Hardworking Mackie is a credit to QPR – but he’s no striker

I first saw Jamie Mackie play live when I was reporting on a match at Selhurst Park on the opening day of the 2009/10 season.

Crystal Palace were playing Plymouth and the stand-out performer was a guy called Victor Moses.

But Mackie also caught the eye in a very poor Plymouth team that went on to be relegated.

He played on the left that day and, with his direct running and willingness to dribble and try to beat the full-back, he was a joy to watch.

So it was no surprise to me that after leaving Palace, Neil Warnock made Mackie one of his first signings as QPR manager.

But that was in the Championship, where he also performed brilliantly for Rangers and established himself as a crowd favourite with his Gareth Ainsworth-like work ethic and ability to chip in with some vital goals.

He’s had his moments in the Premier League, not least when scoring the winner in last season’s amazing comeback at home to Liverpool.

Remy's return gives QPR more options.
Remy’s return gives QPR more options.

But he has never convinced me that he can consistently pose a real attacking threat against the best teams in the division – certainly not as a striker, as his recent performances against Norwich and Manchester United have shown.

He is still running himself into the ground, which is admirable. But at the top level it can also make him look limited.

Premier League players are more comfortable in possession and can shift their body or the ball quickly, setting Mackie off like a greyhound with no chance of catching the hare.

Against United he looked overawed and some of his decision-making was poor.

An example of this came just before half-time, when he burst over the halfway line and should have played the ball to Adel Taarabt, who was screaming for it and for once had escaped the attentions of the excellent Rafael.

Instead, Mackie tried to bring Bobby Zamora and Andros Townsend into the game, having failed to look up and play the easy pass.

In the second half, when Mackie was moved to the right, he looked a lot more comfortable facing goal than having his back to it.

Still, he didn’t ask many questions of Patrice Evra, and I felt he was fortunate to stay on the pitch when Townsend was replaced by Junior Hoilett.

With make-or-break games against Southampton, Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham, Wigan, Everton, Stoke and Reading to come, Rangers have no chance whatsoever of staying up without offering a substantially bigger goal threat up front. It’s as simple as that.

Personally, I think Mackie needs a rest.

Loic Remy clearly needs to play if fit. Otherwise, I’d like to see Hoilett play just off Zamora or even Jay Bothroyd – particularly as Harry Redknapp seems to want to play with a big striker.

If Mackie does play, it has to be out wide.

He may not the best technically, but he’s a worker who will create opportunities with his determination.

He still has an important role to play, but the United game ought to be his last outing for the club as a striker. Rangers need more quality up front to stand a chance.

But if the other players display anything like Mackie’s work ethic between now and the end of the season, Redknapp might just pick up his safety bonus – however unlikely that looks right now.


Rob Brennan is a commentator for blind and partially sighted supporters at QPR home matches and a columnist for The Irish Post.





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