John Eustace’s first game in charge of QPR didn’t quite go to plan, with the Hoops on the receiving end of a drubbing from league leaders Norwich, who ran out 4-0 winners at Carrow Road despite Emiliano Buendia being sent off in the second half.
Steve McClaren’s departure last week was hardly surprising given the woeful run of form the R’s have endured in 2019 and while it doesn’t get much worse than a trip to the top side in the league as far as managerial bows go, the Loftus Road faithful were surely hoping from more from their team in the first game under Eustace.
There were clearly some nerves from the visitors and the Canaries punished them early on, with the aforementioned Buendia opening the scoring in the sixth minute before Marco Stiepermann found a way through Joe Lumley in net for the R’s.
Then Luke Freeman, who is usually pretty dependable, dropped a clanger – the number seven’s ball back towards defence was far too weak and Teemu Pukki capitalised by running onto it and scoring with his usual lethality.
Freeman tried his best to atone for his error thereafter but was, statistically, the worst player on the park as he returned to his left midfield role with Eberechi Eze occupying the 10.
Freeman versus Norwich (stats according to WhoScored)
1 huge error
6 times dispossessed
2 unsuccessful touches
1 key pass
The duo had previously been forced to vie for a starting spot behind Nakhi Wells or Tomer Hemed under McClaren, with Freeman usually preferred there, although Eustace’s baptism of fire saw England Under-21 international Eze return in attacking midfield while 27-year-old Freeman shifted out wide.
The QPR keeper was giving it large to Bolton fans at the weekend. Find out who had the last laugh in the video below…
If it wasn’t clear enough before that the former Bristol City man is far more effective down the middle though, his drab showing in Norfolk certainly made it so – the 5 ft 9 playmaker failed to take a shot and was dispossessed a whopping six times while completing just one key pass.
Eze, meanwhile, was similarly ineffective playing in Freeman’s preferred role so it would make more sense, surely, for Eustace to deploy Freeman where he is at his best if the youngster is wasting his opportunities in one of the most crucial areas in the team. What do you think, QPR fans? Would you bench Eze to put Freeman in the 10? Let us know in the comments below…