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Not very good, not very lucky, QPR suffer crushing Bolton loss – full match report
Not very good, not very lucky, QPR suffer crushing Bolton loss – full match report
Sunday, 11th Mar 2012 23:08 by Clive Whittingham

QPR slipped to a highly controversial late defeat against relegation rivals Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday.

When I said earlier this season that QPR were a lethal combination of not very good and not very lucky I was merely attempting to sum up a concerning situation in a pithy one liner. I didn’t in any way intend the team to adopt it as some sort of mantra to play their football by. Alas, at Bolton on Saturday, in a game the team simply could not afford to lose, QPR were most certainly not very good and were definitely not very lucky.

When the Premier League enters into discussions over its next set of television and sponsorship deals it might want to make sure all copies of this game are hidden away in a filing cabinet somewhere. An advert for everything that is good about English football this most certainly was not.

Two dreadful teams incorrectly set up by managers who are supposedly rated as two of the league’s better prospects engaged in an encounter so shy on quality it actually became laughable at several points. The whole thing was overseen by one of the worst all round officiating performances in the history of the game and eventually settled four minutes from time when one of the beleaguered gaffers stumbled across a solution to the thousands of problems with his team completely by accident. Both managers, both sets of players and all four officials involved on the day should be embarrassed by their part in this nonsense and take very long, very hard, very considered looks in the mirror when their ludicrous pay cheques arrive later this month.

According to a report released last week Mark Hughes is the thirteenth best paid football manager in the world today – with a reported extra £1m bonus on the table should he succeed in keeping QPR in the Premiership this season. In an interview with the Independent newspaper prior to this crucial game chairman Tony Fernandes admitted that Hughes interviewed the club, rather than the other way around, during the appointment process.

The bare facts of Hughes’ team selection at the Reebok Stadium on Saturday are that he picked the same back four and goalkeeper that had played against Everton last week; Paddy Kenny, Nedum Onuoha, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Armand Traore. Taye Taiwo and fit again Luke Young had to make do with places on the bench. In midfield Samba Diakite returned from a suspension alongside Shaun Derry and Joey Barton. In attack Shaun Wright-Phillips played centrally behind a pairing of Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse, himself back from a three match spell on the naughty step.

I bite my tongue with managers wherever possible because it’s an incredibly difficult job, particularly in the modern game where players hold all the power. But on this occasion I can only assume that, short of time to do it himself, Mark Hughes sent a chimp to scout Bolton Wanderers prior to this game. Either that or a fan of one of our relegation rivals.

Where are Bolton weak this season? Full back. They’ve tried all sorts of combinations with no great success and conceded the most goals from crosses in the Premiership this year. How did QPR approach this game? With no wingers. Mind blowing. Absolutely mind blowing. What else do Bolton have? Two very big, very strong centre backs who are excellent in the air but leaden footed on the ground. How do QPR respond? By knocking long balls, in a high wind, at Bobby Zamora for most of the day. What else do we know about Bolton? Limited technically in all departments but well capable of out muscling a team. What do QPR decide to do? Drop all the technically decent players they possess who could quite comfortably have picked apart a team that only really has Mark Davies and Ryo Miyaichi who can play the game properly and replace them with a line up designed to engage in an arm wrestle.

I’m all for picking a horse for a course, as the saying goes, and adapting to each opponent’s specific strengths and weaknesses but Hughes turned up here with a steeplechaser for a flat track. Words fail me. I’m watching the wrong sport. I’m living the wrong life.

The problems with this maddening QPR set up were apparent right from the sixth second of the game – the first five had been taken up by their usual highly effective kick off routine which involves two completed passes and then the ball being belted into touch for no discernable benefit whatsoever. For the next 14 minutes and 54 seconds QPR were comprehensively outplayed by a team that sat second bottom in the table at the start of play and nursed the worst home record in the entire Football League.

Bolton forced four corners in the opening 12 minutes – Nedum Onuoha cleared two of them, Bobby Zamora was alert enough to divert another off the line after David Wheater had journeyed forwards from the back to head towards goal. David Ngog, an insipid attacking force with little apparent application and ability prior to Saturday, looked like a black Lionel Messi as he chipped a ball over Clint Hill and collected it on the other side of the stricken defender before dragging a shot across the face of Paddy Kenny’s goal.

