Leeds United 0 Queens Park Rangers 1: Leeds fans hoping McDermott can add to his shopping trolley

Matt Smith tangles with QPR player Joey BartonMatt Smith tangles with QPR player Joey Barton
Matt Smith tangles with QPR player Joey Barton
AT this time of year, it is virtually impossible for anyone in the footballing world to ignore the issue of shopping.

More especially transfer shopping, with many clubs busy preparing themselves for what they hope will be a frenetic day of beat-the-deadline activity before the 11pm closure of the summer window this evening.

Looking at Saturday’s teamsheet, it is already clear that wheeler-dealer Harry Redknapp has done a fairly big shop at Loftus Road, bringing in the likes of Charlie Austin, Karl Henry, Richard Dunne and Gary O’Neil.

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His main focus today is to offload high-earners such as Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar – though on deadline day, you never say never with ’Arry regarding an incoming deal or two, quite often at the 11th hour.

Armed with parachute payments following relegation, Rangers possess the financial wherewithal to do that in comparison to Leeds and many others in the Championship.

It was hard for Leeds fans not to be envious of the Rs spending power on Saturday and while their side are by no means a million miles away from the Londoners, who pinched a win in a game that, by rights, should have ended with honours even, their options are.

Rangers’ bench on Saturday included two former England internationals in Jermaine Jenas and Bobby Zamora. Not to mention the likes of Junior Hoilett and Alejandro Faurlin, who would pretty much walk into every other second-tier side.

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QPR were not brilliant on Saturday; in fact they were decidedly average. But they already have shown they possess the ability to do the job, as they did at Bolton the previous weekend. If things are not happening, they can always throw on Jenas or Zamora.

For Leeds, the options are not so plentiful. If star turn Ross McCormack has a muted day – as he did by his own admission on Saturday – you do wonder just who can pull the strings other than El-Hadji Diouf, a player currently lacking match sharpness.

The Scot is staying at least, while also revealing after Saturday’s game that he can now do his own shopping in peace after being continually asked about his future in the past few weeks.

Whites fans’ concerns have now turned again to incoming shopping with the ink having barely dried on McCormack’s new deal and they will be watching today’s developments intently – presuming there are any.

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On Leeds’s hopes of doing some incoming business today, ever-pragmatic manager Brian McDermott – who revealed that he has had a couple of enquiries from clubs seeking to take some of his existing players on loan – said: “I don’t know. I’m saying a lot and saying nothing.

“I’d like to bring in one player if we could. It’s quite obvious that we could do with a bit of width. If we don’t add to the squad, then we don’t. We work with what we’ve got and I’ll be happy to do that if that’s how it is.”

On a dour game – settled perhaps unexpectedly in scruffy fashion when former Leeds target Clint Hill fired home from close range 15 minutes from time when United’s defence failed to deal with Barton’s swinging free-kick, he added: “I’m disappointed to lose. Did we do enough to win? Probably not. Did we deserve to lose? Probably not.

“We kept going and the thing we have got is desire. No-one can fault the effort of the players. We played against a team that was put together for an awful lot of money.

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“What we have got is good spirit, good desire. Now we need the other bits.”

Heading into Saturday’s early kick-off, both sides had the considerable incentive of knowing that victory would see either of them move to the summit of the Championship.

For Leeds, that lofty position is a place they have not resided at since May, 1990, with McDermott’s troops assigned with turning a good seasonal start into a great one.

But it just never happened for the hosts, who were forced to breathe a sigh of relief with just eight minutes on the clock when Barton’s tidy finish following O’Neil’s pass was wrongly ruled out for offside, with replays showing the midfield man, whose future with the club remains in doubt, to be level.

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A dire first-half saw one effort on target from either side, a meek back-header from Shaun Wright-Phillips, one of six one-time England internationals in the visitors’ match-day squad.

The second half was marginally better with Austin almost giving the Hoops the lead just after the restart when he seized on Stephen Warnock’s woeful back pass to home in on goal, only for former Rangers goalkeeper Paddy Kenny to save the day at the near post.

McDermott, having seen enough, threw on Matt Smith and Dominic Poleon – impressive in midweek at Doncaster in the League Cup – in a bid to pep up his side shortly before the hour mark, with the former inches away from getting on the end of Luke Murphy’s corner not long after coming on. Poleon then shot at the underworked Robert Green before the decisive moment arrived courtesy of Hill.

The introduction of Diouf on 80 minutes produced a couple of decent moments towards the end, with Peltier’s cross-shot deflected just wide off Hoilett and Jason Pearce heading off target following a telling cross from the Senegalese international.

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But the closest United came on the day came deep in stoppage-time when a blockbuster from Rodolph Austin clipped the woodwork, a quality moment not in keeping with their display.

QPR assistant manager Kevin Bond admitted: “We didn’t get the ball down and play as much as we can, so it was really pleasing to remain unbeaten in the league, keep a clean sheet and get a win at a really difficult place against a team who I think will be there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”