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Sunday, October 05, 2008

Further QPR-Birmingham Reports, Journalistic Assessments of QPR and Dowie and Dowie's Own Post-Match Comments


The Observer/Duncan Mackay

The leaves have barely started turning brown and already you fear problems lie ahead for both these clubs this season.
Top of the table after this lunchtime fixture, at least until the other contenders played, with a victory over a club who had knocked Aston Villa out of the Carling Cup the last time they played in this city, everything looks rosy for Birmingham City.
This, however, was an unconvincing performance against a side that, for all the billions allegedly behind them, are making their status as the pre-season favourites to get promoted look ridiculous.

They say that bookmakers do not often get things wrong but, with one point gained from the past four games, Queens Park Rangers are hardly fulfilling the expectations of their wealthy backers and it surely will not be long before manager Iain Dowie is looking nervously over his shoulder.
Indeed, he had to fend off a series of questions after this match about his future. 'This is the nature of modern football,' Dowie said. 'If you lose, people want to be negative. Speculation is what feeds people and all I want to say is that I get on very well with the owners.'

Dowie was not given the cash to splash in the summer that he was predicted to receive and his side, a combination of seasoned Championship performers and promising youngsters, are clearly struggling, creating nothing of note.
'The character is there but we are disappointed with our return in the last three games,' he said. 'It's a case of toughing it out so we get us out of this sticky patch.'

City could also have problems brewing very shortly in their own boardroom. It is nothing to do with Alex McLeish, who has the full backing of owners and fans alike, but you sense David Sullivan is beginning to wind himself up again about the disappointing attendances here.
It is a subject he regularly complains about in the local press - usually leading disaffected fans to 'hit back' about ticket prices and lack of ambition - and he returned to the subject in his programme notes about other clubs in the division enjoying higher attendances and more vociferous support. The crowd for this match was nearly 2,500 down on their last home match, a defeat against Blackpool.
The club even gave away thousands of clapperboards to generate more atmosphere. The only effect they had during the first half was to litter the pitch as the wrappers were blown around in the wind.
It was not until the 45th minute that Birmingham came to life, when Garry O'Connor scampered down the left and pulled the ball back for Kevin Phillips, aged 35 but who could still give Usain Bolt a good race over half a yard, to react first and poke in his fourth goal of the season.
McLeish has been at Birmingham long enough to know how easy it is to alienate the supporters here, so refused to join in any criticism of how muted they had been up until then. 'It [the stadium] wasn't full but we had a good response,' he said. 'Whichever team you support, you need to get them going and we took a while to do that. It's up to us to get them going.'
They were more animated in the second half, although in truth they had as little to cheer. McLeish was nevertheless pleased. 'It was much better than the last two home games,' he said. 'I was nervous after those.'
St Andrew's 18,498 - Referee Andy D'Urso Observer

The Sunday Times/Paul Rowan - Kevin Phillips strikes to lift Birmingham into top spot
- THE top of the Championship is like an old friend whom Birmingham City visit regularly even though they would prefer to be keeping far more refined company. When they arrived there yesterday after beating QPR, it was with a tough, unspectacular display, which strongly suggested they had the resolve to mix it with anything this roughhouse of a league had to throw at them and find themselves dining at the top table again.
- They also have so many attacking riches that they could start with James McFadden on the bench and Marcus Bent at home, allowing Kevin Phillips to add to a tally of league goals that now stands at more than 200. The goal came just before half-time after Birmingham had met and withstood Rangers’ physical approach. Other than that, the failure of Iain Dowie’s QPR side to attempt any sort of respectable comeback in the second half spoke volumes about a side lacking in confidence and ideas. The club’s billionaire owners won’t have seen a run of three defeats and a draw as part of their three-year plan.
- “I did warn the players it would not be pretty for the first 20 minutes and we would have to work to retain the ball, and that was the way it turned out,” said Birmingham’s manager Alex McLeish.
- QPR and Gavin Mahon in particular had been putting themselves about in the first 15 minutes. Mahon’s challenge on Lee Carsley eventually led to the Birmingham captain leaving the field but the visitors weren’t the only culprits. Liam Ridgewell had the ball in the net courtesy of “the hand of God”. The centre-back would have been celebrating a goal were it not for the sharp eyes of a linesman. Instead, he was booked for his reenactment of Diego Maradona’s infamous goal. However, once McLeish pitted the fleet-footed Quincy Owusu-Abeyie against QPR left-back Damien Delaney, Rangers were pegged back.
- Still chances were few and far between and it looked ominous for Phillips and Garry O’Connor up front with so much strike power on the bench but Phillips was deadly with the one that came his way on the stroke of half-time.
- David Murphy sent a long ball forward from the left-back position to the edge of the QPR box that centre-back Fitz Hall should have cut out. Instead, he allowed O’Connor to get in behind him and cross from the dead-ball line to Phillips, who stabbed the ball past Radek Cerny. Muscle cancelled out might in the second half, with centre-back Radhi Jaidi unlucky not to increase Birmingham’s lead on 72 minutes.
- First, Ridgewell appeared to be tugged back in the penalty area as he sought to get his head on to a long pass from Murphy, only for the ball to drop to Jaidi, who forced a good low save from Cerny. All QPR managed in response was a lame header from Mikele Leigertwood into the arms of Maik Taylor as they crashed to their third defeat in four league games. The watching club chairman, Flavio Briatore, cannot have been impressed, though Dowie was putting on a typically brave face. “We are not firing on all cylinders but we have enough character to get us out of a difficult little run of points.”
Star man:David Murphy (Birmingham)
Birmingham City:Taylor 6, Parnaby 6, Jaidi 8, Ridgewell 6, Murphy 8, Augustien 7, Carsley 7 (Nafti 50min, 6), Larsson 6, Quincy 7 (McFadden 75min, 5), Phillips 7, O’Connor 7.
Queens Park Rangers:Cerny 6, Ramage 6 (Connelly 87min), Hall 5, Stewart 6, Delaney 5, Rowlands 5 (Ledesma 80min), Mahon 6 (Buzsaky 68min) Leigertwood 6, Cook 5, Blackstock 5, Agyemang 5
Referee:A D’Urso Attendance:18,498 The Times

