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West Bromwich Albion 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers
SkyBet Championship
Tuesday, 24th October 2023 Kick-off 20:00
Innnnn one - Report
Wednesday, 25th Oct 2023 22:01 by Clive Whittingham

QPR’s latest genius plan – to stand in shape in their own half at the kick off and never once move from there – yielded a 2-0 defeat at West Brom on Tuesday night that was, to both the neutral and the invested, at times almost completely unwatchable.

Bully’s Star Prize was, let’s be fair, usually a pile of absolute tat. The speedboat is legendary - part of a deal the producer had with a bloke in Walsall and frequently handed over to couples from the beautiful seaside vistas of Tamworth, Derby and Halifax - but there was also a used Ford Fiesta powered entirely by lead, a couple of rails of old coats, a three night stay in Benidorm for one, a collection of kitchen white goods finished in nicotine yellow... Monstrous piles of garbage.

Just to get within throwing distance of it required a gruelling 45-minute journey through Jim Bowen jokes; multiple rounds of general knowledge questions, a ridiculously out-of-proportion amount of which seemed to be about Kaiser Willhelm II; a star name throwing for charity; a prize board where you could accumulate the contents of the Redditch High Street branch of The British Heart Foundation (“INNNN ONE - you’ll be the brain of Britain, with these five shit books”); and then, finally, the question of whether you wanted to take everything they’d given you for your efforts and gamble the whole lot against an integrated fridge freezer that gave the strong impression and scent of something a panicked runner found dumped at the local allotments ten minutes before filming commenced.

To actually win this handsome stash required a throw of 101 or more with six darts or fewer. A double, at least, required. The non-dart player went first, often some Deirdre Barlow-a-like who’d been brought along by the old man for the early quiz rounds because she got a C in Art in her GCE’s, now thrust up to the oche to premiere the lesser spotted underarm throw technique to a Sunday night primetime audience on ITV. Frequently this woman would be called Sheila. Tony would stand by and keep score, and it’s a wonder he was never killed.

And do you know what, they all went for it. To a man, woman and idiot they’d had a “smashing time” and had “said before we got here that we’d go for it if we had the chance”. Admittedly the ratio of gamblers to non-gamblers did ratchet up somewhat when they changed the rules and said you could keep the money regardless and just gamble the poxy Scalextric. Remember, though, this was the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher was busy closing down the only reason a lot of these dart-playing towns existed. A haunted rocking chair and 360 sheets was not to be sniffed at. Still, these hardy people, brave and few, went looking for their 101 with their six darts.

Because of course you take the gamble on Bullseye. To feel alive, to seize the moment, to carpe the diem, to live without regret, sure, all of that philosophical bollocks. You are, clearly, not going to be on Bullseye again, so you may as well crack on. But, also, because nobody ever got anywhere in life without, at some point, taking a bit of a risk, or a chance. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t, but you have to roll those dice when you can. Otherwise they’ll be sitting on their ass on the sofa in October, watching the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. Or, at least, watching somebody else enjoy their toasted sandwich maker.

Which leads us, typically belatedly, to Queens Park Rangers, and whatever the fuck it was Queens Park Rangers through they were trying to do at West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday night.

We’re going to do shape first. In fact, we’re going to do shape first, middle, and last, because shape is all there was.

Needless to say it was a back three, because as we’ve known for sometime, and recently had re-affirmed by Watford and Blackburn, lining this lot up in a four is tantamount to opening the Ark of the Covenant. Osman Kakay, Jimmy Dunne and Jake Clarke-Salter were on station duty to begin with, although inevitably Clarke-Salter didn’t make it any further than half time and will presumably now not be seen again until… let’s think… run my finger down my diary here… Watford at home? January 13? Feels about par for the course. He’d limp out of his own wedding this guy.

