No QPR fan will ever easily forgive the amount of damage Mark Hughes managed to inflict during his short spell at the club. The ex Manchester City, Blackburn, QPR and now Stoke manager expected every bit of abuse hurled towards him from the Loftus Road faithful in a gloomy and humid afternoon in W12. The game never really promised to be a thriller. The physicality of stoke against a QPR side trying to show some bravery after a cowardly display against Manchester United last weekend. QPR could not afford to lose whilst a defeat was the last thing Mark Hughes wanted on his return to Loftus Road.
The match started off just like 4 of the previous 5 games this season. QPR going 1-0 down from a goal out of nothing. Isla let Victor Moses get a cross in with minimal pressure and Crouch set up Diouf nicely for the opener. QPR had set up with a narrow 41212 diamond, designed to compact the midfield area and stop us being overrun in there again. This appeared to work fine off the ball however when we were on the ball it was like looking at a team of subbuteo players. Every player was static and the lack of width meant we tried tiki taka football through the middle which failed miserably on most attempts.
On the verge of half time Steven Caulker rose like a salmon to head the ball goal-bound from a corner. Although it was heading in it still needed slicing into the net by any of the 3 Stoke players on the line. After half time it was very tight and I began to sense us gradually getting into the game. However once again poor play by Isla lead to Moses picking out Crouch who got away from the static Rio Ferdinand to slot home. In respect to us Crouchy didn’t celebrate. This left QPR with 40 minutes to attack the Loft and get something from the game. This lead to the play from Stoke which every football fan cannot stand. The dirty tackles, continuous time wasting and slow play immediately winded up QPR fans. Ryan Shawcross’ tackle on Niko Kranjcar was a potential leg breaker and got the LR faithful letting him know just how they felt about it. This could have been seen as a good thing on the other hand because Loftus Road began to come alive as QPR looked for the illusive second goal.
In the 87th minute Niko was once again fouled and this gave him a golden opportunity to remind the Premier League that he’s well and truly back. The free kick that followed was magical. It dipped perfectly over the wall and was into the net within seconds. QPR were deservedly level and it finished 2-2.
For me the bright spark in our team is Leroy Fer. The dutchman possesses amazing agility and balance on the ball despite being tall. His pace and skills allow us to turn defence into attack within seconds. My only criticism of him today was not having a shot more often because he can certainly hit them. I would like to see him play a more attackive role in the future so he can link up more with Charlie Austin, who i thought had a great game today. The QPR number 9 held it up well and showed great link up play with others.
However there was some serious weaknesses in our play today. There didn’t look to be much team chemistry on the ball and there is a lack of understanding from the players on what to do with the ball when they have it. Rio Ferdinand had a shocker today. Outpaced by Peter Crouch and couldn’t handle Crouch all game. Mauricio Isla was tormented by Moses and couldn’t handle his pace. The Chilean looks like he may struggle all season if he does not come to terms with the Premier League soon as teams will look to target him.
Next week QPR head to the south coast to face Southampton who have got off to a flyer under their new manager. I would like us go to an away game and for once go with the attitude of really wanting to take the game to them. Maybe a change in game plan will really get our season going. A point today showed some good character but it also highlights that we’re in for a really tough season. Come on you R’sssss