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Queens Park Rangers 1 v 2 Leicester City
SkyBet Championship
Saturday, 28th October 2023 Kick-off 15:00
QPR's latest act of stupidity brings curtain down on Ainsworth reign - Report
Sunday, 29th Oct 2023 14:54 by Clive Whittingham

It wasn't as bad as many feared it could have been, and only Andre Dozzell's brain explosion ended up breaking the stalemate against Leicester at Loftus Road, but when your twelfth home game without a win is being held as some sort of positive that is really rather the point.

The outcome, on the pitch and in the dugout, inevitable.

Leicester City are the highest standard team the Championship has seen for some time. In fact, they’re currently posting this division’s best numbers ever. No club has ever won 12 of its first 13 games in the second tier, had 36 points at this stage, or been as far clear of third. They score goals at a rate of more than two a game and concede them at a rate of two a month.

You don’t often find mismatches like this between two sides in the same division. Queens Park Rangers, second from bottom on a five-game losing run, have only won two of their 13 and drawn another couple. With six defeats and a draw from their home games in 23/24, it’s a club record run of 12 without victory at Loftus Road, and only one win on this ground in a year. They have won just six of the last 45 games, losing 29, and have lost 16 of the last 22 at home. It is more than a year since they last scored three goals in a game, and in the intervening 44 fixtures they’ve only managed to score twice on five occasions. Gareth Ainsworth had won five and lost 18 of his 27 games in charge, and won only one at home.

Of the 80 QPR fans who submitted entries to our Prediction League for the game, two thought QPR would win. One absolute danger put Rangers down for a 3-0, which one can only surmise was by mistake or else it’s time for a visit from the men in the white coats. More than 95% felt Leicester would triumph, including 16 who thought it would be 5-0, and 27 ‘other scores’ which means a defeat so severe it’s literally off the chart. The fans are still turning up at Loftus Road in numbers, remarkably more than 17,000 on Saturday, but their faith in their club, team, manager and players has long since ebbed away. Rarely can such a large crowd have made so little noise inside this old blue box of ours.

Leicester did, indeed, win the game. They spent much of the first half creating and missing chances. Fatawu had one deflected wide of the top corner after three minutes, makeshift centre back Sam Field got a brave block in after Leicestershire’s premiere wedding venue Keirnan Dewsbury-Hall turned and shot from the edge of the box, Harry Winks drew a camera save and spill from Asmir Begovic a minute from half time and amidst a flurry of late corners Jamie Vardy glanced a header right across the face of goal and an inch wide of the far post. QPR will point to the thirtieth minute opener from the frequently offside Stephy Mavididi being cruelly deflected into the far corner of the net, but they’d been leaving Mavididi unattended and in space throughout the first half to that point and only his, and his team’s, fairly relaxed approach to the game had stopped them being punished earlier. Leicester had taken us lightly, and still led. How can we be a team that sits deep and tries to crowd our own box with a mass of bodies, and yet still leaves players in so much space in dangerous areas? You cannot let a player of that quality pick a ball up in space like that, wide on the left, and then let him walk into the penalty area and get a shot away without engaging him.

The build up to the goal started with Asmir Begovic skying a free kick clearance high and not very handsome, landing it behind the majority of his team mates who’d gone down the field to receive and placing us in a dangerous counter attack from which Osman Kakay performed a decent rescue job. The Bosnian keeper started the second half drilling kick straight into the main stand, and then dollied another one straight up in the air which was returned, via a communication breakdown between Kakay and Field, with a shot from Fatawu which he saved comfortably. Who is doing the kicking drills at these bloody soccer schools of his? I’d be wanting a discounted rate if it’s him.

Fatawu later shot wide of the top corner after Leicester got him in on a huge overloaded counter attack. From one corner Albert Adomah, a fairly terrifying selection at right wing back, fell over at the back post and inadvertently headed the ball right back into the heart of his own penalty area. Casadei headed over the bar 15 minutes from time and then Harry Winks drew a boot back and won the game for his team with a 25 yarder into the roof of the net. Begovic did at least get a good deal closer to Pereira’s injury time shot, producing a good save to prevent a third goal.

