Spot the difference, QPR annihilated at Norwich - Report
Sunday, 7th Apr 2019 21:34 by Clive Whittingham
QPR plunged themselves deeper into bother at the bottom of the Championship with an anaemic performance and comfortable defeat at Norwich City on Saturday lunchtime.
That Queens Park Rangers were beaten at Norwich City on Saturday, beaten comfortably I might add, was neither a surprise, nor that much of a problem.
Norwich are the best team in this league this season. From the quiet beginnings of a death-defyingly dull 1-0 win at Loftus Road in the autumn they have blossomed into the team that plays the best football in this league, scores the most goals in this league, wins the most games in this league and will certainly be crowned champions of this league sooner rather than later. That they’ve done all that while recruiting exactly the sort of extremely cheap, well-scouted, talented players and sound characters that QPR are meant to be looking for, and at the same time sold star names for enormous amounts of money, means they’ve actually done it while making a substantial profit on players. In Championship terms this makes them the sort of unicorn even the ERG would baulk at promising their cult followers and yet here they are, living, breathing, existing in bright yellow and green reality. Everything a Championship football clubs needs to be and everything QPR are not.
With seven consecutive wins from seven consecutive unchanged starting 11s to their name, Norwich are meant to beat the team in seventeenth in this league quite easily. That’s even before we dig into the context of their opposition – a team that has won one of 15 league games since Boxing Day, a team that has taken fewer points this year than any other in the Football League, a team that parted company with its manager earlier this week, a team that has visibly checked out and wasn’t very good in the first place, a team now entirely reliant on the incompetence of others to save it from relegation. Norwich are meant to win this game even without all that, and QPR are certainly meant to lose it with all that baggage on board.
But there are ways and means of going about the task. That is, if you’ve got anything about you, if you count yourself as a professional in your field, if you want to still be able to look yourself in the mirror every day and be able to say to yourself that when the going was tough, when the chips were down, when times were hard, you at least still stood there and did all you could. You gave your best, you put in your maximum effort, you kept running, you didn’t give up, you still tried. You can keep it tight, you can make sure they don’t get anything easily, you can hold it to nil nil for a while and see if the crowd start to get nervous for you, you can put a few tackles in, you can hold possession of the ball for a while, you can take the odd dangerous set piece should circumstance allow. You’re not tied down, resistance may be futile but it isn’t forbidden.
We’re not talking about a presidential run from nowhere here. You will, in all likelihood, still lose. But there’s 773 people down the side who’ve paid money they mostly don’t have to travel and support you and care a great deal about the club you’re playing for and the least they deserve is a fair effort. There’s a badge on your chest that means something to some people – people who’ve supported the club their whole lives, people who’ve worked bloody hard to get it even as far as it is now, people who’ve sacrificed physical and mental wellbeing out on that pitch in the name of Queens Park Rangers, mostly for far, far, far less money than cunts like you are getting.
And even if you don’t care about any of that, even if you hate all of those people in that away end because they’ve dared to have a moan when you’ve punted the ball into touch under no pressure again, even if you never liked QPR in the first place and don’t give a stuff about all the great and not so great players that came before you, even if you think they’re all twats and it’s a tin pot club and you can’t wait to be out of here, aren’t you supposed to be a professional athlete? You’ve presumably toiled long and hard all the way through your childhood and teenage years to get to this point where you’re paid ridiculous sums of money to play football for a living. While all your mates were out drinking and shagging, you were in your parents’ house sleeping. When your peers went home from their day at school, you got in the car every night and drove miles and miles to some poxy training ground for some wannabee Jose Mourinho in an initialled tracksuit to yell and scream at you about pattern of play and moving through the thirds and all sorts of shit like that. You did your maths homework by the flicker of motorway lights on the backseat of your mum’s Volvo. You ate nothing but chicken and pasta when everybody else your age was eating McDonalds and Kimberley from second set Geography. You sacrificed loads to get to this point. Did you really do all that so you could amble about and fucking embarrass yourself, your club and its supporters like this? Was that what it was all for? Did 14-year-old you always dream of being a professional footballer so you could phone in fucking non-efforts like this and pick your money up regardless? If so, then you probably should have just gone and hung around outside the chicken shop with all the other pencil-dicked, pimple-faced, useless little cunts that will never amount to anything either. If not, then what in the name of absolute fuck are you playing at?
