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Jamie Mackie questions
at 11:24 5 Apr 2020

Apologies if there's a thread on this already but can't see it - the Jame Mackie answers your questions thing on the official site is really great - very funny on Adel, happy memories about some of JM's collection of ludicrously dramatic goals (I don't think anyone has ever had a better dramatic goals goals to overall goals ratio as Jamie) and other stuff. Really cheered me up - thanks to the offish and to the legend Jamie Mackie.

https://www.qpr.co.uk/videos/features/jamie-mackie-let-me-tell-you-about/
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Charlton Preview - it's happening!
at 12:09 17 Mar 2020

Well, I think we all enjoyed that comfortable 4-1 win over Barnsley at the weekend - classic Rangers to give away the stupid goal early on, but after that I thought we played really well. Eze's free kick was obviously the highlight, but great to see Jordan getting another and Chair chipping in from the bench. Bright's solo effort was incredible, natch.

So, Charlton. They're on a terrible run of form, with their boardroom in turmoil yet again, but even they managed to beat the team formerly known as Jarrod Bowen FC at the weekend to slightly ease their relegation fears.

Still, we're on a high at the moment and we have a bit of payback to offer tonight after gifting them that last minute equaliser earlier in the season. Hopefully we'll be a bit more professional and also carry on our more solid defensive displays of recent weeks when away from LR.

Team news is good - we pretty much have a clean bill of health, so I expect it to be the same team yet again, which feels almost unprecedented. Possibly Chair could come in for Pugh to rest his legs, but Amos and Ball will surely continue in midfield with Cameron serving out the last match of his suspension. If we can get 6 points with him being away, that would be amazing.

Prediction: Charlton 1 QPR 2 (Hugill, BOS).
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 2 Wazza's Derby 1
at 17:19 26 Feb 2020

I've been doing unusually well in the Prediction League this year, even topping the table for a brief few days the other week. But how on earth WokingR managed to predict 2-1, Grant Hall first scorer is well beyond my powers of prophecy. If he claims he knew it was going to be spanked in with his wrong foot off the underside of the bar as well than I fear it may be time to burn him at the stake.

1. BALL: The Walking Yellow Card himself has had to be very patient this season, waiting first behind Amos and Smith, then Amos and Cameron, and only really getting games when someone was injured. His form then, I felt (perhaps because he was picked sporadically) was a bit up and down - good one week, but looking a little out of his depth the next. But since Warbs has paired him up with Cameron, he's turned in a string of decent performances, leaving Amos to watch on from the bench. There's a lot to like about Ball. He's strong, determined, he loves a tackle, he points a lot. He points a lot even when he's running to make a tackle. Pointing as he's tackling. Loves a point. But he's also decent on the ball. Not in the way of Eze, of course, but he seems to have huge confidence in his ability to receive the ball, even in a tight area, and has a good little trick where he can get his massive frame in between ball and oncoming opponent and roll past them before moving it on quickly. I do like how he doesn't dither on the ball, and also isn't afraid to play a difficult pass. Will be interesting to see how he develops. I always had a theory that Alex Ferguson built his teams around about 4-6 really great players, but the rest were players who weren't necessarily brilliant, but could be relied upon to do exactly what he wanted them to do - these players subsequently never looked as good anywhere else (apart from Phil Neville, who really flourished at Everton) - Ball is a bit like that. Not brilliant, but he will do the exact job he's asked.

But apart from all that, he took down Keith Stroud 'accidentally'. And that, for me, gets him man of the match. That and the immense pleasure I have in shouting 'Great ball, Ball,' when he completes a pass.

2. THE EZE CHAIR: It's such a shame that, assuming Ebs will be on his way to somewhere nicer next season, we only have 11 games left to watch these two play together. Of course, they also play really well with Bright and Ryan Manning too, but there's clearly a special understanding between these two (another bonus of promoting from the U23 side). Not only did we have the fabulous winning goal made by one and scored by the other (keeper may be at fault, but the Chair hit it so hard it seemed to be past him before he could move) but we also had one moment of sublime football between the two when they played less a one-two, more a one-two-three-four-five-six before Rooney snuffed out a final ball just as it looked like Chair would break into the area. Glorious stuff - while Pugh has certainly earned his place over the last few weeks, I do hope the Eze Chair combo gets as many minutes as possible before the end of the season. Then next year, Ilias is going to need to step well and truly into the breach as we adjust to life without our Player of the Season and chief creator for the second year in a row.

