Team: Green, Traore, Hill, Onuoha, Bosingwa (Fabio), Jenas, Hoilett (Taarabt), Townsend, Mbia (Derry), Remy, Zamora
Subs Not Used: Murphy, Park, Granero, Mackie
What more can you say about this most rotten of football seasons ? The home atmosphere was the most angry that I have witnessed in my two decades of following Rangers. I guessed the way the afternoon was going to progress when boos rang out for Bosingwa and Mbia (amongst others) before kick-off. It was such a strange occasion – the final home game of the season, nothing to celebrate, nothing to treasure.
The game itself was even stranger, and completely forgettable. Rangers were awarded a soft penalty after a run by Junior Hoilett. The penalty then conceded by Jose Bosingwa was even softer, and it felt like Lee Probert was trying to even things out.
The way Newcastle’s second goal was yielded was even more depressing. There has been some debate on Twitter as to whether it was Bosingwa to blame for the back pass or was Robert Green too slow coming out ? Seeing a replay has confirmed my initial view that Bosingwa was at fault for selling Robert Green short on the ball back to him.
Rangers were a little stronger in the second-half after Bosingwa and Stephane Mbia were substituted – raising the biggest cheer of the afternoon. Derry added a bit of steel to the midfield and Fabio took the place of the hapless Portuguese defender.
But this was not a day when the fare was likely to be memorable. Once again Townsend looked a cut above the rest. Hoilett was his usual ineffectual self. Remy looked like he might have made something happen, almost in anticipation that his future lies elsewhere.
Not even the sending off of Newcastle keeper Rob Elliot for a second yellow could improve Rangers’ ill fortune. At full-time, some QPR fans ran on to the pitch as if to fulfil some ancient ritual rather than in celebration.
The club had announced earlier in the day that there wouldn’t be a ‘lap of honour’ by the players. It seemed highly appropriate since for most fans there has been little honourable about the passage of the season.
With just one away game to come, the curtain is almost down on another year, and once again Loftus Road bids farewell to top flight football. Relegation is rarely a happy experience, but rarely has a club’s capitulation been so ignominious in contrast to its own pre-season hype !
We have to pray that, as Fernandes tells the media at length, the lessons of the past two seasons have been learnt. Redknapp has possibly the toughest job on of his managerial career. He has to take a divided, demoralised dressing room and turn it into a force which is capable of having an impact in the Championship next season.
I truly hope that we can get off to a good start on August 3 and beyond. Otherwise the whiff, or maybe the stench, of this season will linger on for some time to come.
Before kick-off some presentations were made. These included Clint Hill who was voted the Player of the Year and the Young Player of the Year was Michael Harriman. Malcolm Oakley, who hasn’t missed a home game since August 1962, was the Supporter of the Year. Later it was a pleasure to see a sizable contingent of former 1980’s players arrive on the pitch; Tony Currie, Peter Hucker, Clive Allen (who was also interviewed), Bobby Hazell, Gary Micklewhite, Warren Neill, Steve Wicks and Wayne Fereday. Well done to the club for organising this.
The R’s took the lead after 10 minutes when we witnessed Loic Remy converting a penalty. Rare as that was you somehow knew that it was going to be one of those days when we were penalised for a back-pass, which is also quite rare.
Mbia and Bosingwa were loudly booed by sections of the crowd and this intensified when Bosingwa gave away a penalty for a tug, soft as it may have appeared, and also later following a terrible mix up when he played the ball back to Rob Green. Harry Redknapp, not surprisingly, decided to replace them both at half-time with Derry and Fabio respectively.
Rob Elliot had been booked earlier for booting the ball away when the R’s were awarded a free kick and he then received his marching orders when he had clearly handled outside the box. He continued to protest his innocence all the way back to the tunnel !
This briefly livened up the R’s fans, but many had already headed for the exits well before the final whistle. A few still decided to run on to the pitch at full-time as the travelling fans loudly celebrated.