I’m going to run through now the 12 different ways QPR tried to “keep it tight” and “make a game of it” and “not give them anything easy” in the first half at Norwich on Saturday. Every single one of them is a Norwich shot. Three of them are Norwich goals. Three of them really should have been Norwich goals. Three of them really could quite easily have been Norwich goals. If this game had reached half time with the hosts leading six nil, seven nil, eight nil… it would have been an entirely fair reflection on proceedings and QPR’s contribution to them. Even by the pitifully low standards of a team that has taken just six points from 15 matches since Boxing Day and looks absolutely thrilled to death about it, this was absolutely disgusting.
After two minutes the QPR defence got caught too high up the field and too square at the back. Angel Rangel played Teemu Pukki onside and he ran in on goal from a narrow angle and drew a save from Joe Lumley at the near post. Even when QPR were playing well this season, before Christmas, that offside trap used to creak like a rusty gate, with Rangel in particular susceptible to playing players onside for goals conceded – Stoke A, Leeds A, Hull H and others. Luckily we got an early warning here which enabled us to realise it was still a problem and fix it up before it caused any lasting damage to the scor-oh no wait a minute. In actual fact we completely ignored that and did exactly the same thing again after five minutes, sending Max Aarons screaming through on goal with Rangel playing him onside allowing a low cross to be squared into the empty penalty area and Emiliano Beundia to sweep into the net from about 12 yards out unchallenged.
QPR had picked a central midfield here of Jordan Cousins and Geoff Cameron with Ebere Eze on ahead of them and Luke Freeman and Pawel Wszolek in the wide areas. Not a one of them got within eight yards of an opponent in the entire first half. Freeman left Bidwell entirely exposed down the left, Cousins I’m not overly convinced touched either the ball or an opponent all afternoon, and Cameron looked like the sort of old soak they prop up in a nursing home for the local paper to take a picture of on their hundredth birthday, literally decades since they checked out mentally and had any fucking idea what was going on around them. It was an anaemic performance through which Norwich were able to waltz like a Strictly winner, making it 2-0 after ten minutes through a Marco Stiepermann shot anybody claiming to be able to keep goal at Championship level should have been able to save with their cock-end in their sleep.
Stiepermann could quite easily have had another after 13 minutes, when he was allowed to walk with the ball from the edge of the penalty area to the heart of it and shoot at Lumley one on one from a tight angle. After 17 minutes Hernandez ran away into the wide-open spaces of the left flank, immediately in on the back four from the moment he picked the ball up with the midfield entirely absent, and cut inside without challenge before testing Lumley away to his right. I’ve missed one out here that I want to come back to, but there was another after 23 where Stiepermann tempted Lumley from his line with a cross and Buendia challenged the keeper for a header which went just wide of the open goal. After 29 minutes Pukki got to the byline under zero duress and cut it back to a queue of people the likes of which I haven’t seen since the run on Nothern Rock – Hernandez was first to the cashier and put his shot wide.
Bidwell, haunted, was withdrawn for a spell in the padded room. Immediately after, Buendia got in without anybody laying a finger on him and Lumley just about scrambled the resulting shot wide at the near post.
There was a crisp shot well saved by Tim Krul (that’s the Norwich goalkeeper, extras role here) from Angel Rangel that brought sadly ironic cheers from the away end but rather than treat that as something to build on QPR immediately resorted to that fucking mindblowing pile of festering bullshit they’ve been pisballing about with all season where the two centre backs and the goalkeeper pass the ball backwards and forwards between each other in our own penalty area. What are we doing that for? What are we ever doing that for? What are we doing that for? We’ve been doing it all season and I cannot for the life of me work out what it’s meant to fucking achieve. Can somebody tell me please because I’m losing my damn mind here. We have scored the sum total of two goals, in the modern history of the club, playing like this – one against Ipswich this season, and as previously said I could put a team together from the Crown and Sceptre that could beat Ipswich this season, and one against Reading at home when Jim Magilton was manager a decade ago. Apart from that, nothing. I know the theory: draw the opposition on, spring the key ball into the space they leave behind and off you go. But we’re not good enough to do that. We’re fucking crap. We draw the opposition on, shit the fucking bed, and pass the ball straight to them, which is exactly what we did here – Leistner a hospital ball into midfield, Freeman surrendering possession, Pukki of all bloody people now with a clear run on goal for three nil. I am going to start executing hostages, and I am not going to stop until QPR agree that we are not the sort of team with the sort of players that can pass the ball around in our own cunting penalty area with any degree of competence and success whatsoever. Stop it. Stop it now. Toss rags.
