Matt Le Tissier spent 90 minutes on Saturday professing the ‘fact’ that Queens Park Rangers were ‘in for a hiding’ and that they were no threat to Premier League regulars, Everton. After Everton failed to take advantage of their early dominance, a clever move from QPR set up Tommy Smith from 12 yards and he proved why he should play in his preferred centre-forward position when he cooly bent the ball around the outstretched arms of Tim Howard, into the bottom right hand corner, giving QPR their first goal back in the Premiership. Everton had been ‘tangoed’ and QPR managed to hold on to their lead whilst wearing their eye-catching new Orange away strip.
This had been a massive week behind the scenes at QPR. A new owner gave the club the massive lift everyone needed. There was new belief and fans were looking to the future. This completely contrasted with the week at Everton. Both clubs appeared to have been in the same boat; no funds had been spent on players and a frustrated atmosphere seemed to be present at Goodison Park; the difference being that there seemed to be a bright light on the horizon for QPR. QPR fans could sympathise; a summer of free transfers and lack of spending led to fans praying for the sale of the club. When ‘saviour’ Tony Fernandez came in and promised Warnock money to spend, the attitude changed at QPR and this helped a weakened QPR team to win (a virus had hit a few squad members) and to heap more woe on Everton and their owners. It just shows how a change in attitude and belief can alter how a team performs despite no major changes in personnel on the pitch. QPR fans will still be hoping for new signings to turn them into a team that can survive because the current squad still doesn’t appear to be up to the job.
For the second week running, the statistics were against QPR. They only had 48.3% of the possession and attempts on goal were heavily in Everton’s favour. However, a famous phrase in football “if you don’t take your chances, you don’t win football matches” was made clear here. A big part of this was down to Paddy Kenny who made a few match winning saves but the crossbar also came to QPR’s rescue early in the first half when Baines thought he had scored from a free kick. Everton had 14 attempts on goal but only 4 were on target, suggesting that they do need a 20 goal + a season striker but it has obviously been made clear that funds are not available.
QPR’s passing impressed me this week, 73% of their 421 passes were accurate and they kept hold of the ball well when needed. They struggled last week to win aerial battles which stopped QPR threatening Bolton in attack but won 50% of aerial battles this week. QPR hit 75 long balls compared to Everton’s 45 which showed QPR still haven’t adopted a Premiership ‘on the ground’ way of playing. I think QPR do need a couple of experienced Premier League players and a slight tweak in the way they play football to survive in this league. There is certainly a desire for more quality in the squad and a more ‘attractive’ style of football. An away game against fellow relegation fighters Wigan is up next and a win there might convince some of the ‘expert’ pundits that QPR are capable of staying up in this division.
There was one man who stood out for me in the QPR team again. Shaun Derry, who had been rumoured to be leaving QPR in the summer, cemented his place in the team after another outstanding performance and controlled the game, just in front of the defence. He once again showed experience is just as important to have as youth in your squad. He accurately completed 86% of his 36 passes, which was far superior to his opposite number ‘£20 million’ rated Jack Rodwell who only completed 73% of his 22 passes. Shaun Derry appears to be the unsung hero at QPR who is often forgotten behind the well advertised Adel Taraabt and Ali Faurlin.
A fantastic week for QPR and new belief is coming out of Loftus Road. The big news is still to come as to whether or not QPR can land any of the big names they are being linked with. The latest feeling at QPR is they can and will stay up!