Reggie Cannon made a full debut at right wing back and was very good. Print that out for a frame, it’s the only positive thing I plan to say on last night over this 3,000 word diatribe, and if you think I’m overly dramatic or too negative or over the top of whatever it is this week then you can bite me because I was sitting at Milton Keynes at one o’clock this morning waiting for a fucking driver for my train so I shall be having my say today thank you. I suspect a similarly full and frank exchange of views is taking place between Cannon and his agent this morning along the lines of what in the name of Jesus H Christ have you got me into here? Streets ahead of anything else in red and black hoops. Oh, the kit looks great. Absolutely fantastic. So, I lied. There are two positives for you.

Kenneth Paal played left and then it was Sam Field, Jack Colback and Andre Dozzell in midfield with Ilias Chair off Lyndon Dykes. It was a pretty thick back five with four in front of it out of possession. In possession… well that never really came up.

Out they trundled, ten minutes after the game was meant to kick off because we can’t even turn up on time to a fucking professional football match these days, and lined up exactly like that in that shape in their own half. And their they stood. And their they stayed. And that was it. That was literally it.

It made for a first half so bleak that it bored The Hawthorns crowd into a silent stupor. I reckon if you'd polled everybody there on just calling the bloody thing at half time and going home would have yielded 85% approval rating off a 110% turnout. So desperately keen to get away from whatever this was and not have to look at it any more I’d expect several people to vote twice.

Here are the notes I made. After six minutes Andre Dozzell gave the ball away and West Brom were in on us immediately. Only a weak finish from Brandom Thomas-Asante – striker on a seven-game barren run klaxon – dribbled straight through to Begovic enabled an escape. Another six minutes on and, having broken some modicum of QPR press relatively easily, West Brom were able to get the ball to the byline and cut it back for exactly the sort of goal Rangers concede all the time but, again, Thomas-Asante skewed horribly wide.

Praise for Reggie Cannon, who twice showed deft control to maintain possession of a ball that looked out for all money, and then whipped over the sort of cross proper footballers produce, for a painfully rare sighting of the otherwise wholly anonymous Lyndon Dykes. That got headed behind for a corner and QPR tried to re-enact the success they’d had with Dozzell’s deliveries to the far post from Saturday, but Alex Palmer in the home goal rather ruined this by going and standing in that group of players and catching the ball. They’ve watched film. Bastards.

Osman Kakay gave the ball away cheaply and Jack Colback committed a cynical foul on recovery for a clear yellow card. Awarded a dangerous free kick on the corner of the West Brom box an extraordinary amount of time was spent primping and preening, and at one point Jimmy Dunne journeyed all the way out of the box to add God-only-knows what level of intellectual input. Ilias Chair took it all on board, spaffed a hopeless effort straight into a half-man wall, and then pulled the guy back to prevent the counter attack, turning what might have become a goal scoring chance into a yellow card of his own. Clarke-Salter off at half time, because of fucking course. Sam Field to left centre back, because my fucking God. And already it’s quarter past bloody nine. Be a dear, run a bath. Prepare the four slice.

No surprise Cannon was involved in the first and only good thing we did in the attacking third all night – getting a cut back just right for Chair whose goalbound shot was bravely blocked by Kipre. I’m not here to defend QPR, clearly after what I’ve written so far, and one shot on goal in 90+ minutes of football is pathetic enough, but it does seem off to me that if Palmer had blocked this shot like this it would have counted as a shot on target but because it’s Kipre it doesn’t. Anyway, first world problems.

