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Fans start to turn as tactics cost Rangers
Fans start to turn as tactics cost Rangers
Saturday, 3rd Mar 2007 19:08

QPR slipped to a poor defeat at Ipswich on saturday to leave them deep in relegation danger.

Football fans are fickle. They go to games, they slag players and referees, they say the managers are making mistakes, they say they could do a better job, they talk about what they'd do differently over a pint - the world is full of water cooler Alex Ferguson's. That's what we're told - the clubs are grateful for our money but we really don't know too much about what we're watching so we should just turn up, support the team and go home. Leave it to the people that have played the game.

Most of the time that's right. You only have to listen to what 606 has become - one moaning West Ham fan after another ("Did you go to the game today Mick" "No I didn't Alan but…") interspersed with increasingly arrogant and patronising bullshit from Alan Green to know that there are some idiots out there watching football matches.

But sometimes football fans have seen enough football to know what they're talking about and yesterday's game at Ipswich was a prime example of the fans apparently knowing a damn site more about what QPR needed than the people in charge.

Ipswich Town were a team in free fall. They'd lost their last five matches, hadn't scored for six, had a support base losing faith in the management of the team and up in arms at a rise in ticket prices. They can't defend, they have nothing up front, they have a manager who has made some strange signings and dug himself a bit of a hole in his first ever appointment and yet Rangers went at them with a kid by himself up front.

Now if Gregory or the old man that sat near me at Birmingham is reading this they'll be laughing and saying I've just proved my point about football fans being fickle because it's not one up front, it's two. Well I'm sorry but Lee Cook and Martin Rowlands are wide midfield players - neither of them will ever be a striker as long as I've got a hole in my arse. Did we not have a scout watching Ipswich? Did nobody point out that an early onslaught was the key to this? Get stuck into them and pen them back with a couple of strikers and their confidence would quickly fall away. Christ almighty I could have told you more about Ipswich than we appeared to know at the start of the match - is Stevie Wonder watching our future opponents for crying out loud?

Paul Furlong looked past it at Barnsley a few weeks ago but he came on and played excellently against Plymouth last week and scored for the reserves midweek. He should have started this one alongside Ray Jones. Young Ray has had his critics since singing his contract, and his workrate has been dismal in most games, but yesterday he showed application and endeavour for the whole game which was heartbreaking because for the most part he was surrounded by Ipswich players with only a confused looking Martin Rowlands for company.

Rangers calmly went two goals down with this bloody stupid system in place and only when Furlong was introduced did they look like scoring. It took Furs a matter of minutes to halve the deficit and he almost snatched a point at the end. If Rangers start with one a striker up top with an out of position midfielder alongside him again next week it will be treating the fickle fans, who sang throughout the game yesterday, with contempt.

The infuriating system that has seen off a poor Burnley side and not a lot else since it was brought in featured Camp in goal behind Mancienne, Cullip, Stewart and Timoska on Saturday. In midfield Ainsworth played right and Cook left with Bolder and Lomas in the centre. Ray Jones and Martin Rowlands were, as discussed, the "strike force."

Ipswich had new signing Francis Jeffers on the bench with Lee and Walters starting ahead of him up front. They looked nervous and out of sorts right from the start and Rangers forced three very early corners and kept the home side penned in their penalty area.

On three occasions Ray Jones, looking fresh and revitalised after some tired and lifeless performances over Christmas, chased lost causes down and won possession from Alex Bruce. On all three occasions he looked up ready to cross only to be met with a sea of blue shirts and no options to pass to.

A low shot from Cook to the near post forced Price into a save and penalty appeals were waved away by referee Lewis after Ainsworth's hooked effort in the penalty area struck Wright's arm. Ipswich had a similar appeal for a spot kick waved away themselves a couple of minutes later.

