Despite His White Boots

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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Crystal Palace 0 QPR 0

This was the first away game I've been to in a long time. It's been so long that the last one was also at Selhurst Park, against Wimbledon. It was nice to know in this ever-changing world that South London and in particular Selhurst Park is still a complete dump.

I ended up going because Frode and his friend Matthis (sp ?) were at a loose end and had decided to go to the game, correct score bets in hand. The guys had lumped on 3-2, 3-3 and Any Unquoted (basically more than 3-3). Their faces dropped somewhat when I informed them that Rangers had scored 2 goals in 9 away games this season. Sports betting is all about research guys :-).

There were basically two ways this game could go IMO ; Rangers could defend well and draw 0-0, or defend badly and lose 3-0. We were treated to the former. In fact, sub Heidar Helguson should have put Rangers in front with virtually his first touch, but slid the ball wide of an open goal from 25 yards after Speroni went walkabout. That was about it from Rangers, and Palace didn't come up with much better for all their huff and puff.

I still quite enjoyed it but for the sole reason that I had someone to talk to. On my own it would have been the most boring, cold and pointless waste of time in history. Or perhaps the second ... At half time one of these keepy-uppy ponces came on, set himself up in a shoulder stand (I'm sure all you yoga devotees will know what that is) and juggled a ball on the soles of his feet for long enough to "break the record" Sergei Bubka-style. Now, I'm not denigrating how difficult this must be. It must take extraordinary balance and skill. The point I'm getting at is how can someone devote that kind of talent, and the interminable hours of practice that it must require, to something so pointless ? And could this be a metaphor for the match and indeed all of football itself ? Perhaps so.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Leeds Announce £4 Million Profit

So you're going to pay back a few of the people you stiffed then ? Oh, actually no. Of course not, what was I thinking.

Update : Karma is very quick these days.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

QPR 2 Charlton 1

There's always someone worse off than you ; luckily for QPR that was their opponents tonight, as Rangers recorded a fortunate victory.

A dire first half somehow produced two goals. I see on the official website that Damiano Tomassi "rolled back the years with a burst down the left wing". What actually happened was that half the Charlton defence stopped because they thought the ball had gone out for a throw in. Tomassi, to be fair, sent in an excellent low cross to pick out the totally unmarked Dexter Blackstock and he converted for 1-0. Charlton equalised when a deflected cross fell to Hamer Bouazza ; his first touch was poor but he had enough space to retrieve the ball and drive it into the six yard box for Thierry Racon to force home. Apart from that absolutely nothing happened until the break.

Paulo Sousa wasted no time in replacing Samuel Di Carmine with Patrick Agyemang ; I suppose if you don't like having the chairman pick your team, the next best thing is to hook his players as soon as possible, and indeed Di Carmine, Tomassi and Parejo were all withdrawn in the second half (Parejo in particular had an absolutely shocking game). Agyemang made a difference once again, and Rangers pressed for 10 minutes without creating anything clear-cut. Charlton came back though and had 3 excellent chances in their best spell of the game. Bouazza turned Peter Ramage inside out and sent in another low cross, only for Damien Delaney to pull out a goal-saving tackle. Luke Varney blazed over from six yards with no one near him and time to pull the ball down, and Andy Gray glanced a header wide from about the same distance.

After riding their luck though, Rangers won the game 10 minutes from time. Hogan Ephraim sent in a fine cross, and Blackstock's header was even better, looping over Nicky Weaver and into the top corner. Blackstock headed another top-notch Ephraim delivery wide moments later, from what looked like a much better chance, but Rangers held on fairly comfortably to see the game out.

All in all, very happy to pick up three points with 6 players out including most of our creative options, and hopefully this will boost confidence. Despite being one point off the playoffs though, I think we'll need all the points we can get until the transfer window opens at least. Charlton, even though they ought to have won the game, weren't really much better and have a very long winter ahead of them.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

QPR 1 Burnley 2

Just like last season, Burnley fell behind early on but came back to record a deserved win at Loftus Road. At least the difference this time was that Rangers rallied after falling behind and had a good go at chasing the game, but it wasn't to be.

