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All eyes on the boss as QPR soar to the summit — Report
Thursday, 20th Oct 2022 22:21 by Jordan Foster

Cardiff at home, billed for much of the week as Mick Beale’s leaving do at Loftus Road, turned out to be QPR’s latest statement of intent in 2022 as a thumping win took them top of the table and the manager committed his immediate future to the club — Jordan Foster was there for LFW.

On a night where the actual live football was anything other than a complete distraction, QPR put in one of the most complete performances for some time, as the side continued to progress at a rate that's scaring the locals.

Prior to last week, when Clive asked me to cover his usually brilliant match reports, I thought up loads of terribly interesting hooks. The similarities between Glasgow Rangers’ use of Borna Barisic and James Tavernier with our very own flying full-backs and their clear importance in this system. Or how about Aston Villa’s incredible attacking threat last year with two, narrow No.10’s in Emi Buendia and Phillip Coutinho, duplicated with Illy and Willy? Oh the fun we could have had comparing ‘Mick’ (not Michael, he’s a footballing man) Beale’s philosophy with his current and previous teams.

Instead, rather alarmingly I’ve been passed the baton on what feels like one of the most important/typical Rangers (delete as appropriate) 24-hours in the club’s recent history. Nothing matters now Beale is definitely staying at Loftus Road, but still less than ideal.

Probably best to start where no-one else went last night: in Seny Dieng’s penalty box. He was protected - loosely used here as Cardiff posed about as much threat as a stuffed toy - by a back four of Kenneth Paal, Jake Clarke-Salter, Leon Balogun and Ethan Laird. Ahead of them sat the imperious Sam Field followed by Stefan Johansen and Tim Iroegbunam. Little Illias floated off the travelling Scotsman Lyndon Dykes and Sinclair Armstrong making an eagerly-awaited first start for the club.

The opening 15-minutes was frantic, Chair shot wide after goalkeeper Ryan Allsopp was nearly caught fannying about. Up the other end, the visitors fired over from long range through Niels Nkounkou, but after that it was about one-sided as you’ll likely ever see at this level. Both Dykes and Chair came close again, the latter then going stinging Allsopp’s palms with a free-kick from the right as Rangers took a stronghold on the game.

Debutant Armstrong looked full of beans and effort, but not for the first time appeared to be caught lacking in any terms of genuine threat or positional nous. One ball from Johansen over the top, which the youngster was unlucky not to get hold off, put him in the firing line for a tongue lashing from the Norwegian. This was to light the touch paper, and Cardiff’s night was about to come crashing down around them.

Despite the criticism above, if there’s one thing Armstrong can do, it’s run. He can run all day long. Hard and fast. Even better if he can drag someone by the neck along with him whilst he does it. God forbid someone might try and stop him, he’s an angry fucker and he’s going to let you know about it. Sinclair wakes up and chooses violence every day of the week. Sinclair selects 96 bars of revenge and goes through every one of them. There will be times this will probably let us down but after getting a dressing down from his captain, he was about to let everyone know what time it was.

Picking up a loose ball on the left hand-side. His first touch and close control was excellent as he burst through two challenges, leaving only a cluster of shit-scared Welshmen trailing. He continued to motor on before falling to the ground from a challenge by Simpson. I’m not sure it was a penalty at the time, but I’m almost certain it wasn’t a red card which was then shown by James Linington. Cardiff protested, young Sinclair shadowboxed and Dykes picked up the ball. Also on my list of hooks was the refereeing in this league and in general, honestly this was so bad even Neil Warnock, latest inductee of the Forever R’s made a jib at how he misses football until he sees decisions like this. A discussion took place in the stands that the game was over from here on in, I know that sounds crazy being QPR but its half testament to Mick (not Michael, he’s a footballing man) Beale’s work and half to how bad Cardiff were even without being a man down.