This was abject stuff. QPR’s ball retention was non-existent, their possession percentage must have been in single figures, and Bolton were able to attack two on one situations in their favour in wide areas whenever the mood took them. Mark Hughes’ talented strike force was marooned on an island far down the field linked to the mainland only by Shaun Wright-Phillips, a very small boat with a very large hole below the waterline.

And yet despite all of this – the poor team selection, the terrible performance, the contempt shown to controlled possession of the football – QPR still could and should have won this game and would have done so but for the ‘not very lucky’ half of the theme of their season to date.

Having not been out of their own half for a quarter of an hour Rangers suddenly paid three quick visits to the Bolton penalty area in as many minutes and could easily have been 2-0 up in the blink of an eye. Rangers served notice of intent with a counter attack engineered by Djbril Cisse and finished off by the much maligned pair of Wright-Phillips and Barton, the former teeing up the latter for a low shot that deflected wide. Like the little engine that realised it could the QPR attack then strung another few passes together culminating in Wright-Phillips feeding Cisse and the Frenchman knocking a delightful ball in behind the Bolton defence which Bobby Zamora could scarcely have connected with any better but although his powerful drive from a tight angle beat Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan all ends up it smashed off the underside of the bar and stayed out.

When they did then beat Bogdan moments later they fell victim to the first in a series of dire decisions from our match referee Martin Atkinson and his two Scouse assistants Bob Pollock and Jake Collin. There were arguments even before the crucial corner was taken – first over whether it was a corner at all as Nedum Onuoha appeared to get the final touch on Joey Barton’s free kick, and then over the placing of the ball with Barton engaging in the latest obnoxious trend of placing the ball outside the corner quadrant for no other reason or advantage than to wind people up. When the set piece was delivered it was met powerfully at the near post by Hill who scored with a thumping header that Bogdan clawed out from two feet behind the line onto the underside of the crossbar.

It was a goal. You could see from the other end of the stadium it was a goal – the very large Hungarian man with the shocking ginger hair and bright pink jumper leaning two feet into his own goal to fish the ball out was a massive clue. Pollock kept his flag down, then lied about there being two players obstructing his view when QPR asked what in the name of all that’s fucking good in the world he was playing at. Unless, a la the Hollywood film, Pollock has a sixth sense and often finds his vision obstructed by spirits of the dead then the only thing in the way here was his own crass incompetence. He’d be up at dawn for 50 lashings if I was in charge.

While the away end came alive with texts from people watching at home confirming an injustice had occurred the game slipped into a monotonous malaise during which Wheater was penalised for pushing as he headed another set piece towards goal, Wright-Phillips dribbled a shot wide of the post and former Swansea midfielder Darren Pratley was booked by Atkinson for a foul on Samba Diakite. That last one is an important moment to make a note of as Atkinson’s steadfast refusal to show Pratley a second yellow card thereafter would also be another key talking point later.

The teams exchanged half chances around the 30 minute mark. Pratley had a long range shot deflect past Paddy Kenny but wide of the top corner then Wheater headed the resulting corner straight to the goalkeeper. The former Middlesbrough defender was then booked for a cynical shirt pull on Djibril Cisse after the Frenchman had skinned him for pace and Bobby Zamora saw a presentable chance in the six yard box taken off his toe as he was about to pull the trigger. No yellow card however for David Ngog who, ten minutes before half time, took a tumble in the penalty area so unconvincing I was ashamed on his behalf.

Clint Hill had been the defender on that occasion, no doubt relieved not to be conned out of a penalty as he had been against Chelsea in January, and he was involved again seven minutes from half time when he was pulled to the ground by Pratley in the left back area. Atkinson somehow decreed that the free kick should go to Bolton.

The Trotters had looked dangerous in wide areas where QPR lacked the cover that would have been provided by wingers had Hughes picked any, and had looked good from set pieces too, so it was no surprise to see them take the lead from this free kick but the fact it should have been given the other way made it all rather galling. As did Darren Pratley gaining an advantage by standing offside throughout the three pass move that led to him heading in from close range but, crucially, he was on when the final ball was delivered across the goal by Martin Petrov.