SUNDAY PEOPLE/Chris Davies - Hoops boss on skid row with F1 chiefs
Iain Dowie didn't last long in his previous two jobs at Coventry and Charlton - and unless QPR's results improve quickly he will be making it a hat-trick of early exits.
Formula One billionaires and Rangers powerbrokers Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone are not used to failure, and one point from the last 12 could see the chequered flag come down on Dowie's time at Loftus Road.
It would be kind to say Rangers were poor. In fact, they were awful. Dowie's assortment were ponderous in defence, predictable in midfield, and lacking a cutting edge in attack.
Even though Birmingham were far from their best, Rangers created next to nothing in 90minutes. Blues keeper Maik Taylor saw more action during the pre-match warm-up.
Rangers huffed and puffed, but apart from Lee Cook they had no-one who looked like causing Birmingham problems.
Patience Dowie knows the Rangers money-men will demand an improvement.
"I've had no inclination," was his response - he meant indication - when asked whether the owners would show patience.
"You lose and always people want to be negative. I'm not a negative person.
We'll keep going and I'll do my job until someone tells me otherwise. I don't want to get caught up in speculation.
"The result was disappointing, as is our return from the last four games. It's a sticky run and if you don't take chances you're in trouble. "But the character is there, I have no problem with that. I think we have enough to get us out of this run." Even so, Dowie is also painfully aware that Rangers are powderpuff up front.
"We need more firepower. We're not doing it in the final third and that's hurting us," he confessed.
"In the end we didn't have enough to win the game."

Qpr arrived at St Andrew's having kept only two clean sheets in their previous 10 games this season, and that prompted Dowie to leave out his two most creative midfielders - Daniel Parejo and Emmanuel Ledesma. In came the more defensive Mikele Leigertwood in a midfield where, Cook apart, the emphasis was on strength rather than skill.
Birmingham boss Alex McLeish knew it would be a battle.
"The way QPR lined up, they made it a scrap," he said. "It was never going to be silky football. They had almost an all-British team. I warned my players it might not be pretty and we needed a sleeves-rolled-up performance.
"As the game progressed I was happy with our possession. I felt really secure and confident. It was better than the last two home games when I was uneasy. In the second half we did well.
"We took a gamble by leaving people like James McFadden out but it worked.
"We don't want to flog people to death and we need to keep everyone on their toes."
Rangers' tactics were working until Kevin Phillips struck at the end of a first half marginall ymore exciting than root-canal dental treatment. Garry O'Connor got the better of Fitz Hall down the left and Phillips, timing his run to perfection, beat Leigertwood to tap home his fourth of the season.
The second half was better - it could hardly have been worse - and two minutes after the restart Phillips set up a chance for David Murphy, whose rising shot was only marginally wide.
Then Radek Cerny needed two attempts to save a header from Radhi Jaidi.
Dowie brought on Ledesma with 10 minutes remaining, but by then Birmingham were comfortably in control and cruising - despite the slenderest of leads.
Birmingham: Taylor 6 - Parnaby 6, Jaidi 7, Ridgewell 6, Murphy 7 - Larsson 7, Carsley 6 (Nafti, 50mins, 6), Agustien 6, Owusu-Abeyie 6 (McFadden, 75mins) - O'Connor 6, *PHILLIPS 8 (Jerome, 80mins).
Qpr: Cerny 6 - Ramage 6 (Connolly, 87mins), Stewart 6, Hall 5, Delaney 6 - Rowlands 7 (Ledesma, 80mins), Mahon 6 (Buzsaky, 68mins, 6), Leigertwood 5, *COOK 8 - Agyemang 5, Blackstock 5. - Sunday People

