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QPR 3 Liverpool 2 - Prem (Mar 21 2012)

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QPR 3 LIVERPOOL 2

Report by Dave Usher

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Scorer(s) – Sebastian Coates, Dirk Kuyt

Half Time - 0-0

Venue - Loftus Road

Date - Wed 21 Mar 2012

Star Man – Stewart Downing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm struggling to remember a time when I was more angry after a loss. Let's not sugarcoat this, QPR are an absolutely fucking woeful football team and were made to look so for most of this game. They were so bad you could make a legitimate case for criticising our players for taking so long to build up a two goal advantage. We should have been 3-0 up inside the opening quarter of an hour, but as usual we couldn't turn our superiority into goals.

 

No matter, by the 72 minute mark we'd given ourselves a two goal and were cruising to three points. Then we gave away a stupid goal from a corner, and it was all downhill from there. Once they'd pulled one back, you could tell a second was coming. We'd been caught with our pants down and the momentum had shifted completely in the home side's favour. An equaliser was inevitable, you could see it coming a mile off and when they got the second with five minutes plus stoppage still to play, I was more worried about them scoring than I was hopeful about us getting one. They didn't even have to work for it, Enrique gift wrapped the winner for them with more or less the last kick of the game.

 

I'm struggling to even find the words, I'm so pissed off. This should just never happen, the players need a massive kick up the arse for how they switched off after going 2-0 up. Newsflash lads, you're not fucking good enough to be complacent, just look at the league table. This is just so far from being acceptable that.. well I can't even come up with anything to describe just how far from being acceptable it is. Come up with an analogy for the most unacceptable thing you can come up with, and this was worse.

 

It would be bad enough if this had happened against a good side, but QPR??? Fuck off Liverpool, you should be ashamed of yourselves. Shitting your pants any time a ball came into the box, just what the hell is going on there? And what about at the other end of the pitch? We missed chances, as usual, but even worse than that was the amount of times we failed to take advantage of great situations. I want to see Hughes take QPR down, and we've just handed them a lifeline they didn't deserve. A good side would have absolutely murdered QPR, they were wide open all night.

 

We're not a good side though. Oh don't get me wrong, we often do a great impersonation of one as we dominate most games we play in. Good sides have killer instinct though, we most certainly don't. We're like a boxer who dances around the ring landing pretty little jabs and nice combinations but who doesn't really hurt his opponent. And all the while, the opponent is biding his time waiting for chance to deliver the knockout punch. In boxing terms, we're not big punchers and we've got a weak chin.

 

I think it's about time I addressed the huge elephant in the room. Nobody wants to say it, but when was the last time our goalkeeper saved anything? The majority of goals we've been conceding may not be directly attributable to Reina, but he's paid a huge amount of money to make saves yet he never fucking does. He's got this reputation as one of the world's top keepers, but he's barely made a good save of note all season. Week after week we see keepers making great saves against us. Week after week our keeper saves fuck all.

 

We've all seen the stats about our poor conversion rate. That's used as a stick to beat the attacking players with, and justifiably so. But what about the stats at the other end? We give up fewer chances than almost anybody, yet the percentage of those chances that end up in the net is amongst the highest in the league. Is that not reflective of the goalkeeper? Surely it has to be to some extent. I don't need stats to tell me this though, I can see it with my own eyes. Joe Hart made more great saves in the four games he played against us than Reina has made all season. Be honest, how many great saves can you remember from Reina this season?

 

It's not that he's making howlers, that's not the problem. Yes he's been directly at fault for a few goals, but not enough to be worried by as you can look at every keeper in the league and there'll be goals that he should have done better with. That doesn't bother me, it's the fact he hardly ever makes a fucking save. For me, a top goalkeeper is someone who you hate playing against as you know you'll have to do your damndest to beat the fucker. A top goalkeeper is a difference maker. Pepe Reina has not been a difference maker for some time, even though none of us want to admit it.

 

How many saves has he made this season where you've thought 'he had no right to stop that?' You can look at each of the goals from this game in isolation and the blame lies more with individuals other than Reina. Henderson for the first, Skrtel the second and Enrique the third. It's the same for most of the goals we concede. But great goalkeepers make saves, they bail their team-mates out when they've made a mistake, they frustrate the other team by stopping shots you don't think they will be able to stop.