3. BARBET: The volume of people complaining about the loaning out of my beloved Toni has drifted into something approaching silence. Let's be honest, we've all been a little bit sceptical about The Beard. We all miss Aziz Ben Askar and wish he could have stayed longer, but at the same time he set a high bar for French central defenders. And Barb's early season work was not exactly reassuring as he went on a personal crusade to give away a penalty in each match he played in, just because. When he was injured, no one minded too much because Hall's ok and Toni fought his way back into the side and did what Toni does - head it, kick it, sometimes hoof a monumentally incredible diag that makes you gasp - but only occasionally.

But now the Barb is back and while he's not perfect there's no doubt he has helped move the team on quite significantly in a number of ways. Firstly, he's left-footed, which I think tends to help out the left back a bit - it may be no coincidence that Manning's form has come back since the Barb has been back. The fact he has a left foot gives us a bit more natural balance. Secondly, he's obviously very comfortable on the ball - yesterday he was even taking it off Kelly two yards off the six yard box and looking to play a pass, and because of this, it takes pressure off the keeper too. Thirdly, there's his passing, which is far superior to any other CB we have - not that all his passes come off, but he does have the ability to not just play the raking diags, but also the quick-along-the-ground eye-of-the-needle passes 20 or 30 yards up the pitch that you have to spot and execute in a split second. Thought he had a really good game last night. If he had taken out Keith Stroud with a 40-yard exocet diag, he would have got it for me.

4. THE CLARKE SUB: It was a bit odd that while Clarke did little of real note (although also did little wrong, contrary to the outcry on here in some quarters), his introduction did change the game. I'm not quite sure why this was. I suppose for a start he stayed very, very wide - chalk on the boots wide, which stretched Derby a bit. Also, there was the by-product of BOS moving into the middle, which immediately panicked their slow defence and forced them to sit deeper in fear, creating a bit more space for Eze in front of them. And then I also think he must've come on with the message that our whole team needed to shift another 5 or 10 yards up the pitch. When Clarke came on we were struggling a bit to gain any sort of possession, but afterwards we started to take control and the goal was really the result of a period of decent pressure.

5. BOS: I probably go on about him too much and have done for the last year, so I wasn't going to include him on here, but I changed my mind because of the last 10 mins (including the baffling five minutes of added time). Before that, I thought the poor guy was knackered. Clive mentioned in his preview that Bright's been struggling to complete games and I thought from about 75 mins onwards that Oteh might be pushed on. But from somewhere Bright gained a second wind, and the period around the 88th minute where he sprinted from full back to keeper to other full back to keeper to other full back and back was testament to incredible conditioning but also genuine desire. Absolutely superb. He must be a monster in the bleep test.

6. ROONEY: Ooh, people were excited to see Rooney! There were Aussies near us who I think had come just to see him. Just to see him move very slowly around the centre circle, sometimes spraying a lovely pass, sometimes executing a beautiful turn, but often lolloping about waiting for there to be a free kick he could take. Still more mobile than Jamie O'Hara ever was and who did the same thing, but there you go. The Aussies left after 70 minutes, sad he hadn't scored a bicycle kick. I hope they come back though - they'd enjoy seeing an Eze heel volley rainbow flicky thing. Anyway, I thought Rooney was all right, nothing more. If you had no idea who he was he barely would have stuck out, but we dealt with him well - far better than we did when faced with a similar customer in Charlie Adam at Reading a few weeks back. I always remember Rooney generally tearing us apart when in his pomp, so it was nice to see him redressing the balance by passing to Eze for the winner - although, let's not forget, Eze got that ball on the halfway line. It was hardly Nahki Wells against Middlesbrough.
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Gotta Love Forest, eh?
at 17:26 22 Feb 2020

Couple of weeks ago they greeted their Leeds win like promotion was almost secured. Now they're 6 points off second.
I remember them doing the same thing when they drew 1-1 with us in out Championship season, when they thought that was the start of their run to promotion. It wasn't.
Can't stand them.
Well played Warbs!
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 4 Stoke 2
at 20:43 16 Feb 2020

From the brink of being sucked in to having to battle yet another last few nervy weeks of the season, QPR suddenly rediscovered their potency to give Stoke a playful spanking. I, for one, enjoyed it.