Mary Mother of God.
And this is all in the first half. This is all in the first half hour. We haven’t even got to half time yet. The Worcester Cold Storage building didn’t go up this quick. Heck, we haven’t even got to the best bit yet. I skipped over that earlier to deal with the business in hand but if you really nailed me to the wall and forced me to choose, my absolute favourite bit of Saturday, the absolute classic of the QPR away from home collapse genre, was in the 21st minute. Jake Bidwell, absolutely all over the fucking shop, tried to deliberately commit a foul after being skinned yet again and ended up injuring himself. While prostrate on the ground clutching his leg, his friend and colleague Joel Lynch approached the resulting loose ball and in attempting to clear it downfield completely miscued it and sent it fizzing along the ground at two million miles an hour straight into the side of Bidwell’s head. With the full back now both injured and concussed, and the ball back with Norwich who had an extra man, and Lynch out of position, the Canaries set about us again. Panicked, Lynch vacated his position altogether and came charging out to the man with the ball, committing himself with a big lunge which Buendia was able to calmly sidestep and move onwards with the ball towards a penalty area that now contained half the population of Norwich, two QPR defenders and one goalkeeper. The QPR defenders who were left then, for reasons I daren’t even begin to imagine, decided to creak that fucking offside trap into life again. Now the penalty box contained half the population of Norwich, all of them onside, and one goalkeeper. Hernandez, almost too easy for him, tried an outlandish chip and missed.
Lynch’s other main contribution to the half was to wait for Pukki to finally be in a non-threatening position – back to goal, few options for a pass, no chance of a shot, quite a few defenders around him – and needlessly, deliberately, smash straight through the back of him so they could have another effort on goal from a free kick 20 yards out and he could have another yellow card. Stiepermann missed the free kick but it’s not the point. Five bookings, each more brain-dead than the last, in ten appearances for Lynch now moving him out to a chunky 11 for the season. Four away from a three-game ban with six games remaining. If I didn’t know better I’d wonder whether the early May flight to Dubai was already in the system at Flight Centre.
Later we’d see an even stupider tackle still from Buendia on QPR sub Josh Scowen which referee Scott Duncan had little choice but to issue a red card for. Mad, given the situation in the game, and Norwich’s season, even allowing for him being on the end of some agricultural chops just before that. But even with ten men, Norwich were able to add a fourth when one long punt down the field was somehow enough to dissect the entire QPR team, with Lynch slow on the turn and running in treacle to try and catch up with Pukki who helped himself to a fourth. Honestly, I swear to God, if this club dares renew Lynch’s contract this summer I am going the full Jan Palach in the centre circle at the first home game next season.
That goal did at least rob QPR’s keystone cops coaching staff of the opportunity to shovel out all the usual “pleased with the response after half time”, “unacceptable first half and we made that clear to the players at half time”, “the second 45 gives us something to build on for Wednesday” horseshit we get blasted our way on the all-too-frequent occasions that our team embarrass us and themselves like this. Or, at least, it should have done. In actual fact, they shovelled it our way anyway.
Rangers had been marginally better after the break. They could scarcely have been worse. Three quickfire corners in a row resulted in Darnell Furlong heading down towards goal and Krul (Norwich goalkeeper, remember) saved well. Bright Osayi-Samuel, lucky little boy, was trusted with the final 15 minutes here but only once Rangers were three nil down and only once Norwich had gone down to ten men. He responded, yet-a-bloody-gain, by being the only QPR player that looked anything like, the only QPR player that still seemed to have a bit of life and confidence about him, the only QPR player capable of posing a goal threat. He picked the ball up, ran with it towards the goal, and had a shot from the edge of the area within seconds of coming on. Krul was so stunned by this turn of events he nearly fell over the bloody thing and let it squirm in. Later the Nigerian volleyed wide at the back post when he should have hit the target. But it was a threat. It was the only threat. Just as he had been against Bolton, and Rotherham, and Hull. And yet back on the bench here. As one senior member of staff remarked in the wake of the loss at Middlesbrough, exactly who does Bright Osayi-Samuel have to suck off to get in this team?
