|Blackpool 2 v 0 Queens Park Rangers|
Tuesday, 25th September 2018 Kick-off 19:45
McClaren under fire after latest QPR cup crash - Report
Wednesday, 26th Sep 2018 16:54 by Lee McAlpine
An opportunity for a first fourth round appearance in a decade was pissed up the wall by QPR in Blackpool on Tuesday night, and poor Lee McAlpine was there to see it for us.
Seeing is believing. Only the 500ish Queens Park Rangers supporters present (and a few more Blackpool fans) will be able to explain just how utterly appalling Rangers were last night.
Only those poor unfortunates (not the Blackpool fans obviously) will be shaking their heads in bewilderment at QPR’s inability to create one goal scoring opportunity in a game against a side from a lower division. Only those desperates will have to suffer having their footballing souls permanently scoured by such a pathetically, mismanaged and unprofessional surrender.
A windy Tuesday night in Blackpool offered the possibility of all results, as QPR ventured north for a super unlikely prospect of reaching way beyond their usual realms of the League Cup. All hopes quickly evaporated as a limp team selection was followed by a calamitous display from all concerned, all played out in front of a nine tenths empty stadium where all the fans were housed in the same stand. What an altogether bewildering experience it all was.
Those pulling out the balls (wherever it has taken place) have certainly been kind to the Hoops with the three League One opponents this season. Not that playing lower league opposition has done us any favours in recent decades, but Blackpool should’ve held no fears for us. Our record against them is up there with the best, having only lost one in the last 20. And while they are just below the play-off zone of their division, they seem to have achieved this with loads of draws and unbelievably also made a number of changes from their standard league line-up. We’ve looked fragile and especially susceptible to any pace and the home team would never have a better opportunity to book a Round Four spot against a big team with the obvious financial rewards.
McLaren is undoubtedly joining a lengthening list of QPR managers that got on my nerves. He’s falling into boring, defensive, square-pegs-into-round-holes scenarios and completely lacks any pragmatism or the brain power to make early changes to alter the slow grind of a game that is not working out for us. One thing that has really annoyed me in recent games is the business of bringing everyman back to defend corners or free kicks. What real use can Chair or Little Smyth be in our box? Why not shove them right out to the halfway line and separate them? When Lumley catches a cross (as he often does) we could then turn defence into immediate attack and it would certainly occupy at least three of the opposition defenders while the corner is being taken.
And doesn’t he talk complete bollocks? His remarks after the Norwich yawn-fest were nonsensical and before this game he was at it again. I daren’t look to hear his justifications after last night’s disaster. As the game fell apart he began to get a huge amount of stick, some funny some not so, but long before the end the mood of many fans, situated very close to him, became aggressive and downright nasty. Many there felt tonight should lead to the end of the former England managers short stay in charge.
A typical topsy-turvy season is unfolding and he seems to be making it up as he goes along. Bar the Millwall game and parts of the Bolton game, the league football played by those in hoops or disgusting pink, has been on the whole ragged and uninspiring. But two reasonably solid displays by the B-team against lower division visitors, had our perennial cup flops on the verge of an unlikely place in the last 32 of a knockout competition.
Well that was the hope (but not quite the expectation) of the 500 or so hardy lunatics who saw a predictably much changed blue and white hoop team emerge into the fresh seaside evening. It was a pleasant change for me to see the team in anything other than that vile pink monstrosity. I’ve bought a few of the alternative kits in recent years but I wouldn’t wear that pink thing if you gave me a free one. That was the end of the good news, everything that followed took Rangers’ fans far beyond gallows humour.
Those who made the long midweek trip were also treated to the famous illuminations and realistically those decorations were always likely to be the most attractive feature on show, as a poor Championship reserve outfit took on a third tier team. The Blackpool team did try and match the fancy lights. They passed and moved, won tackles and headers, worked together and generally did all the kind of stuff football teams of any level should try and do. QPR managed to do naff all of these.
Matt Ingram again took his place in goal, with a back four of Kakay, Hall, Baptiste and Hamalainen. Scowen and Cousins hoped (but failed miserably) to hold the midfield together, with Wszolek on the right, Osayi-Samuel on the left and Big Smith plus Tiny Chair up front. I was (stupidly) alone with McClaren in thinking this might be enough to do the job and it probably would’ve been if any of them had actually turned up. The biggest problem was the bench, which was hopelessly exposed if a Plan B was needed. As it happened we probably needed Plans B- H, but with only Goss (yes him) and Little Smyth having any real first team experience, but not for some time, there was very little hope of rescue if changes were required. And oh boy they were, as everything began to unravel.