After a few seasons with us now, what we know about Lyndon is his form is up and down more than James Rowberry’s managerial career. After looking bereft of any confidence with no goals in 11, he now has four in three games. The life and times of a Championship striker. Anyway, Big Dykesy grabs the ball, he’s dropped his rather hilarious leathering technique but still dispatches excellently into the bottom left. 1-0.

The travelling Scotsman nearly doubled his tally just ten minutes later after more excellent play from Chair. His ball was fizzed across the box and Dykes launched himself at another effort only to see it bounce back off the bar. Cardiff looked all Liz Truss’d. Finished.

Rangers’ pushing paid off and they got another through similar build-up but this time down the right-hand side. Chair involved, low and hard for Dykes to poke home. In the words of the Moroccan, Hold That.

Chair’s development this season has been frightening and whilst it seems he doesn’t always pass the eye test for some fans the stats speak for themselves. It will be a reoccurring theme during this report that Cardiff were poor, but I think we’re making teams look really average. To put in this type of performance, creating so many chances without having starboy Chris Willock playing, shows the progress this side is making and our little No.10 is at the centre of that.

In the first 30 minutes here he could have easily had two goals and two assists, compare that to the end of last season where the injury to Willy meant the end of the season, say it quietly, but we could be onto something.

Iroebugnam went close before half-time, a player I absolutely love by the way. He’s all cage football. He eats up ground, he can beat a man 1-v-1, he can pass, he gets stuck in and he’s just 19. I admit, he can look lackadaisical at times, almost mocking these older pros for taking it seriously, relax it’s just ball. Yet some of his efforts last night either following lung busting runs, or at the end of his trademark first-touch-burst past player were a joy to watch. He can turn in tight spaces, he can do a 1-touch turn, he can let the ball run across him and drive, he can pass off either foot. When it all comes together the potential is scary. Sometimes his passing can be a bit short and he got a bit of a rocket from Clarke-Salter for this following the weekend error at Luton, but all in all what a player and what a coup by Beale. Especially when you consider many saw him signing as a b-side whilst we couldn’t get Jordan Archer. At 19, I can’t think of many better in the league and had Beale left, I don’t think you’d be seeing him still but thankfully that isn’t happening and definitely wasn’t going to.

Dykes, looking lively and randy throughout, nearly completed his hat-trick on the hour mark. Chair again involved, feeding the target man who took one touch out of his feet but fired a shot just wide of the mark. Iroegbunam, Chair and Dozell then felt the competition was so poor they played their own rondo, with Cardiff’s Nelson and Sang getting about as close to them as I did sitting in the Upper Loft. This time Johansen crossed from deep with Dykes attacking the back post but Allsop somehow managed to keep it out - although it seemed luck more than judgement.

Said luck ran out with a quarter left to play as another deep cross from *checks notes*… Sam Field was attacked by *checks notes*….Paal. Who else? Who else could possibly be attacking the six-yard box with 15 minutes to go? Our left-back that’s who. The diminutive [flying] Dutchman headed over the keeper and wrapped up the win for the hosts, his first goal in English football. Even he seemed a bit embarrassed by the whole shellacking. A bit like playing your missus on FIFA. It didn’t have to be like this.

This team has an incredible ability to suffocate the life out of opponents - there’s just no way out for them when we get it right. They squeeze and squeeze until you can’t pass out, you can’t go long and you just have a prolonged period of pressure. It happened early on last night and has been present at nearly all games this year. The positioning of players to ensure we’re in the right areas at the right time meaning everyone has an option is excellent. There haven’t been many times when we’ve seen the likes of Dickie getting caught away at Bournemouth last year. Tactically it’s probably far greater than anything seen in recent times.

A question was posed last night with Warnock being on the pitch about which side was better man for man, his promotion one or the team we were currently watching maul Cardiff in front of our eyes. “Ah easy, his promo-“ one quipped before stopping. It’s a lot closer than perhaps you first think. Is there a Taarabt? No of course there isn’t [Charlie Austin rhetorical style]. But is there much between Dieng or Kenny? Laird or Walker? Willock or Routledge? Field or Derry?

