The positivity and optimism that had been slowly returning to QPR was dealt a swift blow at the weekend after the Rs succumbed to a humiliating 3-1 defeat to local rivals Fulham.
From the Rs’ fans perspective, the rivalry between the two clubs isn’t considered that big a deal. I can’t speak for Fulham or their fans, but it’s safe to assume that based on recent results, it’s a game that they take seriously. Perhaps we should too?
Before the game had kicked off; QPR were in 13th, a comfortable six places above Fulham. The Rs also had reason to be confident, after their convincing win against Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town. Yet, as soon as the game on Saturday started, it looked clear there was only going to be one winner.
QPR’s tactic of hitting long balls and goal kicks to a front two of Jamie Mackie and Sebastian Polter was doomed from the very start. Both Fulham’s centre-halves were dominant in the air throughout the match. Mackie put in a typical fully committed, heart on sleeve performance. Polter; a player that I’ve been keen to encourage, was very poor as he barely registered anything of note during the game.
In the last few matches between these two teams, Fulham have raced into a comfortable lead with the game being effectively over by half-time. The same thing happened again today. Three goals in 12 minutes from their best players (Ross McCormack, Moussa Dembele and Tom Cairney) meant that as the second-half began, QPR were playing for pride and nothing more.
Let’s be clear, this was a dire performance. I was fortunate enough to watch this game from the directors box and I can honestly say my highlight of the day was the salmon bagel I had before the match!
You could look at manager [Jimmy Floyd] Hasselbaink and say that he was slow to make changes and got his formation for the game wrong. But I also think there comes a time when the players have to hold their hands up.
They should be embarrassed. This match reeked of a game where too many players didn’t appear to care about the outcome and those that did, didn’t have the ability to make a difference.
During a derby, a team needs its leaders. Players who shout at one another, to encourage and lift their spirits. Nedum Onuoha isn’t the man to do that. He’s been a poor choice in captain. I see him as a player that the club would do well to move on. In fact quite a lot of that team on Saturday gave cause for concern. Did the full-backs have an off day, or are they not quite up to playing at this level any more?
Can QPR afford to play a fairly limited work in progress like Polter when they’ve spent several million on Conor Washington? Daniel Tozser had one of the worst performances in an Rs shirt in living memory. The fact that he is second choice to Alejandro Faurlin is worrying to say the least.
To offer some balance, the inclusion of Nasser El Khayati in the second-half and Tjaronn Chery certainly lifted spirits, the former arguably QPR’s best player on the day provided some guile and managed to open up the Fulham defence on several occasions. Chery, a player I’ve been quite critical of in the past, did well to take his late consolation goal.
Moving forward, you have to wonder if it would be best for Jimmy to only use the players he intends on keeping for next season. This was the club’s worst performance under Hasselbaink and if he is to do well next year, he could certainly start by getting us a win in a London derby because we need one!