The outcome everybody expected then, and it’s now 12 without victory at Loftus Road dating all the way back to March 11. The departure of the manager who’s overseen that dire sequence has felt inevitable since Blackburn won here with embarrassing ease a fortnight ago and by waiting, either to give him yet more time to turn it around or for them to find an alternative, we’ve burned off another three matches this week, of which two were easily gettable – Huddersfield are 8-0 down on aggregate in their games since we lost their last weekend.

Perhaps they just didn’t want the new guy to have to start with this hiding to nothing – they’d done something similar last autumn with Neil Crichley coming in immediately after a home game with runaway leaders Burnley. As it turned out, Leicester at home actually suited Gareth Ainsworth’s style, outlook and mentality a good deal more most of the games we’ve played recently.

Ainsworth likes to play himself, and his team, up as an underdog story. He likes it when his back is to the wall, everybody’s written him and his boys off, and he can foster an ‘us against the world’ mentality. In an unfair fight like this he can set a team up with a thick back five, four in front of that, and base his whole gameplan around defending deep, protecting your own box, running hard, making tackles, putting effort in, and frustrating an opponent. You’ll never have the ball (QPR had 21% possession as the home side here) but that’s ok because, really, Gareth Ainsworth doesn’t want the ball. The three wins he got to keep the team in the Championship last season all played out like this. In his summer interview with this site he described the wins at Burnley and Stoke as “some ridiculous Catenaccio set up” and made out like it was the opposite of what he’d ideally go for, but that’s not true – this is where Gareth Ainsworth eats. It was a perfect identity for a Wycombe club punching well above its weight with no budget, limited crowds and zero expectation, but it’s sat uneasily at QPR and whenever he, and we, have tried to open up and attack games we’ve been picked off with ease.

The way Ainsworth has spoken about things like the signing of Begovic, or going away to play Leeds United, it’s made QPR look, sound and feel incredibly small time, like some plucky lower division team in a big cup tie. The financial realities of our club and the modern sport are understood by our fanbase more than most, but constantly making out like we’re just incredibly lucky to be on the same pitch as some of these players and teams is a self-deprecation too far for a club that has only been outside the top two divisions in this country for three years in the last 50. With Leicester in town it was hard not to think back two summers when QPR were in such brilliant form, and the football was so progressive, that the Foxes, along with Man Utd, actually requested pre-season friendlies on this ground because they felt the shape and style was a good mirror of what they might face when the real quiz started. United were swept aside 4-2, while the Leicester game finished in a pulsating 3-3 draw. Hard not to look at us, and them, now and not sob yourself to sleep. Nevertheless, the state of us, exacerbated by a dearth of centre backs with Ainsworth’s big summer signings Morgan Fox and Steve Cook already crocked, Jake Clarke-Salter being Jake Clarke-Salter, and Jimmy Dunne suspended for idiocy, meant that for one day, at least, Ainsworth could be Ainsworth.

It might have worked too. The team selection, with a back three of Kakay, Field and Cannon, and Charlie Kelman put forward for ritual sacrifice, looked absolutely wild, and brought great gales of laughter around the Crown & Sceptre when it was announced an hour before kick-off. But twice in the first half Leicester’s attempts to play out from keeper Mads Hermansen, under the instructionof Marge Simpson’s art teacher Mr Maresca, were picked off. Lyndon Dykes’ attempt to lob into the subsequently open net from uber long range unfortunately drifted off towards the new Acton high rises. When Albert Adomah chipped an inviting cross up for a much more Dykes-friendly header in the six yard box a combination of Hermansen and Choudhury were required to repel it on the goalline but that tied both of them up enough for Andre Dozzell to smash a well executed volley back past them an into the net for a shock equaliser. As said in the week, he should be contributing five or six of these a season to the cause.

