three points for the Tykes at Loftus Road. It still required remarkable injury time winners against promotion chasing Forest and Brentford, who were the best team they’d played all season, to secure safety at the death, and any optimism gained from that remarkable turnaround was punctured rather when influential manager Gerhard Struber abandoned them for New York Fizzy Pop barely a month into 2020/21. They came into this game without a win all season, and with Generic Year-2000-And-Somthing French Footballer 3.6 in charge for the first time. Seen this film before. Typical QPR. Wonder who got the powerpack. Etcetera. Et-fucking-cetera.
Nice pic of the ground there look, to set the scene.
To begin with, very good. Rangers could easily have scored after ten seconds as Lyndon Dykes climbed high into the night sky to win a header straight from the kick off, and Dom Ball then intelligently nodded the loose possession through a gap for Albert Adomah to run onto and cross. Ilias Chair’s instinctive shot at the back post was blocked by a defender who knew nothing about it. Macauley Bonne had a shot of his own off target over the bar before a minute had been played. Some stirrings among a team without a goal in three matches.
A pattern was quickly established. QPR were to press high and hard, win the ball back in dangerous areas, and then repeatedly isolate 21-year-old former Leeds trainee Clark Odour with Adomah – a task the young full back was patently not up to dealing with. Adomah got in behind him on two minutes thanks to another good Ball pass, and won the hoops' first corner with his cross. Two quickfire balls in from the Rangers winger on five minutes probably deserved more interest from the QPR front two. When he skated across the edge of the area via two slick one twos, first with Bonne and then with Dykes, I thought the hometown hero was going to breeze through for a goal so beautiful I’d want to have very sweaty sex with it, but the move broke down at the very last moment. A failed run-around as opposed to a successful reach-around. Shame. Dykes’ header from a Chair corner on the quarter hour deflected wide, but no matter, if Barnsley were going to try and mark the banterous surfing Scot with the far smaller Callum Styles all night that wouldn’t take long to pay dividends for the visitors.
This was good. Not shots on target good, but where we’re going we don’t need shots on target. Good, all the same. At one point I even sat upright on the sofa, for a bit. For all the pisstaking of Warbs Warburton we do, for all the mounting grief he’s taking from a frustrated support base, he is right when he says that if we can play quickly, at a high tempo, with a high press, we can look a decent team, even with the enormous talent drain that has occurred over the last year and a bit: none of the QPR players (Alex Smithies, Jack Robinson, Luke Freeman, Mass Luongo and Pawel Wszolek among them) who drew here in 2017 played in this game; none of the QPR players (Ebere Eze, Ryan Manning, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Jordan Hugill and Nahki Wells among them) who played in the debacle on this ground ten months ago were involved here.
When managers start talking about bad luck after you’ve taken a pasting in a game where the scoreline could even have been far worse then it starts to sound a little bit desperate, but I did have some limited empathy with him. It was a night where every single bounce or run of the ball seemed to favour the home team, and that applies for their first goal as well which began with Bonne quite intelligently turning a ball around the corner then spinning off looking for the return from Dykes only to find his partner hadn’t read his intentions. One pass later Barnsley were in, but even then only because Barbet’s attempted clearance had rebounded back off Rob Dickie into the path of Cauley Woodrow who was now, inadvertently and quite by accident, clean through on goal.
But tea and sympathy ends here I’m afraid, because everything that followed from this point onwards, by both players and manager, was fairly abysmal, and deeply concerning for our prospects this season. Remember throughout that new manager syndrome or not, Barnsley were below us in the league at the start of play, hadn’t won a game yet, and are one of the few teams operating on a smaller budget than we are – we outbid this lot for Dykes over the summer, so while we fully appreciate, understand, and bang on all the time about the restrictions Mark Warburton is working under, it is legitimate to ask why we’ve now lost three times in three games against the Reds, scoring three goals and conceding nine, each more shambolic than the one before.
Bonne and Dykes may have been unlucky that their link-up attempt broke down on halfway, but it should need more than one pass to get from that situation to the heart of the QPR penalty box. Problems with our deep-lying central midfield have existed for a long time now, through several transfer windows mostly spent signing more wingers and tens. The central defensive pairing may curse an unfortunate ricochet of the ball, but why is Barbet off his feet, sliding in recklessly, trying to clear the ball in that last ditch manner anyway? Just read it, intercept it, and let’s play. Why is Rob Dickie then blatantly, rather lazily in my view, pulling the opposition striker down by the shoulder, exacerbating the goalscoring chance by turning it into an obvious penalty kick and red card for referee David Webb? I said not one week ago that Dickie, for all that I’ve liked about him so far, clearly isn’t the quickest and he betrays his paranoia about this by repeatedly getting handsy and grabbing opponents by the shoulder and sleeve. We’ve been lucky, certainly against Coventry and Preston, that penalties hadn’t been awarded against him for this already, and yet seemingly nothing has been done or said to correct it and here came all the bloody chickens home to roost at once. Penalty concessions continue to mount – three this season, the most in the Championship, to go with 11 last season, the most in the Championship, and ten the season before, the most in the Championship – with only one save and one miss among them. Seny Dieng, for all the good he’d do in this game, flopped over to one side allowing Cauley Woodrow to take the exact same, almost to the inch, penalty he’d taken here against Bristol City not ten days ago. Among it all, I do think our keepers - and the homework they’re doing - are getting a free pass on this.