QPR completely dominated the first ten or fifteen minutes but had no cutting edge. It was soul destroying watching Jones, for so long criticised about his work rate, put a really good shift in but have no support or help and therefore no reward. Ipswich looked nervous and lacking ideas but they quickly realised that QPR could offer them little real threat and grew as a team.

Jaime Peters started giving Timoska a torrid time down the QPR left and Ipswich crafted their first chance of the game after ten minutes. Lee and Roberts combined to set the latter free in the penalty area but he fired over with the goal at his mercy. Peters fired into the side netting soon after with fans in the stand on the far side of the ground celebrating what they thought was the opening goal.

Cook and Rowlands both sent tame efforts in on goal after decent approach play but Rangers didn't have enough about them up front to actually craft a clear cut opportunity. Ipswich on the other hand were starting to carve out several with Timoska and Stewart all over the place. In the 23rd minute Alex Burce's thumping header was brilliantly saved by Camp.

Within minutes Ipswich had scored with an identical chance. Legwinski lofted a long pass out to the wing where Mancienne didn't seem sure whether to go an intercept or mark his man and in the end he did neither. Roberts was given all the time he needed to pick out Lee in the box who was even more unmarked than Bruce had been and he guided his header beyond Camp and into the corner. Camp was furious with the men in front of him and rightly so. They'd had a warning not two minutes before and then conceded a goal in identical circumstances. Moronic.

Speaking of moronic referee Rob Lewis took centre stage around the half hour with a ridiculous piece of theatre at a corner. Martin Rowlands placed the ball on the white line ready for a set piece and a few of the home fans moaned that it was actually outside the lines. Over came Mr Lewis who looked closely at the ball and then discussed it with Martin Rowlands. That should have been it but the conversation continued, Rowlands moved the ball, the conversation continued some more, the ball was moved again and in my opinion Rowlands did very, very well not to punch the pedantic arsehole between the eyes and be done with it. If you dropped in on our match previews before the game you'll know that Mr Lewis was the linesman for the infamous Pedro Mendes goal at Old Trafford and that incident seems to have given him a bit of a complex about footballs and white lines. Even when he's standing over the ball looking at it his brain can't compute whether it's on the line either side of it.

When the corner was eventually taken, Rowlands hooked it straight out of play. Lewis went on to book Ainsworth in the first half for a mistime tackle on Harding but that seemed harsh.

The fans kept singing and the players came again, creating their best chance of the half when Jones cleverly played in Rowlands but the angle just enabled Price to save at the near post. Within a few minutes though the problem was there for all to see again - Rowlands reached the edge of the penalty but had only the well marked Jones up in support and he ended up fleeing from five Ipswich players who, with nobody else nearby to occupy them, decided to go to the ball together.

Camp pulled off a routine diving save to deny Walters from distance then the last action of the half saw Stewart get close enough to Lee to block his goal bound shot over the bar but the defence had an unusually shaky look about it with Mancienne out of position and the other three having terrible matches.

The system clearly wasn't working, but it wasn't changed at half time and in the ten minutes after half time Ipswich scored another goal and could have got a couple more on top of that. Walters hit a volley from the edge of the box but was denied by Camp, as was De Vos with a header from a corner, but the defence soon produced another collapse and Ipswich scored a second goal. Roberts laid a ball in for Walters but Cullip and Timoska seemed to have everything under control as the ball trickled towards Camp. Timoska then inexplicably fell over, taking Cullip out in the process and Walters managed to contain his laughter long enough to roll the ball under Camp and into the net.

The mood in the away end was pretty ugly by this stage and a disturbance broke out among the QPR fans as chants for the head of Gianni Paladini interspersed with frustrated calls for Furlong to be introduced hung in the air.

Gregory responded with just under half an hour left for play slinging Furs on for the ineffective Ainsworth. Ipswich remained on the front foot initially but found Camp in flying form beating away Roberts' long distance shot and then making an even better flicked save with his right hand as Lee bore down on him one on one from an angle. Walters was also denied a second goal by Camp after neat play by Garvan.