I just looked at this, though, and thought… what’s the plan here? Ainsworth said afterwards “the plan was working”, which is great news. Maybe now he can tell us what the plan was? How does this management and this coaching staff see this team, like this, scoring a goal? A goal. Just one. We had one shot to West Brom’s 16, we had 28% possession to their 72%. We completed, on average, less than two passes a minute. Our pass completion for the night was just 66% which meant in the 28% of the time we did have the ball we gave that away one in every three things we did. We attempted 150 passes, failing with nearly 40% of them, to their 500+. Kyle Bartley, the home team’s centre back, attempted 84 passes with a success rate in excess of 9/10. Kipre alongside him did 81 with an even better hit rate. That is more passes than Lyndon Dykes (15), Ilias Chair (18), Andre Dozzell (8), Reggie Cannon (9), Jake Clarke-Salter (17) and Paul Smyth (4) managed collectively. Look at those number again – Andre Dozzell, your more attacking, more ball-playing central midfielder, plays 90+ minutes of football and within that tries eight passes (and gave two of those away). Apart from Jack Colback (86% completion rate on 24 passes), every single QPR player gave the ball away at least a third of the times they tried to pass it. Sam Field conceded possession in 40% of his 25 attempted passes. The only West Brom players who dipped below 85% were Furlong and Wallace. This is medieval football. Medieval. Our first half xG was nought (zero). And by the end it was 0.14 to their 2.55.

And this is the plan? This is the plan working? The most attacking thing we did all night was bring on Paul Smyth to launch long throws that he doesn’t have – West Brom headed the first one back out for a second swing, and he stuck that straight back on the head of the same opponent. Gareth, we go back a long way, I love you, but don’t shit in my breakfast and tell me it’s chocolate sauce again please. Enough of this gaslighting claptrap. We are QPR, we are not Sutton United, this stuff is not ok.

We know the strikers aren’t very good, that’s clearly obvious, so for me the priority would be trying to get goals from other areas. Sam Field is a decent player, great lad, good in the air, technically decent, he should be contributing five or six goals to this team, not four in three years. Andre Dozzell, whatever you think of him, is technically proficient, nice left foot, decent athleticism, he should be contributing five or six goals to this team, not one (albeit brilliant) goal in two and a half years. Ilias Chair, if he’s going to go where he thinks he should in his career, has got to be scoring at least, at least, four or five simple, bread and butter goals from inside the penalty area a season. Every one he got last term was from outside the box, and as the xG evangelists will testify to time and again it’s no surprise to see those dry up. He hasn’t scored at all yet this season. Not one. I want to see these guys in the penalty box, arriving late, scoring exactly the sort of goals we constantly concede to the likes of Josh Eccles and Jack Rudoni lately. We have none of that. None of it. We don’t even pose a goal threat accidentally.

QPR have now failed to score in four of their last six, seven of their 14 this season, and have scored only once in all but two of the others. They’ve failed to score in 21 of their last 45 games and have scored twice in just five of the other 24. It’s more than a year since they scored three in a game. What is the plan? What is the plan here? Are we genuinely now going to try and nil nil our way back over that dotted line? With a defence made of Play-Doh and somebody’s dad keeping goal in his spare time between opening kids soccer schools? At one point I wondered whether West Brom might haul Palmer off and stick another outfielder on.

They didn’t need to. The numerical advantage was coming their way anyway.

I’m going to tell you a story now about what I previously considered to be the thickest thing I’d ever seen/heard. When we were kids my brother and I lived in a village in the countryside in Lincolnshire that had three pubs: The Thatch, where the old people went for minestrone soup out of a packet; The Red Lion, which was half decent and had Sky; and The Dog and Rat, which often had to close early because of fighting but did at least have the village’s recycling bins in the car park. Once a week we’d traipse down there and tip all our bottles into the bottle bank. One morning, while scoffing his Shreddies before school, Young North was perusing the village newsletter which detailed all the facilities available to residents on the back. “Mum,” he says very quizzically, “why does the village need a dog and rat recycling facility?” Perhaps he thought they were turned into shoes. Anyway, sorry mate for bringing that one up again, but you’re in luck, because it’s now been usurped.