News of The World/Aidan Magee - BIRMINGHAM 1, QPR 0 Hand of Rid lacks Phillips' punch
LIAM RIDGEWELL tried a Hand of God goal — but this clash was more like the Land of Nod.
The Birmingham defender evoked painful memories of Diego Maradona’s handball goal against England at Mexico ’86 when he fisted the ball over the line.
Comparing Ridgewell to the Argy genius might seem far-fetched. But his second-minute effort had QPR players resembling Butcher, Sansom, Fenwick and Shilton in the Azteca as they surrounded ref Andy D’Urso in the hope that he would restart the game with a Rangers free-kick.
D’Urso saw sense and chalked off the strike before giving Ridgewell a booking for his outrageous cheek.
Then Kevin Phillips scored for real to win it for Brum — and that was as interesting as it got.
Not that St Andrew’s boss Alex McLeish cares. His side has been struggling for goals despite being near the top of the league.
And he would gladly have taken anything that came his way.
The Scotsman recalled: “I remember Maradona’s Hand of God goal very well. When we saw the incident in this game I thought the keeper had fumbled the ball.
“Then we saw the reaction of the referee and his assistants.
“Liam didn’t argue and it was then we realised he had handled it.”
Rangers, chasing their first win over Birmingham since 1985, were holding their own until they were undone by Phillips’ strike moments before the break.
Garry O’Connor escaped down the left, his cross was deflected into the path of the in-rushing Phillips and the former England striker beat Radek Cerny from six yards.
Earlier, Rangers’ Lee Cook had fired an effort straight at Maik Taylor from the edge of the area.
Cerny caught well from Kemy Agustien’s header before QPR’s Gavin Mahon drilled wide.
After the interval the crowd was momentarily awoken from its coma when the public address announcer called for Denise Agustien, wife of Blues midfielder Kemy, to make her way to the club creche to tend to a child. It really was that dull.
Birmingham left-back David Murphy blitzed a great effort narrowly over the bar before Cerny had to dive low to keep out Radhi Jaidi’s header.
More seriously for manager Iain Dowie, Rangers have now taken just a point from their past four games.
The former Coventry boss has led his side to a mouthwatering Carling Cup date with Manchester United later this month but he knows that even a memorable victory at Old Trafford in the same competition last season was not enough to save his skin at the Ricoh Arena.
Dowie is confident his over- expectant board will give him time to lift QPR out of their current rut as he attempts to manage a side he has little control over when it comes to team selection.
He said: “This has been our best start to a season in 16 years.
“Last season this team won four times away from home and this year we’ve already won at Norwich and Aston Villa.
“I thought we dominated the first half but the goal came at a crucial time. I am confident I can pull the team out of this sticky patch
.” News of The World

Iain Dowie's Perspective on Today -- QPR Official Site - DOWIE'S GOT THE BLUES

Iain Dowie bemoaned the one piece of 'lacklustre defending' that led to Kevin Phillips scoring the only goal of the game at St Andrews.
The former West Bromwich Albion and Sunderland hit-man was in the right place at the right time to convert Garry O'Connor's cross on the stroke of half-time, as Rangers' poor form in the Championship continued.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow," Dowie told www.qpr.co.uk.
"The last thing we deserved after the first half showing was to get beaten.
"They got behind us once all game and Kevin Phillips does what Kevin Phillips does best. That sums up our luck at the moment.
"Other than that, it looked like a 0-0 all day.
"The timing of the goal couldn't have been any worse. It's a straight ball and we failed to deal with it and O'Connor got in behind.
"The cross took a slight deflection off Fitz (Hall) and Phillips did the rest."
Dowie, who saw his side only test Maik Taylor once throughout the 90 minutes when the excellent Lee Cook let fly from range, added: "It was a blow conceding then and thereafter we lacked the incisiveness you need in this division.
"The second half was far more even, but I felt we were by far the better side in the first period and they didn't threaten us at all up until Phillips popped up.
"Our final ball in the attacking third has been killing us lately and it did again today." QPR

"...QPR boss Iain Dowie denied he is under any pressure, despite the fact his side have picked up just one point from their last four games.
Dowie admitted he needs more of a cutting edge in attack to enable Rangers to get out of their current poor run.
He said: "We are not firing off enough cylinders but saying that it could be a very different picture with a couple of good results against Swansea and Nottingham Forest.
"The character is in the side. I have no problem. I'm disappointed with the points return in the last four games but that is what this league is all about.
"I was happy with the first half but not the second half.
"I am confident that I will get time to do the job at Rangers. I was reading the other day that we have recently had our best start for 11 years.
"I have seen enough character around the dressing room to get get us out of a difficult run of points.
"You lose games and there always people who want to be negative. I'm not negative. I will just do my job as best I can until I am told otherwise.
"I have a very good relationship with the owners. We have targets and winning performances against Swansea and Nottingham Forest and the whole picture changes."
Dowie had to admit that it was not a game for purists as neither side hit the high notes. Sporting Life

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