1. CLINICAL: It's been a word on the lips of Warbs so often recently even he's had to preface it by saying something about sounding like a broken record, which only makes the younger panickers even more angry because they have no idea what a record is, broken or not. But I had sympathy for him there. In a recent report Clive rightly said that you can't just point at someone and say 'be more clinical' and hey presto, more clinical he becomes. But at the same time, we do miss chances that you would expect any forward, even at semi-pro level, to comfortably tuck away. Yesterday was a case in point as we contrived to miss no less than three times when faced with an open goal from less than a yard out. Luckily we scored four others, so it matters less, but weirdly MW could still repeat his most recent interviews even after this game because the fact was we were still wasteful in front of goal - three misses from a yard, plus Pugh's powder-puff finish when clean through - and that's just for starters.

But let's get to the positives. After losing Wells, the team seems to have collectively lost its knack(y! get it?) to score goals, even to the point where one morose poster said the other day that they 'couldn't see where the next goal was coming from'. And I mean, you get people during a bad run saying 'I can't see where the next win is coming from' which is a meaningless cliche in itself, but to apparently think a team which has scored 56 goals in all competitions before Saturday , of which just 15 were scored by Wells, would fail to find the net for the next couple of months takes a special kind of pessimism. Other than the fact that when it comes to QPR experience tells you that you can never assume anything, I was never too worried, because we do have quality going forward and if there's one thing Warburton teams do, it's create plenty of chances.

Still, after the Hugill and Pugh misses, I did start to worry, especially after we then went two-down. It was so frustrating knowing we should be two-up. So it was even more gratifying when the players refused to lie down and clawed their way back into it before the half time whistle had blown. Hugill especially deserved praise - after missing some frankly easy chances in recent games, he showed real character to put away his chance - a goal he fully deserved for one of his best performances of the season. From, there, finally, we were clinical. Eze broke his long goal drought as his recent return to form continued, BOS grabbed a beauty and Chair got his second of the season - he's one who should be looking to score more often too. Hopefully, those four goals will give us confidence again that we can take teams apart even without our beloved Nahki.

2. MANNING: Quick word on Ryan, who showed signs of his early season form returning on Tuesday and went a step further again on Saturday. It was not an easy role for him, often having to face up against the tricky Tom Ince, but with Pugh ahead of him playing a disciplined role that seemed to help and Manning both defended well and attacked well. After a long drought of his previously excellent deliveries, things came good again. Not only that, when the team was down and facing a fairly devastating defeat, it was Manning who took things in his own hands to really make something happen - cutting in expertly and then playing the perfect through ball in for Hugill - a particularly lovely moment, because it showed he harboured no grudges towards Hugill for missing that earlier chance from one yard (sorry to keep going on about it). Then at the end of the game he bravely took on a shot rather than trying to maintain possession, which brought about our fourth goal. Would be great if he continues to re-find his form like this.

3. CENTRAL MIDFIELD: A lot of people have been saying this season that one of the reasons we have been so poor defensively is because we're losing the battle in central midfield too often. After trying a few different combinations in the two holding roles, on Tuesday Warbs pragmatically decided to field both Ball and Cameron, and when that worked well, apparently without ruining our attacking philosophy too much, he stuck with it here to even greater effect. OK, we stll conceded our customary two goals, but overall the pair of them were immensely effective - two hard workers who covered a lot of ground and gave us an extra layer of protection and, perhaps more importantly, a bit more height and strength (not that it stopped us once again getting caught on at least four occasions with deep crosses to the far post - a major weakness in our game). It also allowed Cameron to go forward a bit more than we're used to seeing, and suddenly he's out there attempting dribbles, drag-backs and other skills like he thinks he's Ebere bleedin Eze. One incredible run in the second half for a moment threatened to be the sort of solo goal that would have us making comparisons with Roy Wegerle. Interesting to see what Warbs does frm here - Amos will certainly come back into the side at some point, but while things are going well, he may have to bide his time a bit on the bench for a while.