 

Pepe Reina isn't doing that, it seems almost every shot on target against us ends up in the net. He's the goalkeeping equivalent of our attackers if you like. Being a great goalkeeper isn't just about not making big mistakes, you have to make some saves once in a while too, just like the forwards have to score more goals than they have been doing.

 

It may seem like I'm blaming him for this defeat. Far from it, this is a collective thing and I'm not pinning it on the goalkeeper. He's not being made the scapegoat, this defeat wasn't his fault and there's plenty of other reasons as to why we're underachieving so much this season. He is a factor though.

 

It's been on my mind for weeks, months even. This was the straw that broke the camel's back I guess. None of the goals were his mistakes, but for me a top goalkeeper saves at least one of them (Hart may have even saved all three, he's saved very similar efforts in games against us). Hell, even a very good goalkeeper would be saving one of them, it's not like any of them were worldies. Pepe needs to step it up big time, as he's been outperformed by most of the keepers we've faced this season, whether it's Vorm, Ruddy, Hart, Al Habsy, Szczesny or whoever you care to name.

 

I've made a similar point about our attacking players and how their goal tally's are inferior to players at the likes of Swansea, Blackburn, Norwich, Newcastle etc. The same applies to Reina, he's not performing anywhere near the level we should expect, the level that rightly earned him his reputation as one of the best keepers around. The attacking players need to start putting the ball in the net, and Reina needs to start making saves again.

 

Most of what happens between both goalmouths is good but it's bordering on criminal now how many times we've lost or drawn games that we were by far the better side. We were so superior to QPR it was embarrassing at times but we've ended up losing a game that was so one sided for 75 minutes it's not even funny. We could beat Wigan 10-0 on Saturday (don't laugh) and it won't make up for this. Those three points were ours and we simply gave them away.

 

We're not going to get anywhere near Chelsea or Arsenal, and Newcastle can probably breathe easy now too I reckon. That's embarrassing. We've won one cup, and hopefully we'll win another. Even if that happens, the players should be looking at the league table, seeing themselves below Newcastle and they should be absolutely fucking ashamed of themselves.

 

Kenny isn't blameless, I didn't like the starting line up and I liked the three substitutions even less. Coates scored a stunning goal but why not put Flanagan on instead of shunting Carragher out to right back? When Adam went off I'd have preferred to see Carroll or even Shelvey than Henderson, and whilst I didn't like to see Suarez brought off either there may have been an injury there as he'd been limping just before.

 

Regardless of team selection or substitutions, the players have to carry the can for what happened in the closing stages of this game. It wasn't anything Dalglish did that caused us to lose. They had the game won, they were in complete control and they blew it. They folded under pressure and there is a definitely lack of mental toughness in this squad. They can't kill teams off, and they often bottle it when defending leads.

 

It's not all doom and gloom, we've played some great football this season and we've shown in the cups and in some of the more difficult league games what a good side we can be on our day (even if we haven't won all of those games). I still feel pretty good about the big picture and I'd be a lot more concerned if we were producing performances like the Sunderland one on a regular basis. We aren't, those are thankfully rare, we're mostly playing well even if the results don't always show it.

 

We desperately need to develop a ruthless streak, a winning mentality throughout the entire club, but how do you do that? I don't know, I just hope Kenny does.

 

 

Team: Reina; Kelly (Coates), Carragher, Skrtel, Enrique; Gerrard, Spearing, Adam (Henderson); Downing, Suarez (Carroll), Kuyt:

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Agree with the Reina comments Dave, it's something I too have thought a couple of times. It's hard to really pinpoint what he's doing wrong but at the same time it's definately noticable that Pepe doesn't make as many saves as he should be.

 

I like the boxer metaphor too. We are like a talented amateur boxer fighting pro's. QPR are a like a journeyman pro, but they carry more of a knockout punch. Or something.

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Regarding Reina.....Chelsea away in the league.

It was 1-1 and he makes a great save diving low to his left when the momentum was with Chelsea in a game that we'd almost certainly have lost if he hadn't done so.

And that's about it as far as I can remember.

I daresay he's made SOME other good saves, but off the top of my head that's the only one that's made a difference.

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Personally I think Reina will go in the summer and my honest opinion on why he's gone shit is the big fucking dosser goalkeeper coach. What could John Achterberg possibly have to coach to Pepe? You only have to watch the idiot at half time 'warming up' Doni, he can't even kick it to him from 5 yards. Embarrassing.

