Despite His White Boots

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

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

QPR 1 Birmingham 0

Rangers pulled out a fine result last night after looking completely up against it at half time. The team selection had the air of Briatore's involvement once again, with Tomassi starting in midfield, Ledesma returning and Di Carmine keeping his place up front, although Parejo was on the bench and Blackstock returned to join Di Carmine. City started on the front foot and should have taken the lead within 3 minutes when Cameron Jerome was clean through on goal, but after a poor touch he had to hurry his shot and Radek Cerny saved well. Cerny also pushed away a fierce Kevin Phillips volley, and was rewarded with a first ever appreciative chant from the Loft !

Once the game settled down, City had much more possession and were able to regularly stretch the Rangers defence through the excellent McFadden. The home side tried to play the ball too quickly for the most part, but worked their way back into the game with Lee Cook providing his usual quota of dangerous crosses. Five minutes before the break, the game turned when Michele Leigertwood lost possession in midfield, chased back after it and tried to pull out of his challenge on Lee Carsley after the ball had gone. By the time he arrived, unable to check his momentum on the wet turf, he couldn't avoid making contact, but it seemed light enough, with Carsley staying on his feet and barely reacting at all. Referee Atwell, however, immediately brandished the red card, to the fury of home players and fans. This is the 25 year old "fast tracked" referee who gave the non-existent goal at Watford. I'd say fast tracking would be good for him now, providing it's in the opposite direction.

Anyway, matters looked bleak at half time, given how the visitors had controlled most of the first half before the sending off. In a bold move though, Gareth Ainsworth kept two up front and replaced Cook with Gavin Mahon. This was rewarded when a quick counter-attack seemed to have broken down, but Tomassi won the ball back and fed Di Carmine 25 yards out. The young Italian promptly belted the ball into the top corner to send Loftus Road into raptures.

City responded with a flurry of corners, from one of which Phillips' shot was cleared off the line, but after that they were absolutely hopeless. This shouldn't take away from the quality of Rangers' defending, from front to back, but even so you would have thought the league leaders should have done better. McFadden and Phillips were forced out of dangerous areas, leaving the leaden-footed Jerome and Bent, who looks to have put on about a stone and a half since I saw him at Charlton, to blunder around in the middle. Substitute Quincy was unable to either make an impact on the game or unmask the murderer from a piece of bum-fluff found at the scene of the crime. Phillips netted from an offside position in injury time, but Rangers held out, despite playing with almost nine men as Ledesma looked out on his feet.

I'd have given you at least 10-1 on a Rangers win at half time, but that's the beauty of the game, how it can surprise you. Discussion of the managerial position should wait till another day, as the team deserve all credit for last night's committed and composed defending, with a special mention for Damion Stewart who was absolutely outstanding.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Here We Go Again ...

I wasn't amazed to see the news of Iain Dowie's departure when I arrived home last night ; I could easily say that I wasn't even surprised. It's almost impossible to know what's going on in the club at the moment. I don't want to keep falling into this trap where I slate the press in one piece and then repeat all their rumours in the next ! For whatever reason though, Dowie and Briatore just couldn't work together and so off we go again. At least we lasted 12 games before sacking the manager this season, compared to 8 in each of the last two.

I haven't got time to comment fully, and I'd love to see if Dowie's side of it comes out, although it rarely does in these circumstances, the outgoing manager preferring to pocket a payoff for keeping it shut. Keeping it shit I typed in there first, Freudian. Going forward the board need to make some clear decisions.

Firstly : hands on manager or coach who does what he's told. Pick one, make sure the new incumbent knows the score and everyone knows where they stand. Obviously I'd prefer the former but if you can't bear to let the manager do his job because you think your one hour a week dealing with football qualifies you better, then at least make this clear at the start.

Secondly : decide whether we're buying a team for quick promotion or building one for the medium term. If the former, spend some money. A lot of money in fact, although I can't see automatic promotion this season whatever given there's still two months to the transfer window. If the latter, then enough with the loan signings. For example, I love Lee Cook, we all do, but he's not our player. Either buy him or send him back and play our own young players, like Balanta and Ephraim. What's the use of them sitting in the stand watching if Cook goes back to Fulham at the end of the year.

But what can you do. We don't know what's going on and we certainly have little or no control over it. The club is rapidly becoming a joke and the worst thing is, if you look at it from the point of view of a good, upcoming manager who already has a sound gig (like Martinez at Swansea), why would he leave that to go to QPR, where he could get sacked for having 6 bad games or insisting on picking his own team ?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

As You Were

Rangers announced today that there will be no more "Category A" games this season. I kind of suspected they would ; after all, if Derby County was an "A" games, then you would have expected Forest and Birmingham to be similarly classified, which they weren't. And while late is better than never, a lot of damage has been done in PR terms that will take a while to overcome. Unless the Standard and the Mail report the re-think under a headline of "QPR not such greedy bastards after all". That'll be the day.

