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Something about a massacre on February 14 - Report
Wednesday, 15th Feb 2023 19:40 by Clive Whittingham

Queens Park Rangers are getting worse.

The speakers work. They actually work.

For years we’ve sat there, staring up at that bloody thing, encrusted with bird-shit and under-investment, and got only crackly static back. Paul Morrissey has stood out there time after time, gamely talking to Wayne Fereday, Terry Mancini, Gerry Francis, Tony Currie, asking them what it means to be handed a Forever R's tie and blazer badge set from the club shop. And what does it mean? None of us will ever know. Because all the speaker does is hiss at us. If the place burned down, the first we’d know of it is our feet getting warm. Podcast after podcast, meeting after meeting, Lee Hoos patiently explains that they carve out as much money as they can to do capital investment works, and they move around the ground block by block, and maybe one day we’ll get a speaker that works, so we can hear what’s got Jude the Cat feeling quite so funky. Every week we come back, and all we get is hiss. God can only please one person per day, today is not your day, tomorrow doesn’t look good either. I only found out we used to play goal music (back when we actually scored goals) when the Coventry fans took the piss out of us for it. And you know what, the fucking thing works after all.

We know this now because at full time last night Queens Park Rangers were so worried that the two dozen people who’d actually stayed all the way through to the end might say something that would upset the poor little rich bastards who’d just made us sit through another 90+ minutes of their lamentable, incompetent, phoned-in slop, they picked the loudest, screechiest, most intrusive bit of modern racket they could find, cranked it up to 11, and blasted us with it to drown out the reaction. All of a sudden, no problem with the speakers at all, clear as a bell, fucking ships turning round in the North Atlantic. Literally couldn’t hear ourselves think, which is just as well for Jamal Lowe who journeyed round the Loft End making ‘calm down’ gestures at people and shaking his head, because now the music’s off I’m very clear what I think about that among other things.

Ok, let me just get right through it.

As I’ve said a couple of times, if you cannot beat this Cardiff City team, this Huddersfield Town team, this Fleetwood Town team, at this point in time, then you’re not going to be beating anybody without significant changes in personnel, performance, tactics and attitude. Certainly not Sunderland, who last lost away from home way back in October when we were winning at Loftus Road for the final time, possibly ever — nine unbeaten on the road, and about to break into the top six in the division on their first return to the Championship after three years downstairs. Moany Towbray brought a bright, young, creative, attacking team to Loftus Road, furnished by a clever and purposeful recruitment operation that’s brought together an exciting group of promising prospects from Premier League academies, Europe and Latin America. QPR brought a big bucket of shit and a whisk.

For Rangers, just keep adding one to everything bad. Now one win in 17, one win in 11 under Neil Critchley, no wins in ten, no wins in eight home games, thirteen scoreless games in 32 played in the league, a fourth 3-0 defeat in 12 games (three of those at home)…

If you’re one of those glass half full/straw clutcher types who like to tell me I’m exaggerating, things aren’t that bad, LFW trades in hyperbole, we should have got a point from Millwall at the weekend and so on then, I guess, you did at least have the first 20 or so minutes to cling to. Chris Martin got a first start in attack, and was targeted with a long ball good and early — he nodded it down, Rangers won a generous free kick from stand-in referee Peter Bankes, and wasted that. Perhaps Bankes felt sorry for us, another couple of free kicks followed, both hung up to the back post for visiting goalkeeper Anthony Patterson to come out and catch — one of those he needed two attempts to grab, oooooooooh. Ilias Chair broke free from midfield for the first time on 14 minutes, and played an early pass to a striker while in a shooting position for the first time this season — Martin, the recipient, was standing offside, and flagged accordingly, so I doubt Illy will be doing that again any time soon. Once he’d trundled back onside, some six, seven minutes later, he touched one off for the recalled Tim Iroegbunam to hit a shot a yard or so wide of the goal.

If you’re one of those people with two eyes in your head, then you could see this was a castle built on sand. Not much of a castle either, one with a sofa in the bathroom — left-footed defensive midfielder Sam Field bizarrely utilised wide right in a 4-4-2 formation. Neil Critchley so keen to get back to the basic set up that rescued his poor start to life at Blackpool that he’s now trying nonsense like this — perhaps Les forgot to put the ‘preferred formations’ algorithm into the big manager machine?

