Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Swansea City v QPR. Liberty Stadium. 27th December 2011

Two points lost or 1 gained ?

Perspective is all.

When I first started blogging a couple of years ago, I wrote a couple of pieces on a Home game we had coming up against QPR in what turned out to be Ian Dowie's last game as their Manager.That was the game where Alan Tate went in goal. I've re-read them, and my, how things change even when they stay the same.

I've kept very few of the blogs I wrote from those days and I'm sorry now. Because they never fail to remind you of how things were, for better or worse, to get us where we are today. You can read them if you want to on the blog Archive Links.

I headlined those splurges as "West London Millionaires?" and "Boutique football, retro-chic or just cloggers?", and the titles will perhaps give you the clue to my approach.

They, QPR, had not that long ago been taken over by a conglomerate of very rich men, and the talk was of the "can they do a Chelsea?" approach, even in what was then the Coca Cola sponsored Championship, prior to nPower's largesse.

Some of the rich men have changed, along with personnel, but it still remains the case that they're a very different animal from us. As was proved in an intriguing game at the Liberty in one of the myriad cliches prevalent today - " a game of two halves".

We got a much needed live "fix" of football, and, mathematically, it was truthfully a point gained but felt, just as I've seen Arsene Wenger say with regard to their draw at Home to Wolves, one in which "...unfortunately we could not take advantage....." and ........"rued the dropped points".

For Tuesday's tea time kick off, the line ups were thus.

Swansea City
01 Vorm, 02 Williams, 04 Caulker, 22 Rangel (Moore 57), 07 Britton, 11 Sinclair, 15 Routledge (Dyer 56), 24 Allen, 26 Agustien, 29 Richards, 10 Graham

01 Kenny, 03 Hill, 05 Hall, 13 Traore, 18 Young, 04 Derry, 07 Taarabt, 11 Faurlin, 17 Barton, 12 Mackie,22 Helguson

So Swansea had Rangel back at RB, but Neil Taylor's knee-knack kept him out so Jazz Richards switched to LB. Agustien replaced Gower in MF, maybe to invest some muscularity, energy too.

For QPR, Taarabt started, hopefully to renew his last year's Boxing day performance. Twitter's very own Joey Barton, with a gob to match his unenviable sociability, graced the pitch as well. Or not, dependent on your viewpoint.
Guess mine. # spoiler alert- this may be more complicated than you think.

The Swans were very keen for a Home win to get them back on track, and QPR's stumbles on their own patch meant that an Away result for them would guide them to a more settled mindset.

From the kick off the Swans' neat passing pressed the visitors back, and Routledge was prominent on the right, dribbling , crossing and earning several early corners.The energy of the bright start came to fruition as early as the 14th minute when Danny Graham controlled a Routledge ball with his back to goal and cleverly spun and turned first one way then the other before getting off a low right footed shot that that beat Kenny's dive and nestled neatly inside the net at his left hand post.

That Graham took the shot early and the accuracy of placement beyond the keepers dive confirmed the fact that he is growing comfortably into a quality Premiership striker, scoring his sixth goal despite the suspicion of an accidental handball aid in his controlling first touch.

Swansea's 1-0 lead was well deserved and throughout the first half they were generally on top with Graham again coming close from a Sinclair cross, and other half chances not quite clicking into place. At times, City's pace and tempo of pass don't quite match, but there was synchronicity on show.

QPR were held to a long range powerful effort from Joey Barton, parried over by Vorm, and some dangerous crosses, headed over and wide by Helguson, always a danger in the air.

The half saw a decent, competitive, fairly open game with Agustien influential for Swansea, and Warnock's combative nature reflected in the physicality of some bruising challenges, mystifying mainly for Referee Lee Probert's apparent need to make himself the most important man at the Stadium by getting decisions regularly wrong for both sides, confirmed by both Managers after the game. A word for the Refereeing Assistants, as they're known today. When they were just Linesmen (and persons too) they used to make decisions. Nowadays they seem to just parrot the Ref, almost always glancing at him before making their mind up. Presumably to reinforce his masterful powers of control. Or not, as the case may be.

As the sides went in at Half Time my main worry was that we had not pressed home our edge by getting a second goal; in this division, a fact that has haunted us previously. 1-0 was a fair reflection of our performance, theirs too, but things DO change, as we were to find out.

