QPR enjoy their day in the sun as thoughts turn to Championship future
When QPR needed someone to give them a boost following their abject 6-0 humiliation against Manchester City that confirmed relegation, a pitiful Newcastle duly obliged.
The Toon's opening goal in the 2-1 defeat looked so comically bad to concede it could well have been an accident by the constantly misfiring Emmanuel Riviere, as the visitors briefly strayed from the script designed around letting Rangers enjoy one final day in the sun at Loftus Road before the slide into Championship obscurity.
This was by no means a fine QPR performance. Junior Hoilett and Steven Caulker were removed at half-time after woeful individual performances. Caulker's decision making for a centre-half is terrifying at times and all that early promise seems extinguished.
Hoilett's lack of ambition and self-belief is startling and there is almost a sense of pity when he takes to the field. You fear for his fragility.
Head coach Chris Ramsey was so determined to end their contributions at the interval that he played the entire second half without any substitutions available after goalkeeper Rob Green was switched for Alex McCarthy early on due to injury.
It was a bold and successful gamble. Even Leroy Fer, a Netherlands international probably still tired from the World Cup in Brazil, was wasteful for most of the match before a spectacular match-winning goal. He has that knack but don't expect to see in the second tier of English football.
Saturday's win over a wretched Newcastle was a cathartic day for QPR. McCarthy played well and showed he will be a capable No.1 next season. Club darlings Clint Hill and Richard Dunne finished the match as the centre-back pairing and thwarted plenty of attacks with trademark slides, dives and headers.
Matt Phillips completed his dramatic turn from zero to hero with a goal and Charlie Austin played his last home match for the club with aplomb, remaining last out on the pitch to sign every autograph, pose for every photo and even grant the assembled media a rare interview.
Elsewhere, academy star Reece Grego-Cox played the second half in attack, full of the sort of energy and bullish enthusiasm that will serve him well in the Championship.
After the match and around the pubs in Shepherds Bush, the air of dread and failure that should fragrance relegation was strangely absent. Perhaps it was the warm weather but QPR fans seemed upbeat; maybe even cheerful. For a club at the bottom of the table that is quite a feat.
There is a chance that fans are starting to believe the promises that chairman Tony Fernandes is making. The squad on Saturday contained no loan players or bad eggs. It was not a particularly attractive side but it was a functioning one that worked hard and got its rewards.
Director of football Les Ferdinand had taken the unusual and bold step of publicly criticising the way the club had been run in the recent past before the match. While everyone involved with QPR knows what the mistakes have been and where the blame for another relegation lies, it takes a strong mind and will for someone on the inside to admit it.
One worry about Ferdinand's media contribution ahead of Saturday's win were his vows surrounding players on Twitter. In once sentence he appeared to ban it and then he amends his intention to say players will be fined for anything uncouth said related to the club.
Sadly, anything a professional footballer says or does is related to the club that employs him, so Ferdinand already has a hell of a job on his hands.
And secondly, you cannot tell a 20-something millionaire sportsman what he can or cannot write or think -- especially when you have spent all week telling him how marvelous he is in the build-up to match.
QPR do not need to ban their players from using Twitter. They shouldn't even have to monitor or limit their players' media output but they must, from now on, only employ players they can trust to conduct themselves correctly online, on the pitch and in the future. Winning on Saturday was a good start.
Wally Downes Jr. is a reporter for Hayters sports agency in London and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @WallyDownes_Jr.