Dealing with Field, what a signing he looks and another notch on the Andy Belk fan club. Many might think the Austin transfer last season didn’t have many highs, but celebrating in front of Thomas Frank after scoring the winner and ‘convincing’ Sam Field the project was one to buy into is enough for me. You can just tell the guy is a future captain and last night he was immense. Sheyi Ojo will be seeing him in his sleep. Think you can pop it round him, nope - too long for that. Think you can burst past him? Take a seat in the Paddocks and don’t ever try that shit round here again. Beat him in the air? Don’t be so silly. Oh you said I couldn’t pass. Here Ethan have a 40-yard diag time after time, don’t even move. You stay there, I’ll find you.

He was brilliant last night. Premier League soon come for Mr Field, with or without us.

The third was followed by a host of substitutions, which added to the rather subdued atmosphere and gave the feel of a pre-season friendly or more Mick Beale’s testimonial. The game had petered to nothing in truth and at around 83, I thought everyone could be done a favour and call it quits 10-minutes early.

There was a weird routine all players leaving the field went through as they had really deep and prolonged hugs with the backroom staff but I’m certain it was because Mick (not Michael) definitely isn’t leaving. Job done, Rangers top and a manager that definitely isn’t leaving. Definitely not. Definitely.

So where do you go from here? An emphatic no handed in the face of Wolves. Take that. Although it seems odd a club would go through the motions to ask for permission to speak to a candidate without anyone gauging if the said candidate would even like to move in the first place to a place where his family still live, but we’ll ignore that.

For now, it would seem Beale stays and that’s fantastic for the football club [Mark Warburton tone], but also the players like Jake Clarke-Salter who sat through a two-hour presentation to convince him to sign. Or Leon Balogun who relocated to work with a manager he believes is a “genius” and Kenneth Paal who had meetings with Mick (not Michael…) with his parents before he made the long-awaited move to English football.

It should be noted however this is a man that has used leverage fantastically well in his career. Despite being part of a coaching team at Rangers that consisted of hugely well-known Steven Gerrard and Gary McAllister, Beale became the most prominent and visible member. He participated in YouTube Lives, interviews with blogs, wrote forewords in books. If there’s anyone that wanted to speak to him about the invincible season, he found a way. He gave coaching seminars, spoke on motivational podcasts about creating a winning environment. This is a man that knows the power of PR and has accepted he needs to build his profile in the right areas to achieve his goals.

He’s also spoken openly about how he feels he can be a trailblazer for English coaches abroad, proving that it isn’t all long-ball and 442. He wants English coaches to be known for a technical, possession based game and feels he can lead this. He’s spoken about managing in the Champions League, in a foreign country where he can utilise his language skills. His ambition is unmatched.

So for now, he definitely isn’t leaving, but with or without QPR, one would think Mick Beale will be a Premier League manager next year. My bet for what it’s worth, is it’ll be with us.

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

QPR: Dieng 7; Laird 7 (Kakay 76, 6), Balogun 7, Clarke-Salter 7, Paal 7; Iroegbunam 7 (Amos 71, 6), Field 8, Johansen 7; Chair 8 (Bonne 76, 6), Dykes 8, Armstrong 7 (Dozzell 59, 6)

Subs not used: Archer, Dickie

Goals: Dykes 19 (penalty won by Armstrong), 33 (assisted Chair), Paal 74 (assisted Field)

Bookings: Johansen 26 (foul), Paal 79 (foul)

Cardiff City: Allsop 5; O’Dowda 5 (Ralls 76, 6), Ng 5 (Sang 45, 5), Simpson 4; Nkounkou 6, Sawyers 5 (Nelson 21, 5), Wintle 5 (Philogene-Bidance 76, 5), Rinomhota 5, Ojo 6; Robinson 4 (Harris 61, 5).

Subs not used: Alnwick, Etete

Red Cards: Simpson 19 (professional foul, I mean, not fair though really is it?)

