Final programme notes from Sean Dyche and Laurence Bassini
As you always do on the final day, you look around the pitch for signs of what next season might bring, for the points that need addressing, for the players who need tying down lest they fly away. One last look before a summer of idle discussion and speculation…and we’ll mostly leave all of that for the footie-less weeks.
Having played 4-5-1 at Cardiff, Sean Dyche had explained his aspiration to a tactical flexibility that would leave us comfortable switching between a number of formations. Now is undoubtedly the time to try new things of course, but despite that it it has now seen us take points from consecutive games against teams above us in the table there was little sign of 4-5-1 proving terribly effective.
And for most of the first half, there was an awful lot that was familiar about the visiting side. It’s never a good idea to successively read two novels by the same author I find; however impressive the first I begin to get irritated by an author’s habits and style when they begin to emerge in the second. And lo… here was a visiting team paying expansive football across the full width of the pitch, rendered get-attable at the back by their refusal to sit back but leaving us chasing shadows for the most part. And Don Cowie at the centre of everything, scurrying this way and that, on the end of crosses as well as providing them and coming close more than once, most memorably a diving header to a right-wing cross that brought a fine save from Loach. The riposte to the fist-chewingly tedious chorus of boos that greeted the Scot’s every touch seemed inevitable. It didn’t come, but to say that we were rather fortunate to be on level terms at the break would be something of an understatement.
Goals from Adel Taarabt and Tommy Smith secured victory at Vicarage Road on Saturday, meaning Rangers cannot be caught by third-placed Cardiff and should have booked their place in the top flight as well as clinching the league crown. Neil Warnock and his coaching staff all embraced on the touchline, but the celebrations will be slightly muted with the club now nervously awaiting the outcome of next week’s FA hearing into the transfer of Argentinian midfielder Alejandro Faurlin.
The independent commission sits on Tuesday with a decision due four days later, and Rangers could be punished sufficiently to drop into the play-off positions. Indeed Watford fans taunted the champions with cries of ‘You’re gonna lose in the play-offs’.
Uncertainly, then, remains, but all their players, staff and fans could feel yesterday was joy. Emotions became unruly after the final whistle when some of the 2,171 away supporters swarmed on to the pitch and despite repeated warnings from Watford’s public address announcer, refused to leave promptly. Neil Warnock, the QPR manager, also become embroiled in the chaos, telling the man with the microphone to keep his orders to himself. Ignoring instructions from stewards, Warnock then refused to leave the pitch until he had saluted the QPR fans himself.
Should Rangers suffer a points penalty you won’t find many tears shed in Hertfordshire, I suspect. It wasn’t the unseemly scuffles with interlopers in the Rookery, these have happened pretty much whenever visiting supporters have made significant incursion; I’m sure there were far more Rangers fans in the home end keeping a respectably low profile than there were causing trouble. It’s not even the pitch invasion, tedious as that was; those of us on the pitch at Craven Cottage thirteen years ago (ulp) would hardly be in a position to criticise on that score. It was the utterly needless and moronic charge towards the home end, the provocation of a situation that was only ever going to be diffused by a heavyweight police presence, ultimately on horseback. Celebrate by all means, but why a stand-off? Fuckwits. A situation not remotely placated by the reliably provocative Neil Warnock, as ever displaying all the restraint and judgment of a four year old with a sugar rush in gesticulating towards the Rookery end.
The commission found QPR guilty of just two of the seven charges relating to the signing of Alejandro Faurlin and were fined £875,000 but did not receive a points deduction and therefore were promoted as champions.