x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A truly bad day for Jose Bosingwa and QPR against Newcastle

The Portuguese was the player almost single-handedly responsible for transforming a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss, writes Jonathan Wilson.

Robert Green, left, the QPR goalkeeper catches the ball under a challenge from Jonas Gutierrez. Ian Kington / AFP
Robert Green, left, the QPR goalkeeper catches the ball under a challenge from Jonas Gutierrez. Ian Kington / AFP

LONDON // Newcastle United are safe from relegation, and for the moment, the focus is on the club's survival rather than the future of the manager Alan Pardew or the tales of dressing room rifts.

They were fortunate yesterday, though, starting the game as though playing "with our necks in a noose" as Pardew put it, before being gifted the win by a truly dreadful performance from Jose Bosingwa.

In the last few weeks, it has been hard not to feel some sympathy for Bosingwa. After Harry Redknapp revealed he had refused to take his place on the bench for a game against Fulham in December, he has become the designated scapegoat, the player everybody turns on, all the time.

That was clear when he was pictured smiling in the tunnel after the draw at Reading that confirmed their relegation. Nevermind that he was clearly smiling in greeting an old friend, that he had not exactly been giggling as he left the pitch, or that the damage was long since done: he was the man everybody was out to blame.

Yesterday, though, there was no way to be charitable. Bosingwa was the player almost single-handedly responsible for transforming a 1-0 lead into a 2-1 loss.

QPR had been handed the initiative after 10 minutes when the referee Lee Probert decided Mathieu Debuchy's trip on Junior Hoilett had taken place inside the box rather than just outside. Loic Remy sent Rob Elliott the wrong way from the spot.

At that point, the tension among the Newcastle fans massed behind the QPR goal was palpable, the green smoke that billowed from a flare seeming to reflect their mood.

But eight minutes later came the first of Bosingwa's gifts as he needlessly grabbed the shirt of Hatem Ben Arfa in the area. Ben Arfa crashed the resulting penalty into the top corner. And 17 minutes later, Bosingwa delivered another present. His back pass to Robert Green was short and when the goalkeeper's clearance was charged down by Jonas Gutierrez, Yoann Gouffran was on hand to roll the ball into an empty net.

It was a farcical goal of comic self-destruction: the perfect epitaph for what has been an awful season for QPR.

"How [rubbish] are you?" chanted Newcastle's fans in disbelief. "We're winning away."

The home fans, meanwhile, turned on Bosingwa, booing his every touch. Redknapp withdrew him at half time.

"It wasn't going to help anyone," Redknapp said. "You can't play when there's that sort of negativity around the place. He cost us a couple of goals.

"He didn't make the mistakes on purpose. He didn't do it because he wanted to. He made a couple of errors. It wasn't a good feeling when you're trying to get back into the game. People pay their money and we all get grief ... They obviously decided they weren't happy with him. He handled it OK."

Newcastle's second away win of the season was never really threatened in a dismal second half.

Even after Elliott, already booked for kicking the ball away, collected a second yellow card and was sent off with nine minutes remaining for handling outside his box, QPR struggled to generate any real pressure.

Steve Harper, Newcastle's perennial reserve keeper, came on and will play against Arsenal next week. Given that his contract expires in the summer, it could be his final game for the club.

Pardew described the win as "an important day for this football club", but he admitted his prevailing emotion over the course of the season was "frustration".

Last night, it was presumably mingled with relief.

 

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