The dinner bell rang on 21 minutes and the carve up began in earnest. One short goal kick to the right from Patterson, one long ball down the line from Luke O’Nien, and that was all it took. Jimmy Dunne, caught hopelessly under the ball, was roasted so comprehensively by Joe Gelhardt I thought we’d need a priest to scatter him around a garden of remembrance. The Leeds loanee, somehow, contrived to blast into the side netting from six yards out when clean through on goal — an absolute sitter, and it wouldn’t be the last.

In their next attack Sunderland won a corner off Rob Dickie and then stationed all their most threatening players in the air 40 yards out from goal ready for a late charge into the box. Well, QPR can’t defend routine corners, so something creative like this was always going to fry their tiny minds, absolute chaos ensued and Rangers were lucky to escape with a goal kick. No matter, all of three minutes later Sunderland were passing the ball around the edge of the QPR penalty area without opposition, and O’Nien tried his luck from 20 yards drawing a routine save from Seny Dieng.

If you felt like a goal was coming, you were right.

It’s time to play count the mistakes again, come on down. Thirty two minutes played, a throw in to Sunderland on the Stan Bowles side of the ground, midway inside the QPR half. The two Sunderland players nearest to the taker are unmarked, because Rangers’ two central midfielders — Tim Iroegbunam and Andre Dozzell — are scratching their pubics thinking about something else, and Ilias Chair is only walking back down the line to get involved rather than running. After a quick one-two, Iroegbunam and Paal are then both drawn back into the taker Patrick Roberts, who’s consequently able to pop the ball in behind them to an unmarked player who’s moved into their vacated space. Roberts then moves beyond the QPR players, unchecked, because of course, to receive the ball back. At no stage yet has a tackle been made, or even attempted, and Iroegbunam’s effort at doing so on Roberts is so utterly pathetic and limp that I’m not going to count that as one either. Don’t get fucking hurt will you darling, whatever you do. Ba’s intelligent flick around the corner now has Gelhardt and Roberts beyond the final QPR defender, and into the area for a clear sight of Dieng’s goal. There have been five visiting players involved to this point, not one of them has been marked or tackled at any stage. Roberts took the responsibility on himself, aimed for the bottom corner, and Dieng saved well to his left. What did you do during the war daddy? From the corner, Daniel Ballard neither blocked nor marked, a free header straight at Dieng, which the keeper spilled amateurishly — maybe a bit more concentration and practice and a little bit less time acting the clown flashing your Rolex and diamond necklace around Sumosan of a Saturday evening eh mate? — and O’Nien tapped into the empty net from no range at all. And so began the now weekly mass appeal of the QPR defence to the linesman for a flag to rescue them from their own ineptitude. It was, to be fair, unlike at Huddersfield and against Millwall, at least a marginal decision this time.

Whatever fragile belief and confidence there had been about Rangers in the first 20 minutes now completely disintegrated on the pitch and in the stand. The team died on the vine in front of our eyes. It was a painful spectacle. Rob Dickie, like a dog on fireworks night, lost one challenge that was 70/30 in his favour, and then found himself backed up to his own byline by a series of ill-advised and poorly-executed passes in a dangerous part of the pitch — he, quite literally, gave up, and just punted the ball out for a throw in ten yards away.

Bankes added two minutes to the half, played most of that, and then awarded QPR a free kick on half way. The only person, the only person, in the entire team, who realised this was essentially a free hit, and a chance to put a ball into the opposition penalty area loaded with players, with no risk of a counter the other way because the time was up, was Jimmy Dunne. Everybody else was already mentally heading to the dressing room, and some of them physically. Ilias Chair took it. Ilias Chair took it, a free kick from the halfway line, on the stroke of half time. It barely reached. Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway.

It's Middlesbrough away on Saturday and in what I am sure is entirely unrelated news, Ethan Laird failed to reappear for the second half. Colour me shocked. He now presumably joins Chris Willock, Leon Balogun, Tyler Roberts, Jake Clarke-Salter and work of fiction Taylor Richards on the absentee list for that one. Personally I’d make them travel and watch. Still, I bet the proprietor of Reign in Mayfair is glad to hear all his best customers will be staying in town Saturday night.

He was replaced by Osman Kakay who went down the line on the hour, crossed a decent ball, and Chris Martin stuck it wide. A round of applause. That’s all we want.