The decision to bin Ainsworth off was made a week ago. God knows what Ruben and his new friends from Matrade woud have done had he magicked a result out of this game but, perhaps luckily, that wouldn’t turn out to be an issue. Dozzell the unlikely hero would was about to turn moronic villain.

One one, in the game, crowd starting to come into play, Ainsworth on the cusp of pulling off the impossible, an hour gone and pace to come up front in the form of Smyth from the bench, Dozzell was about to hit the self destruct button. If you thought Jimmy Dunne’s red card at The Hawthorns was the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen, then strap yourself in for another bedtime story. First Dozzell gave the ball away cheaply in the Leicester half. Keen to make amends he chased all the way back into our half and did the right thing – a tactical foul to interrupt the counter attack. A yellow card, sure, but sensible gamesmanship of the sort we’re usually deficient in. Fatawu wasn’t happy, but then he’s not going to be happy is he? You’ve just clotheslined him on his way into the penalty box he’s hardly going to turn up with a box of Milk Tray. You laugh at him, you let him lose his temper, maybe you get him booked or sent off. You don’t go all fucking hard man routine and start pushing and shoving him back. Thick as a whale sandwich. Referee Leigh Doughty, one of the better officials at this level, saw the whole thing clearly, booked Dozzell for the foul, both players for the pushes, and that was that. QPR’s chances in this game were always slim to none, and slim had indeed just left town.

Thereafter QPR basically just stood and let it happen. Trying to see out time as best they could. Jack Colback picked up a yellow for dissent so that’s two central midfielders missing for Rotherham and he’s already been suspended four games out of the first 15. Honestly, if there’s a thicker football team out there anywhere I’d hate to see it. The inevitable Winks goal did bring us briefly back out of our shell – poor Sam Field now pressed into action as a striker as part of Ainsworth’s last chance to really stick the knife into Chris Willock, who he afforded 120 seconds of injury time at the end – and almost immediately Dykes had pulled one back for what could have been an equaliser for the former West Brom man. You could forgive it on Saturday, against an opponent of this standard, particularly once down to ten men, but too often Ainsworth’s approach to games with QPR has been that of a man afraid to leave the house, who then falls down his own stairs and breaks his neck anyway.

It was one of those rare games in his reign where you could actually take some positives and see what he was trying to achieve having been dealt a ridiculously crap hand of cards. Leicester at home, with no centre backs, what exactly can he do with that? In the end only an individual brain melt by Dozzell has blown it up for him – though given this is the third cretinous red card we’ve inflicted on ourselves while level in games we went onto lose already this season you could reasonably ask questions about standards of behaviour, discipline and the like.

When you’ve sunk so low a sixth defeat in a row, and a twelfth home game without a win, is held up as some sort of positive, because at least the team made an effort and the scoreline wasn’t a lot worse, then it’s time to go.

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

QPR: Begovic 5; Cannon 6, Kakay 6, Field 6; Adomah 5 (Smyth 87, -), Dozzell 4, Colback 5 (Willock 90+3, -), Paal 6; Kelman 5 (Dixon-Bonner 63, 5), Chair 6, Dykes 5

Subs not used: Archer, Richards (collect your prize at the front desk), Larkeche, Duke-McKenna, Kolli, Drewe

Goals: Dozzell 40 (unassisted)

Red Cards: Dozzell 59 (being a fucking dipshit)

Yellow Cards: Dozzell 59 foul, Dozzell 59 (retalitation), Colback 64 (dissent)

Leicester: Hermansen 6; Choudhury 5 (Pereira 67, 7), Coady 6, Vestergaard 7, Justin 5; Casadei 6 (Iheanacho 79, -), Winks 8, Dewsbury-Hall 7; Fatawu 8 (Albrighton 83, -), Vardy 5 (McAteer 83, -), Mavididi 7

Subs not used: Faes, Souttar, Daka, Madivadua, Stolarczyk

Goals: Mavididi 30 (assisted Dewsbury-Hall), Winks 80 (assisted Mavididi)

Bookings: Fatawu 59 (retaliation)

QPR Star Man – Sam Field 6 Miles out of position, in one of the weakest and most makeshift defences we’ve ever put on the field, with precious little protection thanks to Dozzell’s daft red card and Colback’s horribly laboured display, I thought this was a brave effort alongside Kakay who's been dire recently but was creditable here, and Reggie Cannon who looks a cut above everything else we've got. Field ended up playing up front. Maybe we should give him a go in goal, can't do a lot worse than the bloke who's currently there.