Rangers started very well, threatening down both flanks, and took the lead when Lee Cook and Damiano Tomassi worked some space down the left wing. Cook found Dexter Blackstock and he curved a shot around his marker and into the far corner. Rangers pressed for another 5 minutes as the visitors looked rattled, but they soon re-asserted themselves and took a grip on the game. When the excellent Robbie Blake was given far too much space on the edge of the area, he rifled in an unstoppable equaliser. From that point until half time, Rangers were totally unable to keep possession and could consider themselves fortunate to hold the visitors at bay till the break.

It seemed impossible for Rangers to come out and concede so much territory in the second half, and indeed the Rs had the better of the opening stages as Blackstock was bundled over by Clarke Carlisle in the box for a very close penalty call, and Di Carmine was denied by visiting keeper Jensen. However, when a weak header from Fitz Hall fell to substitue Alan Mahon, his good finish put Burnley ahead.

One thing in Gareth Ainsworth's favour is that he doesn't hang around with his substitutions, and he immediately made his final change, sending Patrick Agyemang on to make a third striker. Agyemang looked by far the most threatening forward from that point, and must surely be playing ahead of the ineffective Di Carmine in future. Burnley defended well though, and did plenty on the break to keep Radek Cerny busy. Rangers had another penalty shout through Blackstock which I didn't think was as good as the previous one, although Ainsworth afterwards indicated that he thought this was a clear penalty. In the closing minutes Agyemang headed wide from a corner when I thought he was going to score, and fired in a snapshot that Jensen tipped over, but the visitors held on for the win.

Of course there was a certain amount of grumbling from the home fans but this was nowhere near as bad as the Derby game ; IMO we just got turned over by a better side. People need to remember where we were this time last year, and the season before for that matter. Me, I think it would help to stop reading gossip websites and messageboards, and just stick to what actually does happen. Or basically just go to the games, enjoy them and forget about it the rest of the time. It's only football.

Update : A couple more thoughts from yesterday : Radek Cerny had no chance with either goal, made a number of good saves and looked very confident throughout. He was applauded by by both of the home "corners" in the early stages and now looks very comfortable in goal. It's very tempting to date this back to Lee Camp's departure (albeit on loan) but who knows whether that's just a coincidence.

The Lee Cook situation needs to be resolved. He's trying very hard, perhaps even too hard, but not really firing and doesn't look the same player as he was two years ago. I honestly don't see the point of sending Balanta off to Wycombe and giving Ephraim half a game here and there when we have loan players like Cook (and Ledesma to an extent) playing in their positions. Similarly with Di Carmine who just doesn't look up to it. Loan players have to be clearly better than what you already have or there's no point IMO.

Finally I was astonished to see Michael Mancienne called up in the England squad. Pleased for him for sure, but he really didn't impress much last season. Either he's suddenly playing blinders for Wolves or, more likely, he has generally been good in the U21s. Anyway good luck to him.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Barnet 1 Rochdale 1

I figured that QPR could manage without me for one weekend. They've got my money anyway, which seems to be mostly what they care about. It wasn't a great game against Cardiff by all accounts but it was a decent result, and nice to see Mahon score the winner, I give him a lot more credit as a player than most of the people around me seem to at LR.

As for Barnet, it was easy to see why they've found it difficult this year. Puncheon's gone of course, and Hatch still hasn't been replaced from January. They also look a little weaker in defence and lacking in confidence all round. Not much happened in the first half, but five minutes into the second, confusion in the home defence allowed Gary Jones too much time to retrieve a loose ball and cross for Chris Dagnall to score from close range. Barnet huffed and puffed and scored a rather fortunate equaliser when a free kick fell into the path of Ishmael Yakubu, who slotted it nicely though.

Barnet didn't try to force the issue towards the end as much as they could have done. I would have thought that gambling for the win in the last 10 minutes would have been a better bet than going up to Rochdale for a replay, but I held my counsel at the time, unlike a lot of the whingebags around me. I still don't understand this mentality, if you don't enjoy going to football then why bother. Still, some people actually like complaining I know.

Finally there was just one moment that made me wonder what football is coming to. When Rochdale's chief shouter instructed one of their number to "fooking" do whatever, someone shouted out "language !" from the crowd. The coach turned round and, instead of giving some back or flipping the guy off or anything, actually held up a hand in apology. I suppose it's good really, but if you can't swear at a football match these days, where the fuck can you IMO.