Rangers crafted two presentable chances for an equaliser before half time but betrayed a lack of confidence with their finishing. First Cisse, as creative for others as he is dangerous himself, fed in Wright-Phillips who almost ran out into the club car park and back to get the chance onto his right foot and then having done that spooned it hopelessly over the cross bar. How this man is better bet for our starting 11 than Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky I do not know. Nedum Onuoha, a centre back by trade, did at least get his effort on target from a similar position on the opposite side of the penalty area in the last minute of the half but Bogdan made a fine save with his legs to deny him.

In stoppage time at the end of the half Diakite, much more composed and impressive than he had been during his disastrous debut against Fulham, went on an enterprising run through the heart of the Bolton team that was interrupted deliberately and cynically by Pratley who grabbed the Mali international’s shirt with both hands and prevented him from continuing with his run. The absolute definition of a yellow card but Martin Atkinson awarded just a free kick and laughed off suggestions that further punishment may be forthcoming. Ha ha ha, yes, very funny indeed.

Things didn’t get better for the officials after half time either. First there was the unprecedented situation of having both the teams on the field, in formation, ready to kick the game off for the best part of two minutes before the referee and his assistants made it back out onto the pitch. I suspect, given the strange sport that we follow, they’re more likely to be hauled over the coals for this than any of the dreadful decisions they made during the game – the match official’s report on the game would have made for interesting reading had, for the sake of argument, two of the players become embroiled in a fight or argument while they were pissballing about doing whatever the hell it was they were doing in the dressing room. Let’s say, for example, that Diakite had come out for the second half angry about the Pratley incident and sought him out for an argument prior to kick off that descended into a bout of fisticuffs. Atkinson would have emerged from the tunnel to find a mass brawl taking place, potentially a player bleeding from the face, and not the first idea what had actually happened or what he could do about it. A disgraceful denigration of duty.

Within 120 seconds of the restart Atkinson and his mates on the touchlines had cocked up again. Djibril Cisse, standing offside, received a deflected pass from Shaun Wright-Phillips and ran through to finish an equaliser off confidently past Bogdan in front of the travelling QPR fans. He was offside, miles offside, by any definition of the law. Jake Collin kept his flag down. I was starting to wonder whether our team of officials actually knew the rules of the sport at all. They were humiliating themselves now.

There was another half chance for Cisse before the hour when Diakite played him in but his shot was too weak to trouble Bogdan, then Ricketts cut in field and made the most of Joey Barton turning his back on the play to launch a long range effort that skimmed across the roof of the net. Atkinson then kept up his average of one ludicrous decision every ten minutes by waving play on after Ferdinand had been hacked down from behind on halfway then awarding Bolton a free kick and showing Onuoha a yellow card when he did likewise to Pertrov. That was a literally stunning piece of officiating and unfortunately the injury that resulted from it did little to improve what was already Ferdinand’s worst performance for the club.

Owen Coyle sent on Chris Eagles for Petrov with 20 minutes of the match remaining and he quickly won a free kick from Derry on the edge of the area before dusting himself down and smacking it into the wall. At the other end Cisse delivered a superb ball in from a wide area (if only we’d thought to spend some time out there before this) but Zamora just failed to connect with it at the back post. The performance of that strike pairing was a rare positive on a dark day but Zamora probably needs to work on his free kick taking – he too drilled a shot into the Bolton wall after Onuoha’s progress into the area had been halted illegally by, wait for it, Darren Pratley.

Three minutes late Diakite was deliberately taken out as he ran through the Bolton midfield again. Let me check my notes to see who committed that foul. Pratley apparently it says here, you may have heard of him before. This was beyond a joke now and Atkinson thought so too – issuing a very stern lecture presumably telling Pratley that he would only be allowed to do that three or four more times at most before he’d speak to him very sternly again.

Having failed, one again, to do his job of officiating the match correctly Atkinson opened a window of opportunity to Bolton manager Owen Coyle who substituted Pratley immediately and replaced him with striker Ivan Klasnic. Klasnic scored at Loftus Road in a 4-0 Bolton win on the opening day of the season and how he cannot get into this team from the start I do not understand. His introduction came about by accident, and wouldn’t have happened had Pratley been sent off when he should have been. Ten minutes later Barton allowed Klasnic to run past him unfollowed, and a porous defence which has conceded at least one per game for 19 consecutive matches parted like the Red Sea to allow him to score the winning goal from Miyaichi’s cute through ball.

