A week later, the tables turn for QPR
LIVERPOOL // It is the nature of modern-day football that a change of ownership can engender optimism. If the images of pound signs inspire the upturn in mood, however, the age-old recipe involves the sight of a net rippling.
Queens Park Rangers can savour both thoughts. While Air Asia businessman Tony Fernandes' takeover means they can enjoy the prospect of greater investment, the change at the helm was followed by a rapid reversal in their fortunes before they had time to venture into the transfer market.
Deflated by a 4-0 scoreline one week, delighted with 1-0 the next, theirs has been a week of emotional extremes.
An opening-day defeat to Bolton Wanderers suggested survival was unlikely, but a battling victory at Goodison Park on Saturday is an indication of the spirit and organisation that augurs well.
But their hosts provided the counterpoint to the raucous Rangers. Everton remain run by the comparatively impecunious Bill Kenwright but governed by the bank. The financial picture was bleak even before the footballing landscape took on a bleaker visage. Habitual slow starters are hamstrung by circumstances, but more was still expected.
The fans singing the owner's name - another modern trend - were not Evertonians but, whichever glamorous recruits are targeted, this was a win secured by a Championship side.
That is meant as no criticism, either: with a virus sweeping the camp, only Danny Gabbidon of Neil Warnock's summer signings started the game.
He defended valiantly, as did Fitz Hall alongside him, in a back line that was expertly and energetically shielded by Shaun Derry and Alejandro Faurlin.
"I thought the two centre-halves defended like men," Warnock enthused, though they, like their colleagues, may soon find their places endangered, as, "I'd like to bring in four or five quality players," he added.
It is a task that is made easier by the result.
"If we'd lost four or five or six, they [transfer targets] might have thought twice," he admitted.
Tommy Smith's winner takes on vital proportions, then. It was both a well-constructed goal and the result of an individual error, as Phil Jagielka gave the ball away.
Then QPR's neat passing came into effect, Alejandro Faurlin and Akos Buzsaky combining neatly for the Hungarian to find Smith.
With equal precision, he angled his shot into the bottom corner of Tim Howard's goal.
"Poor defensively," lamented manager David Moyes.
It was sandwiched by Everton's best chances.
With a languid waft of his left foot, Leighton Baines curled a free kick against the QPR bar, watched by a motionless Paddy Kenny.
It was won, with a weaving run infield, by Ross Barkley, the 17-year-old debutant, whose skill and flair made him a welcome exception to the mediocrity.
"I was disappointed with most of them, but not Ross," Moyes said.
"He was our best player. We didn't play well enough to win but what we missed was people who could create opportunities or take one themselves."
Uncharacteristically, Tim Cahill, often the most potent of headers, missed what almost amounted to an open goal after Jermaine Beckford's enticing cross.
When passes were similarly misplaced, choruses of "that's why you're going down" came from the QPR fans.
Summer gloating can seem woefully misplaced come May, but they are the club with the feel-good factor.
"Last week we never thought we'd never get another point until Christmas," Warnock grinned.
"Now they're talking about Europe."
Published: August 21, 2011 04:00 AM