Ten minutes into the second half Jimmy Dunne left the field after treatment accompanied by our physio. The rule this season, to combat the blatant cheating that goes on at this level, is you have to stay off for 30 seconds and wait to be summoned back on by the referee. Perhaps Dunne will tell you either referee or linesman said it was ok, or at least he thought they’d said it was ok, but I’m not in a particularly forgiving mood and if there’s two of you over there you’d hope one of them might be able to count to 30 – especially as one of you has got a bloody medical license. Yellow card. For that. There followed a foul by Kenneth Paal, on Grady Diangana in the QPR area, which, short of pulling out a gun and mowing the Baggies’ winger down in a deathfire hail of blood and bullets, could scarcely have been a more obvious penalty. Dunne, not 60 seconds on from getting his first booking, then harassed and harangued referee James Bell until he sent him off (edit - it would appear, watching the ITV highlights, he's actually been booked for scuffing up the penalty spot which... well there are no words for that level of dumb). Now James Bell hasn’t been refereeing long, but it’s been long enough for us to establish he’s a bit of a dick. To give him an excuse like this is mindless. Mindless.

And that, as Thomas-Asante got his first in eight by lashing the penalty into the roof of the net, was game. There was a second to come, tucked in by Diangana from the sort of pull back from the byline this team concedes from three or four times a week. Always going to happen with a night-terror-inducing centre back combination of Kakay and Sam Field – the former going to ground embarrassingly easily in the build up to the second – and the only reason it wasn’t three was a Diangana effort from much further out rebounding back into play off the inside of the post.

We went into this game with ambition so meagre it didn’t exist. After the defensive howlers at Huddersfield we tried to go deep, narrow, crowd the passing lanes, defend our box. We thought, surely, at least we could do that. West Brom, with all their goalscorers injured, had been held 0-0 here by Plymouth at the weekend and scored one goal in three home games. The plan, if you can call it that, was stand there, in shape, with discipline, and see the game out. Stand there, in shape, with discipline, and see if you can get through 90 minutes without filling your shorts with a monstrous beer shit. Stand there, in shape, with discipline, and don’t fucking well fuck the whole fucking thing up for everybody else. And we cannot even do that. We cannot even do that. We’re the tight Scottish couple who turned down Bully’s gamble to hang onto 50 bob and a child’s BMX, and somehow lost even those on the train home. Even the bloody fridge from the allotments is a pipe dream for us because something something FFP something something. It’s a good job I’m not in charge at QPR, for so many obvious and varied reasons, but it’s a really good job for Jimmy Dunne, because if I had been in charge last night that dopey ballbag would have been fucking walking home. “He’s apologised,” said Gareth. Apologised? He should be round here washing my bastard car.

All that was left was the infuriating spectacle of referee Bell watching Kipre roll back onto the pitch having initially gone down over the touchline, and instead of telling him to grow up and roll back where he came from so the adults can continue with their football game he stopped the play and colluded in the illusion that he couldn’t possibly roll the same two yards back the other way. This did enable the referee to add, and play, seven minutes to a game that wasn’t even a contest to begin with and had been over long before. You may remember him previously adding a skinny five to the end of our trip to Southampton and blowing spot on time as QPR were launching a ball into the box chasing an equaliser, at the time when the clampdown on shithousery was still a thing and double figured stoppage time was the norm. I’m calling it early, this bloke is a twat. But, Jimmy, you can’t say that to his face. In the end Jack Colback was lucky not to join Dunne splashing about in the early suds – Begovic called from his goal by the referee to issue a final, final warning. Anybody would think they don’t much fancy playing Leicester on Saturday.

I don’t much fancy it either to be fair. Turning my back on a team too busy loving and cuddling Darnell Furlong in the centre circle at full time to hurry over and acknowledge the 600-strong idiot section still doing their bit behind the goal (to be fair I’m surprised our coaching staff could conceal their erections at the site of a player with an actual, genuine long throw) Saturday looms large for me, for them, and for us.

Ainsworth is surely gone, and he surely knows it. The least we could hope for, the least we could expect, is he, and we, go down swinging. This was like watching Audley Harrison box.

