So how’ve we all been then? A well boring fortnight without league action and to an extent kind of a relief because I’m approaching each Boro match at the moment with nerves shredded before a ball has even been kicked. I care less and less about England, though no doubt I’ll be watching it all in June (out on penners in the quarters, nailed on). The Rooney question has replaced the Lampard-Gerrard question that dominated the last decade, and I’m thoroughly disinterested. Play him. Don’t play him. I could, just as with the much discussed Lumpy-Stevie G business, lament a management that can’t prise the best from world class talent, but then I don’t know if the phrase ‘world class’ is bandied around a bit too casually and perhaps we should just go with form instead.
In the meantime, I subscribed to Odeon Limitless and indulged in some movies. 10 Cloverfield Lane was good and Batman v Superman was okay. Not great. Far from shocking (I’ve seen Batman and Robin). Just… okay. Which is more than I can say for the state of the cinema itself – dirty, under-staffed, parents who have no idea/interest about controlling their very young children during an arguably age inappropriate film, toilets that were either abused or just stank. I mean, I expected the latter back in the Ayresome Park days; let’s be honest the urine smell was part of the unlikely charm. But in a modern multiplex? I don’t think so.
Onto last night’s match, one I wasn’t looking forward to thanks to our frankly wretched history of visits to Loftus Road but a game I expected us to win. Call it foam-handedness, if you like. See it as blind optimism following the fillip of that last minute winner against Hull, or the ‘nothing to see here’ atmosphere surrounding the Riverside during the international break, as though everyone involved wanted to put the tumult of Karankagate firmly behind them (which surely is exactly what was going on). But I thought we’d do it. QPR have improved under the aegis of Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, one of those neat contrasts of a likeable manager in charge of a thoroughly horrible football club, but I believed we would put the horror shows of Rotherham and especially Charlton behind us, and so we did.
In short, the match looked like what it was – genuine promotion challengers overcoming a Championship team that as of now is middle of the road. If we’re still in this arse end of a division next season then I won’t enjoy this one at all, because I believe JFH will have turned them into contenders before long. That time isn’t yet and we just had too much for them.
Players who impressed me were Gibson, Clayton, Adomah and Ramirez. The former was a defensive rock. Clayts was at his combative best and seemed to pop up everywhere, especially when it came to moments of danger. I understand Albert likes playing in London and was certainly on his game here, adding purpose to his dainty dribbling forays, so often pretty yet meandering but more dangerous here. And Gaston remains a class act, as is becoming normal marked heavily and yet popping up for a precision headed goal that was all he deserved for a positive overall performance. Nsue played well and George put in his usual hard work. I liked Kalas and thought he was very hard done to when the referee gave a free kick against him that actually showed he’d been fouled. Like most people, I’m trying not to read between the lines too heavily when it comes to the conundrum about Ayala being on the bench. No idea what’s going on there and I suspect finding out would only lead to pain.
Leadbitter remains a big question mark for me. When I saw him walk up to take his second half penalty I could only picture doom, and so it came to pass, but at least he got to redeem himself with that excellent corner kick seconds later. He certainly played a lot better after that moment. Stewie Downing is another cause for concern. we won this one despite him, and I’ve no idea what the problem is because he clearly has the talent to own this division and fails to do so week after week. The way he plays shows just what a difficult job Karanka has. I’d hate to be trapped in the Twilight Zone of having to accommodate a player I don’t necessarily think should be playing regularly and yet has earned the spurs to do just that.