In truth Norwich put the cue on the rack. They were done. Lazy fat cat with mouse on last legs sort of toying. On the hour, Hernandez skipping in and out and round and round a series a pitiful challenges before cutting it back to Stiepermann for a shot blocked for a corner. Time and time and time again they did it – opening their team across the full width of the pitch before narrowing the point of attack just as it breached the boundary of the penalty area whereupon a queue of players waited unmarked to shoot. Stiepermann reversing the ball for Buendia to shoot over on 64. At the other end, Nahki Wells, deprived of service certainly, but adopting a weird tactic of clearly, blatantly and obviously bringing the ball down with his hand on the rare occasions it did come near him. He can get in the fucking sea as well.
As, indeed, can John Eustace. A thankless task, certainly. A game we were never going to win, accepted. A hospital pass to ask a coach with limited experience of management to take on a Championship side absolutely devoid of any life for away games at Norwich and Millwall, I get it. But from him this just looked like a big two fingers straight back at the club to me. Didn’t agree with the sacking of the bloke that brought him here, knows he’s not in the running for the job himself, so what’s the point?
Same nonsense 4-1-4-1 set up that couldn’t even cope with Bolton Wanderers – who spent the afternoon losing at home to Ipswich. No thought of maybe changing the shape, or the system, or the style, after that game. Faith once again placed in a collection of players who aren’t going to be here next season, frequently at the expense of ones that are. Same cataclysmically awful, out of contract, accident prone, half arsed centre back picked to start despite him being bummed in the gob by Josh Magennis last week, all while the club captain who is under contract for next season is left on the bench. Same point blank refusal to countenance any meaningful game time for Osayi-Samuel despite all evidence pointing to him being our best hope at the moment. Giving him a quarter of an hour, only when the game was lost, and only once they’d gone down to ten men, was a flagrantly cold, hard, fuck you.
Same banal platitudes about how excellent the preparation was, how the lads are up for the fight, how we’ll learn our lessons and go back to the drawing board. Neither of the interviews I saw with him afterwards bore any slight relation to the game I’d watched. Did he go to Diss Town by mistake? At one point, during the Sky questions, he dared to suggest the lads had “worked their socks off”. There are people who watched this game in their pants, hungover, on their mum’s fucking sofa, who worked their socks off more than QPR here. This modern attitude that you’re able to make something that’s demonstrably false true simply by saying it out loud may wash in British politics, but I’m not having it here I’m afraid. Don’t curl one out in my living room and tell me your shit doesn’t stink. Worked their socks off indeed, don’t treat us like idiots any more than you already have please. Exactly the same bland, uninspiring, cliched bollocks trotted out by “football people” who know far more about football than non-football people could apparently ever dream of understanding.
Well, I’m sorry, but fuck that. What was the point of sacking McClaren to just put Eustace in charge? There isn’t any. On this evidence he shouldn’t be within a thousand miles of taking us to Millwall on Wednesday. Marc Bircham, despite being shafted by QPR on more than one occasion, would take the team on a caretaker basis like a bloody shot, and that – or something like that – is exactly what should be happening first thing tomorrow morning. Even allowing for the superb quality of the opponent, this was an abomination.