On the pitch, the win against Forest was an important one and, while all reports indicate that the performance was awful at least going forward, not many teams will take a point at Swansea this season. Lee Camp's departure on loan isn't a major surprise to me, there's clearly something going on off the field there. Recent reports indicate that the management aren't particularly happy with any of the keepers at their disposal, and that rings true enough to me. We'll see.

As for me, I was surprised how much I was funking the Forest result in Dublin ; clearly I do care after all :-). One more thing, the editor of the fanzine I used to write for, In The Loft, has produced a compilation book which you can find here. I haven't seen it yet (should pick it up at the Birmingham game) but I'm in it so obv it's great. Seriously, I always thought we were one of the better fanzines around and it should make a good read.

Friday, October 10, 2008

A Season Too Far ?

I can't remember where I recently heard someone say "It's not the principle, it's the money". It made me laugh, and could easily be applied to what's happening at QPR, and many other football clubs to be fair.

Here's a good piece from the Mirror about club owners :

Why football fans should care as much about who owns their club as they do who plays for it .

QPR of course get a mention, and he makes a fair enough point. These guys are not philanthropists, and while it's true that the club was in desperate straits when they came in, no one thinks they did it out of charity. On top of the Derby fiasco, QPR have apparently rejected Manchester United's offer to reduce prices for the league cup tie, and £40 it is again.

They say the money is going to be reinvested in the team, and as long as it is, I expect most people will tolerate it. If it isn't though, well we'll have to see what happens. I myself am thinking about drawing a line in the sand after this season. Anything more than £20 to watch a football match is ridiculous when you think about it. Compare it to the cinema, 90 minutes entertainment, sometimes good, sometimes bad - £6.

There are clubs who are doing it right ; Hull City are charging £20-25 for Premiership football [1], and they've made a statement about staying in the black whatever happens, and keeping to their wage budget accordingly. Not a bad start in the Premiership either ! Charlton's prices were reasonable in the Premiership and still are in the Championship (although maybe their fans might prefer more investment in the team). But the real blueprint IMO is Bradford City. They've gone completely the other way with admission prices ; £140 for a season ticket, and as a result they get 13,000 in League Two, compared to the all the other 2-5 thousands. Consequently, they sell 3 times as many programmes, hot dogs, etc, and they have a bigger crowd cheering on the home team and intimidating the away.

I'll be out of town for the Forest game, and then the next one is Birmingham City in 3 weeks time. This gives me a break at least. After that I might just turn up whenever, not worry about it too much and try to just enjoy the games. Then maybe next year I might find something better to do TBH.

[1] I don't know if this is increased for Liverpool, Man U etc. but there's no indication on their website that this is the case.

Correction : The decision about ticket prices for the cup game was entirely down to Manchester United :,,10373~1419984,00.html

I should know better, the amount of complaining about the press I do !

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

QPR 1 Blackpool 1

This was a definite improvement on Saturday, and in the end Rangers could count themselves unlucky not to win. The home team passed the ball well for 15 minutes, and created a couple of half-chances, when Blackpool suddenly scored out of nowhere. A long punt forward fell to Gary Taylor-Fletcher and he had time to flick the ball up and send a fine volley swerving into the top corner. This knocked Rangers' confidence and they only threatened close to half-time when Dexter Blackstock could have done better from two wicked Lee Cook crosses.

Iain Dowie wasted no time in replacing Latin lightweights Parejo and Ledesma with the more forthright presences of Leigertwood and Agyemang, and Rangers were soon on the front foot. Cook's low drive was saved well by Rachubka, and after a string of corners delivered into the heart of the 6-yard box by Rowlands and Cook, Dexter Blackstock headed one in, only to be denied by a very late flag after the referee had clearly given the goal.

While Rangers dominated possession, the final ball just wouldn't quite come and it seemed like a set piece would be their best best. So it proved, in a way, as third substitute Akos Buzsaky sent a sublime free-kick onto the crossbar, with Blackstock diving to head the rebound in. The anticipated late assault proceeded in fits and starts as Rangers were too anxious to win possession back and gave away a number of momentum-stalling free kicks. The closest they came was when Leigertwood's header was deflected over by a defender who knew very little about it. Four injury time corners tested the visiting defence to the limit, but they clung on for the point.

The last two home games have been a bit of a reality check for Rangers, and while they could have timed this a bit better than just after I backed them for everything, it might not do any harm in the long run. Parejo and Ledesma are finding it more difficult against physical opponents, and I have to say I really don't like Parejo playing in the 2 of a 4-2-3-1 because he has a tendency to play over-ambitious passes, which isn't so bad in the last third, but can cause a lot of problems on half-way. Still, there's plenty of time to work with it, and with Wolves, Birmingham and Reading looking a clear cut above the rest of the division, we can settle in and try to work towards a play-off spot IMO.