Monday, 17 September 2012

QPR 0 Chelsea 0: consider yourself entertained

The recent passing of Max Bygraves went unremarked by this is my england. This was a shocking oversight. By way of correcting said oversight, today's musings on the QPR weekend are brought to you in the spirit of the late entertainer.

I wanna tell you a story... about a no-score draw
A 0-0 draw is not what many fans are hoping to see when paying today's eye-watering prices to watch ninety minutes of professional football. But not every goalless draw is entirely dour, and the fare served up at Loftus Road on Saturday was reasonably satisfying. Well, reasonably satisfying for most QPR supporters in attendance. The quiet, reserved fans of the away side? Not so much. For them, these terribly unimportant matches against teams that they don't care about (or even ever think about) are meant to be an easy stroll towards well-deserved victory. Instead, the visiting Pensioners supporters had to watch their £50 million striker having another of his anonymous off days. They also had to watch him flouncing off when substituted.  The poor dears also had to endure a woeful performance from one of their legendary stalwarts as a rapidly fading Frank Lampard managed to complete just 68.7% of the passes he attempted.

Lampard's efforts were in stark contrast to the composed elegance of the home side's Alejandro Faurlin, who completed 88.1% of his passes. The Argentinian has bounced back into fitness and form after a very long lay off and his return may prove to be every bit as important to the Rangers as any of the recent player acquisitions the club has made. That said, Faurlin's partner in the midfield engine room, Esteban 'the Pirate' Granero, is playing his way into the supporters' affections very quickly indeed. The former Real Madrid man was singled out for praise for his debut performance at Manchester City. He looked even better when making his first appearance on the Superhoops' home turf.

More surprising, perhaps, was the excellent play of Kiwi centre-half Ryan Nelsen. Not many QPR fans predicted that the former Blackburn and Spurs man would be a really useful addition to the squad. But it looks like the veteran defender may well prove his doubters wrong.

You need hands
But if praise is going to be spread around the team which QPR put out on Saturday, it would be entirely remiss to overlook the home side's new 'keeper. Because based on the evidence of this one game, the vastly experienced Brazilian stopper looks like a massive upgrade. This is a guy, after all, who has regularly been touted as one of the world's best goalies. Hail Cesar!

Now, while we're on the subject of a man who will doubtless contribute much to the Rangers' 2012-13 campaign by using his hands, it is worth reminding ourselves that hands were the focus of much attention before this match. Because once again we had to endure this country's sensationalist and puerile media outlets aggravating the bad feeling that was always going to be a feature of the game's pre-match handshaking ritual.

Feel free to take a view, then, on whether Anton Ferdinand was right or wrong not to shake the hands of the two Chelsea players with whom he continues to feel aggrieved. Feel free to wonder a bit about the more surprising business of Park Ji-Sung not shaking hands with the Blues skipper. But this short article is going to give that whole discussion a distinct and determined swerve. Enough already, right? Let's just forget the whole dismal business until we next have the pleasure of tangling with the Pensioners of SW6.

But it will be harder, perhaps, to forget another hands-related incident from Saturday's game. Harder still, maybe, to forgive it. Oddly, however, it was not an incident that was even noticed by very many people in the ground. Certainly, none of the good people sat in the X block of Ellerslie Road appear to have been aware of it. But a picture tells a thousand words. So look at this snap from one of the Sunday tabloids:

Here we see Rangers crowd favourite Jamie Mackie having his throat grabbed by that man Terry. Not pretty, is it? A sending off offence, surely? It certainly must be given that we only have to look to our recent memories to be reminded that a player who raises his hands anywhere near an opponent's neck is meant to get a red card. Think back, for example, to last season's home tie against Wolves. Remember how Djibril Cissé got his marching orders for putting his hands around the throat of Roger Johnson? So what's the difference? Not much, right? So presumably the referee is another person who failed to see this bit of thuggery from the Chelsea Captain. 

Fings ain't wot they used t'be?
This lucky escape for the Pensioners defender, then, may balance out the various unsuccessful penalty appeals about which Blues supporters are presumably still moaning. But it would be an unwise Chelsea fan who blames nothing more than bad luck with the officials for his team's failure to beat little, irrelevant QPR. After all, the Champions of Europe enjoyed less possession and passed the ball less accurately than the home side.

This is something that they will need to sort out if they are going to go back to their accustomed habit of swatting aside pathetic little also-rans like our team. Because this season's decent start notwithstanding, Pensioners fans will remember with discomfort a number of occasions during the 2011-12 campaign when their side did not manage to blow away supposedly inferior opposition. Wigan, Fulham, Norwich and Swansea all managed to hold the Blues to a draw.

Back at QPR, Mark Hughes has promised that our own struggles of last season are to be consigned firmly to the past. We will not, he tells us, have to endure another relegation battle. Well, let's see. The opening day capitulation at home to Swansea seemed to give lie to that notion. But perhaps Saturday's showing offered evidence to support the idea that the massive number of new signings at Loftus Road can indeed be blended effectively to create a decent team. That said, another tough fixture looms ahead. Their poor early form notwithstanding, Spurs will surely offer a stern test at White Hart Lane. But they do have a bloody awful manager and they do have a funny habit of leaving expensive new signings on the bench. So you never know.


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