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Perfect analysis Dave and great points about Pepe.

 

Like you stated he hasn't really made many howlers this season but he is our last line of defence and more often than not when he's been called upon to do something special he's been found lacking. He's got a more than decent defence in front of him but even so like any back four they can be breached and that's when a goalie in top form is needed.

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Regarding Reina.....Chelsea away in the league.

It was 1-1 and he makes a great save diving low to his left when the momentum was with Chelsea in a game that we'd almost certainly have lost if he hadn't done so.

And that's about it as far as I can remember.

I daresay he's made SOME other good saves, but off the top of my head that's the only one that's made a difference.

 

A few people have mentioned that one. It was a long time ago wasn't it?

 

Personally I think Reina will go in the summer and my honest opinion on why he's gone shit is the big fucking dosser goalkeeper coach. What could John Achterberg possibly have to coach to Pepe? You only have to watch the idiot at half time 'warming up' Doni, he can't even kick it to him from 5 yards. Embarrassing.

 

Agree with that. I don't think Reina isn't trying or he's playing for a move or anything like that. He's not been the same for some time though, and Valero might be the reason why. He's defo a big part in the lack of penalty saves I'd say.

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Guest davelfc

We're shit at corners, taking them and defending them. We had a load in the first half of that game and none of them were a threat. However when we concede a corner my heart is in my mouth as we just can't seem to handle them very well. We generally head most clear but always to the opposition and then we dawdle around while they pile on the pressure.

 

True about Pepe, it sounds like we're making him the latest scapegoat but he has not had a very good season by his own standards. Maybe he just has so little to do?

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Personally I think Reina will go in the summer and my honest opinion on why he's gone shit is the big fucking dosser goalkeeper coach. What could John Achterberg possibly have to coach to Pepe? You only have to watch the idiot at half time 'warming up' Doni, he can't even kick it to him from 5 yards. Embarrassing.

 

Agree. Does anyone actually think that Achterberg knows what a world class goalkeeper need to perform up to his best. I thought he only was some temporary appointment, but now he's been responsible for Pepe's deteriorating performances for more than a year. I'm not saying Pepe is without any responsibility himself, but we need top quality coaching if we want top quality players.

 

I also agree with Dave about the Kelly substitution . What's the point with having Flanagan on the bench if we don't intend to use him. Everyone knows Carra hates playing on the right and even though Flano hasn't been performing as good as last season in the few games he played earlier in the season his performances and abilities still warrant a chance to make up for that and I think he should start agains Wigan. If he isn't good enough in Kenny's eyes he should be loaned out to play more often and at a better level than the reserves league. He's an England under-21 so there shouldn't be any trouble finding clubs that would like to have him for the rest of the season.

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Valero, according to both Pepe and Torres, was very good at reading opposition players, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and how they usually act in certain situations. The players went onto the pitch better informed about their opponents and could deal with them much better as a result. I don't think our training drills are nearly as well informed now, despite us having numerous scouts to look at things like this. For Pepe in particular, it seems to me that in training he goes through the usual drills which cover the 'how' part, but there isn't much emphasis on dealing with the 'why' or 'when', and these are the things which make the difference. In addition to this, he's had no threat to his position since Dudek left so perhaps he's in a bit of a comfort zone at present.

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Flanagan had to sit out the Next Gen game, and the last few reserve games, just in case we got injuries. Then both our right backs get injured, he's on the bench and we move Carragher over to right back instead of using him. So why's Flanagan on the bench instead of Maxi? He should be playing in the reserves if he's not gonig to use him.

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We desperately need to develop a ruthless streak, a winning mentality throughout the entire club, but how do you do that? I don't know, I just hope Kenny does.

 

Another absolutely great report Dave! The final sentence sums up the big picture perfectly I think.

Unfortunately for us Taggart and the mancs posses exactly the kind of missing ingredient we're looking for here but they appear to feed of Sir ExLax's never ending bitterness and bile and a 'backs against the wall' mentality to do it. They are, in their own 'unique' way, just like a darker & more disturbing(!) version of what we were in the dominant 70's/ 80's when we ruthlessly cast aside all challengers...

 

What will fuel our return to the 'right stuff' and the winning mentality? I think Kenny has as good a chance of answering this as anyone if only he has the time to do so and the ingenuity to tap in to it.

A few suggestions.

