It's A Hard Road
A few thoughts after a poor night at Loftus Road

At the start of this season I said we are a mid-table team that needed luck with injuries and form to make a play-off attempt. My last piece on here said we shouldn’t get to up about wins and too down about defeats, but that constructive criticism was fine. I have also said that JL was handed a tough gig and that he would need time and support to turn it round. Finally, I have said before that the only thing that is consistent about our team is its inconsistency. All those things still hold true. So, I am trying to look at last nights performance at QPR through that lens.

It seems to me there are some wider more deep-rooted issues about our squad that need to be addressed. Back in 2015/16 in a season under CC when we went to Wembley there were many away games where the team disappeared and were not up for the fight on the road – they were embarrassed by quite a few struggling sides, even with Westwood in goal, Burton and MK Dons come to mind. In 16/17, again with CC at the helm we went away from home and conceded goals in matches where we were not really in trouble at all – Reading was a classic example, again Westwood was in goal. We had some good performances, Newcastle being the best, but we were hardly consistent on the road. Step forward to 17/18 with CC in charge same again – Burton away was a classic example of not being in trouble but conceding. CC departed JL came in but the same pattern continued – QPR and Bristol City were further examples from last season.

Let’s fast forward to this season.  At Wigan, Brentford, Forest and QPR we displayed dis-organisation at the back; no drive, fight or creativity in midfield, and no bottle or ability to hold the ball up front, or the wit to run in behind the opposition defence. We were awful in all 4 games. Overall our keeper has made more saves than any other in the Championship yet only 4 teams have conceded more goals, and everyone bar us has kept at least one clean sheet, yet Dawson gets most of the blame and many people think Westwood will be the panacea. The culture, attitude and mentality of the squad is clearly lacking if they can be so inconsistent and capable of producing 4 abject performances out of 7 away games. The change in culture, attitude and mentality that is needed  won’t come overnight. 2 different managers with very different styles haven’t managed to crack it yet – we will see if JL will, but it might need the clear out that is coming in the summer before we may see a real and lasting change. As for injuries - well the saga continues!

In the short term we are asking a bunch of players to play in a way that the manager wants. The problem is those players need to be on the top of their game in order to make it work, when they are its good, evidence the trips to Villa, Reading and Bristol, in whole or in part. But when the mentality isn’t right they can’t do it and we get the other 4 levels of performance we have seen on the road this season. JL either has to sort out the selection or mentality issues in the short term so they can play the way the way he wants them to, or he might need to find a different way of playing that is more effective if not as attractive on the eye. I am not convinced that Dawson is the problem but for the long term good of his confidence he might need a rest – it’s possible to ruin a good young prospect by making him struggle in a poor side. Overall though JL and the players have many questions to answer.

I don't think that's an over reaction to one defeat. We will see what Saturday brings by way of a reaction from JL and the players.

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