Hughes had made changes of his own prior to that, finally sending on Jamie Mackie and Akos Buzsaky for Shaun Derry and Shaun Wright-Phillips. Armand Traore limped off to be replaced by Tae Taiwo in a triple swap. This almost brought about immediate results – Mackie ran with purpose towards the area and fed Cisse who crossed back towards the former Plymouth man who was denied a close range finish by David Wheater’s last ditch header. The ball dropped first to Buzsaky and then to Diakite who had low shots blocked and finally to Mackie who poked it towards the open goal from four yards out but Wheater flung himself in the way to deflect the ball behind and safety. Martin Atkinson awarded a goal kick. As you would expect.

Injury time at the end of the game brought about more farce. Diakite had a taste of the Pratley-type leniency when first he pulled back Ryo Miyaichi and was carded – Miyaichi and Davies were the two stand out performers for the home team – and then he did exactly the same thing again in injury time but was let off without a second yellow.

Then finally, to really put the tin hat on it all, Bolton survived a handball appeal and blatant foul on Nedum Onuoha in their own penalty area without punishment. Atkinson brought the low point of his refereeing career to an end moments later. Bolton were out of the bottom three, replaced by their hapless visitors who must now surely be staring the Championship square in the face.

Still, at least Wanderers have the good grace to soften the blow of conceding goals to them by blasting a bit of Depeche Mode at you in the immediate aftermath. I wonder if Dave Gahan and the boys ever realised their work would be used to torment long suffering football fans on such occasions? QPR continue to slip and slide.

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Bolton: Bogdan 7, Steinsson 6, Wheater 6, Ream 5, Ricketts 6, Reo-Coker 5, Mark Davies 7, Pratley 6 (Klasnic 80, -), Miyaichi 7, Ngog 6 (Muamba 89, -), Petrov 6 (Eagles 71, 6)

Subs Not Used: Jaaskelainen, Knight, Kevin Davies, Sordell

Booked: Pratley (foul), Wheater (foul)

Goals: Pratley 37 (assisted Petrov), Klasnic 86 (assisted Miyaichi)

QPR: Kenny 6, Onuoha 6, Ferdinand 5, Hill 6, Traore 6 (Taiwo 79, -), Barton 5, Diakite 6, Derry 5 (Buzsaky 79, -), Wright-Phillips 4 (Mackie 80, -), Cisse 7, Zamora 7

Subs Not Used: Cerny, Gabbidon, Bothroyd, Young

Booked: Onuoha (foul), Diakite (foul)

Goals: Cisse 48 (assisted Wright-Phillips)

QPR Star Man – Bobby Zamora 7 Led the QPR attack well and looked dangerous in combination with Djibril Cisse. The pair of them were a class apart from the rest of the team behind them. Unlucky not to score on more than one occasion. Would have been better served had QPR attacked Bolton from wide areas and provided service from there, rather than playing so direct into them.

Referee: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire) 0 Shambolic. Not a single decision correct. Couldn’t even make it out on time for the start of the second half.

Attendance: 21, 551 (1,500 QPR approx) A tense atmosphere as you would expect, not helped by a bracing wind that whipped around the bowl like stadium all afternoon. I thought QPR’s support - considering the distance, kick off time and television coverage – was excellent and it’s a shame a minority of them let the side down at Euston station later in the evening.

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smegma added 23:46 - Mar 11
On seeing the team line up on the internet while supping in the Beehive I said to anyone in earshot that' Hughes doesn't want to win this game with no creativity in the midfield'. I also told mates inside the ground before kick off as well.

I didn't want to be proven correct. Honest.

As for some fans letting themselves down at Euston. What about those abusing the 12 year old dressed as a smurf ? Even worse than abusing the family stand at Scunny last season.

ShotKneesHoop added 23:52 - Mar 11
Agree with your mark of 0 for Atkinson, the worst referring display I have seen since Ray Aldous of Lowestoft in the 4 -3 home defeat by Shrewsbury in 1963.

Quite how you fail to award the same marks to Barton and SWP is beyond me. I think you are going soft.

And the same marks should go to the American Seals that acted as Bolton stewards just looking for some one to invade a space or say a word they disagreed with.

I thought Clint Hill was easily the man of the match though.