Norwich: Krul 6; Aarons 7, Zimmermann 7, Godfrey 7, Lewis 7; Trybull 7 (Rhodes 90, -), McLean 7; Buendia 8, Stiepermann 8 (Cantwell 80,-), Hernandez 8; Pukki 8 (Leitner 88,-)
Subs not used: McGovern, Vrancic, Leitner, Rhodes, Klose, Hanley, Cantwell
Goals: Buendia 6, Stiepermann 10, Pukki 38, 85
Red Cards: Buendia 71 (serious foul play)
QPR: Lumley 3; Rangel 3, Furlong 3, Lynch 2, Bidwell 2 (Leistner 34,, 3); Cameron 2 (Scowen 58, 5), Cousins 2; Wszolek 3 (Osayi-Samuel 74, 5), Eze 3, Freeman 3; Wells 3
Subs not used: Ingram, Manning, Hemed, Smith
Bookings: Lynch 43 (being a dick)
QPR Star Man N/A
Referee – Scott Duncan 6 Not a referee we’ve done particularly well out of this season but bar the odd throw in, goal kick or corner given the wrong way when unsighted you couldn’t really fault him to much here in a fixture where one of the teams refused to compete. Red card looked right, stupid challenge to make. As usual, needlessly pedantic over the placing of corners late in games that are already over.
Attendance 26, 796 (773 QPR)
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When Saturday Comes #7 by wessex_exile
Well that didn’t go as planned at all – after a stirring battling performance full of grit, character and togetherness with the small band of travelling supporters at Barrow, the U’s then finally returned back to the JobServe and completely failed to turn up against bogey side Crawley. They weren’t the only ones either, Hayden Mullins was absent as well, and we have since learned he has Covid-19 and will also miss tomorrow’s game at Swindon too – I know we all wish Hayden a speedy recovery. Fortunately, I won’t be missing the match, with tickets arriving last weekend – first live game for best part of 18 months, and I can’t bloody wait!
When Saturday Comes #6 by wessex_exile
After over a month of absence, the U’s finally make a welcome return to the JobServe for a home league fixture. Sutton seem to have quickly got over their Covid-19/ injury crisis/ international call-up woes, fielding a team the following Tuesday that was strong enough to push Cardiff City hard in a narrow 3-2 defeat to the Championship side. But enough of that, I haven’t seen the outcome of the EFL investigation, but I don’t doubt the decision has either already been or will be rubber-stamped. Gamesmanship – maybe, but I hope at least the EFL are now a bit more alert to the fact that some might think they can treat them like chumps when it suits their purpose? Still – it’s great to be back home isn’t it!
When Saturday Comes #5 by wessex_exile
“Well, I can tell u my son was stood nearer the back of the Holker Street end and although he couldn't see who was responsible, he was disgusted and was very clear in telling me that the 'N' word was used by someone stood directly behind the goal nearer the front. I'm sick of hearing this, no one but the player being abused heard anything so maybe he was mistaken crap. This shite still exists despite everything that the authorities try to do because unfortunately there are still racists in every, city, town, village and hamlet in this country. [SwearFilter] scum of the earth.”
When Saturday Comes #4 by wessex_exile
I start with an apology for the no-show last weekend, but for all the right reasons. My nephew and his fiancé finally managed to tie the knot on Friday, at the fifth time of asking (previous four attempts falling foul of covid restrictions unfortunately). It was a fantastic afternoon and evening over in Essex, but meant it just wasn’t possible to get a blog produced. A significant proportion of the wedding party were U’s supporters, including the groom, but any thought of live-streaming the Rochdale game at the evening celebration might have resulted in the fastest divorce on record, so we contented ourselves with surreptitious glances at the BBC Sports updates – and what an own goal it was! Different circumstances, but I was (painfully) reminded of Aidan and Kevin’s howler at Blackburn – golden rule, never, ever pass the ball directly towards your own goal.
When Saturday Comes #3 by wessex_exile
The goalless U’s have eventually got that monkey off their backs, with the Frank and Freddie show combining to win a somewhat dubious penalty, in the 5th minute of injury time, allowing Freddie to get his new goal account at the U’s off and running (all in all he now has 37 goals, five of them penalties). It was tight though, and on another day the goalkeeper would have got a hand to it, but they all count, whether it’s a 25 yard peach or one off the arse. Everyone has rightly said that without doubt Mansfield were the best side we’ve faced so far – I’ll go so far as to say they’ll probably be one of the best sides we face all season. Though it wasn’t comfortable viewing at the time, some of their passing and movement, particularly on the break, was breath-taking at times. But enough of the love-in, however good they were, the U’s stood up to them, kept them out for the most part, and eventually got the point we deserved.
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