And now there was the problem from the Preston game repeating all over again. Even with the red card, this didn’t have to be a disaster. So you’re losing, and you’re down to ten men, but you’d been the better team up that point, this lot aren’t exactly flush with ability and confidence, there’s no graphite on the roof, don’t worry about it, chin up, dig in, there’s still something there for you. Go again, as you say on your sodding Instagram accounts all the time.
Except no. Adversity is kryptonite to this QPR team. They’re young, ok. They’re inexperienced, ok. They need time to gel after another summer overhaul. Get that. Not a problem. But the way they go from bright and breezy and tippy and tappy and game plan and high press and tempo and looking half decent into Arthur Fowler’s mental breakdown, smashing the plates up, ripping the pictures off the wall, chucking the mantlepiece clock around and sobbing into a wet tea towel because something has gone against them is alarming.
If the game wasn’t over at 1-0, and Rangers certainly behaved and carried themselves as if it was, then it definitely was at 2-0 and having escaped a Woodrow chance in open play thanks to a fine Dieng save the rebound from which luckily eluded a slew of attacking players, Rangers allowed Barnsley to swiftly return the ball to the byline and cut it back from there to Chaplin who scored through two sets of defenders’ legs at the near post. Is it a bit freaky and unfortunate that both Barbet and Kakay get nutmegged by the same shot on its way through? Yeh. But how much space and time do you want to give these lads? Chaplin, a hat trick scorer when we last disgraced these parts, should have been known as a threat.
What came thereafter was a mess. Warbs wanted to get Conor Masterson on, which wasn’t a bad idea given Dickie was now in the bath, Barnsley’s new manager likes to play a 3-4-3 formation and I trust Kakay, Barbet and Umlaut Boy to man mark Chaplin, Woodrow and Frieser about as much as I trust Father Dougal with a funeral. Bonne looked the most likely victim of this change, allowing the whole system to stay the same bar Dykes having to plough a lone furrow up front. But then, Dykes had only lasted an hour or so at the weekend, so probably couldn’t finish this game, and you didn’t want to take him off given his physical ability to lead a line and hold the ball up, so you’d probably have to leave Bonne on to do that job later, less Southend child Charlie Kelman be given a debut in these harsh circumstances from the bench, and he’d probably only been brought along in the first place because the government denied him a free school meal during his half term break and we were a bit concerned about him being hungry. In the end Ilias Chair was sacrificed, taking another body out of an already thin midfield. And then Dykes ended up playing the full 90 anyway. Shoot me in the face with a massive gun.
Rangers now split like the hull of a sunken ship, the second half very quickly degenerated into Seny Dieng vs The World. Only Chaplin will know how he didn’t score from four yards out, unmarked, on the end of a beautiful cross on 50 minutes. Matty James, on loan from Leicester and on at half time for Odour, smacked one over the bar. A third goal was due, and followed just after the hour in farcical circumstances as The Barbinger of Doom inadvertently toe-poked the ball past his own goalkeeper while picking himself up off the floor after another rash and unnecessary lunge. Perhaps he would score fewer own goals, concede fewer penalties, and generally not be such an absolute liability, if every single thing he did wasn’t preceded, proceeded, or entirely fucking based around a needless sliding tackle. Ray Wilkins rolling over in his grave bless him.
Albert Adomah’s chase of a lost cause and dangerous back post cross almost produced a headed goal for Dykes. His withdrawal was clearly fitness related as he continues to get up to speed, but replacing him directly after that rare bit of enterprising play from Rangers, after removing him from the position he was so effective in to begin with to play him at right wing back, and then replacing him with crowd favourite Todd Kane, felt like a tin hat on top of a shite night. To be fair, Kane was ok, and certainly should have drawn a yellow card from Mads Anderson for a deliberate pull back after Rangers had got in behind them. Usually a mandatory yellow that one, referee Webb far more lenient with Barnsley than he ever is with QPR. Later Chris Willock, on for Bonne (more trolling after leaving him on earlier), was also pretty clearly and obviously fouled on the edge of the Barnsley area for no return. The game had gone, it didn’t matter, but still. Now six games without a win with this official.
