Ian Holloway crossed the line by calling out QPR fans who left early as his team were being outclassed – again – by Brentford.
There is a possible criticism to be made of those who gave up and headed home before two injury-time goals snatched an unlikely point.
That criticism only ought to come from Rangers fans who stayed. Not a privileged, wealthy employee of the club – particularly one who has his job primarily because of his perceived ability to unite and excite the fan base.
A QPR manager glaring down a camera criticising, even insulting, the club’s fans is not a good look.
Aside from how it makes him seem, it makes the club look tinpot and leaves QPR supporters open to derision.
Only around 11,000 of them were at Monday’s game.
Although it was an evening kick-off, on live television and in the build up to Christmas, that turnout highlights a malaise around the club which Holloway was brought back to lift.
More importantly, after the folly of the big spending, it shows the extent to which QPR are again heavily reliant on a small but loyal hardcore who are the lifeblood of the club, even if they choose to leave a match early. For the manager to deride them is not on.
And what the usually well-grounded Holloway lost sight of in the heat of the moment was that there were a number of reasons why some will have left.
Not all will have headed off in a stroppy show of non-support.
Some will have made an understandable decision based on realities of everyday life, such as costs, their work and other circumstances, childcare, travel and numerous other factors people who don’t earn Holloway’s kind of salary need to weigh up.
Holloway was out of order. He should be made by his bosses to apologise, if he doesn’t choose to do so himself.
He also needs to do so for his own sake, because managers who criticise their own fans tend to be weaker for it. Their cards tend to be marked after an outburst like his.
He was wrong, but there were mitigating circumstances many fans will understand.
Holloway is a passionate man. Not in a million years would Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Chris Ramsey, for example, have entered into such a rant.
Those managers and many like them are more cautious – and that was reflected in QPR’s stale performances, which led many to pine for the days when a Rangers side showed the character Holloway has engineered before and is doing so again.
The fight is there. The late comeback against Brentford was another indication of that.
Supporters wanted a manager and a team who care – and Holloway has brought them that. That is surely beyond dispute.
His rant was also partly born out of the fact that, in an industry full of fan-pleasing PR guff, Holloway does sincerely care about QPR fans and believes they have a role to play in the club being rebuilt.
In criticising the fans he was also highlighting their importance to him.
It is also the case that many supporters will agree with Holloway, who even during his years away from the club was often able to judge the mood of Rangers fans perfectly in his assessment of events at Loftus Road.
They will feel they are the most steadfastly loyal QPR supporters and that the manager has spoken for them.
Even so, the owners should not regard his comments as acceptable.
Holloway’s passion and off-the-wall personality can be a good thing. It has served QPR well in the past and has helped mend the club since his return.
In the heat of the moment, immediately after a stirring derby comeback, he lost his composure and said things he shouldn’t have.
It’s no big deal and can easily be moved on from if handled in the right way.
But he should apologise. For his own sake, if nothing else.