Newcastle United v QPR – ‘We looked Solid without being Creative‚’ said Redknapp

Team: Green, Onuoha, Dunne, Caulker, Suk-Young, Barton, Sandro (Kranjcar), Henry (Hoilett), Fer, Zamora, Austin.

Subs Not Used: McCarthy, Isla, Traore, Phillips, Mutch.

Attendance: 51,915 (including 1,600 R’s fans)

Harry Redknapp has long admired Moussa Sissoko, but he could have done without the France midfielder illuminating the Tyneside dusk by scoring Newcastle United’s winning goal, on a day that left Queen’s Park Rangers bottom of the Premier League.

A couple of months ago, Alan Pardew found himself in a similarly worrying fix, but six straight victories – five in the Premier League – have resulted in Newcastle’s relegation fears being replaced by European ambitions.

At the final whistle, Pardew’s side stood fourth in the table, but, by then his joy had been clouded by Ryan Taylor’s bad luck. For just over 30 minutes, the afternoon belonged to Taylor, making his first Premier start for two and a half years after two cruciate ligament injuries, as he shone in midfield. Sometimes breaking up play effectively from a central role, sometimes unnerving QPR courtesy of expert dead-ball delivery, he played like a man who had never been away. As Pardew put it: “Ryan was pulling the strings.”

Then he went down. The physio arrived, manipulated the player’s knee, and immediately extended a consolatory arm. Eventually, Taylor got to his feet and limped off to a standing ovation, tears streaming down his face.

“We’re sweating on Ryan,” said Pardew. “He doesn’t deserve another trauma. Fortunately, his surgeon, Richard Steadman, was here in the stands. He’s flown over from America to watch Ryan play and he’s gone to the hospital with him. It means the win is tinged with sadness, but we’ve got to keep our fingers crossed.”

Redknapp, who later lost Sandro, another midfielder with a history of cruciate-repair surgery, to a similar, potentially serious knee problem, sympathised. “It’s very sad for Ryan Taylor,” he said. “And it doesn’t look too clever for Sandro either.”

It all rather put a blight on a contest in which Rob Green had, earlier, tipped Taylor’s chip over the bar after Remy Cabella’s outswinging corner and Jack Colback’s clever decoy run. Then, with Redknapp’s side increasingly fazed by Newcastle’s counter-attacking pace, Ayoze Perez sped clear, Cabella threw in some penalty-area trickery, and Taylor’s shot forced Green into a decent save.

The tears came soon afterwards, and things did not really get going again until the second-half, when Perez and co. threw everything at Steven Caulker and Richard Dunne. Undeterred, QPR clung on, edging closer to claiming their hitherto elusive first away point of this Premier League campaign. “We looked solid without being creative,” said Redknapp.

Aware that injuries had deprived Pardew of, among others, his key defender Fabricio Coloccini, QPR’s manager had switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. On paper, the attacking combination of Bobby Zamora and Charlie Austin spelled danger – but, all too often, that duo was left chasing balls and lost causes.

A by-product of such tactics was a diminution of Joey Barton’s effectiveness in midfield. This proved a relatively quiet return to Newcastle for Barton – although he was quick to argue the toss when the referee, Chris Foy, quite reasonably, ticked off Zamora for clattering Colback with an elbow. There was also a minor contretemps with Cabella, but, largely, Barton concentrated on holding QPR together, improving significantly after being shifted from the right to central midfield.

By then, Redknapp sensed things “drifting to a decent point”, but suddenly, Sissoko – who, by way of vindicating the QPR manager’s judgement, had already established himself as the key performer – exchanged passes with the impressive Sammy Ameobi, meeting the latter’s dink with a shot into the top corner.

Although Barton enjoyed the last word – clearing Papiss Cisse’s shot off the line – even he could not silence the triumphant choruses of ‘Blaydon Races’.

Louise Taylor – The Observer

Sometimes we use odd logic to go to football – I had no intention of going to Newcastle on Saturday because of that away end. Then a mate phones up and asks me if I fancy going? Barnet is where the A1 (M) starts so at 7.30am off we go to the other end of the motorway.

The plan was to meet a Glentoran/Newcastle fan I know from back home in Belfast – “See you in Sam Jacks” he says to me and my pal Mark head off there.

“Hello Finney” I hear and bump into a QPR fan I know, so, this place will be sound I’m thinking. The strippers were warming up in fact one seemed to be using football-style stretching!

Right on cue, in comes Mr Kirk, I think that he’s had a few already and all I can say is when you are in a place like this and they ask a Rangers fan for a game, keep your hand in your pocket! The wee man goes up on the stage where he is blindfolded and to cut a long story short, the outcome of these games is for him to end up being floored by one of the female dancers!

He done well, not, I have to tell you – it meant to be a slap but looked more like a right-hook to me! Maybe it was the strangest thing I have seen on the way to a football match but there you go. More of a worry was my mate who wanted to book in for the night and go on the piss with the Geordies and other R’s fans. I have to say that I do like Newcastle, decent people and they love their football l – a good craic.

Nice to see Billy Maguire, I know his dad Paddy and his aunt is mates with my sister. It was very sad to learn of the death of his Uncle John, life-long QPR fan and his life was Queen’s Park Rangers. He was a good man and very much loved by his family – R.I.P. John.

I had no idea of what sort of turnout there would be, but I needn’t have worried. It looked around 1,500 to me but I’m rubbish at estimating numbers. Anything above 500 is great for such a trip.

The team changes forced or otherwise, hurt us. I felt that our shape seemed to have changed and without Vargas we lacked the pace to break and craft, to take their defenders out of the game. We had our chances and Newcastle did work for their win. But make no bones about it once again we gave it a right go at times. My only slight moan was the number of times we gave the ball away, putting ourselves under the cosh.

You could see the goal coming by the way Newcastle kept breaking and finding space. You couldn’t have stopped Sissoko’s goal unless the attacking team is closed down from their box, simple but true. And why are corners so hard to take? What the hell was Joey Barton doing?

The result gutted me not only because we lost, but also because we’re getting to the stage of losing all these away games and it then becomes a real monkey on the back and a real issue of mental toughness.

The other two promoted teams getting a win and a draw did not help. Even more gutting is that given the way we have played in recent weeks we haven’t got the points to match the effort.

People say that the next game is a must win, but being honest we have come a long way since the start of the season. The passion was there and the hope is there but every game from now on till May is huge for us.

The role of us fans is again the key to open the lock of what again is looking like the great escape act but I still think we can do this. The two lads from Chile it seems will have a huge say in how we play this season that is for sure.

I was sorry that I never bumped into either the Irish or Scottish R’s, mind you, after them stairs I thought that the next thing I would see would be Mars?

Paul Finney