Monday 11 December 2017

Aguero leaves QPR staring into the abyss

Man City 6 QPR 0

Sergio Aguero celebrates after completing his hat-trick with Manchester City’s fourth goal
Sergio Aguero celebrates after completing his hat-trick with Manchester City’s fourth goal
James Milner scores the fifth goal for Manchester City
QPR's Joey Barton and Steven Caulker look dejected at the end of the match after being relegated from the Premier League

Mark Ogden

It was an inevitable ending to a bad dream, but for Queens Park Rangers the nightmare may only just be beginning after a Sergio Aguero-inspired Manchester City consigned Chris Ramsey's team to relegation, humiliation and deep uncertainty over where the dust will eventually settle.

Having won just twice in 12 games since Ramsey succeeded Harry Redknapp as manager in early February, QPR's turbulent season in the top flight was always going to end this way.

However, with the threat of a £58m fine hanging over the Loftus Road club for failing to comply with the Football League's Financial Fair Play regulations, QPR face the prospect of dropping straight from the Premier League to the Conference if they fail to negotiate a compromise with the Football League in the coming weeks.

The next time QPR head to Manchester, it may be to fulfil a non-league fixture against Altrincham rather than City or United, but that is the doomsday scenario now facing Tony Fernandes, the owner, if the League's lawyers and accountants judge that the writing off of £60m worth of loans contravenes their guidelines.


Rather worryingly for all connected with QPR, the team's performance at the Etihad Stadium would probably also have seen them beaten at Altrincham. It was a brutal demolition by City, with Aleks Kolarov, James Milner and David Silva adding to Aguero's hat-trick in a 6-0 rout.

Since returning to the Premier League last season, however, QPR have barely resembled a team or club capable of prolonging their stay in the top flight. Other than Charlie Austin's remarkable contribution of 17 league goals, their campaign has been a tale of one setback after another.

They went into this game with a gun applied firmly to their temple as a consequence of Saturday's results leaving them requiring a victory to maintain any hope of survival, but with Brazilian midfielder Sandro forced to withdraw from the squad at the last minute due to a visa issue, the element of farce evident at QPR all season returned at the worst possible moment.

It added to the impression that Ramsey's players were a beaten team before they even walked onto the pitch, but if there was any doubt about that notion, it was banished within four minutes when Aguero was given a free run to score the opener.

As spectacular as Aguero's goal was, QPR's hopeless defending enabled the forward to receive Pablo Zabaleta's pass, turn and then run past four defenders before beating Robert Green from 12 yards after riding a clumsy challenge by Matt Phillips on the edge of the penalty area.

QPR survived relegation when Aguero scored his unforgettable winner in this fixture three years ago thanks to results elsewhere, but there was to be no reprieve this time. Despite the lavish spending spree of the former manager Redknapp last summer, which resulted in a higher wage bill than both Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, QPR have been left with a team of ageing has-beens who will have no resale value this summer.

On the evidence of their lethargic display against City, the likes of Joey Barton, Richard Dunne, Clint Hill and Leroy Fer will do little to improve their prospects of an instant return to the top flight next season.

Austin is their only hope, but his goalscoring return this season suggests he will be plucked away from Loftus Road this summer, therefore escaping the sinking ship before the waves begin to crash onto the deck.

City, assured of Champions League qualification, only needed to play at half-pace to overcome their beleaguered opponents and Manuel Pellegrini's team simply coasted through the game.

Milner, whose contractual situation remains unresolved at the Etihad Stadium, should have doubled City's lead on 16 minutes when he was picked out at the far post by Aguero. But the England international displayed the finishing touch of the midfielder that he is by skying his effort over the crossbar from six yards.

It was a brief let-off for QPR, though, with City adding to their lead on 32 minutes after Dunne's clumsiness on Aguero led to a free-kick, from which Kolarov scored with a powerful and precise left-foot strike from 25 yards. But for the goalkeeper Green, who was helpless with Kolarov's set-piece, City would have scored a third moments later when Aguero's shot across goal was tipped away by the England keeper.

QPR attempted to muster the spirit for a fightback, but there was nothing in the tank, aside from a Fer lob which hit the crossbar on 38 minutes for their only moment of hope.

All that was left was the collapse, with Milner and Silva scoring after the interval as Aguero completed his hat-trick in the second half with a breakaway goal and one from the penalty spot. Aguero has done well out of QPR, but it might be a while before he comes across them again.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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