When the teams came out again, Clint Hill was in Ref Probert's ear, as he had been throughout the first period - a clue to the old Pro's technique of influence I would suggest, and reflective of his Manager's style. Warnock had obviously geed up the R's, because they now were far more dangerous and attacking, with Taarabt catching the eye not only for his prancing posture but for creativity, and Faurlin influentially playing both Mackie and Helguson into the game.

From one of many testing "tackles" Rangel had suffered earlier in the game, he was forced off injured in the 57th minute, and this was perhaps the turning point/ crux of the game.

It came a minute after the Swans best chance to go 2 up when Routledge, played in close to goal by Allen, stabbed his cross/shot across the face of goal with Danny Graham just failing to connect and turn it into the gaping net. Wayne Routledge had been hurt in making the attempt, and he was replaced by Nathan Dyer. At the same time, Luke Moore came on for Rangel to slot into MF, with Kemy Agustien going to RB.

QPR struck immediately via Route 1. Kenny boomed a clearance forward and from Britton's defensive header, the ball skimmed further toward the Swans goal taking the CB's out of the equation and leaving Mackie free to advance on Vorm's goal, with Ash Williams offering a failed challenge on the edge of the box. Mackie, to his credit, took the ball and rounded Vorm to slot in a neatly taken goal in front of the Away fans. 1-1, and a different game as well.

As the half progressed QPR were now in the ascendancy and put us under a deal of pressure for the remainder of the game.There was, however, one final indignity for the Ref to perform.

Danny Graham, put clear in the box by a through ball, was cut down by Traore, but Mr. Probert waved away the penalty claims to stunned howls of derision from the crowd.

You'll know my views on the quality of Officials we've seen at the Liberty, but this was really a gross error. As Warnock said...." I thought that was the most stonewall penalty you'll see. I said so to Brendan afterwards.......".

So it's not just me then.

Dyer and Agustien combined when they were able to get forward to offer some momentum but with Swansea stuttering mainly as a result of the re-jig , the match almost felt as if they were at Home sometimes, and with their pressing I felt we did well to keep the 1-1 scoreline, if a little disappointed that we were unable to kick on from periods on top.

At the end of the game, both Managers agreed that the draw was probably the result that most fairly reflected what the game had had shown- parity, if a little unbalanced.


There aren't any, from me, anyway. I'll just make some comments, since that's what I do.

It's been shown many times that Life isn't always fair. Nobody has suggested it is, although you sometimes feel as if some football fans demand that it ought to be. So let's have a rational look at what yesterday told.

QPR came up alongside us and Norwich as the Champions of the CCC.They are owned nowadays by Tony Fernandes, the supremo of Tune Air Sdn. Bhd - Air Asia amongst other things, and very, very rich.
This, I would suggest, influences the differing approaches of our respective Clubs.They lie 2 pts below us in the table, and thus yesterday it was important not to lose. We didn't.

Yes, I know that it was frustrating not to win, but this is as I've always said the Premier League.Nothing comes easy.

We sit, currently, 14th in the table, above 6 clubs, below 13, and level on points with Fulham, 1 behind Aston Villa, 2 pts below Everton and Norwich.
The top 6 are City,United,Spurs,Chelsea,Arsenal and Liverpool.

Get your head around these names - because that's the league we're in and that's the level of competition. And, believe me, we're competing - proudly. As I said earlier, it's all about perspective.

I've seen the rantings of mad people on Twitter, on Guest Books and elsewhere from supposed "fans" of ours of the sort we've all come to expect from certain quarters. I'll share this with you.

When I was driving home from the game yesterday I heard an Arsenal fan, no less, slagging off his Club, Arsene Wenger included, saying, and I quote..." he's useless and we're done for " . That's the sort of level of stupidity we're talking about. Similar levels of dross will no doubt be levelled at Swansea City.

Laugh, chuckle, move on.

We're playing Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. At the Liberty. I can't bloody wait! I want MORE of this wonderful adventure.

Onward, Swansea City.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Qpr fan here, a good balanced read that, definitely a game of two halves. Swansea play good possesion football but as an outsider looking in would like to see a bit more penetration as its like watching a training session at times.