Apart from that, a spot on report. We are totally fooked. Hope Doncaster stay up. Looking forward to some more Dog Brew Skunk IPA next year.

ShotKneesHoop added 23:59 - Mar 11
Agree with your mark of 0 for Atkinson, the worst referring display I have seen since Ray Aldous of Lowestoft in the 4 -3 home defeat by Shrewsbury in 1963.

Quite how you fail to award the same marks to Barton and SWP is beyond me. I think you are going soft.

And the same marks should go to the American Seals that acted as Bolton stewards just looking for some one to invade a space or say a word they disagreed with.

I thought Clint Hill was easily the man of the match though.

Apart from that, a spot on report. We are totally fooked. Hope Doncaster stay up. Looking forward to some more Dog Brew Skunk IPA next year.

jo_qpr63 added 00:06 - Mar 12
Clive, lets not start getting on the managers back just yet. Like you said we have been very unlucky. I dont care how much MH is paid, thats Tony Fernandes problem, and he is a top business man who should know what he is doing. I think the players misunderstood Hughes when he said to them to get it forward to Cisse and Zamora quick as, because they just lumped it up the field in the first 20 min. That linesman should never work in football again and the FA should hang him out to dry in my opinion. Even sky put up 0-1 on the score board. Gutted!.Thanks for your report though Clive, for me you are the first port of call when it come to QPR. Liverpool next, i think we are going to have to enjoy it now while it lasts.

RangerKIK added 00:49 - Mar 12
Another hopeless performance against a really poor opposition. The team has changed so much from the one that took points at Everton, Wolves, Stoke. New manager, 20 million spent and yet we are worse, much worse. It's all such a shame that we have managed to cock this up in such a spectacular way. It's so exhausting supporting this team!!

I do not know what happened at Euston but if the reports of bad language and someone trying to pick a fight with Mackie are true that is unforgiveable but if I was there I think I would might of been tempted to say a few things. Firstly I would have shaken Clint Hill's hand and pointed out that if the rest of the team can play with his commitement and passion we might just have a chance of staying up. Secondly I would ask the whole team why it was seemingly impossible for them to bring the ball down and pass the ball for the first 15 minutes of the game. And lastly and most importantly I would ask Joey Barton why he could not be bothered to tract back with Klasnic which ultimately led to their second goal. I would also point out to him that his lazy, pathetic, half arsed effort in this situation not only lost us the game but was also an insult to the QPR faithful who had made genuinely 'committed effort' in getting to the game for the early kick off. Honestly Joey I do not know if you have a sneaky look at these forums but I would love to know the answer to this question. So if you would like to tweet an answer to WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING? We would all be very grateful.

Most teams play proper football on the floor for 80 mins but if they are behind with 10 mins to go start to lump high balls forward. Not us. We spent 80 mins (sorry 65 because we couldn't be bothered to play for the first 15 mins) lumping it forward and for the final 10 mins started playing fast ( well relatively) sweeping football on the floor. Just bizarre! If we had played like that from the start............................you know the rest.

I will keep cheering on the team to the last but if we are going to 'die', which looks increasing likely, let's do it with our boots on. Time for big decisions Mr Hughes. Drop Barton and get Adel (as soon as possible) and Akos in. Just maybe it's Barton's ego and bullish nature that is cramping the style of everyone around him!

Thought 6 for Hill was a bit harsh but other than that great report as always Clive.


Kaos_Agent added 03:48 - Mar 12
Watching from across the pond, I cannot believe that camera replay technology is taking so long to take hold in the Premiership. There can be no excuse for not having the wherewithal to quickly review and correct Hill's scoring play, or for that matter, Cisse's offside scoring play. There's simply too much on the line to get these calls wrong, and clearly the all-too-human refereeing staff get it wrong all too often. What is it going to take?

QPR_ARG added 03:49 - Mar 12
It's Monday, 37 mins past midnight here in Buenos Aires and you're not helping me, Clive.

I felt absolutely miserable the entire weekend and couldn't shake off this horrible feeling of being absolutely robbed and all but sent down to the Championship by this ridiculous combination of ref and lino.

Yes, Bolton are poor. Yes, we are poor too. But when you are denied of that perfectly valid goal and then when everything goes wrong you are again denied of a chance to at least rescue a point from the penalty spot and stay out of the relegation zone, you have to really start talking about robbery.

