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Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: “Sunderland ruined Gareth Ainsworth’s best laid plans on Saturday!”

Thoughts on how the Lads dealt with QPR’s tactics at Loftus Road and praise for Luke O’Nien are in the RR mailbox today. Got something to say? Email us:

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

So, Gareth Ainsworth and QPR had a plan. The papers were full of that fact and it was meant to be the undoing of the Lads on Saturday.

This turned out to be the usual Ainsworth blueprint: ‘If it’s below the shorts, kick it, and if it’s above the shorts, pull it’.

It was to be accompanied by the man himself gesticulating wildly and flinging his hair around in the technical area about how unfair life is whenever a decision goes against his team.

At one point, it looked like the referee and the linesman had been at the Ainsworth-edition Kool Aid as well. Luckily, the effects wore off the referee quite quickly but it did take a lot longer before it wore off from the linesman.

Still, it did wear off by half time and the referee must’ve said something to Asmir Begovic just before the break, because all of a sudden, the goal kick was taken quickly rather than after the usual tea break.

Eight minutes’ worth of stoppage time must’ve been a shock for them and if they hadn’t wasted quite so much time, we wouldn’t have scored, and I just love it when a plan comes together!

On a serious note, it was great to see players fighting back early on and giving almost as good as they got. A couple of years ago, we would’ve been bullied off the ball, but this time we responded well and generally kept at it.

Keep at it, lads! Some great football and a couple of cracking goals - both scored at the correct end of the ground.

As for Ross Stewart? You don’t know what you’re missing.

I hope you score lots of goals for Southampton, but only if their defence lets in even more (which it looks like they might do) so take the money and weep.

Your ‘hello’ message to the Saints’ fans didn’t help for me though, even though I live in Southampton so I got to see it in the local paper.

They aren’t a great club and they aren’t going places, unlike the one you left.

Mike Wylde

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Mike. Thanks for your letter.

I agree that it was extremely satisfying to take all three points away from Loftus Road on Saturday, especially after the way that QPR approached the game and some of the frankly disgraceful things they tried in order to unsettle us.

None of these were worse than Jack Colback’s ridiculous assault on Jobe, which led to a deserved red card for the former Newcastle midfielder and the jeers of the travelling fans ringing in his ears as he trudged off.

I think what we learned on Saturday is that this team has a growing amount of steel to go with their skill.

It was a completely different kind of challenge to the Southampton game, and we had to work very hard to secure the victory, but these are the kinds of games that can breed confidence and it should also give the fans the belief that there’s no team in this league we should fear, regardless of how they approach a game and how they try to unsettle us.

As for Ross Stewart? He hasn’t felt like a big miss recently. We’ve scored eight goals since he left the club, and the players are showing that there’s definitely life after the big Scot.

Queens Park Rangers v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I saw your tweet about the Luke O’Nien doubters and I laughed because I thought the same thing.

Those who were slating the decision for him to play in central defence ahead of Danny Batth have gone quiet.

Funny, that!

Ian Hughes

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Hi, Ian. Thanks for getting in touch.

It was curious to note that Batth was an unused substitute during Norwich’s victory over Stoke City on Saturday, so how big a role he plays for the Canaries this season will be interesting.

Personally, I would’ve loved to have kept him at Sunderland, but the decision was made and we’re clearly moving on.

The fact of the matter is that for all the criticism and naysayers, O’Nien is proving himself to be a highly adept Championship-quality central defender.

He rarely lets the team down and his partnership with Dan Ballard is looking seriously impressive. We’ve got plenty of depth in that position when everyone’s fit, but it’s going to take a heck of an effort to dislodge O’Nien from his role.

Sunderland v Southampton FC - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Robert Smith/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images


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