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

West Brom: Palmer N/A; Kipre 7 (Taylor 86, -), Bartley 6, Pieters 5 (Gordon 86, -); Furlong 6, Chalobah 6 (Molumby 75, 6), Yokuslu 6 (Mowatt 54, 7), Phillips 7 (Fellows 75, 6); Wallace 5, Diangana 8; Thomas-Asante 7

Subs not used: Griffiths, Higgins, Love, Shaw

Goals: Thomas-Asante 59 (penalty, won Diangana), Diangana 68 (assisted Thomas-Asante)

Bookings: Thomas-Asante 66 (foul)

QPR: Begovic 5; Kakay 3, Dunne 2, Clarke-Salter 4 (Smyth 45, 4); Cannon 6, Colback 5, Dozzell 4 (Armstrong 71, 4), Field 4, Paal 4; Chair 4 (Willock 81, -), Dykes 4

Subs not used: Archer, Dixon-Bonner, Larkeche, Kelman, Duke-McKenna, Merryfield

Bookings: Colback 30 (foul), Chair 40 (foul), Dunne 57 (re-entering field of play illegally), Begovic 58 (dissent), Dunne 58 (dissent)

QPR Star Man – Reggie Cannon 6 My God it’s a footballer. Any more of those hanging around in the back of the shop Mr Benn?

Referee – James Bell (Sheffield) 5 Clearly – clearly - doesn’t need to be given the excuses we gave him here to start acting up. Fell on his arse at the end, missing a penalty appeal by Sinclair Armstrong as he did so, which rather sums him up.

Attendance 21,749 (676 QPR) Come on, let’s go somewhere else on Saturday. You and me, we’ll walk through the dewy fields and watch the white tails of the startled muntjac disappear over the horizon, we’ll chance upon a nice country pub with a log fire and no phone signal, they’ll have one room left unbooked, we’ll monster several bottles of red wine and talk about Roy Wegerle, and then we’ll stumble up to bed and hold each other under a thick duvet and feel the warmth between our bodies as we drift off into sleep. We will not set an alarm. I’ll put a card behind the bar. We can’t keep doing this. It’s no way to live. There’s so much more.

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Lblock added 22:46 - Oct 25
Their keeper as a N/A match rating was a master stroke not lost on me

Brilliant piece which should be printed out 100,000 times and leaflet bombed across the training ground (you know…. The new £20Mill facility you may have heard of )

hoops_legend added 23:08 - Oct 25
You are a legend clive

Geoff78 added 23:13 - Oct 25
Bad, seriously bad, but not as bad as Blackburn so is that progress?

There doesn't seem to be any argument for Ainsworth staying but who could we get? We can't afford anyone decent - I'd settle for uncle Neil but could we afford him? - and surely any of those talented young managers I hear about won't want to touch us with a barge pole.

Jules4367 added 00:36 - Oct 26
If I say great report- clearly I mean the honesty not the performance.

What I really don’t understand (and hopefully you can clarify) is why , when so many of us can see the issues (the forum us full of observers) and we don’t shoot at the target and our defence keeps letting in the same type of goal, why is Gareth not asked this when interviewed by our supporters interviewer.

Gareth - why are we not shooting and scoring - no bullshit mate, why?
Gareth- why do the supporters have to continually watch the non existent defence Allie the same goals?
Gareth - what are your coaches actually doing?

So why are these questions not being asked???!!!

Please can we have an interview which imparts to the manager and hence to the team that we are fed up with their ineptitude !!

In closing, Your report about our shape again prompts me to tell you to watch the YouTube Monty Python sketch of Bournemouth Gynaecologists versus Watford Long John Silver impersonators- it is classic and the Silver XI wear Red and Black too!! Please watch it - it might cheer you and others from the gloom we are in!!

062259 added 02:24 - Oct 26
Ainsworth’s post-match interview was cringeworthy. If there were points for platitudes and cheerleading, he’d be a world-beater.

MelakaRanger added 06:53 - Oct 26
Bournemouth Gynaecologists versus Watford Long John Silver impersonators. Brilliant. The team should me made to watch that. So realistic.