4. HUGILL: Jordan's been getting a fair bit of stick from fans lately so I was really pleased to see him find some confidence, get a goal and generally contribute what was arguably a man of the match performance. In recent weeks I felt he hasn't won enough for us in the air, but on Saturday he was constantly picking balls out of the air and laying them off to great effect. He now has 12 goals this season - four more than the wonderful Heidar Helguson had at the same point in our promotion season. Of course, there's more onus on Hugill to score than Helguson because there is no Adel Taarabt, but they are similar players in many ways, and Helguson also took a fair few of our penalties. I think Hugill deserves far more credit than he gets, even if his frustrating propensity to hit the ball miles over the bar is enough to drive anyone nuts. If he goes on to get 15 or 16 goals, that's a decent return for any striker and the sort of return we have rarely seen in recent years. No, he's not vintage Charlie Austin, but who is?

5. BOS'S CHALLENGE: Ebere Eze should walk away with the Player of the Season gongs, but by far the most fascinating season for a player in our team is Bright. After a year of unfairly limited chances given by a limited manager, he started this season in the side under Warbs. He impressed, but, even as a huge fan of Bright since he arrived, the delivery wasn't quite there. Then injury saw him out the team again, before he worked his way back into the side around November. The moment it turned for him, I think, was his possiblr Goal of the Season at Birmingham. Since then, the 'no end product' naysayers have melted away, because Bright has been mainly excellent since then, scoring and assisting regularly.

This burst of form, and in particular his one-man dismantling of Swansea has had the consequence of making him a marked man. He's doubled up on frequently and both Swansea and Stoke played a player out of position specifically to look after our winger. So Bright is having to learn to deal with this sort of attention and Saturday showed how he will not be cowed by it. It was a terrific battle with Martins Indi that was even for long periods until eventually Bright's superior fitness and determination finally won out. His goal may have come from the other channel, but from around the 70th minute, Martins Indi looked a beaten man as Bright continually ran him ragged down the right, and perhaps should have brought us an extra goal or two. Still, it was a fine finish for our crucial third as he spotted a gap no one else noticed, and his blossoming continues - a potent mix of strength, pace and skill, he must be a tempting target for top flight clubs.

Clive is often unhappy with Warbuton's comments abiut Bright not having an Academy education, but when you look at his improvement this season, it's not hard to see Warburton's point: an outstanding talent is there, and slowly it's being honed. Equally, of course, Bright will have developed other skills by not being part of an academy - desire, determination, a willingness to scrap, that, yes, perhaps you don't see in all young PL graduates.

6. EZE: A quick word on our diamond. Last year he did run out of puff, hammered into the ground as he was by McClaren's understandable desire to play him in every single game. There were concerns the same may happen here and I noticed the odd sarcy comment slipping in from fans here and there about 'his head being turned' and so forth. More accurate, I suspect, is Warburton's belief that young players do have ups and downs. They don't have incredible consistency at 20, 21. Eze may have not been as impressive as he was early season, but he followed up a great first half at Huddersfield with a beautiful display at Swansea and an excellent one on Saturday. He may not be as demonstrative as Taarabt, as explosive, but Christ, if he did give it away on Sat, you could count the times on one hand. His gliding style, is calm confidence on the ball, his lovely, calm finish for the goal - it was all there on Saturday. Enjoy it while you still can.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: Swansea 0 QPR 0
at 16:38 12 Feb 2020

Jerked from the comfort of my sofa. I've only been to Wales once and it was a nightmare (play off final). I'm never going again.

1. SELECTION: A few times this season we've embarked on mini winless runs and because of our dreadful tendency to turn a couple of bad results from a little skid across some skiddy ice to one of those mile-high sheer-drop water slides, we've all been conditioned to, essentially, panic whenever we lose two or three. This is despite us starting the year with two thrashings and a defeat of the league leaders. Still, the spectre of last season, the season before that and especially the season before that loom large, understandably, in our minds.

