Despite His White Boots

Football, football, football and, if the mood takes me, more football.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

QPR 3 Leicester 1

A comfortable win for the super hoops, making 14 points from 7 games and, since our lowest point at the end of September (P8 Pts 3), 27 points from 18 games which is an excellent effort given the state we were in at the time.

Rangers looked reasonably threatening down the wings to start with, and took the lead from a simple set-piece routine. Leicester boss Ian Holloway would be tearing his hair out if he had any. Akos Buzsaky's first corner kick was sailing out for a throw when a Leicester defender diverted it for another corner instead. From the second, Buzsaky sent a wicked delivery to the near post for Damion Stewart to simply run across the six-yard box and nod in. This was almost a carbon-copy of Stewart's goal against Watford on Saturday, and so it was very surprising that no one blocked his run, given how pre-planned set pieces are these days.

Soon enough Rangers made it two with a goal that was all down to the tactical changes implemented by Luigi de Canio. Rowan Vine looks awkward on the left wing, but he cut inside and sent a fine inswinging cross to the far post. The Leicester keeper stranded himself and Dexter Blackstock headed across goal for Adam Bolder to nod into an empty net. Holloway had seen enough by now and threw on new signing Steve Howard. You could see why but the resulting long-ball game that Leicester adopted possibly didn't help them.

Nonetheless Howard cracked a 30-yard shot onto the post just after the break. Rangers responded through Vine again as his left-foot cross was headed gleefully home by Blackstock. It was great to see Dexter back in the goals, he's found it very difficult this season as a striker who thrives on good crosses and he hasn't had the service he was used to from Lee Cook.

3-0 should have been game over but Ian Hume curled in a beauty from a free-kick on the hour to cause a few nervous moments in the home defence. Matt Fryatt really should have set up an interesting finish 5 minutes from time but with the goal gaping, his header was too casual and Lee Camp made an outstanding save. Rangers closed the game out fairly comfortably from there.

I'm a firm believer that tactics are a lot less important than basic quality and commitment, but it looks like Signor De Canio is a sharp cookie in this regard. Basically Buszaky is now playing as a second striker, with Martin Rowlands in the centre of midfield and Vine on the left wing. Now it's been done you can see all the advantages - Buzsaky links the midfield with the main striker and more runners from midfield are pushing forward ahead of him. On top of that, the Magical Magyar has notched 6 goals in 12 games, when his strike rate at Plymouth was 1 in 10. This kind of subtle rearrangement was well beyond De Canio's predecessors (most notably Holloway who was also Buzsaky's manager at Plymouth).

With Buzsaky playing in this role, the need for a striker is much less urgent and in fact if we just bring Vine in I think we'll be OK up front. Hopefully a centre half will come in soon, although it's only fair to point out that Zesh Rehman did OK again today and might have done enough to stay as a squad player, I've criticised him very heavily in the past but I've always got time for players who improve themselves so well done to him and the coaching staff.


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