There were 25 minutes left for play at this point, and if I tell you that Barnsley would not have been flattered by a seven nil win that kind of tells you how things went. Callum Brittain, a summer arrival from MK Dons, steamed onto a cross from the impressive Styles at the back post and somehow guided the header wide. Alex Mowatt, everything the centre of the QPR midfield is not, thought he’d found the far corner with a firm strike, but Dieng saved brilliantly off to his right. Simoes, who’d scored at Loftus Road in June and was now in for the hard working Frieser, was allowed to literally walk all the way through the broken heart of this QPR shambles and get a low shot away which Dieng saved well with his legs. Another sub, Schmidt on for Woodrow, drew another save from the overworked QPR keeper after Barbet, again, had needlessly cracked through the back of a man and taken himself out of the game. James fed Chaplin in, but he curled wide of the far post with his left foot when it felt easier to score. Schmidt, in behind for a second time, pulled a cross back for Simoes unmarked on the penalty spot, but he fell over his own feet with the goal gaping. There was no attempt to muscle up, pack the midfield, stem the flow of chances, or prevent a humiliating massacre. That could easily have been the outcome. Three nil does not do it justice. QPR were lucky to get three nil.
There were some notable big efforts. I thought Dykes body-language and commitment were impeccable, putting himself about, winning headers, badgering defenders, right to the last despite the game being obviously gone. But he doesn’t look a goal threat at this point, neither well-serviced nor capable of creating bits for himself. Dom Ball’s effort is always there – this week’s ideas above his station included an attempt to chip home keeper Walton from 35 yards in the ninety second minute, the only serious save he had to make all night – but he was swamped, and isn’t in the same stratosphere of Mowatt even when that isn’t the case.
But this, like Preston, was a pretty spineless performance all round. Fine when the going was good, immediately demoralised when it wasn’t. Any club at this level will struggle if you take players of the standard of Alex Smithies, Jack Robinson, Luke Freeman, Massimo Luongo, Ebere Eze, Nahki Wells, Jordan Hugill, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Ryan Manning and plenty more experienced and serviceable squad players besides out of it in double quick time, even if they were able to afford like-for-like replacements, which QPR are not - one of the reasons I think we're rather cutting our nose off to spite our face with the Manning and Osayi-Samuel situations.
The new players are not as good as the ones who have left. They’ve also been flung together very recently, a second massive overhaul of the team in as many summers, and have a period of time now where training is limited and games are flowing thick and fast. Time to gel as a team, time to get up to the speed of this level, all of that. It’s difficult. It’s going to be difficult. We get it, please don’t think we don’t get it Mark (though it might be an opportune moment to give the “keyboard warriors” schtick a bit of a rest now). But Barnsley have many of the same challenges we do, and the big thing from this game was nothing to do with ability and standard of player, it was the response tactically and mentally to a first half set back - itself entirely of our own making.
As against Coventry and Preston already this season, the fragility of us in the face of adversity was alarming. A long winter ahead.
Barnsley: Walton N/A; Sollbauer 6, Helik 6, Andersen 6; Brittain 7, Styles 8, Mowatt 8, Odour 5 (James 46, 7); Woodrow 7 (Schmidt 68, 7), Frieser 8 (Simoes 75, 6), Chaplin 7
Subs not used: Kane, Halme, Miller, Collins
Goals: Woodrow 27 (penalty, won Woodrow), Chaplin 37 (assisted Frieser), Barbet 64 (own goal, assisted Frieser)
QPR: Dieng 7; Kakay 4, Dickie 3, Barbet 2, Hämäläinen 4; Ball 5, Carroll 4; Adomah 6 (Kane 54, 5), Bonne 5 (Willock 63, 6), Chair 6 (Masterson 31, 5); Dykes 6
Subs not used: Cameron, Bettache, Kelman, Kelly
Red Cards: Dickie 27 (denying obvious goalscoring opportunity)
QPR Star Man – Seny Dieng 7 Barnsley had eleven shots on target, most of them very dangerous, and only scored three times. In the land of the bald, the man with three hairs is king.
Referee – David Webb (Durham) 6 Swapping out a referee who seems to like us, Andy Davies, for one who wouldn’t piss on us if we were on fire was never likely to end well, though there can be no complaint about either the penalty award, or the red card – had Dickie slid into a tackle to try and deny him he might have escaped with a yellow, but the blatant and obvious pull back made no attempt at the ball and is therefore a sending off. Two bits though – the pull on Willock on the edge of the area on 80 minutes not penalised at all, and the deliberate haul back of Kane after he’d got clear of Andersen down the right side prior to that which didn’t draw a yellow when it really should be mandatory under the current rules, are exactly the sort of decisions we don’t get from this referee, while every little thing we do is whistled immediately.
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