The FA Cup and Queen's Park Rangers have never really got on. Taking out the final appearance in 1982, it’s a competition that rarely gives Rangers fans any joy. In fact, before last season’s 3rd round win, you had to go back to when Bill Clinton was president to find any QPR win in the competition - a record losing streak for the FA Cup. Ironically, that win last January came thanks to a Danny Gabbidon winner in a lacklustre victory over MK Dons. Today the Dons returned to Loftus Road and normal FA Cup service was resumed as the League One club gained revenge on the R’s, and derailed Harry Redknapp’s not so super Hoops.
Typically, QPR went into today’s game unbeaten in 2013, with fans genuinely excited that away from what’s been a dire league season, a cup run could be a nice distraction from their relegation woes. Rangers being Rangers however, decided not to bother turning up for this FA Cup Fourth round tie and as a result the side from the new city run riot on the R’s home turf.
As expected, Harry Redknapp made nine changes to his starting line-up, so this wasn’t a Rangers first eleven. However amongst those chosen, were seven players capped by their national teams, a former Real Madrid star, and two Champions League winners. All of which you would expect to be enough to beat a side two divisions below them. Sadly those in blue and white made life easy for their so-called lesser opponents, and despite the Dons being 4-0 up after just an hour, the score-line actually flattered the home side.
Without wanting to cause offence to MK Dons fans or the league as a whole, no Premier League team should find themselves on the wrong end of that kind of score-line to a team two leagues below them. Getting knocked-out by lower league opposition is one thing, and is something QPR fans have got used to in modern times, but to lose so convincingly is what is so disappointing and ultimately worrying ahead of the survival battle in the league. I can still recall the pain of being eliminated by Vauxhall Motors in 2004, but this was every bit as bad today.
As Harry said in his post-match briefing, the players who played today have been knocking on his door demanding first team football in recent weeks, and their chance to prove their worth. Well, on that performance I hope their knocking days are over, because today simply put; they blew it. It would take too long to single out individuals, as no R’s player really came out of the game with too much credit, but I don’t expect we’ll see many of today’s starters given many more chances for the remainder of the season.
Their only shot of redeeming themselves will come if Redknapp does fail to add to the Rangers squad before Thursday’s transfer deadline. However, today has only proven what we as fans and the manager himself already knew - that new recruits are needed if this Rangers league season isn’t to go the same way as their FA Cup campaign. Preferably recruits who look like they want to play for the club, and offer more heart than today’s no-hopers. Easier said than done, by the sounds of it though.
Attention will now turn to Tuesday and the little matter of hosting the Champions in W12. How very QPR it would be then, to follow today’s desperately disappointing result by taking points off City’s millionaire club. Especially after today’s horror show, Rangers reserves are kept as far away as possible from the starting eleven as Harry and the results of the transfer window lets them.