It takes a second in football for euphoria to suddenly become anguish and doubt. Well on Saturday 13 August 2011 after three minutes and one disallowed goal, QPR lost their most controversial ‘free’ signing of the summer to a suspected broken foot. After weeks of speculation as to whether Warnock had signed a ‘Dyer’ flop or had he pulled off bargain of the summer? Unfortunately, it was the former and QPR fans were forced to laugh rather than cry at the irony which was presented to them so early into their homecoming season.
For 40 minutes QPR were on top, Bolton had had no shots on target and QPR were looking the more threatening. However, after 47 minutes; £20 million Arsenal bound, Gary Cahill hit a wonder strike and Bolton had their first shot on target and first goal of the 2011/12 season. QPR went into the break frustrated after a good opening half to their long anticipated return to the Premier League.
The opening 15 minutes of the second half started well for Rangers, who continued to pile pressure on the Bolton back four but still lacked any real chances. An unlucky Gabbidon own goal in the 67th minute and a wicked deflection off Bradley Orr (which found the net in the 70th minute) left QPR without a hope and the party spoiled. A well constructed fourth from Muamba 10 minutes later led to ‘boos’ from parts of the QPR faithful, towards Flavio Briatore and a few unmentionable chants were sent his way before his departure after the fourth goal, leading to more speculation of a takeover happening this week.
Despite the scoreline, QPR didn’t deserve the thumping. The statistics did swing in Bolton’s favour but not massively. They had a total of 18 shots and only 2 were on target, which showed how unlucky QPR were to concede 4. QPR had 17 shots (2 on target) and Bothroyd, Campbell and Taarabt failed to take advantage of any chances they created.
The telling statistics for me were the number of passes both teams carried out and how accurate they were. Bolton were able to pass the ball around and dominate possession at 55.3% but of their 461 passes they successfully completed 67% and this led to them dominating in midfield, compared to QPR only completing 62% of their 384 passes. QPR were unable to create any stand out chances but more importantly, showed how wasteful they were, which led to the inevitable defensive mistakes. Because of this midfield domination, Bolton were able to hold on to their lead and stop Rangers creating too much to threaten Jaaskelainen in goal.
The main man for me in the middle was definitely new signing Nigel Reo-Coker who should have won Man of the Match and dominated at all level; in the air, tackling and in particular his passing. QPR could not handle him and he proved to boss Owen Coyle that he is worth every penny. Two other Bolton players really stood out; Gary Cahill as always, impressed and I would be surprised to see him in a Bolton shirt come September 1st. Fellow centre half, Zat Knight prevented both QPR strikers creating anything, winning everything in the air, stopping QPR threatening the Bolton goal. Bolton proved superior in the air, winning 58% of aerial duals and stopped QPR’s monotonous long ball approach
Despite the welcoming party being ruined, there were several positives for QPR. Good performances from debutantes, front men and veteran Shaun Derry who proved experience may still be vital to stay up in this league. Most importantly however, the prospective takeover is ‘imminent’ and hopefully that will give the club the stability that it needs.