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QPR                      4 (Chair, Andersen, Dykes, Field) 

Leeds United         0                                                    

26th April, 2024, EFL Championship.


Didn’t see that coming! Then again, our record against the sides currently in the bottom seven is awful; just one double, against Plymouth and points dropped against all the other six including three defeats! That takes some believing when you consider that we’ve beaten Leicester and Ipswich home and away!

The question is why? I’m not clever enough to answer that but it is perplexing. Yes, we know those sides typically put eleven men behind the ball and kick lumps out of us but the fact remains those teams are down in the bottom six for a reason – most other teams beat them!

I’m inclined to think that the drubbing we got at QPR has other factors behind it though. First and foremost, Farke was clearly concerned about the game coming so quickly after the Boro game, and remember he will have all the player data telling him how much the recent playing load has affected his players so it’s not something to merely brush aside as irrelevant. Second is the fact, also constantly alluded to by Farke, that our team is essentially a team of youngsters and they have been playing in a long and arduous, relentless Championship season for the first time in their lives, never will they have played so much football, it’s bound to be having an impact and then to face these two crucial, mentally and physically taxing games, away from home in the space of five days could easily be the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Then there is the Patrick Bamford injury – he had possibly his best game for years up at Boro the other day, and then he immediately misses the next game. We all know what a conundrum the man is but it’s hard to deny the impact he has when he does have a good game. Lots of fingers were pointed at Joel Piroe last night, comparing him to the best of Bamford but that’s a bit unfair as we all know they are totally different players – Piroe just doesn’t have the stamina, mobility or the experience to play the Bamford role so we find him, a proven goal poacher, effectively playing an advanced midfield role; it just doesn’t work. Should Mat Joseph have started or come on earlier? Again, I’m not qualified to answer that but the general consensus seems to be that you can’t throw young inexperienced players into the fray at the drop of a hat in vital games and expect it to work.

Also we should remember there are two teams in every game and last night no one can deny QPR played well, better than their league position suggests. They’ve been much better since their new manager took over and remember they won at Leicester in March.

For me, what’s really gone wrong though,  last night and more generally since the last international break, is that the old defensive naivety and fragility we saw often last August and September, had returned. Two more set pieces last night cost us needless goals with opposition players given too much space and easily outjumping us. I can’t be bothered to count up how many goals like that we’ve conceded this season but I know it’s too many. Similarly with the two open play goals we conceded – surely we can do better, Crysencio scores goals like that all the time, he must do it in training so we must be drilled in how to stop them? So many Leeds players between ball and goal and yet still we let known goal scorers get shots away. Ilia Gruev was closest on both occasions but others should have cleared the danger too. We have to sharpen up at the back or even the playoffs will be beyond us. I do wonder if the defensive issues, certainly in open play situations is due to our midfield going missing lately, putting the defence under pressure, again it’s hard to avoid wondering what the season has taken out of the likes of Archie Gray and more recently Ilia Gruev, neither of whom has looked anywhere near as good as they were in January and February. As always our recent malaise is a combination of many factors.

I can’t let last night pass without mentioning the behaviour of some of our fans. There were several little scuffles between Leeds fans – mostly between fans on the one hand who think it’s acceptable to hurl abuse at our own players and boo, wave two fingers at them and worse, and others who took offense at that and consider, as I do, that none of that will help us one iota. Several of our players came across to us to face the inevitable barrage of criticism – Ethan Ampadu, Junior Firpo and Mat Joseph amongst them. That takes bottle – they could have scurried away down the tunnel as some did. A bit of criticism is to be expected, normal, healthy even, but the sort of things being shouted at them last night – thankfully largely drowned out by the rest of us trying to lift their spirits with big games to come – is just the ugly side of some of our support. And yes, I know booze and goodness knows what else plays a part in all that but, I hate it and hate being associated with it. We are football supporters, we’re there to support!

Anyway, we’re not dead yet, let’s see what this week brings. Good or bad, we have to get our act together – players and fans – ready for the Southampton game. I’ve heard folk saying “it’s irrelevant”, “play the kids”, “save ourselves for the playoffs”, “it’s a dead rubber” etc. etc. but you know what, for me it’s possibly the most important game of the season. If Ipswich do falter this week then it could mean we need to win it - but more likely it will be the last game in which to get our mojo back, get ourselves together and get some confidence to take into those playoffs. This has been a fabulous, record breaking season, we need to try everything to ensure it’s not been for nothing.

        Game Statistics:


                    QPR Leeds United


  Possession    39%         61%

  Shots             11            15

  On Target        5               5

  Corners           7              8

  Fouls               9             14

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