That's what it was. I will never be able to take that from my mind.

I have to be honest and admit I missed the Pratley situation with all his fouls having already been booked, which is why I'm telling you, Clive, that you're not helping! haha! I'm a bit more furious now (if that was even possible).

I think we have to give ourselves the best possible shot to win at least 3 matches from the last 10 and the first thing we need to do in order to be able to at least compete is to DROP SHAUN FARKING WRIGHT-PHILLIPS.

Seriously. Drop him before he drops us. I've been "calling for his head" even before he gave Arsenal the 3 points against us (which was the only time in which he had a part in the match-winning goal. And that's a FACT. He had 2 assists (if we are generous and we don't consider it was a terrible pass that only got to Cissé on a deflection) in defeats and 2 other assists (a pass to Tommy Smith near the halfway line being one) for our 3rd goal of the game in a 3-1 win (Wigan) and a 3-0 win (away at Wolves).

I had enough of him.

N12Hoop added 07:32 - Mar 12
Unfortunately the sum of our parts is not equal to the whole. On paper we should be beating these teams with or without goaline controversy. The fact is that for whatever reason we have not gelled as a team and therefore are quite frankly not good enough for the PL. Maybe next year following a pre-season things will be different, but at the moment we seem too disjointed and too fragmented. The saddest bit is being relegated in the year of Wolves, Wigan, bolton and Blackburn and the embarrasment following the Warnock saga but c'est la vie. Hopefully next year it will be a different story.

R_in_Sweden added 07:57 - Mar 12
Thanks for the depressing reality check Clive. I'd forgotten about the rugby style drop kick into touch direct from kick off!

No amount of press coverage about goal line technology can obscure the truth that it was a bad team selection and choice of formation by Hughes and a poor performance by many players. When I look at Swansea and Norwich I see teams with worse squads than us but with infinitely better team spirit and work rate, this has carried them through. Admittedly we have had two major upheavals in our squad and a change of manager. As well as Terrygate which I'd almost forgotten.

I promised myself not to whinge about our captain in my next post, but I'm afraid that I cannot let it be. The man's ludicrous attention seeking pantomime when placing the ball for a number of his hit and miss corners and his failure to track back for Bolton's winner makes my blood boil. We really miss Faurlin.

budaranger added 08:02 - Mar 12
Not sure about all this vitriol towards Hughes...agree that playing SWP centrally was a bad idea in the first place, let alone after 20+ games of it proving it doesn't work BUT, how many saves did Paddy have to make? We had plenty more chances than Bolton, could have had a penalty or two, and of course there was Hill's goal that never was...don't get me wrong, Hughes has not improved things since he came in, but to blame Saturday on him (and indeed Barton) is wide of the mark

DesertBoot added 08:17 - Mar 12
Not sure how you pick Diakite, Barton and Derry in a game you simply must win - but Hughes managed it.
Throw is a woeful SWP in a position pretty much alien to him and you have got problems.
No Taarabt was a blow but to drop Buz as well suggested "must not lose".
As it was, the 6 Nations kick-off, aimless long balls and two quality strikers starved of service made it mission impossible.
If it's not red cards it's perfectly good goals not given by hapless officials.
The football gods have had their thumbs down for quite a while and are no preparing our burial.


dixiedean added 09:53 - Mar 12
what an irony- probably the first time Barton delivers a decent corner- we score from it and the lino's view is blocked by the invisible man.Why don't they stand nearer to the goal for corners so they can see more clearly ? I'm sure they always used to. Probably a Sepp Blater initiative. Disallowed goals or not, that wasn't an excuse for the whole defence to ball watch for Pratley's goal, nor was it an excuse for a 1 on 1 to be skied into the crowd (SWP) nor was it an excuse for their goalscorer to be left unchallenged to stroll onto a pass and score the winner ( Barton). If we are allowed to wallow in self-pity we may as well give up now - assuming we already haven't. The Euston business sounds like a disgrace - probably the idiot I moaned about before who slagged everyone off at the end of the Fulham game. The fact that it was Hill & Mackie makes it even worse. 2 whole-hearted players who give their all,despite their technical limitations at this level. Nobody has a right to slag those 2 off - try some of the so-called stars if you want to have a pop at anybody.I hope I'm wrong but this feels like the pre-Warnock era when fans turned on the players (and sometimes each other),creating a very toxic atmosphere,which doesn't help anyone. The next straw to clutch at is Liverpool getting a load of injuries/suspensions from the Everton and FA Cup games. But we need to help ourselves first and foremost.

