Rangers' Get Jack-ed On.
Today saw the long awaited return of the football season and after an exciting pre-season with several big name signings coming through the door at Loftus Road and the R's faithful were sure to be anticipating a good start against a Swansea side that we always seem to beat at home. Surely we can get of to a better start to the season than last year? Surely..........
The gang were slightly depleted today with Lofty on holiday, PK at the Rewind Festival and sadly this year Corp and California Hoop have not re-newed their season ticket and will be sadly missed in the stands with us. Today myself and Jenson were joined my Lorna who is now a permanent resident with us in the Upper Loft, Iceman took PK's seat and Jenson's 72 year old friend Banksy attended his first and only game of the season, the one game wonder was back!!
The journey to Loftus Road was a torrid one for myself and Jess as we got caught in bad traffic on the A404 where a massive accident had occurred and closed off our access to the M40 so we had to take the back roads before finally getting back on track and then arriving later than planned and missing a pre-match beer with Tony and Alan.
Jess and I had a good 15minute walk to the ground and then swiftly made our way into the ground where I met up with Sam, Luke, Jointy and Iceman and took our seats to see our beloved R's make their return after three months away.
Mark Hughes named a strong line up for the opening fixture, along with his newly appointed captain Ji Sung Park. I'm not entirely sure about the selection of Park as captain as he doesn't seem to be the kind of character to get the team rallied up when they were struggling, I hope I'm wrong but I feel we just have strong characters to lead the team.
The starting 11 were - Green; Onuoha, Ferdinand, Hill, Fabio; Park, Diakite; Mackie, Taarabt, Hoilett; Cisse
Before the game there was a minutes' applause for former R's captain Alan McDonald and Pat Woods who sadly passed away during the summer, both will be remembered for their valuable contributions to the club.
The R's got off to an encouraging start with Hoilett and Taarabt probing the Swansea defence and looking as if they could create havoc among the Swansea back line for the duration of the ninety minutes.
However in the eighth minute the worst possible thing could of happened, Swansea scored!
Routledge drove at the R's defence and laid the ball off to Nathan Dyer who in to played the ball back to Swansea debutant Michu and the Spaniard hit a left footed shot at Green but the Rangers' keeper completely misjudged the angle of the shot and the ball somehow evaded his hands and conceded a soft goal early on his own debut, not the start that Green would've wanted!
Shortly after the goal Rangers' should have levelled themselves up.
Taarabt took a shot from outside of the box and it was deflected into the path of Jamie Mackie who usually would blast the ball into the back of the net but this time he placed his shot and Vorm made a good save before having the ball cleared off the line and away from danger.
Swansea then began to play their slow, progressive passing game that frustrated the R's midfield and fans alike. This caused the R's midfield to become more spread out and Swansea were able to create space in the middle of the field and this cause Cisse to become very isolated up front and the service to him was not as frequent as he may be used to. Even when the ball did eventually get to Cisse his first touch was awful and often lost control before seeing the R's lose possession.
Just before the interval Swansea had two chances come off the bar as Michu looked a constant threat for the visitors.
At half time we congregated on the concourse with optimism and expected the R's to mount a comeback and come on strong. Well anything really to stop Banksy watching Gillette Soccer Special on his phone!!
The second half begun positively and Rangers' should have had a penalty in the 48th minute when Hoilett was brought down in the box but somehow Lee Probert failed to point to the spot and give us the opportunity to equalise.
From there on in Swansea took control.
Swansea counter attacked with Routledge and the R's defence melted away before a pass to Michu was stuck left footed first time and soon nestled in the top corner with Green having no chance.
The rest of the game becomes a blur to me now but I will describe as best as I can.
Ten minutes later it was 3-0. Fabio's misplaced clearance allowed Routledge to break clear before giving Nathan Dyer the chance to slot past Green, with the R's keeper barely moving and watching the ball slide just past him.
The nightmare got even worse on 71 minutes as Dyer latched onto a ball over the top and again put the ball eight inches to the side of Green and again there was no effort to make the save and the fourth goal saw the mass exodus of Rangers' fans make their way out of the ground and who can blame them!!
Stupidly I decided to stay as Jenson, Banksy, Iceman and Lorna all decided to leave early, as did Sam, Luke and Jointy but they decided to go for a beer to try and get over what they had just witnessed.
Just when things could not get any worse, it did!
Michu squared for Swansea sub Sinclair and he slotted home past Rob Green who again failed to dive, ensuring that no grass stains were on his kit come the end of the game.
I will take nothing away from Swansea, they came with a game plan and were more attacking than they previously were under Brendan Rogers. The signings of Michu and Chico Flores look to be impressive, with Michu pulling the strings for Swansea and creating space for Routledge and Dyer to press the R's full backs. Chico Flores looked composed and unflustered by the R's as they looked to attack him and nullified the threat.
As for the R's they looked to lack tempo and their heads dropped very easily and lacked leadership. We needed strong characters to stand up and pick each other up when the chips are down.
I'm not going to jump on his back straight away but I was far from impressed by the goalkeeping display today. He was at fault for the first goal, stood no chance with the second but goals 3, 4 and 5 could have been made a lot harder but his lack of effort to close down and make the opportunity to score a lot harder, however each of the goals were put a matter of inches to the side of him.
Having said that the defence in front of him did not do him many favours with Onuoha and Fabio making mistakes that led to two of the goals and ultimately costing us the game.
Up front Cisse was completely isolated on his own but there was one shining light in the game for us today, Junior Hoilett.
Queens Park Rangers: Green, Diakite (Derry 86), Ferdinand, Hill (Wright-Phillips 64), Park, Cisse (Johnson 77), Taarabt, Mackie, Onuoha, Fabio, Hoilett.
Subs: Murphy, Nelsen, Dyer, Zamora.
Bookings: Diakite (55), Fabio (58)
Swansea City: Vorm, Taylor, Chico, Williams, Britton, Michu (Gower 84), Graham, Dyer (Sinclair 77), Routledge, de Guzman (Agustien 70), Rangel.
Subs: Tremmel, Tate, Moore, Richards.
Goals: Michu (8 & 53), Dyer (63 &71), Sinclair (81)
Man of the Match today is an easy one. One vote went for Park for his work rate but with a massive five votes our man of the match is Junior Hoilett.
After the game Jess and I joined up with Sam, Luke and Jointy in the Springbok for a swift beverage before leaving to see a load of our new Korean followers awaiting Ji Sung Park exiting the ground to catch a glimpse of their hero, just goes to show what one signing can do for the image of the club, it's just a shame that one of them was wearing Fulham gear..... idiot!
On our walk down the road we were all nearly run over by Shaun Derry, that would've been a fitting end to a truly awful day!!
Lofty will be returning next week after our trip to Norwich. The long awaited return of the Pie Ratings makes it's comeback by popular demand.