However, unlike his two predecessors, Mark Warburton does seem able to get a corner turned before a drama turns into a crisis. It's still not a win, and our first goal drought of the season has well and truly set in, but at least we chalked up a clean sheet and grabbed a rare point. Hopefully this will restore a bit of confidence in the side and we can move on from the fug left by Wells's departure.

I thought the selection Warbs made last night was both predictable and correct. Rangel was bound to come in, and Cameron was a cert, so it was all about who would go. In the end, Ball got the nod to stay and we started with, for Warburton, a very defensive line up. And it worked really well. Rangel looked better both defensively and with the ball than Kane has done in recent times. Cameron had one of his better games and Barbet brought back some much-needed vision at the back. Looking at the selection without seeing the game, you'd be forgiven for thinking MW went for a 0-0 and got it, but in fact our outlook didn't change. We still attacked - more than they did - and should have scored at least a couple of goals were it not for Hugill's failure to convert two or three very decent chances. So, right team, decent result, could've been better.

2. MANNING: I didn't, however, expect to see a recall for Ryan Manning who has been out of sorts for a while now. Whether Wallace was sick or injured or just rested, I'm not sure, but it was good to see Manning rediscover some of his early season form. I thought he was better here than he has been for some time, not only doing a very good job on the dangerous Ayew (a player who would need to pull off someone's leg and start beating about the ref's head before he might be yellow carded, it seemed) but also safe in possession and putting in a couple of sumptuous crosses that deserved more than they got. I think overall he's a better player than Wallace, but there's a real battle for that left back slot now, unless Warbs finally decides to give Ryan a go in midfield again.

3. RANGEL: Over on the other full back, the old warhorse was back, months off, but looking no different to the last time he played. The downside of Rangel is that we have to defend a bit deeper, the upside is that he's just a good defender. His anticipation is excellemt, his positioning very good, he sstops crosses and he passes the ball accurately. If only he were 10 years younger. If only he were five years younger. Plenty of people had influential games last night, but I thought from the start of the game Rangel looked completely determined to play his part. When a player gets to his age you sort of think that they're probably happy just to play the odd game, but they won't be. I'm sure Rangel wants to compete with Kane and play every week if he can. Brought some sure-footedness to the defence and was another good outlet for Kelly.

4. CAMERON: I subscribe to the common thought that if Cameron plays well, we play well. Last night he played well and did what he does best: winning the ball, showing strength, getting it, giving it (although I do think he has a propensity to sometimes mess up the simplest of passes), and he also had a few surges forward. Indeed, his clean strike on the half-volley could easily have brought a goal but for an unfortunate deflection. The problem, as with Rangel, is his age. He just cannot play at full tilt in every game, and that spot (or spots) at the base of the midfield are so crucial to how MW wants us to play. I agreed with Clive when he said the other week that Ryan Woods, who went on loan to Millwall, would have been ideal for us. Wonder if Warburton might think of trying to nab him in the summer...

5. PENALTIES: We've had our fair share of poor luck with pens this season (not least an appalling decision on Saturday), so I'm not too bothered if we got away with one last night, although I have to say I don't think any of them were penalties. There was contact with all three, but contact does not mean a penalty. Kelly's contact with Brewster was minimal and came after he had grabbed the ball at the 19th attempt. It was like a bar of soap, Martin. Barbet's shove was stupid and risky, but overall there was enough of a barge coming from the other way that I think the ref got it right. And Ayew's was a dive - the old trick of flicking his boot out at Barbet's leg and throwing himself down. He'd been hoding the ball, desperate for a challenge so he could try it and when the challenge didn't really come he did it anyway. Pretty poor.

6. SUBS: Said this on the Match Fred, but I thought Warburton got this about right. I wasn't even too happy about Rangel coming off. Sometimes in tight games, it feels risky to change things. No one really looked exhausted, except maybe Rangel and Pugh, and all over the pitch players were, on the whole, winning their individual battles. I might have taken Pugh off for Chair, but I felt he was giving Manning some decent cover and was showing for the ball well. Warburton had rotated quite a few players from Saturday's game, so most of them were pretty fresh. The only concern remains poor Eze, who, with the absence of Wells, we're starting to rely on more and more - just at the point where his goals have dried up a bit.