QPRski added 10:04 - Mar 12
I think that most R's fans are disappointed, dissolusioned and rather depressed.
I can somehow accept the lousey performance of the ref/linesmen and the abysmal decisons. But I am truely shocked at the team display. We say "we are too good to go down" but we did not even try to play football but we just "lumped it" in amateur league style. What is happening to the team? Why are potentially skilled footballers scared to pass the ball and "play football"?! I really cannot understand the situation.

Clive, thanks for the report as I would not have been in a state to have been able to write. What do you take to calm your emotions?

jobley added 11:12 - Mar 12
Ultimately this is season has been more of a lesson for poor Ol' Fernandez. I like the man, he is engaging, optimistic and clearly knows how to make something work. I do also think that he is the sort of man that will learn from his mistakes and every ounce of logic told me in Jan regardless of peoples feeling towards NW that by replacing him and employing a manager who would bring in so many new faces would struggle.

This is exactly what is happening. We have quality on paper and given a whole summer in preseason I don't doubt this team could finish in the top half of the premiership. But with so many personalities and qualities (and liabilities) the team won't ever gel enough in time for us to survive. Plus this isn't helped by MH who simply is not sure what team to be playing.

I would love to know where we would be now if NW had stayed and brought in just 2 players. I honestly believe we would have had more points than we do now. Anyway that is not possible.

I am generally a very positiove person but I am also realistic and I don't believe we can survive this season. I think we may have better players that those around us but these are players who have had no real time to forge. Plus I wonder about MH.

Question I am interested in peoples thoughts is. 1) Who will definitely leave us if we go down. and 2) Who may stay with us in the championship?

Final point, Joey barton is a liability in my opinion!

QPunkR added 11:43 - Mar 12
Clive, glad to see you're turning to the dark side! I know you're attempting to swim against the tide trying to defend Sheidt-Phillips and Our Joey as you have to try to be impartial as possible, and I don't envy you it one bit.
Glad also that we agree on Hughes' tactical masterclass. I simply could not believe he was playing 3 defensive midfielders, and added insult to injury by putting Sheidt-Phillips in the creative role behind our decent strikeforce. It simply boggles the mind as to why Akos or even Mackie didn't start there.
I was never happy with Hughes' appointment and I'm very disappointed to see that he's proving me correct at present :(
I'm off to Paddy Power to see what odds we are to finish bottom

YorkRanger added 12:45 - Mar 12
Great report Clive. I'm still depressed.

I've never booed Rangers players and like to think I am as patient as anyone but hard to see how SWP can keep his place - he has been dreadful for at least 8 games now and with Tarrabt hopefully fit, not to mention Buz and Mackie on the bench - the time has come to drop him. As well as his general play he looks like he couldn't hit a cow's arse.....

Finally I thought Diakite had a decent game and showed promise. Some of the message board criticism of him is at best misplaced.

Northernr added 12:49 - Mar 12
Didn't understand the grief for Diakite, up until the 80th minute he was borderline man of the match for me.

hoops123 added 12:50 - Mar 12
In simple terms, our championship winning side of last year would have battered Bolton. The balance, belief, confidence and team spirit is just not there. The fixed incredulous look on Hughes' face throughout the game spoke volumes. With that formation however, it's hardly surprising it was so poor. Beggars belief.

Hogbag added 12:54 - Mar 12
I wondered what Hughes was going to do to the line up with the return of Cisse. Given the performance of the defence, he has now become obsessed with Derry playing the role that sits in front and effectively makes a back 5. This sort of worked against Everton because we only played with one up front. Having decided he had to to play with two strikers against Bolton, something had to go and it was one of the wingers, which led to the team playing narrow and as you say Clive an easier time for Bolton's full backs.

LambournR added 13:05 - Mar 12
Awful. My only hope now is that the adage "Luck evens out over the season" is true, as we are due some massive calls in our favour over the final 10 games. Would love a couple of dodgy calls to help us win games against Liverpool and ManU.

isawqpratwcity added 13:46 - Mar 12
I realised after the Everton game that my head says we can still do it, but my heart says we're f*cked.

