QPR 0 Sheffield Utd 0

By Ben Kosky IT wasn t a bad performance and, considering Sheffield United s away record, not a bad result either. So why were the majority of the Rangers fans who trooped out of Loftus Road on Saturday feeling so flat? Maybe because it s dawned on them t

By Ben Kosky

IT wasn't a bad performance and, considering Sheffield United's away record, not a bad result either.

So why were the majority of the Rangers fans who trooped out of Loftus Road on Saturday feeling so flat?

Maybe because it's dawned on them that the whole season has basically been a waste of time and money.

Rs coach Paulo Sousa, whose tenure at Loftus Road now includes six goalless draws, insisted: "It's difficult at the moment because the last touch is not coming.

"What I saw is a team becoming more solid defensively. We remain the same in the table because we are solid.

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"From the beginning, I said I came here to create a solid base. Next season we'll be stronger and we want to be in the first positions."

All that would sound perfectly reasonable if Sousa had inherited a team thrashing around in the brown stuff last November. But he didn't.

Iain Dowie's defence were looking fairly sound, weren't they? Eighteen points from 12 league games and a Carling Cup win at Aston Villa hardly smacked of a club in crisis and in need of a 'base'.

Essentially, then, Sousa is admitting that QPR's owners wrote off the rest of the season as a testing ground for his fledgling managerial career rather than continuing the progress made by Dowie and Luigi de Canio.

No wonder, then, that Rangers supporters are disgruntled after parting with their cash for the dubious privilege of watching Sousa get to grips with management and settle for mid-table anonymity, when more might have been achieved.

Home wins over Wolves and Birmingham remain the highlights of the Rs' unspectacular league campaign - although they might have added another promotion-chasing scalp but for Paddy Kenny's first-half display.

The Blades goalkeeper denied Dexter Blackstock twice in the opening 15 minutes and also kept out a skidding free-kick from Jordi Lopez, while a Blackstock chip just before the break sailed wide.

At the other end, Darius Henderson's header bounced off the crossbar and Nick Montgomery put the rebound into the side netting, but it wasn't until the second period that United seriously tested Radek Cerny.

Cerny beat away Montgomery's powerful drive and blocked with his legs to foil Danny Webber, as well as diving to smother a late opportunity for substitute Craig Beattie.

Yet it was Rangers who squandered the clearest opportunity just after the hour - after Samuel Di Carmine had miscued, Blackstock's header was stopped on the line and Kaspars Gorkss stabbed wide from close range.

Sousa rang the changes in a fruitless bid to fashion a winner, although Matteo Alberti should have done better than blazing over the bar when Blackstock cut the ball back to him in space.

QPR: Cerny; Connolly, Stewart, Gorkss, Delaney; Routledge, LOPEZ*, Miller (Alberti 54), Leigertwood (Ephraim 81); Blackstock, Di Carmine (Balanta 76). Subs not used: Mahon, Hall.