Referee – Leigh Doughty (Blackpool) 7 No complaints here. Not the referee’s fault Dozzell decided to join the fast growing International Year of the Wally Brain long list that is our playing squad this season. Decent official.

Attendance 17,385 (2,800 Leicester approx.) Remarkable numbers all things considered, but the atmosphere was that of a crowd sitting there waiting to be called up for their sit in the electric chair.

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probbo added 16:47 - Oct 29
Thanks Clive, it's a shame things didn't work out for Gareth, QPR is in his blood and he gave up a job for life at Wycombe to come here but he knew what he was letting himself for and the stats say it all.pasdion and fight should be givens, you need a lot more these days.

I'm a bit underwhelmed over the clamour to get Warnock back. He and Gareth have some common ground in that they saved their clubs last season but both were going backwards when they left their roles this season. I know we don't do long term but it's not even a medium term solution really. And it was a much better squad he managed back in 2010. That said if it does come to pass and he can turn Chair in to Taarabt and Dykes into Austin I'll happily eat my words! They have to get Willock's mojo back too.
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Philothesuperhoop added 17:14 - Oct 29
Thanks Clive. A spot-on report.
I was amazed at the size of the crowd too.
I’m gutted for Ainsworth on a personal level, but he has played the very worst style of football I can ever remember, so I’m delighted to see him go. I don’t think our team is a bottom three outfit - but we will see.
Also what is the back story with Willock? Clearly they hate each other.
Willock has been painful and unprofessional for months, but just maybe a new manager can get him playing again and that could be like a new signing?
1

tsbains64 added 17:59 - Oct 29
The less said about this sad reign the better. GA was out of his depth , from the way he spoke to his decision making he didn’t know what he’s doing . What a relief he is gone
1

062259 added 19:14 - Oct 29
Rowett?
-1

Tomo_5 added 19:31 - Oct 29
Not a lot to be positive about really. GA is a nice guy but his tactics and results were poor. We only have to look at this time last year when we were 1st to see the style of football we were playing, passing, moving, great excitement. Willock was heralded as the best in the division, now he is the forgotten man, I mean no one expects to see him in the starting line up, what is going on there? Anyway, give me Warnock, he knows the club and he will improve this very underwhelming squad. We will still struggle, but maybe, just maybe we might finish above the bottom 3. Makes you wonder why Tony and Les really left....Did they see the writing on the wall?
0