I was sickened by that report on the size of Hughes' salary. Was NW on a quarter of that? I'd have rather paid MH a mill probationary salary with a 4 mill survival bonus (with a subsequent multiple salary bump for a next season in the Premier). It wasn't as though he had to leave a job to join us. I don't begrudge anybody being paid a what-the-market-will-bear rate, but make it tied to some kind of performance assessment. Avoiding relegation would be sufficient. TF was very tough but, in my opinion, correct to sack the clearly floundering Warnock and give the new gaffer the benefit of both a very fat January transfer window and pretty much a full half season to turn things around. Your very pertinent report, Clive, is a condemnation that MH is failing on too many fronts: he is not able to motivate or even rein in errant players, he cannot raise skill deficits, eg dead-ball situations, at training and he cannot plan bespoke strategies to beat individual opponent teams. Hughes does still have time to turn it around, but by crikey the form reversal of both him and the team will have to be staggering. To be fair, I don't think that we would have been any better off if we still had NW, but MH came here with very high expectations and NW left with a large lump of goodwill suddenly discounted to nothing more than a few kind words on his departure. Also tbf, Hughes' arrival may well have improved our January signings. As it stands, it seems that TF has been sold a very expensive pig in a poke. Come on, MH, prove me wrong.

Oh yeh, and ffs get video technology into the game. How long do we have to suffer incompetent 19th century officiating? Goal-line technology is just a sop, a denial of the extent of the problem.

Monahoop added 13:55 - Mar 12
' Our championship side of last season would have battered Bolton'. Got to disagree there. Weren't we battered by them [ the championship side] 4-0 on the opening game of the season.
No matter who we have bought in since has not make a jot of difference. We were ill prepared before we came up both on and off the field and quite honestly the entire team, well few anyway, have a genuine stomach for a fight for survival at this level. Ill luck, poor decisions and iffy managerical tactics, annoying as they are, are frankly becoming irrelevant because the team simply isn't good enough or motivated enough to ride this season through. Teams like Blackburn and Bolton have been here before and know how to pull together when the going gets tough.

HamptonR added 14:55 - Mar 12
The problem with football referees is that they and the FA cannot accept that they sometimes make mistakes.
Cricket umpires and rugby referees consult technology because they are not sure and they want to make the correct decision.
You hear the rugby ref asking, “Can you tell me if that is a try” “Can you give me a reason to give a try”
They are not saying please show this crowd and the TV watching public how inept I am, they are saying let me reach the correct decision.

Football refs and Lino’s stand there shaking their heads, sometimes laughing, while a few million people are seeing a ridiculously bad decision being made
Goal line technology would take seconds to review and the fifth or sixth or seventh official in the stand would give a goal or not, straight away.
The ref and lino would not be wrong, because they would not have given a decision, they would be asking for help.

It really is so simple, and only for the goaline not offsides or penalties,
Being allowed to continue when offside isn’t a guaranteed goal and neither is awarding a penalty but if the ball crosses the goaline it is actually a goal.

Doughnut added 15:26 - Mar 12
Looking forward to the end of the season, as I don't think I can suffer any more of this. It's the hope that kills you...every week you think they'll realise just what a hole we're in and come out fighting.
Have to agree, we were poor at the start of the season, and we're definately sh*te now, in spite of all the big money. JB & SWP are, without doubt, the duds of the season and if other Premier teams have been watching us (which I doubt), I think they'll steer well clear of those two, if they try and jump ship.
I have to admit that I think luck balanced itself out, with Clints goal and Cisse being offside. A determined team would not have allowed any of this to distract them from getting the three points - they seem to be so delicate!

Royboy48 added 17:13 - Mar 12
Yes it was poor selection
Yes substituions were too much too late
Yes it was a goal
Yes having those officlas on the pitch was pointless

But, there's simply one thing I don't understand - and this really get's me mad

We scored early in the second half to ruin Coyle's half time tactics talk, so we had the impetus

We also had that Burning Sense of Injustice from Hill's disallowed goal which should have propelled us to a win

It didn't

Once again the introduction of last years Champions provided a too-late shot in the arm - why didn't they start?

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