Bookings: Ng (consonant neglect), Nelson (foul), Wintle (foul), Harris (foul).

QPR Star Man — Sam Field 8 Its a toss of a coin between him and Ilias Chair, but coming out of Loftus Road I thought he was immense. Now I’ve watched back some of the highlights, the Moroccan was literally at the centre of everything good and couldn’t do much more to help us win. That being said, Field’s performance and desire to get all three points, even after having a to-do with Taylor Richards, takes it. He’s just phenomenal.

Referee James Lininton 4 I didn’t think he was too bad, gave what he should didn’t seem to make any massive or controversial decision that were that bad until he completely fucked the whole game after 20 minutes. Game over for Cardiff and for their fans who had travelled miles on a Wednesday evening, it’s just not good enough. I understand mistakes will be made, but not mistakes like that. Come on, you could have just given the penalty. There was a sense that it was rushed and perhaps influenced by Laird's claim minutes earlier.

Attendance — 12,805 A weird one, moments of good noise followed by weirdly hollow, no atmosphere. Probably to be expected when you have a manager that is definitely not going, kind of summed up by Paal's subdued celebration. Not sure what the travelling Cardiff number was, no real sound from them but when you get fucked after 20 minutes fair play for even still being there at half time.

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The Twitter @JordanJFoster

Pictures — Ian Randall Photography

Ian Randall Photography

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ozexile added 22:37 - Oct 20
Thanks for a wonderful report. I'm like you, how do you split Chair and Field last night. Both brilliant performances.

dubaistu added 22:47 - Oct 20
Cracking write-up, with Chair I've always felt this was HIS season to shine, it was either with us going up, or sadly waving goodbye for his next challenge up the food chain. With Beale staying for now and if he's with us come end of the season, that challenge will hopefully be with us in the PL.

Gleni1977 added 23:15 - Oct 20
Great report Jordan. Thank you!

Gleni1977 added 23:15 - Oct 20
Great report Jordan. Thank you!

simmo added 23:19 - Oct 20
Good work mate

Burnleyhoop added 23:34 - Oct 20
Thoroughly enjoyable report. Particularly liked your assessment of Iroegbunum. I also used the word lackadaisical when describing him to a friend. A strange word not often heard, but it pinged into my mind on the occasions he kind of saunter’s around like he’s daydreaming for a second or two, weird.
Great touch though, love how he accelerates past his man, very Eze like in his movement. Defo going to be a top class player when his concentration levels improve.

On the whole Beale saga, I think the tabloids have a lot to answer for by putting out stories that the manager had already agreed to join Wolves, which turned out to be utter bollocks. The disruption to the club, manager and fans was ridiculous and bang out of order. Hoos should be taking these pricks to task as it could have adversely affected the game last night and certainly had the qpr fan base and forums up in arms. Totally unnecessary.

Toast_R added 23:40 - Oct 20
Great match report

dmm added 07:06 - Oct 21
Excellent reporting, Jordan. I heartily agree with you on Sam the Shield, who is the kind of player I've been wanting us to find for years; an absolute monster of a CDM in every possible way. And, he will get even better.

BlackAndGoldRanger added 08:17 - Oct 21
Great report! Sitting there I didn't see how much good work Field did on the night but thinking back, he was everywhere. Great assist too, although Paal was playing it back across to Dykes...ha. Brilliant to highlight him and Tim so much.
Thought Alsop could have done with a few more points, he kept it respectable for Cardiff.

thehat added 08:40 - Oct 21

Thanks Jordan - Enjoyed that report.

We gave MOM to Field in the car on the way home - He was everywhere breaking up Cardiff moves and getting ours going.

Top of the league and Beale is staying - Loftus Road will be rocking on Saturday.

francisbowles added 09:16 - Oct 21
Like Mick Beale, Clive is a hard act to follow. You did admirably, Jordan, as you have on previous occasions. Thank you, great report, and for reminding us of Mick (not Michael's) PR skills (I think!).

