Team: Green, Bosingwa, Fabio, Ferdinand (Onuoha), Nelsen, Granero (Cisse), Wright-Phillips, Park, Faurlin (Dyer), Johnson, Zamora
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Derry, Mackie, Hoilett
I thought that we got better and that there were some positives to take from the game, not least of which was seeing Faurlin starting his first league game in just about nine months. I also thought that the game cried out for Jamie Mackie in the final 30 minutes – we could have taken a point from that game if we had really gone for it in the last half-an-hour – but Shaun Wright-Phillips didn’t give us that option !
And we must stop giving the ball away too cheaply – I had hoped that had been cured by now as we saw far too much of that bad habit last season ! Still, with Granero looking class even in a losing team; Mbia and Cesar to come in; Nelsen looking solid; Fabio looking way better than he did against Swansea; Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora working well together – there is plenty to be positive about. Bring on Chelscum…..
With Jose Mourinho in the Stands, Manchester City will have wanted a special performance in front of the Special One. But they wanted a winning one more and they got that, just about although City’s early dominance Mourinho will have noted the vulnerability that continues to dog Roberto Mancini’s side. The Real Madrid coach was here to scout ahead of City’s Champions League tie against his club and although there’s no love lost between him and Mancini, there’s no love lost between the Italian and Queen’s Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes either.
There will always be bite to a meeting between the pair although this encounter didn’t quite have the resonance, the drama, the stakes of that fixture just three months ago on the final day of the season even if there was another goal deep into injury-time with City, once more, scoring three times. But then nothing ever will.
Given the ¬£40m spent by City on deadline day, with five new signings, discussions over stretched resources at the Etihad may appear odd and, while QPR’s overall transfer spending has been relatively modest – a huge bump in wages apart – it’s been an astonishing turnover of players. Again. It was a big ask for them to click immediately.
Seven of those new signings were included by manager Mark Hughes – goalkeeper Julio Cesar and defender Stephane Mbia would have been also had they secured international clearance in time – with the most exciting of all, Esteban Granero, sold by Mourinho of course, thrown straight in. In the opening quarter he barely touched the ball. But then QPR barely touched the ball. It wasn’t until the 13th minute that QPR ventured into the City half, and that was after a bizarre Jack Rodwell back-pass had landed on the roof of Joe Hart’s net. The corner was easily cleared while QPR had more difficulty dealing with City’s own flag kicks.
Edin Dzeko, dominant again in the air, flashed a header wide, then had another header hacked off the goal-line by Fabio da Silva before yet another David Silva corner led to a scissor-kick from Carlos Tevez, which was blocked by Bobby Zamora, only for Yaya Toure to half-volley home the rebound.
City were rampant, QPR could not gain a foothold. A shot came in from Granero, but it was easily fielded by Hart, while time and again QPR were forced into panicky clearances before Silva poked a first-time effort which was sharply pushed away by the under-pressure Rob Green whose every touch was goaded. City poured forward again. This time Silva was picked out, clear, down the right only for Fabio to scamper across and block his driven shot before it could reach Green.
Having tinkered with personnel and formation, there was a more familiar feel to the champions from Mancini, perhaps himself a more contented figure after signing the likes of Javi Garcia, and they were all the better for him being in that frame even if they were aided by QPR’s inability to gain possession.
But Hughes’s sides are always industrious, always work hard to keep their shape and they finally began to shore things up in the knowledge that City’s dominance wasn’t reflected in the slender score-line. Still the opportunities came for City with Green alert once more to beat out an angled drive by Tevez before, following another sweeping attack, initiated by Toure and carried on by Silva, Pablo Zabaleta curled a left-foot shot around Green only for the ball to cannon back off the crossbar.
QPR drew encouragement from that – and then they drew level with Andy Johnson making a vital contribution as he easily dispossessed Silva, outmuscling the midfielder, and working his way into the area. His shot was too powerful for Hart, who appeared startled as he parried it only for Zamora to head the rebound into the net.
It provoked an immediate response, with Kolarov picking out Tevez who scampered to the bye-line, hooking the ball across goal for Dzeko to easily head beyond Green. Mancini’s relief – and the chants of “that’s why we’re champions” – was matched by Hughes’s fury given how hard his side had worked to gain parity…only to so quickly surrender it.
Nevertheless QPR sensed vulnerability – and wasted two clear chances. Unfortunately both fell to defender Ryan Nelsen. For the first he attempted to volley Nedum Onuoha’s header, from a corner, beyond Hart, but screwed his shot across goal and then somehow, failed to turn in Granero’s free kick as he was left unmarked at the far post.
In injury time, Tevez ended any doubts as he stuck out a boot to meet Dzeko’s woefully mis-hit shot to divert it into the net to settle nerves – but not totally dismiss the notion that City are yet to fire and will need to improve before meeting Mourinho.
Jason Burt – The Telegraph
I went to the Lass O’Gowrie after the game. There were hardly any R’s supporters there in the evening, probably because of the later kick-off time. Nearly all of the usual Manc R’s crowd had gone straight home after the match. I spoke to Gareth the landlord and he said that pre-match the Lass was heaving with Rangers fans. The place was packed.
On the wall overlooking the main bar area there is now a massive framed team picture. Great ! Also as a nice touch, Gareth on the day had got some of his bar staff wearing QPR replica shirts. Yes, shame that I didn’t make it pre-match.