He may want to consider making things a little more straight forward and think more about hurting the opposition rather than worrying about them (this was a criticism of Rafa and Houllier to). I remember in Kenny's first stint when he'd drop Beardsley in a 'horses for courses' type of mentality. It did my head in then & it still does today! Go for the opposition jugular when it's exposed! That's what Taggarts teams do.

Kenny may also want to start playing Carroll and Suarez together up front more often between now and the end of the season (at least 2 strikers against the likes of QPR). He may want to make sure that Downing plays left wing (what was that right flank switch with Maxi all about against Stoke?) when Carroll is on and encouraged to get crosses and service to him. Either way he has to get a run in the side (injury permitting) like Henderson has had.

The Carroll situation reminds me a lot of the Collymore situation with Evans. We invested all that money in a big powerful forward then didn't seem to know what to do to get the best out of him consistently.

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You speak my mind about Pepe, Dave. When was the last time he made any save of notes? A save that saves us points. I think maybe the Arsenal game when an arsenal player was 1-1 with him (don't remember who that was, though.) But the point is, anything that's on target ends up in the back of our net. I wish he comes back to his old self soon.

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I still think it's a better the devil you know case with Reina. A lot of people have started to have a bit of a go at him and I think this is probably the most well constucted argument about him. The thing is we pretty much went a long time with goalkeepers who let in too many goals they shouldn't never mind letting in goals they can't really help.

 

The first goal is totally down to one thing that drives me fucking mental. Why the fucking hell did we not have any men on the posts. It's fucking criminal when a team does this. When headers or shots come in from that range it's pretty much unstoppable for a keeper unless it's down his throat. The second goal can just happen, Skrtel just literally took one step too far and the cross was pretty much on the money and again it was too close for him to react.

 

In terms of him leaving I can't see that happening. Look at the problems the top teams have had with their keepers in recent years. We would make a serious error getting rid of him. For a start who is going to buy him outside the premier league? And secondly who are you going to replace him with? There are a lot worse problems around the side than Reina not making impossible saves.

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Agree with the Reina comments Dave, it's something I too have thought a couple of times. It's hard to really pinpoint what he's doing wrong but at the same time it's definately noticable that Pepe doesn't make as many saves as he should be.

 

I like the boxer metaphor too. We are like a talented amateur boxer fighting pro's. QPR are a like a journeyman pro, but they carry more of a knockout punch. Or something.

 

RoboRiise once said Arsenal were "all fart and no shit". I think that's a pretty apt way of describing us.

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Its the lack of mental toughness that really worries me and has for some time.I wonder if this aspect plays any part in our appraisal of players in the transfer market-it doesnt't look like it with most recent arrivals irrespective of any debate about their technical merits.We are so fragile when something goes against us-we just look as if we want to optimistically limp to the finish line.

I dont know the answer and more worringly dont know whether our management do either.

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Good report Dave. Needed saying.

 

I think a world class keeper has all the shot stopping skills but also rules his 6 yard box on crosses. Reina doesn't do this unfortunately.

 

So frustrating how we have teams beaten and then capitulate. We needed a striker and a midfield stopper in Jan really. Let's hope we can buy some quality in the summer.

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Have to agree about Pepe. He just doesn't look motivated anymore. He's doing OK and makes the odd good save but whereas a year or two ago I thought he was the best in the League he just isn't now. Sad.

I didn't understand the substitution of Kelly (was that an aggravation of previous injury?) with Coates, Carra has struggled there this year it was asking for trouble. Maybe Kenny thought we could get away with it against a bad team?

And since they are so bad why didn't we go for them with Carroll and Suarez up front? They have shown signs of working together and then we don't play them together. Surely we need to use these last games to see if there is a future for Carroll?

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Mentality/confidence is definitely the key to most of the issues with the team. Even the goal scoring thing is partly attributable to it (although we desperately need two new match winners - one for up front and one for wide right).

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Reina did make a vital save against Bale one on one at Anfield in the dying minutes that saved us a point.

 

I thought of that one too. I think he's still probably the best keeper in the league in those one on one situations but the comments from Dave are probably fair. More concerning for me is his distribution, it always used to be mint but recently, and I'm particularly thinking of the Stoke game, it's been long and hopeful. I presume he isn't being told to go long all the time, well, I hope not anyway.

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Push up and we play to our goalkeepers strengths. Staying deep creates pressure. The other Gk's performing well against us more to do with our finishing.

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