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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 0 Bristol City 1
at 10:39 3 Feb 2020

Wth the atmosphere flatter than a Paul Hart teamtalk, it was hard to believe this game took place in the same month as two triumphant thrashings and a defeat of the current league leaders. Then I remembered it was February 1st, a brand new month, and it seemed slighty more understandable.

1. PATIENCE: I had to feel sorry for the team. 30 minutes in, admittedly a goal down, and the boos started. I've talked about this before but I've been going to the football since I was two and I swear to God my recollection in the 80s was you had to be about 5-0 down before boos rang out and they generally only rang out at the end of the match. Now, apparently, we can boo after 30 minutes if things aren't going right.

That's not to excuse players or management for a very slow first 45 - although any team is going to find it hard to break down Bristol when set up like this. Clive reckoned they had 7 behind the ball, but I frequently counted every outfield player bar Diedhiou massed between the 18-yard line and an imaginary 30 yard line. Sorry, but while you might see Mane and Salah dance through that sort of density, at Championship level it's a different story. The booing was, it seemed to me, because the the team was not being direct enough. And there was too much passing backwards and sideways and not enough risks being taken. But sometimes patience is needed from players and fans. We were only 1-0 down. We dominated possession after that for long periods and once or twice the excessive possession led to chances when they finally found gaps - usually thanks to the celeverness of Ilias Chair.

It wasn't good enough, they knew that, MW knew that. I'm just not quite sure why we couldn't lend them a bit more support here? I get the frustration to an extent - although the weird notion that with Leistner and Scowen we'd somehow be troubling the play-offs but without them we've 'binned off the season' seems an absurd one to me. Even with Wells we weren't going to finish 6th and while I love to dream as much as the next person, sometimes dreaming that big is only going to add to your fury. At the start of the season, many were convinced we'd go down. By January, the club are being hammered for not chasing a play-off dream hard enough. To return to the point - who in this team does not work, does not give their all, does not show passion, does not try to pass the ball? In the bad times you often hear the refrain 'all i want is for my team to care and try and play good football' - well if that's the case, why not support this lot? People are angry at the state of football, they're angry about QPR's financial situation, at the owners and so forth. 'What's the point in coming,' they say, 'if they've binned off the season?' But what they're really saying is, 'what's the point in coming if we're not going to get promoted - or challenge for that?' And I think - if you think like that, fine. But this is sport and not all clubs can challenge all the time. We used to come because it was our local team and we loved the game and we wanted to see our team do well. I don't know when success was a pre-requisite for attendance. Maybe it's because of how fans are treated now - as customers, and as customers you demand satisfaction (especially at modern prices), so patience is in short supply.

But success never comes easily or quickly. We may have been conditioned to think that because of the quick turnaround under Warnock, but even that came off the back of three years of frankly crazy spending and he inherited a side packed with talent that had been appallingly managed. I looked at this team of cheap buys, free transfers, U23 graduates and two loans and thought, 'do this lot really deserved to hear booing after 30 minutes? Really?'

2. NICENESS: Personally, I actually like the fact that we're not in the ref's face all the time like most other teams. One of the greatest managers of all time, Brian Clough, always forced his players to be respectful of refs, and I've often thought that if players are reasonable refs might actually feel better disposed towards you. So complaints that we don't try to ref games like other teams are not something I agree with. But I do feel we are too nice sometimes. You look at that team on Saturday and think apart from Wallace, who's hardly Mark Dennis, walking yellow card Dom Ball, and Hugill, who is, admittedly, something of a sh!thouse, we're a very nice team of nice lads trying to play nice football. Now, of course, they are tough - you don't get to play at that level without being tough - but it does feel we're lacking a bit in that department - a real bully somewhere to give us a different dimension.

