Keeper Conundrums, soft goals and Amos Agony
Welcome to my new biweekly column ‘R’ Roundup where I will be discussing the latest news and discussions within the QPR Realm which we all love and crave. This will be place for opinions which I hope can be insightful and engaging whilst sometimes controversial to bring in many of your own opinions.
Sat in 11th position with three games gone is what I would deem satisfactory, if not good. A fabulous start to the season against Nottingham Forest was something many of us were certainly not expecting whilst topping it off was a clean sheet. It gave us the opportunity to encounter some fresh faces for the first time – the likes of Dykes, Carroll and Dickie provided us with some much-needed fresh air amongst all the sadness of losing dare I say, Ebere Eze, to Crystal Palace. Then we faced Coventry city under the Sky cameras which resulted in an agonising 3-2 defeat. A tale of two halves I think is the best way to describe the game in a nutshell with some of our calamitous defending returning back from their pre season break. Then onto the latest result, a 1-1 draw to a Warnock-less Boro. Bright got back to his usual ways, getting off the mark with an instinctive poacher’s finish but it was another set piece conceded to continue our streak of soft goals.
Our Keeper Conundrum
Seny Dieng arguably shone in the Rs previous game in a 1-1 draw against Middlesbrough. He was very commanding at the weekend, showed very good distribution during the game and also good handling throughout. This no doubt gives Warburton a selection headache having said in his post match interview that Kelly was “disappointed not to play” but Mark Warburton felt that Dieng was right for the current time. In this moment in time we have three keepers available- Dieng, Kelly and Lumley. Lumley was dropped due to “contract negotiations” with only a year left on his current del. As for Kelly it remains to be seen where his place in the QPR side is, having not played since the 2-1 defeat to Fulham post restart. As for Lumley he has been on the back end of some criticism after performances to both Plymouth and Coventry.
This so called criticism I feel is unnecessary and quite pointless if I’m being brutally honest. The majority of the criticism was after conceding the equaliser against Coventry- a free header by Matt Godden directed through the legs of Lumley. Lee Wallace was at fault for this one having lost Godden in the first place, standing in no mans land before Godden scored to equalise. As for Lumley, he did what he could. From six yards out directed under his legs, he have had to position himself before making the save- it can be best described as a keepers nemesis. From the reaction of several so called fans (not supporters) you’d have thought Lumley would have produced a sh*t show!
As for Dieng, he looks to be our number one keeper this season on the back of that performance- perhaps he is someone we have been lacking at times over the years. But like the other two keepers make no mistake it’s early days for Dieng and will need time to prove himself to make the step up but make no mistake that Warburton shouldn’t give him any special treatment if he were to make a mistake, because Kelly and Lumley will be knocking on the door for a starting spot anyway.
Conceding “soft goals”
A lot of R’s fans sometimes take pleasure in playing ‘Guess the comments’ before a scheduled Warburton post match conference. It’s evident he uses the same comments a lot of the time. The usual conceding “soft goals” or “we didn’t take our chances” are probably the most common of the two but what he is saying is what he observes. And ok, why doesn’t he fix that. But it’s not quite as easy as just putting a plaster over a cut or supergluing a bit of material together, it takes time, work and perseverance. It requires patience from us as fans because we simply don’t have the funds, like Nottingham Forest, to buy a new defender after every game, we have to work with the players we have, develop them and trust Warburton to continue to develop players like he has done with Bright, Eze and Manning.
Set pieces have continued to be our weakness, conceding two from two. The one against Coventry was always coming- you could always anticipate it after a string of corners came there way late into the second half. The one against Middlesborough was very soft though, Chuba Akpom flicking on a front post header into the bottom right corner. Better defensive awareness and that wouldn’t have gone in!
Impact of new signings
In what looks a positive window of recruitment under Warburton this term again, it’s fair to say the new boys have hit the ground running. To start with Dykes, he has been very consistent good striker. His hold up play and link up play has been very good. He has lacked service times this season but has won the majority of his Ariel duels whilst scoring two thunderbolts of penalties in three games. Rob Dickie has been impressive so far with one clean sheet out of three. He certainly hasn’t come in and had the “Van Dijk” effect on our back line like some would have hoped for but he has certainly tightened us up a bit. I like the fact that he is always looking for a progressive pass which allows us to get further up the pitch in times of need and has some defensive stability within him as well which Barbet lacks at times. The combination as a whole though, can prove key if their partnership forms over the course of the long, congested season. Tom Carroll was an eye raising signing to say the least. A reputation for a lightweight, weak centre midfielder was not something we needed to compliment Luke Amos or an ageing Geoff Cameron. Perhaps his reputation was brought along from his loan spell under Redknapp in the 13/14 season but now at the age of 28 he adds vital premier league experience and the creativity we have craved from deep midfield last season. He adds vision to the midfield, an eye for an incisive pass and has certainly shown that over the course of the three games. When we are at our best, we play at a fast tempo breaking sides down and Carroll’s ability to do that can only help us this season. As for Thomas, it is early days yet as he has yet to play more than one full game for the side but his promise has been shown and hopefully, he’ll only add to the creativity we have in attack.
Luke Amos has been deployed as a no.10 over the course of the three games so far this season. It’s certainly a surprise considering he was more of a holding midfielder over the course of last season. However, before Scowen’s departure, he was deployed as a number 10 at the start of the season but a string of poor performances and lack of involvement in games, similar to those of Amos’s led to him being dropped. Now that’s not to say Amos will be dropped but it’s clear to see that he’s lacking in creativity which unfortunately we depend on having lost Eze who provided in total around of a quarter of our goals scored. That being said it seems evident that Amos is deployed there to allow for the high press. His quick, athletic and ‘ratty’ nature is used to help Dykes press from the front whilst also offering a pivot to link up the play between attack and midfield- something that Dykes may have been lacking over the last two games with having lost that creative spark at times.
With Geoff Cameron our captain he seems to be a season long player for us this term so Amos will have to battle out for the other midfield spot alongside Carroll and Ball, so being a number ten may give him more of an opportunity to play more games. That being said, Warburton rates and admires Amos very highly- always praising him in post match interviews- therefore he looks to be a crucial part of Warburton’s plans so far this season.
Can chair fill the role left by Eze?
I’m sure this isn’t the first time this question hasn’t been circulated around the QPR fan base- especially after the departure of Eze. The question now seems very much real- we’ve made no attempt to sign a direct replacement so Warburton feels that Chair is more than capable of filling that void. Do I have faith in him? Yes, I do, he looks a great young talent. I must reiterate the fact that he’s young. He’ll take time to adapt to that role no doubt, it’s a matter of giving him time to do that. Two years ago, he was spending his time on loan at Stevenage scoring many worldies and screamers and two years later he’s our no.10 in the first team. It shows just how much he has improved as a player and under both Warburton and Graham Westley. As Warburton has reiterated on several occasions, going out on loan gives you the understanding of playing ‘real football’ with every header you win, every tackle you make equates for the wage you earn.
Now Ilias no longer has to worry about that now, despite financial hardship in current times, his focus will be on becoming another famous number 10, trying to replicate the likes of his fellow Moroccan Adel, or his good friend Ebere Eze. This will mean becoming the main man in our young and upcoming side which he can we’ll do. With brights future uncertain, Ilias may have to form a new partnership but if he was to stay, then it’ll be something we can cherish in the short term.
Written by Daniel Lambert