Dorse added 08:21 - Oct 26
Frankly, harrowing.

tsbains64 added 08:23 - Oct 26
Very painful to watch.....Hope GA pulls off another Burnley A snatch and grab

WestonsuperR added 08:58 - Oct 26
Top, top piece, well done Clive. Loved the last section, that country pub sounds very appealing.

mart_Goblin added 09:22 - Oct 26
The very last paragraph titled ‘attendance’ just made me spit my tea out laughing . Gold

alexk65 added 10:58 - Oct 26
Surely the worst they have ever been. Only a matter of time...How do you keep going with your travel and writing? Dont stop we love it...will you write a book...surely a bestseller based on the last decade....perhaps it could start with a child watching stan bowles wizardry or grainy footage of Marsh in a packed out Loftus Rd and cut to stuck on a train platform at 1am on the way home after abject defeat to WBA - there is surely alot in the middle to celebrate (Taarbaat, Allen, Cook, Warnock) and plenty to despair at (Chairmen, overpaid and piss taking players) that give a slice of where football has gone wrong...ending on an optimistic note of some sort...

Martin63 added 11:28 - Oct 26
Brilliant work Clive! Hard times in W12. My next match is Bristol City on 11 November. I assume GA will be gone by then. Much though I loved him as a player and like him as a person, this cannot continue. I do wonder if we would have been better off relegated at the end of last season.

To have won half as many matches at Loftus Road in the last year as Coventry, Blackburn and Sunderland just puts into perspective what an absolute car crash the club has become.

To add to the slight surreal nature of all of this, 26 years ago today the Rs beat Man City, Karl Ready scored with a fantastic header and City were relegated to the third tier at the end of that season. At the same time Brighton were playing their home matches at Gillingham in front of 2 men and a dog.........and tonight they play relegation threatened Ajax.

It's a strange world - let's try to keep the faith everyone - hard though that is with the Rs at times.

Marshy67 added 11:35 - Oct 26
I started watching the post-match interview but after about 90 seconds hearing the same old same old I started counting the seats in the background.
Looking at last night's results it's going to take a miracle of second coming proportions for ANY new manager to turn this around.

Burnleyhoop added 12:37 - Oct 26
Entertaining read as always, but the underlying message of total farce makes it hard to be amused. These are seriously desperate times and God only knows how Ainsworth is going to approach the Leicester game with potentially no centre halves available. Damage limitation is the only viable option as our midfield and strikers are a million miles away from what Leicester can put out and a huge embarrassment may await.

Not looking forward to Saturday one bit. More sleepless nights for Gareth this week I'm afraid.


extratimeR added 17:41 - Oct 26
Utter grimness.
I'm trying to remember anything this boring.......but struggling, Paal is being destroyed,( he is a good player) Chair ( or his agent) must be very worried.

Thanks Clive, ( maybe fans might be invited to play on weekly rota basis?, just a thought), great report as usual

Loft1979 added 20:19 - Oct 26
' It was a pretty thick back five with four in front of it out of possession. In possession… well that never really came up.' That seems to be a repeating headline


PastCaringNW2 added 14:51 - Oct 27
Great writing. If only the team was half this enjoyable.

Much as I loved Bobby Charlton as a kid if there is a minute's silence for anything or anyone on Saturday it should be for this club.

TacticalR added 11:59 - Oct 28
Thanks for your report.

At least you have explained the plan, such as it is.

The only thing interesting about QPR games at the moment is at what point we lose the match. We held out in the first half but crumbled in seconds with that wild challenge from Paal and Dunne's lack of discipline.

The terrible statistics just keep piling up. We cannot hang on to the ball, let alone score a goal.

sinceApril66 added 12:21 - Oct 28
Straight to the top of my best ever Clive reports! On our way to the Leicester game, though NEVER in 55 years have I felt less nervous because there's no hope left. You really should write a novel; your flights of tangental imagination are genius.

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