Sittingbournehoop added 20:11 - Oct 29
What a relief, a great player but an awful manager. So out of his depth and had become a complete disaster. No real plan or tactics and some players just not performing. He should have gone before the international break. Even Warnock will struggle to get this lot performing but seems a sensible appointment until the end of the season if it happens. The club are so badly run and needs a good clear out from the top, far too many incompetent clowns stealing a wage for complete failure.
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QPRTYPOWER added 22:25 - Oct 29
I agree with your post, wholeheartedly.
Ainsworth was out of his depth & should never have been given the job to start with, but this board don't learn lessons, even when they claim they do.
He's not an awful manager as 1 comment states, but sticking to the same tactics he used a t Wycombe, was never going to work, because it only got them up once, to go straight back down.
I personally think that Willock was left out, because the board wanted Chair playing, to cash him in during the January window. Nobody was linked with Willock, but Leicester were looking at Chair, so it made sense to play him in every game instead.
It also made sense because of Ainsworth's hit & hope tactics, as that doesn't incorporate two flair players.
Willock made sub appearances in the last 2 games at 80+ minutes & then in the 92nd minute against Leicester, absolute madness.
There's a mention of Nathan Jones & Beale, but Nathan hasn't done enough when leaving Luton for me, but did do well with a small club. Beale should be invited to apply for the job & when he turns up, tell him to get lost! People seem to forget that he started this downfall, because we got top in October, albeit through playing more games than teams around us, but he lost his last 5 games. That slide carried on with Critchley who shouldn't have been brought in, because I've said since they let Warbs go, we need someone who is use to this league at both ends of the table.
Warnock might be good in the interim to get up out of relegation, but long term, I still think Eustace could prove a good move. He had Birmingham playing above their level & in the play-offs which has been backed even more when they sacked him to bring Rooney in, who has since lost his first 3 games & they now sit in 14th.
We've still got FFS restrictions in place & anyone dreaming of play-offs or promotion is dreaming only.
On that note, the board increased Chair's & Willock's contracts when Beale arrived, as they thought we'd go up!
That was madness & this club will need at least 10 more years to get something like a half decent team together.
Then Hoos comes out & states that Ainsworth got it wrong against Blackburn, but he tried something different & it didn't work, so they've gone back to the training ground to try new things. He actually stated it was 1 of the reasons he was hired, as he wanted to try new things, but I must be blind because I didn't see anything different at any point. He comes out to state he has the full backing of the board, which then turns out to be more lies only, as 2 games later he's sacked.
I thought he was okay as a player, but certainly no legend. Of course he wanted to come back, because every manager takes jobs on at struggling clubs hoping to be the 1 to turn it around. Then you have managers who step up in class like Moyes to Man Utd, Potter to Chelsea to name but 2 that failed miserably, but it's more money, a bigger club & a chance to play in Europe, potentially win things etc...
I don't know the percentage of when it works, but it can't be that high & that's with established clubs in the Premier.
They shouldn't have let Warnock go when in the Premier, but didn't learn & let Warbs go too.
Then they brought in Beale & I seemed to be the only person saying I though this could backfire big time. He won't go to Wolves because he has more to do at QPR & yet, it turns out that Rangers had told him they wanted him to be their next manager, so he had to turn Wolves down. he knew he was going to Rangers when he took our club over, because he was going back to watch them & stayed in communication with them too. it's the only time I ever hoped Celtic win everything they played in & eventually that saw Beale sacked, so poetic!
Had he been honest, I'd have had him back anytime, but now if he ever comes back, I will never support QPR again.
The owners run the club as they see fit. It;s their business & their money, but you think they'd want to make money at some point, not just keep flushing it down the toilet.
Whoever comes in, I'd like to see a back 3 or 4 only. We can't defend to save our lives so there's no point having loads of idiots in defence. I'd move Dykes into midfield behind a striker, as I love him to bits for his work rate, but he really isn't a goalscorer & that's what we need.
put Chair & Willock either side of him & lets start scoring goals with Sinclair or Kelman up front.
Someone said that Smyth should be there after an incredible international break, but let's be honest, he scored 1 goal s it was hardly 'incredible' but he didn't do it with us the first time & hasn't done much since.
Pace of Armstrong/Kelman, backed up with Chair, Dykes & Willock & we don't just start scoring goals, we start winning more games too.
1

TacticalR added 21:10 - Oct 30
Thanks for your report.

Yes we put up a fight when everyone thought we were going to get blown away. Then Dozzell self-destructed and took the game with him. One of the worst things about last season was the terrible decline in form of existing players like Dieng, Johansen and Dickie. Now players like Dunne and Dozell seem to have lost their discipline, and Colback looks like a red card waiting to happen.

There's an inevitability about us losing games. The only question is at what point in each game do we lose.
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SimonJames added 14:01 - Nov 2
Just typing this before they strap my arms up...
It was me who entered 3-0.
Obviously I wasn't serious, but since I was so far down the league I decided to go with the most "QPR thing" that could happen in GA's song swan game. Hoping that a couple of Leicester players would get so bored with their inevitable 97% possession that they would start fighting each other and get sent off.
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