As the 2015/16 Championship season progresses, the QPR rollercoaster has yet to pull into the station to let its fans off for a moment of relief. This international break, on the back of a dramatic 4-3 last second victory over Bolton, is just another long slow climb up the hill to the next match against Birmingham City. Where will the ride go from there? No one is quite sure.
QPR have become so unpredictable, it is impossible to tell. One thing is for sure though, no other team is playing like Queens Park Rangers this season. Having scored 18 goals and conceded 20, QPR have capped the end of both categories for the Championship and have to be, by far, the most entertaining club for any neutrals as they are certain to always see goals.
A back and forth encounter with Blackburn, a solid display away to Hull City and another humiliating defeat at Craven Cottage, topped off by the heart attack of a match against Bolton Wanderers, place the club 11th in the table. At times, it feels like we should be higher in the league, but probably deserve to be lower, yet 11th seems a fair result. Our goalscoring prowess is undeniable, but very few of our results have been from dominate displays. Seven of our 15 points have been in situations where the team have had to come from behind from 2-0 down on two occasions.
Rangers are conceding an average of two goals a game, and while scoring almost two a game has helped keep them close to the playoff positions, dry spells always seem to happen eventually. Whether due to injury or bad luck or for just no apparent reason, QPR will inevitably stop scoring so freely at some point. Conversely, teams do not magically stop conceding goals for no reason. The defense has to be sorted out or things will go south quickly. If Rangers didn’t have the firepower to turn their results around, they would be fighting relegation.
Many Queens Park Rangers fans are already calling for Chris Ramsey’s head, and while I still think he needs more time some of his decisions have not impressed me.
I’ll start with his lineup decisions. Karl Henry has stared in almost every game and has been awful in almost every game. Injured all through preseason and made to look like he’d never even get a chance due to summer signings, for some unknown reason Ramsey has decided he is the best option in midfield. Slow, poor at passing, offers nothing going forward and seems to have forget how to defend, hopefully Sandro will soon take his place.
Additionally, Ramsey seems too stubborn to deviate from his preferred 4-2-3-1. While it has worked well at times, when it doesn’t, we get hammered and it seems like a switch to 4-4-2 should be made, but it always comes too late or not at all.
This feeds into my final complaint. Ramsey still continues to wait too long to bring on subs and uses them sparingly if at all. I continue to hope these are just growing pains he will eventually overcome. I like Ramsey but it seems like his inexperience with this league could easily get the better of him and may already be. Time will tell.
On the bright side, when Rangers play well, they look dangerous and are enjoyable. While the injury to Charlie Austin seemed like just the perfect death sentence to leave us taking on water faster than we can bail it out, Jay Emmanuel Thomas surprised everyone with an excellent all around display against Bolton. Not only did he score a goal that rallied the team for a comeback and a winner in the last few seconds, he defended better than our centerbacks at the same time making some crucial interceptions. He saw his chance to prove himself and he took it. Up until then he seemed like more of a big striker who was afraid to really get into the action. If he can keep up this work-rate, he might become an adequate replacement for when Austin inevitably departs.
Overall the defense really needs to get it together. While Ramsey did drop James Perch against Bolton, Nedum Onuoha, who has proven right back isn’t his best position, took his place. Chris Ramsey needs to find the best back line and get them organized, even if that means bringing Clint Hill back in just to keep things settled down. As stated before, conceding two goals a game is not sustainable, but it is very QPR.
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