Queens Park Rangers gave away a pair of 3-D glasses with their matchday programme last night. Unfortunately for their supporters, they have no transformative effect when viewing the Premier League table.
QPR are bottom of the division after six games with just two points and Mark Hughes finds himself under pressure this morning. He signed 11 players at some cost during the summer and his side gave away two soft goals in the first 35 minutes last night to a newly-promoted team, finishing the game with ten men following the dismissal of substitute Samba Diakite.
If all that sounds like something of a shambles then that is exactly what it felt like for much of the game. Adel Taarabt scored an inspired goal for QPR two minutes after coming on as a substitute but then if anything that showed the extent of Hughes’ desperation by that point – Taraabt has not played a minute for the club since the first day of the season
Hughes said afterwards that he believed the club would give him time and cited the disruption of injuries as a mitigating factor. “ We have had a big investment in the club and we want to improve – and we will. It’s very early days. Until we get positive results on the board, everything is up for debate. We need to start winning football matches. If we do it goes away.”
Inevitably, the odds on Harry Redknapp succeeding Hughes plummeted after last night’s defeat. Hughes pointed to the run of fixtures so far including three games – Manchester City, Spurs and Chelsea – that “we didn’t expect to get anything from”. His team got a draw against the European champions but it has been two home defeats to Reading and this one to West Ham that have been most damaging.
For Sam Allardyce, it was a good performance that takes his team up to seventh place, one above Arsenal. His team picked up eight bookings last night, which will earn them a fine and drew criticism from the manager for referee Mark Clattenburg. Allardyce lost Winston Reid and Joey O’Brien to injury in the first 35 minutes but was at pains to point out how well his defence had coped.
The goals came from Matt Jarvis, his first for the club, and Ricardo Vaz Te and there was also a venomous shot from substitute Andy Carroll late in the game in only his second performance for the club since signing in the last week of the transfer window. Roy Hodgson was at Loftus Road to check on the striker who missed the last two World Cup qualifiers with a hamstring problem.
Carroll was injured in his debut against Fulham and although Allardyce gave his blessing for the player to be named in the England squad when it is announced on Thursday he cautioned against pushing him too hard. “He can’t play 90 minutes yet,” He said. “He is woefully short of match practice ... I’m in favour of him getting some match fitness as long as it is done sensibly.”
West Ham’s first goal within three minutes started with the lively Vaz Te who exchanged passes twice with Kevin Nolan before the West Ham captain’s mis-hit shot fell to Matt Jarvis at the back post and, unmarked, he headed the ball in. Nolan, and Mohamed Diame, were both dominant in midfield and Allardyce said he was delighted with the running of Carlton Cole despite his unreliability in front of goal.
Reid went off in 20 minutes when he collided with Jussi Jaaskelainen and left with concussion. On 35 minutes, QPR cleared the ball under pressure in their penalty area and James Tomkins, Reid’s replacement, got it back quickly from the right. Vaz Te’s connection was good at the far post but it took a small deflection off Stephane Mbia that deceived Julio Cesar.
Booed off at half-time and struggling badly, there was a mood for change from the home crowd. Taarabt came on and scored within two minutes, a beauty, curled in from the left channel with his right boot after he had swept past Guy Demel.
Hughes had also brought on Diakite at the same time but that was less successful. He lasted just 20 minutes on the pitch before picking up his second yellow card. The first was for a tackle on Vaz Te; the second for a foul on Demel. “It’s harsh on the lad,” Hughes said, “he doesn’t seem to get any leeway.” QPR departed to boos.