That concludes this match report.
No QPR fan, including this one, has any interest in reliving the game, re-reading the action or reminding themselves of just how easily Bolton picked us up, tossed us around and dropped-kicked us to the bottom of the league (since when do they have league tables after the first game anyway?).
Instead, I’m going to try and cheer Rangers fans up and explain why, despite an almighty hammering, I am still feeling optimistic about the season. I saw enough in this match to believe that this is not going to be a weekly occurrence and that possibly this could have been the best thing to happen to Rangers. I believe all those Saturday night text messages from ‘well wishers’ about a “long season ahead” are wrong and I am convinced we are not another Swindon (1994) or, heaven forbid, a Derby County (2008). Here’s why:
We played Bolton.
If we’d have played a United or an Arsenal or Ch(expletive deleted) on Saturday and had been done four-nil it would have been nothing if not expected. But we didn’t. We got turned over by a team tipped for relegation. A side that is no great shakes. A side that, if we are all honest with ourselves, we were completely underwhelmed at the prospect of playing in our first match in the top flight. The fact that this knee-capping was administered not by Tony Soprano, but by Tony Soprano’s pizza delivery boy, will force everyone to spring into action. If United had beaten us four-nil it would not have been a wake-up call - instead we would have pressed snooze and turned over and gone back to sleep for another six games. Losing to be a big team would not have hurt. We’d have expected it, taken the walloping with a smile on our faces and looked forward to the next match. We wouldn’t have learnt from it. You can bet they will from this one, because if Bolton can do this to us, imagine what a Sunderland (shudder) or a West Brom (double shudder) might be capable of.
Let’s be clear: Neil Warnock knows a lot more about football than you or I and also more than probably 99% of the people in the game (and you, Flavio!).
Let’s be clear: Neil Warnock knows a lot more about football than you or I and also more than probably 99% of the people in the game (and you, Flavio!). He’s managing a team in the Premier League with 40 years experience behind him and so we all know he’s no mug. That’s why I believe there is not a single better football manager in the country who has a better chance of keeping us up than old Colin. And listening to his post-match interview on Radio 5 on Saturday, it makes me believe in him even more. For he was not distraught, he was not downbeat. He almost didn’t sound bothered. Laughing and joking, Warnock explained that it was “almost quite embarrassing really, wasn’t it?” in the manner of an old lady who had mindlessly walked to the post office in her slippers. He simply explained that we were naive and we’ll learn from it. Dust ourselves down and get out there against Everton next week. That’s enough for me - he’s not concerned, so neither am I (yet).
We have some boys who can play
We all know about Adel Taraabt, a once-in-a-generation talent who has flourished under Warnock. Although he failed to ignite properly against Bolton, there were glimpses there that he could well enter stage right in the Premier League and bring the house down. If, as Alan Shearer said on Match of the Day, he makes his mind up quicker when in possession, he could well flourish, as he has the skills, pace, brain and swagger to give some premier league defences nightmares. He will also get more protection in this league from the referees who will make sure that his diving treatment by defences is rewarded with free kicks. Jay Bothroyd also impressed. He likes the ball at his feet and has the ability to hang onto it. He will be an asset and, along with other ball players like Buzsaky and Faurlin (who looked unfit on Saturday), we have enough creativity to make an impact in this league once we get the basics right.
But having seen the game on Saturday and being left in no doubt by the fans he is to blame, Flavio Briatore (or Tony Fernandes – for who really knows who is in charge?) may well act.
Our owners have an ego
This is not the revelation of the century, but could be what, in a bizarre way, saves our season. They have neglected the club over the summer, preferring the putting-fingers-in-ears-and-singing-lalalala approach to surviving the Premier League. They have failed to support Warnock and give him the resources he needs to give Rangers a fighting chance of staying up. But having seen the game on Saturday and being left in no doubt by the fans he is to blame, Flavio Briatore (or Tony Fernandes – for who really knows who is in charge?) may well act. Up until now, Flavio has just been a laughing stock amongst Rangers fans. But the Premier League is different. It comes with worldwide exposure. I don’t think Tango’s ego will be able to handle THE ENTIRE WORLD realising what a buffoon he is. He will want it to be perceived as Warnock’s fault should the worst happen, not his. Therefore, the only solution is to give the manager enough rope to hang himself with, so expect some new signings before 31st August.
Let’s face it: We had at least three players on the pitch on Saturday who, based on their credentials, career history and dare I say it, ability, should not really be anywhere near a Premier League football pitch. Arguably, Shaun Derry is one of them. Yet he was outstanding against Bolton. He won the ball, distributed it properly, organised those around him and never stopped throwing his 87-year body into every tackle, header or chase possible. He gave 100% of what he is capable of giving and as a consequence the old boy was utterly blameless for the defeat. He showed the rest of them how to do it and in the coming months, this example will filter through to the rest of the squad – that they needn’t be phased, they have earned their right to be here and, if it’s the case that they’re not good enough, they should throw the kitchen sink at trying to prove that they are. I believe some of the players were overawed by the occasion in this game; Derry was not and it showed. In the Premier League, you doubtless need inspiration – that’s where Taraabt comes in. But you also need perspiration too and Derry is leading from the front on that...er..front.
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