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The view from the Pu - December
Sunday, 3rd Jan 2021 14:17 by Steve Hardy

Eight games and zero QPR wins make December a tough gig for our monthly review columnist Steve Hardy.

Here we are, finally, mercifully at the end of not only 2020 but also a month that (Super Hoops wise) has been almost as depressing as the whole year. Not really much to write home about currently is there? Let’s jump right in to month that saw us draw four, lose four and not win a single game.

Good

First of all an admission, this is my fault. Last month I sat here rambling on about how good November was whereas in actual fact it was a pretty average month, I think I even said that the fixtures in December didn’t look that daunting and now, here I sit at the end of the month looking at a list of results that gave us zero victories and a grand total of four goals scored from eight games. So I apologise, I know too well now that being positive in regards to the fortunes of our rag tag football club often brings the grey clouds almost as soon as my fingers hit the keyboard.

I realise I’m supposed to be looking for positives in this section but after that month it really is the case of scraping the bottom of a very rusty barrel. I’m writing this the day after the draw with Norwich and from the looks of it we are ending the calendar year with the same manager that started it which is a rarity for us and something that I see as a positive as the year draws to an end - albeit a small positive. Now please do not confuse this as me heaping praise on Warburton, I’m not, and I rightly accept that he is under pressure and things drastically need to improve. However, as Clive has so brilliantly put time and time before the manager is not the issue here as is shown by our record since dropping back into the Championship in 2015. Since then we have had a variety of managers all with different playing styles and personnel and we haven’t progressed at all on the pitch as a result of it, the questions run a lot deeper than that, starting initially with questions in regards to recruitment of both management and playing staff.

I’ve always defended the job that Sir Les has done at the club but if things do continue in the manner they have then questions need to start being asked in regards to his performance, especially when you consider that Warburton was - I believe - his appointment. After listening to Nedum Onuoha on the Open All R’s podcast and Clive’s Patreon interview you do again start asking the questions as to what his actual role at the club is. Like I say I do think that sticking by Warburton at the minute is the right thing to do and hopefully he can weather this storm and get us through it, but ultimately if/when he is sacked, which still feels like when to me, then I think we need to be asking questions further up the chain as with each managerial change it does seem to be making us incrementally worse. I know I’m massively clutching at straws to claim Warburton not getting sacked is a positive but let’s not forget how young our squad is and also do we really like the idea of Tony Pulis or Nigel Pearson football and I’m not even going to entertain the idea of the abuse Ainsworth would get called after losing 2-0 away to Birmingham.

That is it, that’s as positive as I can be. Still, great deal for the fishermen.

Bad

So where do we start here (cracks knuckles). That was a pretty rancid month to be honest and the fact that we still very nearly ended it with a win at table topping Norwich isn’t lost on me, typical QPR indeed. If we had indeed won at Norwich it certainly would have papered over the cracks of some of the issues that we’d seen over the last four weeks, the main issue for me being our inability to score or even look like scoring. Bar the Bristol City and Millwall games where we missed some gilt edge chances that would ultimately have won us those games we’ve looked so flat for the majority of the month and this is evidenced in the fact that we only scored four times, with one of those being an own goal and another being a penalty. It’s a rather depressing stat when you consider that we played eight times in the month and in some of those games - Huddersfield and Swansea for example - I don’t think we would have scored if the opposition played with no keeper.

Warbs appears to have switched system for the last two games and it did show improvements for the Norwich game but we still look rather toothless and I can’t really see what the solution is. Clive has rightly mentioned that we don’t appear to be servicing Dykes the same way that he has been for Scotland and was previously at Livingston and I do agree with this, but I also think the simple art of passing the ball forwards as opposed to sideways and back to the goalkeeper would be a start. A very simplistic way of looking at things which sums up my simplistic nature but if we seriously want to start picking up some wins in the new year then scoring goals is ultimately where we need to start.

Clearly the fact that we have gone through the whole month without picking up a win says it all but if there were two things that were more QPR than what we witnessed in the last two games then someone needs to point them out to me. First of all we have Swansea’s opening goal where Yoann Barbet appears to be head a Jake Bidwell header (when did Jake Bidwell win headers at corners for us?) that is going wide onto his own post thus creating the rebound for Ayew to bury for the opener and then with almost the last kick of the game at Carrow Road Bright Osayi-Samuel manages to sky a chance over the bar when he is pretty much standing on the goal line. Fans of every club outside the top half of the Premier League will always say this is the sort of thing that only ever happens to them but I couldn’t help but feel it was just a microcosm of the month in general, when your luck isn’t in it isn’t in.

I wrote earlier that it’s a positive that we end the year with the same manager we started with and I do genuinely consider that good news, however there were some moments during the month that I found myself questioning attitudes of players and staff, especially the Huddersfield and Swansea games. We then get offered up the same old excuses of tired legs and fixture congestion whilst the same team then gets selected for the next game, I don’t think I was the only person that this started to grate on or wear thin with, as previously stated the performance at Norwich seemed to be a vast improvement but let’s hope that it is the start of further improvements as opposed to a one off. A big January on and off the field awaits us and hopefully that same attitude can be applied to the upcoming fixtures to give us the best chance possible of still being a Championship club come June, and if we do end up succumbing to the drop then it will ultimately be the result of our players not being good enough which is why January is important off the pitch also. Sort those full backs and the midfield out and we’ve got a chance, still a long way left though it’s not all doom and gloom yet.

After all that negativity I suppose it just leaves me to wish you all a happy new year and say thanks to Clive for allowing me to write this drivel on a monthly basis and to all of you for reading it.

December Grade - E

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 >>> November 19 >>> December 19 >>> January 20 >>> February 20 >>> March 20 >>> April 20 >>> May 20 >>> June 20 >>> July 20 >>> September 20 >>> October 20 >>> November 20

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OldPedro added 15:56 - Jan 3
Agree with all of your points - January is very important in terms of both results and additions to the team
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Loft1979 added 19:57 - Jan 3
Nice piece. I think it is important that the fanbase keep verbalizing to the QPR leadership. I am glad to hear opinions that do reflect mine. I also am glad you interjected the podcast from Nedum. It gives another context that is important. I am currently looking to see where we go as an organization. Optimistically I think the idea of building a new core of players is the focus. I am avidly looking to see how Willock, Thomas, and Mini- Eze come along. Apparently we have 4 first string keepers. It could be interesting if rumors regarding Seny and Lumley take root.
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TacticalR added 22:35 - Jan 4
Thanks for your review.

It all feels a bit surreal as the lockdown goes on, the days get shorter, the games all blend into each other, and we can't score a goal from open play. We spend ages trying to create chances while opposition teams wait for us to punch ourselves out, and then we get done by counter-attacking football.

The season before last we did major surgery on the defence, last season we did major surgery on our attack. With hindsight, it's become apparent that we shouldn't have got rid of so much of our attacking force in one go.

Dykes is designed for a particular kind of football (like Matt Smith) and we just don't seem to be able to play that kind of football, at least at the moment.
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