Having not forced a save from Patterson all night, Rangers had a golden chance to do so much more than that as the game entered its final third. Chair stood a cross up to the back post, Alese naively jumped with his hands in the air and ended up fisting the ball away — an obvious handball, a clear penalty, referee Bankes pointed straight to the spot. Ilias Chair, whose last penalty was at this end of the ground against Sunderland in last year’s League Cup heartbreak and is due to re-enter the earth’s atmosphere sometime around 2045, stood with the ball on the spot and allowed himself to be eye-balled and talked to by Patterson for the entirety of O’Nien’s treatment for a non-existent injury in the six-yard box. Walk away, do something else, think about something else, change the taker, don’t stand there for that long and let him do that to you. Do you? Is it just me? The camera behind the goal shows Chair then give the bottom left hand corner a less than furtive glance, and Patterson had set off that way so early and dived so far that he actually ended up going most of the way past the ball and saving the bloody thing with his legs. Ye Gods.

A little word on O’Nien at this point if I may. His antics were an obvious attempt to delay the taking of the penalty, and they worked. The referee was weak, allowed himself to be conned, looked stupid, and damaged his authority in the game — you tell him to get up, you tell him to move five yards to the side, or you book him, you do not allow the physio to come and treat something you all know is fictitious in the six-yard box before a penalty. It wasn’t the first time he outright cheated on the night either, and it’s a particularly unbecoming part of the game for an intelligent young lad who spends all his spare time recording long winded podcasts about mentorship and attitude and behaviour — he’s basically Ben Pearson, with a radio show, and sparklier eyes. But… He was brilliantly effective in this game. Moved into the centre of midfield he covered every blade, tackled every player, got forward and posed a goal threat, scored an actual goal, kicked people, broke the play up, passed the ball… He can play full back or wing back either side, he can play central midfield, he’s played as one of three centre backs sometimes this season, he writes the theme tune, he sings the theme tune, he absolutely dominated the whole middle of the park all night. You hate him, because he behaved like a little twat on occasions, but you’d love him in our team, and you could have had him at any point between 2013 and 2018, for a couple of lousy bob, when he was playing for Watford (12 miles away), Wycombe (30 miles away, strong relationship, frequent loan deals, Gareth Ainsworth) and Wealdstone (fucking Wealdstone) (nine miles). Instead he goes to the other end of the country, for £150k, and we sit here watching Andre Dozzell, who cost nigh on ten times that. For shame.

That really was that now. The crowd did their best to raise and rally the troops, singing on regardless in support of the boys — they don’t listen to us at dinner either — but there was nothing left out there. Dead team. If I didn’t know better I might suggest that some of the tackles in the last quarter hour rather hinted that quite a few of them also fancied a night out in Mayfair on Saturday rather than a gob bumming up at the Riverside. Rangers would end with six yellow cards, and the ones handed out to Paal and Dozzell in particular were three inches thick. An awful lot of big, meaty tackles going in from players who've been scared to so much as pull somebody's shirt for weeks.

One tackle on sub Sinclair Armstrong on the edge of the box that was lost and sent the ball squirting the other way on 76 minutes was, somehow, enough to split the entire home team right down the middle. Sunderland’s own newbie from the bench, Amad Diallo, journeyed off through the wide open acreage and eventually a cross was cut back for unmarked Geldhardt to hit the bar when he should have scored. Stefan Johansen, on for the hapless Dozzell after he’d given the ball away one too many times and the crowd had started to turn, tried to interrupt the next counter attack by making an attempt on Dennis Cirkin’s life. When that failed Jack Clarke was able to wander into the penalty area, Rob Dickie’s efforts to tackle him were feeble, and he calmly slid the ball into the far bottom corner for two nil and game. Soon Armstrong was losing the ball in a tight spot, two passes later (this is all it ever takes) and Diallo was through on goal, and Dieng came out to save at his feet one v one. No matter, another gilt-edged chance is only ever just around the corner with this lot, and when one long punt by Dieng was headed back from whence it came by Baath that was enough for Diallo, Clarke, Dan Neil, Pierre Ekwah and half the fucking cast of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet to be given the freedom of Shepherd’s Bush at the other end to craft a second goal for Clarke that, frankly, would have shamed a training game. Clarke, of course, one start and six sub appearances in a hopeless loan spell here three seasons back. One cannot wait to see what we do with Jordan Hugill and Conor Washington up at Rotherham in a couple of weeks’ time. Into the tub, with the four slice.

Three nil then. Richly deserved by both sides. Sunderland as a team, and individuals, absolutely everything our side, and players, are not.

If you sat through it all, if you stayed to the death, then you more than most deserved to have a bit of a say at the end. And you didn’t even get that, because the fucking speakers work after all.