3. REFEREE: Gah, I hate it when a ref is one of my jerks. We didn't lose because of him, but he really wound me up on Saturday. Perhaps worst of all was the awful 'advantage' he gave when the ball had gone from the edge of their box into our own half. I'd love to know how he could explain how it was more of an advantage to have the ball in our half than a free kick near the penalty box - particularly as, unusually for us - we actually looked dangerous from set pieces on Saturday. But I think what angered me most was his laziness. Twice there were instances where he stopped the game and was in no rush to start it again. Once to give a yellow card to a Bristol coach (why can the fourth official not do that?) - and here, as we pressed for an equaliser, he walked the 20 metres to chat and then issue the card. Why walk? Why? You are a ref, we are not here for you, RUN mate. At the very least jog, or at least appear to be in a hurry. If you're not fit enough, then get out of the job. He then did the same thing with the drop ball, which somehow took about two entire minutes to sort out, this time walking slowly across the entire pitch. RUN, mate. This is a sport. RUN. If a player was being subbed and walked as slowly as he did he'd been in danger of a booking. Just GET ON WITH THE GAME. Utter crap.

4. EZE: People have been saying that Eze is a little out of sorts at the moment, and I think that's probably a fair comment. He's not quite the danger he was earlier in the season, although it's not through lack of trying. One thing I've noticed is that MW seems to be using him more of a playmaker and in recent weeks we've seen him dropping deeper and deeper for the ball and he rarely actually gets inside the box any more. He's a dangerous player, with a good shot, yet you almost never see him run past our striker any more. I just wonder if we're asking too much of him to create and need to give him a bit more license to get in where he can really hurt other teams. Whenever he gets near the box we look dangerous, but too often he seems to be playing his football out by the halfway line.

5. WALLACE: Saturday made me want to mould Wallace and Manning together as one. He seems to have now taken that left back slot as his own and while he did little wrong going forward or back, you did at times wish he had a bit more of Manning's early season guile as we searched for that equaliser. Still, I thought Bristol's goal was an excellent one but other than that I felt we defended well, with only really Diedhiou's overhead kick (which surely should have been a foul for high kicking) causing Kelly much of a problem (although it was Wallace who played Wells onside when he should have secured the game with a header).

6. CLARKE: After enduring the toughest of full debuts, it was great to see him come on and show why Warburton was keen to get him in. Maybe he's just more at home on the left wing. I thought he was superb - kept it simple: beat the man, get a cross in. One cross in particular was an absolute swirling, whipping beauty that could easily have brought an equaliser. Hopefully that'll give him confidence going forward.
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Antti's Six Knee Jerks: QPR 1 Sheff Wed 2
at 11:06 27 Jan 2020

A disappointingly meek defeat against a team that turned up and played efficiently but without much invention or danger, and after our marvellous 3rd Round thrashing, it was back to the more traditional QPR FA Cup performance.

SELECTION: Aware I'm in a huge minority here, but i had very little problem with MW's selection and feel the stick he has received since to be a load of tosh. These are my knee jerks and I'll jerk as wildly as I want. I have very little problems with the changes he made and I think this was more than close enough to a first choice XI for the changes to be justified.

It made sense to rest Cameron who has been playing a lot lately and we have a lot of games coming up in the next few weeks. I also had no problem with starting Jack Clarke and only would have had a problem had we fielded a severely weakened XI, which we didn't. Clarke was in fact the only member of the entire team, bar Masterson, who has not had significant starts this season. This was undoubtedly the game to give him to see what he could do.Leistner for Hall was a no-brainer given Hall's injury issues and tha Masterson deserved to keep his place. There was no choice at right back, and Manning could hardly be describved as second choice, even if Wallace has maybe edged ahead of him in the last fortnight. Up front, Hugill was always going to play. The one change that I probably wouldn't have made was recalling Lumley, who I feel needs a spell away from the firs team to try and re-build some confidence, but as Kely was not even sub, I'm wondering if this was enforced. I love BOS, but Warbs has spoken before of how you have to look after playes like him with explosive pace and I can see why he resisted starting him again. Essentially, though, while this wasn't the strongest possible team MW could have put out, it was more than good enough to win and was hardly second string.