The value of that second striker was soon there for all to see though. Martin Rowlands broke down the right and swung a cross to the back post which hit the inside of the post, bounced back into play and was then thrashed into the net by Furlong who made a point of showing the name on his shirt to the bench. Ten minutes prior to this a ball dropping loose in the box would have been cleared.

Camp produced two more outstanding saves from Garvan and then Jeffers after his introduction while at the other end Furlong thrashed wide from distance. In injury time Furlong got in behind the defence and seemed to be hauled back by De Vos but he stayed on his feet and fired over the bar when a dramatic collapse would probably have resulted in a penalty - even Mr Lewis would surely have seen that. We wonder why players dive, Furlong's honesty got him nowhere here.

For me Furlong is eighteen months out of date - he looked his age at Barnsley the other week with a flat performance. However he is a striker, he is better than most of what we have left at the club, and he's played well as a sub twice this week. He's not the answer, but we should be starting two up front in games like this and he should be one of them on current form. If he and Jones had been paired from the start we wouldn't have lost this one despite their insipid display together at Norwich.

Against a poor team in worse form than us this was a poor display with two god awful goals against and no cutting edge up front.

Cullip seems to be the latest signing to have a blinding debut and then go on to play like a prat. Where's that strong, vocal organiser at the back that we had a few weeks ago? In his first game Stewart and Mancienne had his voice in their heads throughout the match and it was a good thing - they need it. On Saturday he seemed quieter and his defensive play was poor. Stewart had his worst game since Palace away and Timoska had his worst for the club.

In front of them Cook had his moments in the first half but faded as the game went on, Ainsworth was very poor again and Lomas, well where do I start with him. He can't pass, he's shirking challenges, he spends his whole time moaning at everybody else instead of accepting some responsibility himself and he's the bloody captain. Just to rub salt in they give him the captain's armband. The fact that our team is currently captained by this man is summing the whole thing up for me.

A far better player than him whopped another great goal in for Wycombe yesterday as part of his long term loan.

Postives - everybody else lost. The weeks are ticking by now, thank goodness, and games running out. Sheffield Wednesday next week is a crucial one to win because we've got some inhospitable fixtures just after that. I'm off to see how Hull City do against this Ipswich side with two strikers on from the start on Tuesday and I'll be back at Loftus Road next Saturday where this nonsense will be brought to an end and Blackstock will be partnered up front by Jones or Furlong. Won't he?

Ipswich Town: Price 7, De Vos 6, Bruce 5, Garvan 7, Legwinski 7, Peters 8 (Haynes 84, -), Lee 6, Walters 8 (Jeffers 71, 6), Wright 6, Harding 6, Roberts 8.
Subs not used: Supple, Richards, O'Callaghan.
Goals: Lee 25, Walters 53
Bookings: Harding 90 (foul)

QPR: Camp 8, Mancienne 6, Cullip 5, Stewart 4, Timoska 4, Ainsworth 4 (Furlong 63, 8), Bolder 6, Lomas 4 (Smith 82, -), Cook 6, Rowlands 6, R Jones 7.
Subs not used: Cole, Moore, Kanyuka.
Goals: Furlong 70
Bookings: Ainsworth 23 (foul), Jones 89 (foul)

QPR Star Man - Lee Camp 8 Made a string of fine saves so by the time Furlong was finally introduced there was still a slim chance of a come back. Without him we'd have been down and out before the hour mark. Let down by atrocious defending for both goals.

Referee: Mr R L Lewis 5 - Over fussy for most of the match, missed two blatant handball penalties and the one on Furlong at the end, and the situation with the Rowlands' corner was a complete joke. The fans thought he was crap, both managers thought he was crap, the players were exasperated with him - therefore he'll go a long way in the game, just like Styles, Walton, Probert, Rennie, Riley…..

Attendance: 21, 412

Photo: Action Images

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