The ACN Match Review – Queens Park Rangers (a)

11/02/24

Despite some signs to the contrary, hope isn’t quite lost. If it’s a sign of maturity to enjoy a match one’s team doesn’t win, then Nick Hayhoe is - almost - ready to receive his Saga cruise catalogue.

The line-up

Not really sure what to make of the starting XI at the moment. On paper, it’s probably our strongest – but before sparking into life after half time, our first 45 minutes were absolute dogshit.

Hurrah moment

I haven’t been to many matches this season, so Sargent’s goal is automatically my favourite moment of the whole season. Going from 1-0 to 1-2 away from home is a magic feeling.

Boooooo moment

In football, momentum is one of those things managers, coaches and data scientists will dismiss with a wave of a hand for not being sophisticated enough a concept. Yet it was clear Norwich were well on top after their second goal against a struggling side, and I firmly believed a third was likely. Not so the manager, who decided to close his eyes and point randomly to the people sitting on his bench to determine who should replace the struggling players on the pitch. We were lucky Paul Clements didn’t end up playing up front.

And so it transpired that we lost all our momentum, with QPR emboldened enough to equalise after a few minutes. Suddenly we found ourselves chasing the game and, despite not appearing to settle for a draw, couldn’t offer any real threat towards the end of the game.

The atmosphere

As with most of London’s non-Premier League teams, I quite like QPR. Loftus Road is the sort of place that shouldn’t still exist, and still doggedly clings on despite corrugated roofs, tight squeezes and potentially astronomical land values. Simply, it’s nice to be in a part of London (or England for that matter) that hasn’t been sold off to the Investment Fund of some Gulf Oil State for luxury flats or ‘urban renewal’, and exists purely because of the community that believes in it.

The atmosphere itself in the ground was a typical Nodge Away one, somewhat hamstrung by the two tiers in the stand. QPR’s fans weren’t loud but it wasn’t a complete library either – they clearly have an issue with their most raucous support being at the opposite end to the away fans, which stops the back and forth from getting going.

Also, quick word for the stewards who were some of the most pleasant I’ve encountered. I was a bit worried about bringing my backpack into the ground, but it was all dealt with promptly and professionally and without making me feel like a criminal or small child. Something which sounds simple but a lot of venues don’t get right.

Hero of the match

Gabriel Sara continues to clearly be a cut above at this level and I will kick off – as usual – when we inevitably sell him to Aston Villa in the summer. No one seems to listen but I will keep kicking off.

Our post-match takeaway

The emotional glow from a pleasing winter sunset walk back to the Tube station (how often can one freely walk amid London’s roads in low-level quiet?) was undone by the realisation that all trains out of King’s Cross had been delayed indefinitely. Meanwhile, Spurs supporters had decided to clog up every nearby fast food outlet. So hungry and dehydrated with a day-drinking hungover, I ended up on the Liverpool Street to Cambridge train, which stops at every single London suburb in existence. It was during this journey that my thoughts about the game soured, and I couldn’t shake the belief that we really should be dominating the team that’s 22nd in the league, even if it was away from home.

I kept asking myself: Do we need a total change? Yes, I still think so. Do we pull the trigger now? I don’t…think so? I don’t know. I’m tired and hungry and confused and suffering from Travelling In Britain By Train Syndrome.

And yet, the game itself was moderately entertaining and I also enjoyed the nice moment of togetherness we shared with the players after our second goal and after the final whistle.

2023-24. The Year of the Confusion.

Comments

  1. Roger says:

    To muck about with subs when we have just gone from 0-1 to 2-1 up was bonkers. ‘Keep foot on throat’ is what in German?

  2. ALEXB says:

    Do we need a complete change ?

    Surely we do we now have a coach who he thinks could get sent of after being booked in the game yet he wasn’t.

    Last week his substitutions worked and he got praised for doing them early this week he completely lost the plot, I understand Stacey being subbed if he was unwell but throwing on Sorensen who’s never covered the RB slot was pure stupidity, Expecting Barnes to be a loan striker again stupidly.

    Maybe Wagner knows he’s secure in his job till the summer and decided he no longer cares who knows.

    This squad may not be the cities best but they have shown they can do better, I just don’t think Wagner and his Valkeries can get a consistent preformance out of them.

    Knapper may just realise this and ignore the calls for a playoff place, bring in a man of his own who can then assess the squadmake decision on those out of contract and start to build a style for a promotion push next season.

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