Beat around the Bush: QPR’s ruthless efficiency is ominous for Championship rivals
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Rangers blogger Lawrence Crew reflects on another clinical yet effective performance as the Hoops sealed a fourth consecutive 1-0 league win
The match with Birmingham City was a game that was hotly anticipated by Rangers fans after the flurry of late deadline-day activity.
This, combined with the tedium and sheer inconvenience of the international break, meant that supporters were counting down the days until football made a welcome return to Loftus Road.
Sadly, as a spectacle it was an anti-climax, yet Rangers continued their ruthless efficiency by notching up yet another win, despite turning in another fairly unspectacular performance.
With the deadline-day arrivals of Benoit Assou-Ekotto, Tom Carroll and Niko Kranjcar and return to fitness of Matt Phillips, there were two weeks of incessant deliberating over what Redknapp’s starting line-up would be.
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As it turned out, just Carroll featured from the start, due to the other new signings still struggling fitness-wise.
You could be excused for expecting Saturday to be an easy, comfortable day’s work against a Birmingham team unrecognisable from the established Premier League outfit they once were, on the back of a less than impressive start to their campaign.
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Somewhat predictably, it was quite the opposite.
QPR struggled to cope with Birmingham’s relentless pressing, shutting down and hassling when in possession in their half, and on several occasions carelessly gave the ball away when put under pressure.
There was a distinct lack of fluency to our game which quickly descended into a very scrappy, physical affair, suiting Birmingham down to the ground.
With an overly officious referee quick to blow up at every opportunity and a lack of incision in our play, the crowd started to become frustrated with how disjointed our performance was. But full credit to Birmingham; clearly, they’re a very limited side, yet they used several of the man-mountains included in their team to play to their strengths in bullying and out muscling us.
It worked as they enjoyed the best chances of the game, hitting the post and missing a howler of a one-on-one. The first half wasn’t pleasant viewing.
The second half was a vast improvement from Rangers, with the subbing of boo-boy Bobby Zamora, and change of formation, seemingly the catalyst of this.
A goal eventually arrived, with Charlie Austin presented with an un-missable chance on the goal line, heading in, much to the relief of the player and crowd alike.
It was evident how much his goal drought had been playing on his mind, as the entire team celebrated with him, a further indication of the togetherness and spirit that exists in the team this season.
While it was by no means vintage stuff, there were glimpses of the sort of quality that we’ll be able to produce this season once we’re in full flight.
It is hugely encouraging that while we haven’t played anywhere near our best, we’ve developed a ruthless knack of winning games still.
This must be a huge worry for the rest of the division, some of whom could be on the receiving end of a real hiding when things eventually click.
To be sitting joint top of the table, when we’re arguably a work in progress still, is immensely satisfying and exciting too. Harry Redknapp admitted as much after the game, confessing that we can still produce a lot more. With three out of the next four games at home, he might not have to wait long.