Okay, so first things first, my preview versus what actually played out. Worth doing just to mug myself off a little and remind myself that when things look really straight forward on paper it’s best to remember that the opposition can always perform better than expected. QPR might have had it bad in some early performances this season but proved they could organise themselves to worthy competency (with the draw against Chelsea).
I keep waiting for us to step it up with delicious delight and tick all the boxes. I got it wrong the other week. It seems there is a monkey on our back, one that nests at the Lane. Think King Kong cradling the East Stand. Any which way to get rid of it and then perhaps my preview promises and hopes will play out with less pressure and more expressiveness going forward.
Preview statements in bold.
QPR. At home.
> Hey, I got this right. Move aside Nostradamus.
Is there really anything more to say than to find a happy medium between the dominant Reading performance and the cohesive one against Lazio and win in bullish, aggressive fashion? Anything more, aside from:
> Ever since that opening first half against WBA it seems we’re struggling to awake from a nightmare and when we think we’re awake, it turns out to be one of those awakening experiences. You know the type. You get out of bed, wash your face, make a cuppa and stick the radio on only to then wake up for real and realise you have to go through all that again. Except when you do you don’t because you wake up in bed again. More about the tactics in a moment but in terms of matters of the head, there’s a problem. Not enough application or bravery. The strategy, it’s not apparent. So either something is losing itself in translation or our boys in Lilywhite are experiencing stage fright thanks to an impatient and difficult to please audience.
One holding midfielder, not two.
> One. Because without Parker and Livermore there‘s only Sandro. We’re also at home so we have to show intent. The line-up saw Bale slot into left-back (old skool) with Gallas returning at centre-back and Dempsey in midfield. I said before half-time I’d have preferred Caulker at centre-back with Vertonghen at LB and Bale attempting to capture some form on the left flank. That switch happened at half-time. For the best as we looked unlikely to make a breakthrough before then.
Score an early goal.
> Some opportunities early on. QPR forcing Friedel to save twice. Sigurdsson feeding Defoe. Zamora and Hoillet enjoying their afternoon. Faurlin impressive. As the game progressed so did Rangers. Closer and closer to making the break through. No pace or tempo from us. Possession not always clean and fairly redundant because nothing was made of it. Visitors happier on the break, hosts not asking Cesar to dirty his gloves. 33 mins on the clock and its 1-0 to them. Friedel edging closer to the bench when failing to move off his line quickly. Then again, not sure who was meant to be moving quickly in the build up. The pass was superb, our defenders not quite playing the offside. Vert on a different wave length to the rest around him. Zamora smiling the outcome.
So early on, no evidence of that press, hassle and push ethic of the previous two games. Our midfield ominous.
Then get another before half-time. At a push a third.
> Not only did I miss the dart board with this, I hit the landlord in the face with my aim.
If not a third before half-time, score it within ten minutes of the second half starting.
> Well, we did score after 15 minutes into the second half. Well actually, they did, for us. But we scored ourselves a minute after that. Hedonistic scenes. Open bus parade. DVD. Levy stripping off his shirt and tie in the stands and screaming ‘Come at me bro, come at me!’.
Kill the game, kill it dead. If they park the bus, slap 'em with a parking ticket then hot wire the sonofab*tch and clamp it on the touchlines. It's our back yard, don't allow them to dictate and force us to react in a way not becoming to our preparation. Control equates to tempo which results with initiative. They need to be adapting to us. Our home, our rules. Their struggle.
> QPR did not park the bus. They all arrived on motorbikes whilst we struggled on dainty roller-skates to keep up. There was no ownership of playing at home. We seem to be up against ourselves foremost, the opposition just take advantage of it. But we did improve in the second half. Having Bale in midfield helped more so than being lost not really knowing his role as a left-back. There was a little more urgency if lacking that confident conditioned cohesiveness of say the Lazio game. Inventiveness was also a struggle to introduce. But chances were finally being crafted. Heads did not drop. An own goal followed by a counter. Caulker with a looped header and Faurlin netting past his own keeper via his shoulder. Then Vergonghen breaking, releasing Bale, shot saved onto the bar and Defoe lapping it up. Lady Luck not just in attendance, but pouting her lips and licking them. The minx.
Take the sting out of the game if necessary in the latter stages. No need to witness the last 20 minutes consisting of nervous dispositional football. Solidification please.
> No forceful take down of the match happened, we didn’t force a stranglehold to the point where you could perhaps sit up and say ‘we got this’. But we still had chances and could have made it three. Huddlestone and Townsend subbed on. Clint Hill another pick out player for them. Kudos to Defoe who has limitations but has still managed to score four goals in five games (and assist one).
First half wasn’t great at all, second half there was something resembling a team. Lennon worked extremely hard. Caulker impressing again. Vertonghen outstanding, more so for an utterly epic challenge proving (much like King did against Robben) that you can celebrate a defenders tackle (easy there tiger) as emphatically as you would a strikers goal.
Sigurdsson has still not found a rhythm to his game. Hoping that happens soon.
Belief. On the pitch, in the stands.
> King Kong has fallen. I’m hoping the players relax a little now but this is entirely dependent on the atmosphere inside the stadium which is now defined as defeatist before a ball has even been kicked. I’ll leave this alone until later. Said I wouldn’t bang on about a minority but it seems said minority is influencing the majority and as a consequence - silence is defeating.
> What was required we got. Lucky win? Sure. Wasn’t pretty. Wasn’t a blueprint but I’m hoping I’m right and we can now shrug off the mental anchor that held the players back. But the learning curve is just that. We are not continuing from before, from last season. We are trying to start over. There is no legacy left. Best to ignore the fallacy and look to the future. It’s risky but it’s also brave, so onwards with Villa-Boas, who looked magnificent celebrating in the pouring rain.
QPR deserve plenty of credit. They won’t quite believe the result. Their game plan was not to sit back exclusively but to seek the counter and the initiative. They had moments where they could so easily have killed the game dead for us.
Interestingly, AVB says he wanted to give QPR the initiative in the first half so we could counter them. Didn't quite work out. Not sure it can if Bale is stuck at left-back.
Positivity in blog comment sections and pubs the world over.
> Steady now. You’ll end up waking up in bed and all the above was just a dream. Even with a slice of luck to aid us - we had to show some spirit and move on from the WBA and Norwich results. We did just that, which is why we can afford a smile or two. So smile. Or just pinch yourself.