As the evening darkness fell over Loftus Road there was a great sense of optimism that October would breath new life into Queens Park Rangers, and Mark Hughes would start lifting the club from rock bottom, up the table.
It wasn't to be, as West Ham United outplayed the home team, and schooled them in their own back yard. I am usually a very upbeat person, and so I will try to find some positives from the Rangers' performance on Monday night, but beware, they are very few and far between.
Mark Hughes put out a team that was questionable to say the least. Playing players out of position, starting those who had been mediocre in recent games and dropping those who could actually make a difference.
Hughes still seems to be trying to find the best formation, and the best starting lineup that he has available to him at QPR, but what we learned from the game against West Ham is that this wasn't it.
Hughes seems to be choosing players on sentimental value, rather than on merit and recent performances. Shaun Wright-Phillips, Djibril Cisse and Nedem Onuoha have all been below par the past few weeks, and perhaps these three should have started sat on the bench, rather than on the pitch.
In the case of Onuoha, we can perhaps forgive Hughes, as his back line is stretched due to injuries, but Wright-Phillips has done nothing—well, not nothing, he has run pretty fast—so far this season, and Cisse, although it pains me to say it, has not looked on song at all.
Hughes needs to start thinking about what is right for the team. A manager has to be ruled by technical and tactical decisions, not simply by who his favorites are.
Djibril Cisse has bags of talent, but against West Ham he looked like he just couldn't be bothered. He spent the majority of the game drifting around the opposition's half and attempting long range efforts: efforts which were more akin to an NFL kicker than a Premier League striker.
Sometimes long range efforts turn into wonder goals, but only when you are on form, and luck is on your side. Neither Rangers nor Cisse can claim either of these. Cisse needs to start working harder if he is to revisit those sensational four months he had at the end of last season. He needs to start turning in the box, making runs off the shoulders of defenders and hustling the opposition a lot more.
I am a huge Cisse fan, but there is no room for lackadaisical forwards when your team is languishing at the bottom of the table and doesn't seem to be able to get a win anywhere.
I am not for one minute going to start criticizing Ji-Sung Park, as—with the exception of the game against West Ham—he has had some stellar performances. However, everybody could see he looked off the pace, yet Hughes left him on the pitch after half-time.
Yes, Hughes did replace him with Adel Taarabt shortly after noticing his half-time talk hadn't worked. Adel was effective almost immediately, but if he'd had had more than 35 minutes, that effectiveness could well have turned Rangers' poor night into a half decent one.
Leaving Junior Hoilett on the sidelines until the final few minutes was also ludicrous. Both Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora were struggling, aside the speculative strikes from the Frenchman, and Hoilett's pace would have been a huge asset had he been given more time.
Mark Clattenburg seems to have a penchant for sending off QPR players, adding Samba Diakite to his tally, alongside Adel Taarabt and Djibril Cisse from last season.
Diakite deserved to be sent off, there is no question about that, but Clattenburg was far too card happy throughout the entire game, a game which was not nearly as combative or aggressive as the referee's notebook makes out. Clattenburg showed 11 yellow cards—eight of which were for West Ham—which was far too many and spoiled the flow of the game.
I don't like to criticize referees, as I believe they have a tough enough job as it is, but some of the cards that were dished out were uncalled for and frustrated the crowd, the managers and the players.
Perhaps I should add "anymore" to the end of this slide title, but Clint Hill does not posses the skills nor the speed, to play left-back in the Premier League.
Hill has played on the left before, but not against the caliber and pace of players like Ricardo Vaz Te and Mark Noble. It didn't take long to prove that fact, as in the third minute of the game he was outclassed by Vaz Te who linked up with Kevin Nolan to provide the assist for Matt Jarvis.
Clint Hill would undoubtedly have performed much better had he been in the center, but with Kieron Dyer injured, again, as reported by the Telegraph Sport twitter feed, Hughes was severely lacking defensive choices. Perhaps next time, he might give one of the young players a chance, they certainly couldn't do worse than Mr Hill at left-back.
The QPR defense resembles a teenager in the classroom drifting into a daydream whenever something doesn't interest them.
As soon as the ball is moved across the halfway line, the entire back line switches off, which has cost them time and time again. Julio Cesar is not invincible. He cannot keep a clean sheet on his own. Although you could say he was partly at fault for both goals—the first he was rooted to his line, and the second he potentially could have cleared—the four at the back did not help him out at all. The defense was abysmal, and West Ham took full advantage of that.
I have said it before, I will say it again, and I will continue to say it until I am blue and white in the face. Concentration is the key.
Adel Taarabt is a genius. A petulant genius, but a genius all the same. The hamstring injury he sustained has kept him out of the team for the past couple of games, but he was back and fighting fit, and should have started.
Yes, he can be lazy, yes, he can have the wrong attitude—in fact this time last year, he caught a bus home during a game after being subbed off—but when he can produce magic like he did against West Ham, surely you have to take the rough with the smooth?
I can't imagine how it must be to manage a player like Adel Taarabt and his ego, but he undoubtedly changed the game when he came on for the Rs on Monday. There may be claims that he is best used as an impact sub, but I disagree. You cannot have somebody like him, with his amount of talent, sat twiddling his fingers on the bench.