Andybrat added 09:18 - Oct 21
Well done Jordan, in some ways the easiest report to write ( performance) and the hardest to write ( background and context). Totally agree on Sam Field, how many minutes has he played so far this season? That is some engine. Despite the background confidence was oozing through the team, so glad that the Jekyll and Hyde character that is Lynden Dykes is currently the scoring CF one, he was great again. In the SB stand we were all looking for signs from Mick and in the C&S everyone I spoke to seemed to feel he had gone. So yesterday was a good day after a great night ( even though we didn’t know it). I am 60 years old and my excitement levels for tomorrow are really pissing off my wife, actually she is pleased for me ( a 1st in a football context)

PastCaringNW2 added 09:22 - Oct 21
Excellent report.

I can't remember the last time I went to Rangers game with no sense of jeopardy at any point during the entire proceedings. My first year as a ST holder was 95/96 and since then majority of games have had the dynamics of 3rd round FA Cup ties against teams from a higher division. Somehow or another, even when 3 up, it usually ends up feeling like we only just got over the line and that it was a bit of a grind. The Holloway Mk II / McClaren eras were almost exclusively that way. Could often be exciting but only if masochism is your thing. I've been bored at times but rarely entirely untroubled (3-2 against Sheffield in 2011 is one of the few exceptions proving the rule) . Until Wednesday. And that isn't about the opposition (rank as they might have been) it's about our team's mental state. Their belief, their resolve and their hunger to be led intelligently.

PastCaringNW2 added 09:23 - Oct 21
3-0 against Sheffield rather.

MrSheen added 09:34 - Oct 21
Thanks Jordan. I would add my highlight of the game. Nkounkou's crazy Geroge Weah charge through about 6 tackles until Johansen tripped him about 15 yards away from the box. He was cartoon-furious!

SouthAfricanRanger added 10:09 - Oct 21
Big shoes to fill Jordan. Great report. Thank you.

JordanFoster added 11:55 - Oct 21
Thanks for all the kinds words guys, agree with the points. Re player ratings, I am useless, absolutely useless so if you say Alsopp was more then he probably was!

It's very hard to replace Clive but I like to think I'm like the Lidl version, you know when they just rip off another well known brand's labels etc.

Roll on the preview and tomorrow being a sell-out!

CliveWilsonSaid added 12:29 - Oct 21
Thanks Jordon.

I agree about us making teams look ordinary. What I thought was telling on Wednesday was that Cardiff looked beaten even before the game had started. Nervous and completely unconvincing in their crap grey kits.

Marshy added 14:26 - Oct 21
Overall, that was a tremendous "team" performance, but for 2 or 3 good saves from the Cardiff keeper we could have had more than 3 goals. Being in total control of a game is not something we see that often, but the way we passed and moved was very impressive. All our players knew their role, and what they had to do, and where to do it. Chair once again was at the heart of it all, a much-improved player this season. Loved the Sinclair Rocket Run to get the penalty, that seems to be his trademark. As for Mick Beale staying........thank you God!

TacticalR added 15:08 - Oct 21
Thanks for your report.

Cardiff possessed neither fight nor skill. The last thing they needed was to go down a man - that effectively stopped the game being a contest. It didn't look like a penalty and certainly not a red card.

On our side the only thing missing was Dykes getting his hat-trick.

It would have been very QPR if Beale had left just as we got to the top of the Championship for the first time in years, but fortunately that didn't happen.

tsbains64 added 16:54 - Oct 21
Thanks a fine report . Just to say that I do like Linnigan as a ref but he made a poor mistake -doesnt make many . Loved the way the team played but it could have been different City had hit the targets with their long range efforts
Great to see Warnock back too

Noelmc added 11:48 - Oct 22
Thanks Jordan.

Big shoes to fill and you did it with a great report.

Fantastic couple of days with Beale confirming he is staying. I haven't been buzzing like this about the R's for a long time.

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