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

QPR: Dieng 5; Laird 2 (Kakay 45, 5), Dickie 2, Dunne 3, Paal 4; Field 4, Dozzell 3 (Johansen 81, -), Iroegbunam 2 (Armstrong 76, 4), Chair 4; Martin 5, Lowe 4

Subs not used: Archer, Dixon-Bonner, Gubbins, Adomah

Bookings: Field 63 (foul), Lowe 71 (delaying the restart/time wasting at 1-0 down), Dozzell 72 (prat), Johansen 82 (attempted murder), Paal 90 (assault), Dunne 90+1 (argument)

Sunderland: Patterson 7; Hume 6, Ballard 7, Batth 7, Alese 6 (Cirkin 81, -); Roberts 8, O’Nien 8, Pritchard 7 (Neil 69, 7), Ba 7 (Diallo 63, 7); Gelhardt 5 (Ekwah 81, -), Clarke 8

Subs not used: Bass, Bennette, Lihadji,

Goals: O’Nien 34 (unassisted), Clarke 82 (assisted Cirkin), 90+2 (assisted Neil)

Bookings: Clarke 69 (foul), Pritchard 90+1 (argument)

QPR Star Man — N/A

Referee — Peter Bankes (Merseyside) 6 Gave us a penalty, which was nice of him. Allowed much of the game to be refereed by Luke O’Nien, less so.

Attendance — 14,471 (2,800 Sunderland approx.) The beatings will continue until morale improves.

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KerryE added 20:31 - Feb 15
Brilliant accurate writing as usual.
I don't care if our players are useless, 80%+ effort is enough for me.
I would love to get those players in a room with a video and ask them to explain how poor their performances were.
1

Devonwhitewhitewhite added 20:51 - Feb 15
Bottom line is we are now the 9th best team in London. Only Charlton and Leyton Orient below us and Charlton have beaten us this season. This is a long term decline and its not the players or the managers. The best 11 players are good enough and the managers have been fine since Warburton took over. This is colossal miss management at a higher level. Les Ferdinand is Director of Football, its down to him. I saw his interview, it was self serving bullshine. Over and over again bad decisions made at the wrong time. Should never have let Warburton go and should have dumped his mate Ramsey, who seems to have disproportionate influence. He is way , way out of his depth.
4

Geoff78 added 22:05 - Feb 15
Of course we're bad at the moment, of course we might end up in a relegation fight, of course we might be relegated. But whose fault is this. Happy to blame the board or DoF, but a few months back we were saying how well they'd done to get Beale and a few smart signings/loans. Since then they've bought in possibly the best candidate as manager. It doesn't look like that now, but most of us thought Critchley was a good appointment.

Critchley has clearly not been able to motivate this group (so far). But there aren't dozens of great managers out there keen to come to QPR. It's easy to point to Brentford as an example of what we want to be (or Luton) but there are 70 teams in the lower divisions who are not Brentford, who yo-yo up and down, sit mid- table or flirt with the top 6 or bottom three. That's what most teams do. With our financial restrictions we don't have much choice. On top of that we've lost our star (Willock), our striker (Dykes, I know he's limited but we can now see what he gives us) and a couple of loanee kids have been crushed by Beale buggering off. And maybe a couple of our better players (Field, Chair) aren't as good as we thought. It's bottom half of the table stuff and with a bit of luck (please) we'll avoid relegation.
8

dl_goneR added 22:59 - Feb 15
To me it seems we're at, or slightly under, our natural level and position. Warbs and, loathe as I am to say, 'he who must not be named' got this team performing better than the sum of their parts more often than not. With a couple of genuinely standout players at this level in Willock and Chair tearing it up, and others such as Field, Dickie, Dieng all looking tasty, this buoyed us massively. Beyond those players, we're always just a bang average Championship team.

Now that injuries and loss of form across the board has set in (Dickie in particular... shadow of his former self), I think we really start to see where QPR are, and perhaps should be. We've been wooed by the playoff pushes of the last 2 seasons and being top in October this season. Critchley isn't necessarily a bad manager, but he's been dealt a bad hand (poor morale, key injuries) and hasn't managed to instil the confidence and belief in the team that Warbs and HWMNBN did (yet...)

Ever the blind optimist, I still think we'll go one better than our hallowed spot and finish 15th
1

Marshy added 23:12 - Feb 15
After Millwall you didn’t think it could get much worse, but it has. I don’t know what the answer is, but quite obviously neither does Neil Critchley. I honestly think the players should have their wages docked after this current shambles. If you don’t do your job then you can’t expect to be paid! If I had my way I’d rip up everyone’s contact, and say you will only get paid on positive results in future. Perhaps that would be the motivation to get on the pitch and start actually playing. Being a professional footballer is a privilege, but in a nutshell this lot just don’t give a sh*t.

