QPR have a habit of rolling over in London derbies and were once again true to form in a woeful performance against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
By the 31st minute, Fulham were already 3-0 up when Ross McCormack finished off a decent bit of play, made to look all the better by a dreadful defensive display from the Hoops. The game would go on to finish 4-0, when more calamitous, Sunday League football defending, from QPR gifted McCormack his second.
A section of the 4,000-odd QPR fans that made the short journey to SW6, started chanting ironically about the team – typical gallows humour. Before I go on, this isn’t me having a go at the fans that spend their hard-earned money to witness that dross. It just feels like we’ve become so accustomed to mediocrity that it’s become a self-defence mechanism. We’ll take the mickey out of ourselves first, so you don’t have to. Some of that could be put down to having a sense of humour and whilst that is partly true, it made me think how do the fans, the players and the board view the club.
Despite being a founding Premier League team, we are mostly certainly not one now. Even when we were, we were plucky upstarts, with a compact pitch and a habit of finding lower league gems that we would then sell on. Our fanbase then and now puts us firmly as a Championship team. This is fine, but performances like that one on Friday night stink of an attitude that says ‘we’re a Premier League team, watch us play’. With that attitude the result is only going one way and the worst thing is I’m used to it. Palace away last season, we were 3-0 down at half-time. Not too long ago we got battered 6-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage. You’d think these games would live in the memory, but QPR have had such a turnover of players and staff that only Jamie Mackie and Ale Faurlin were part of that matchday squad that were subjected to a bigger spanking than Friday night. It was only four years ago.
More change isn’t necessarily the answer. Right now QPR’s biggest problem is that they can’t defend. What’s the point in having the best striker in the league, when you concede on average two goals a game? Only Bristol City, who are bottom, have conceded more. Keep this up and Austin will be gone in January and then we’ll have real problems.
The 4-2-3-1 formation isn’t working as it leaves the full-backs, Konchesky and Perch, exposed. That’s compounded by the fact that the wide men Chery and Phillips are not great defensively. Massimo Luongo is not an attacking midfielder but is often more advanced than Austin. Ramsey needs to think about dropping Luongo further back.
Chris Ramsey’s goodwill with the fans is running out, more performances like that and he’ll be toast. And so the QPR cycle starts over. If we are serious about wanting to be back permanently in the big time, then we need to take a long hard look at ourselves. As Charlie Austin said in an interview this week, with that squad we have we must be in the top six. He’s right, but there’s a difference between acting like a big shot and being one.