The victories against Bristol Rovers and Peterborough were built on great starts and early goals. There was never any danger of this tonight as the home side bossed the show from start to finish. They were a huge, powerful side who won everything that was there to be won. Matt Smith got zero change from Blackpool’s monstrous back four, while at the other end of the pitch, Hall and Baptiste were given a torrid time by the equally giant Gnanduillet.
Rangers did have their only goal bound effort after five minutes when Chair wriggled free on the right, but his weak shot was comfortably saved. Seriously that was it from us. At no point from there on in did we ever look like scoring, quite extraordinarily pathetic.
The only thing we were good at was fouling and getting booked. Scowen was the chief culprit here, but did manage to avoid a booking until his third offence. By his fourth, inside the first 20 minutes, there was a problem. He should’ve been sent off and much to the fury of the Blackpool management and fans referee Tim Robinson let him off and he was quickly substituted before he did commit inevitable offence number five and receive a red card. Scowen himself was deeply miffed at being withdrawn, refusing to shake hands with his replacement Goss, and then booted a water bottle before disappearing down the tunnel. And he was one of the senior players in the team.
Scowen’s removal left the hapless Cousins in charge of the midfield alongside the hopeless Goss and Blackpool, led ably by Jay Spearing, never looked back. They quickly took the lead from a corner which Ingram only half cleared with a weak punch. It was headed back into the danger zone, where Gnanduillet hooked skilfully home. Ingram had already made two smart saves by this point and it’s a shame that this mistake led to the goal as he alone could remotely hold his head up by the end of the game. That said his kicking is still very iffy. Chair was booked for petulance, Cousins and Kakay were booked for fouls as the half petered away along with QPR’s discipline.
There were plenty of rueful smiles and head shaking during the break. Surely Rangers couldn’t be as bad in the second half, that wasn’t possible. Yes it was and they were. This will be my shortest ever paragraph about a half because so little happened. Little Smyth came on for Chair but I’m not sure he touched the ball more than a couple of times
Well the linesman gave a throw-in to Blackpool when it was clearly to us, he then dropped his flag. Cousins was rightly sent off, losing the plot and earning a second yellow for a pathetic case of handbags after a nothing challenge on halfway that came after he and Goss had left a ball to each other and lost possession. Perhaps he too was tired of his own ineptitude and just wanted to leave the field.
Not that going down to ten men made a jot of difference to the general pattern of play. Blackpool were solid and looked like a football team; QPR weren’t and didn’t. Hamalainen hit a free kick that missed every player by 20 yards and rolled out of play. Oh and Spearing hit a lovely left strike to double the lead on the stroke of full time. I think that’s it. If I’ve forgotten something, I apologise I really didn’t want to be there by the end.
McLaren will obviously take a huge amount of stick for tonight and rightly so. He thought he could win with this line-up but was clearly wrong and as I said earlier his bench selection gave him no “Get out of Jail” cards. But he was badly let down by the team he picked, especially Scowen and Cousins. But the play became more and more negative as things went wrong and the pressure certainly got to them. There was so much hiding from the ball and seriously poor decision making. Mistake led to further mistakes and there was no-one to grab hold of the team and make things happen. No captains, leaders never mind legends.
I’m 50 and been watching this club for just over 40 years and I cannot think of a more disappointing display against a team we should have been able to be a match for. We were so far short today, you really had to be there to see it or you wouldn’t have believed it.
Blackpool: Howard N/A; Nottingham 8, Henegan 7, Tilt 6, Bola 7; Spearing 8, Guy 6 (Turton 77, -), McLaughlin 7 (O Sullivan 85, -) Thompson 6; Dodoo 6, Gnanduillet 8 (Delfouneso 83, -)
Subs not used: O’Connor, Cullen, Feeney, Mafoumbi.
Bookings: Tilt 56 (foul)
QPR: Ingram 5; Kakay 4, Hall 4, Baptiste 4, Hamalainen 3; Osayi-Samuel 4 (Oteh 77, 3), Scowen 2 (Goss 25, 3), Cousins 2, Wszolek 3; Chair 3 (Smyth 46, 3); Smith 3
Subs not used: Owens, Dalling, Brzozowski, Omar
Red Cards: Cousins 70 (two bookings)
Bookings: Scowen 20 (repetitive fouling), Kakay 22 (foul), Chair 34 (tantrum), Cousins 39 (foul), Cousins 70 (rank stupidity)
QPR Star Man – Matt Ingram 5 No other candidate. Few smart saves but nothing special and weak on the first goal.
Referee: Tim Robinson 7 Can be pedantic but no issues here despite a flurry of cards for QPR players. Every card looked justified and was a bit lenient with Scowen. Blackpool didn’t need to waste time as they knew we were no danger.
Souls on board: 1,910 (500 QPR approx.)
The Twitter @LeeMcAlpine1
Pictures – Action Images
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