However, with all the doom and gloom hanging over the club at the moment, I can report some good news. My granddaughter played FIFA 23 as QPR tonight, and we won 3-0. Just savour that result, as the way things are going I can’t see us getting the likes of that type of win again. Unless the club make massive changes throughout, and from top to bottom. Thinking about it “top to bottom”, that pretty much sums us up.
0

dl_goneR added 23:36 - Feb 15
Not all doom and gloom, we're still top of the league*

*the Soccer AM Fans Volleys leaderboard. Joint top with Salford and Wycombe.
0

royinaus added 02:32 - Feb 16
Phew, that's better - glad you got that off my chest
1

Rs_Holy added 08:09 - Feb 16
cheers Clive... much appreciated mate!
0

thehat added 09:05 - Feb 16
Thanks for the report Clive - Absolutely spot on and for the first time in years I lost my shit last night and I apologise to the fans around me. Watching Lowe go through the motions in closing down their players was disgraceful along with Tim playing at half pace in the midfield. And as for Laird well you covered that well in your report.

What an absolute pile of steaming shit this squad is. No characters or spine anywhere and I really am fearful of the drop.

I have been screaming for 3 at the back for months now and believe it's our only hope. Letting Masterson go on loan was yet another masterstroke from our DOF. If we have to play Gubbins now then so be it but for the life of me let's now change our tactics and shape and start parking the the bus and trying to counter teams on the break and yes Chair needs some time on the bench. I don't know if we have the spine and guts to do it but carrying on as we are is definitely not an option.

I can take big losing runs if I see everyone at it playing at 100% - But last night certain players were an absolute disgrace to themselves and their profession.

Has there ever been a more cert than a Middlesborough home win on Saturday.

They are 8/13 with Betfair and it will be easier than printing money.

0

Burnleyhoop added 14:53 - Feb 16
Don’t know what Critchley was thinking putting Dozzell and Tim in the starting line up. They have both been abject all season and are way out of their depth in this league.

Critchley needs to come up with a radically different approach against Middlesbrough on Saturday or we could be seriously embarrassed.

It has to be a back 5 and Gubbins should be given a run out. Field and Johansen in midfield with Lowe, Armstrong and Martin leading the line.

If he trots out the same personnel he deserves all he gets.

Damage limitation is the best we can hope for.
0

stainrodnee added 15:43 - Feb 16
I thought that all those years of being ashamed of our overpaid couldn’t care less players had gone. I was wrong. They may not be paid as much as Bosingwa and co but the attitude most of them showed stank and is completely unacceptable. And that’s without starting on rank incompetence.
0

Sittingbournehoop added 10:49 - Feb 17
Lost for words, simply atrocious, but that’s me done for the season, I won’t return until changes at the top, Ferdinand has to surely do the honourable thing and resign, a huge failure as DOF. I just refuse to waste any more money. I’ll stick with my local non league club that actually look much more organised in defence and great to see motivated players despite earning peanuts.
0

TacticalR added 22:50 - Feb 17
Thanks for your report, a forensic analysis of the game.

Yes, it's all very predictable. Sunderland were much more dynamic than us, exemplified by O'Nien, who was everywhere.

For the first goal why was Dozzell marking Ballard, a much taller player? Not that Dieng should have dropped the ball. Dozell just disappears more and more each game.

The penalty reminded me of last season when Austin missed a penalty at home to Stoke - in retrospect a sign of our impending loss of form.

There just seems to be a complete lack of dynamism in the team (some of which is explained by the factors Geoff78 mentioned). On top of that the defence is ropey and the attack limp.
0

PaulGutirrez added 08:02 - Apr 11
A camera is built into a video doorbell to prevent package theft and home invasions. I also purchase a doorbell camera with a monitor with https://www.intrasonictechnology.com/ They might be wireless and powered by batteries or connected to an existing doorbell. You may interact with guests, broadcast live video, and receive activity notifications on your smartphone.
0

bekean added 08:26 - Jul 20
The passage highlights the disconnect between the club's investment in certain areas, like playing loud music at the https://wordle2.io end of a match, and the lack of investment in essential facilities like functioning speakers for fans to hear announcements and commentary during games.
The use of speakers to drown out fans' reactions can be seen as an attempt to control the narrative and avoid facing criticism for poor performances or decisions made by the club. This approach can further frustrate loyal fans who feel unheard and undervalued.
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