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It's happening again - Knee Jerks
Thursday, 28th Nov 2019 23:46 by Antti Heinola

Antti Heinola gets first go at the hand wringing with his six talking points on QPR's 4-0 loss to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday evening.

As Fulham fans once sang as they put three past us before half time for about the sixth game in a row: 'It's happening again, it's happening again, Queens Park Rangers, it's happening again.' I'm still hoping the wheels aren't quite coming off, and that we're just having a bad patch that we will eventually, somehow emerge from. The worry is, although we were good in spells either side of half time, this was not the frustrating story of Fulham on Friday, but a team well beaten on its own patch.

Susceptibility

Even a few weeks ago, some posters were saying we'd been 'found out', which I always think is a phrase that means almost nothing. All teams have weak points, it's something else to exploit them. But this idea is irrelevant now because there is nothing to 'find out'. The bald fact is, after ten games in a row of conceding 2+ goals, we are susceptible to any sort of attack you care to mention. We are vulnerable from crosses. We are vulnerable from set pieces and corners. We are vulnerable when players run at us at pace. We are vulnerable to balls played in behind our wing backs, that pull our centre backs out of position. We are vulnerable to our own players continually making stupid mistakes. And we are vulnerable to a basic straight ball played just beyond out centre backs - time and time and time again, this most simple of balls confounds us. It could (maybe should) have brought a red card v Boro. It did bring a red card last night. There is simply no area in which a team could choose to attack us and not feel confident of success. I was thinking we just needed to cut out the silly mistakes, but we're beyond that now. Unlike some, I don't think this is about passing from the back, which I think people are fretting and obsessing about too much, particularly when we simply cannot defend almost any sort of cross. This goes back to the basics, it's not about how we try to keep possession.

Tailspin

It is six without a win again. In all comps last season we had runs of five without a win and seven without a win. The year before that runs of seven without a win, and six without a win. The year before that, six without a win on three occasions. It is every season, regardless of manager, regardless of players. You can keep going back and back and it's the same story. This club does not seem able to bounce back from setbacks very well, and hasn't done for some time. And, really thanks to blown chances v Reading, Boro and arguably Fulham, we're in one again. We could and should have taken five extra points from those games, leaving us seventh equal with Bristol. But we didn't and now, just a few short weeks from the glorious opening games, the relegation struggle we thought may have been banished for this season at least, is quickly becoming more of a reality.

I don't think we'll go down - there are worse sides out there, but this repetitive pattern of losing a couple, of not capitalising on good performances, of never quite being able to turn on a really big performance when it's needed, must be addressed. Eustace spoke about a culture of losing at the club, so an entire squad was shipped out, but has that culture changed? Do we feel like winners yet? It's still early days for Warburton, and I still believe he is the best man we could get for this job, but we're starting to look ragged. The last ten last night were diabolical. And if we start losing confidence, confidence that we still had less than a week ago in a mostly good display undone as usual by horrific defending, and we lose that ability and strength and willingness to pass, we will not be left with very much. I know Warburton will not play six at the back at Derby, shut up shop, and defend for our lives, he won't abandon his principles. I also know that with no Kelly, no Barbet, no Wallace and no Angel he has very little he can actually change. But on Saturday the players need to stand the fuck up and show some fight and try, by whatever means, to get a result, before it turns into something like McClaren's months of hell.

Third goal

First goal was awful, as per. Second goal I can sort of forgive because with ten men and a goal down there's always the chance you'll get caught out-numbered. But the third was really terrible. Kane, who I think perhaps people have been a little harsh on today, was badly at fault here. the 'defend as a team' stuff is fair enough, but not with stuff like this. Before he even got the ball he was telling Lumpey where he wanted to put it even though really he had no need to go back. And then compounded that with a horrendous slice, before then being beaten easily for the inevitable goal. We have no chance when stuff like this is going on.

Fourth goal

I like Lumley, I really do, and before Christmas last year I think he was playing well. But now he's struggling so badly, he really is. Confidence shot. The loud, bulletproof keeper we were watching this time last year has long since disappeared into his shell and while of course his defence are doing him almost no favours, he's not exactly helping. The Fulham debacle, followed by this fourth goal, which really he should have been holding. Even then, it spoke volumes that two Forest players were there before any of our defenders. Another cheap goal in a season that's already had five seasons-worth of them.

Amos

Thought there were real signs of improvement last week, but his first half last night was shambolic. I am not sure he touched the ball. He seemed to play almost inside right, but almost never showed for the ball, constantly hiding, not demanding the ball. And if he's not showing, and Eze is marked tightly, and Wells is on his own up front, options rapidly become very limited. It's such a key position and I'm not sure what he was doing first half last night. No surprise at all when he was substituted.

Manning

Love him, never stops working, but I'm starting to wonder if we're better off switching to a back four with Rangel and Wallace (when fit and unsuspended) as full backs and whoever is fit in the middle and just go for an experienced back four with Manning into Amos's position. At least he would show for the ball and also show some fight in winning it, and also we might solve the issue of how many goals come from our left side. Last night nothing went right for him. He had numerous chances to cross and his normally reliable left foot let him down badly - overhit, underhit, hitting first defender, going straight out of play... his delivery just wasn't there. A poor night for him on a night of poor nights.

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