I think too often fans look at a team before kick off and disagree with it and then when it goes wrong they say, 'Well, that's because the selection was all wrong.' But those two things aren't automatically correlated. Before the Cardiff game Warburton was pilloried on here for fielding what many felt was an overly defensive side, hoping for a 0-0 draw. We won 6-1. Ball, Pugh and Scowen all started as part of a similar line-up against Swansea when we won 5-1 in a game that saw Masterson's first start for the club. On Friday, I did have some issues with the confusing 4-1-5 (let's generously call it a 4-1-4-1) formation, which I felt would leave us without a link man between defence and attack. But you can't blame formation on the first goal when two players stood around chatting while a throw went over their heads and the keeper fails to keep out a fairly routine shot. You can argue that this may not have happened has Bright and Kelly played instead of Clarke and Lumley, but I'd counter that whatever team you select of almost any ability should never defend like that. I'm happy to be critical of MW for our team's inability to defend set pieces this season - that stuff could and should be worked on in training. But this was beyond basic. It was absolutely dire, and I don't think you can level that sort of sloppiness at the manager's door. He has a right to expect his tea to do better.

And in the end, that goal was the difference. We could, probably should have won this game. We missed chances, we were a bit under powered, we conceded a second when we were taking risks, which was more understandable, but personally I had no problem with the selection. It was sloppiness that caused this defeat and MW had every right to trust the XI he put out to get a win.

2. CLARKE: There are lots of ways to describe a debut - I think there's a list of them somewhere from which football reporters get to choose. 'Dream debut' is when they score on their debvut. 'Showed some nice touches' is when they don't score, but don't do too badly. 'Clearly needs time to bed in' comes with an underwhelming display. And 'nightmare debut' is usually reserved for a keeper making a howler, or someone missing a penalty or getting sent off. For Clarke it was a case of him having a night that started badly and only got worse, no matter how hard he tried. It was a mercy-killing when he was finally hooked, and the poor boy was halfway off the pitch even before his number came up. I felt awful for him. Running into blind alleys, poor passing, caught cold for their first goal marking no one. The more he tried to rectify his errors, the more mistakes he made. There's no doubt he has great talent, and his gait is pleasingly reminiscent of Chris Waddle, but Warbs has work to do to get his confidence up. Early days, but felt really bad for the lad.

3. STRIKERS: This looks like it may not be a problem soon with the news that it seems Nahki Wells may be about to depart, dealing us a heavy blow for the rest of the season, but it often seems that if Wells is playing we're crying out for the strength and height of Hugill, but when Hugill isplaying we're crying out for the guile and pace of Wells. It's a conundrum Warbs has perhaps never quite solved, but Hugill will now have to carry that load on his back for the rest of the season unless something fortunate happens. There was no lack of effort form jordan on Friday, but in the end Wednesday dealt with him well - he won lessof the ball in the air than he normally does and really we failed to get up and support him or supply him with much service - strange, since we fielded so many number tens in one team. And Hugill's main problem was laid bare at 0-1 - a rare decent move and a good early ball finally gave him a sight of goal in a position very similar to the one where he scored so brilliantly against Swansea, but this time he hacked at his shot and it bounced tamely wide, to his obvious fury. huge pressure on him now to try and grab another 7-8 goals before the end of the season to keep our heads comfortably above water.

4. FIRST GOAL: We've conceded some horrors this season, but this one was right up there. I can almost bear honest mistakes - passes that go wrong, something like that. But players standing about and getting done by a throw-in - a throw-in! - was a new low even for us. I know Lumley has (of course) taken a lot of stick for the goal, and having seen it again I completely agree he should be stopping that (it seemed to go through him), but that sort of chance should never happen. Kane and Clarke culpable, while at least Ball spotted the danger and did his best to rectify it. However you look at it, it was so bad. so, so bad.

5. OUR GOAL: Having said that, it was nice to get a goal of the kind we've been giving out all season - the second one like that that Wells has had this season, actually, after the one at Millwall. Beautifully finished too - I always like to see a player go round the keeper, you rarely see it these days. Unfortunately, it happened just a bit too late, but when the ball dropped to Leistner from the corner soon after for a fraction of a second I thought we were going to rescue it.

6. ATTENDANCE: 11,800 apparently, which was not too bad. We probably could have opened the Ellerslie with that, which would have saved the ludicrous crush in the SA Road stand at half time. Well done to the Wednesday fans who came in such great numbers, and enjoyed their deserved win, but I'm in agreement with Warbs, it really felt like we didn't have a proper crack at it and we never really managed to get the crowd going.
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