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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Bircham on Wanting QPR Return & Ainsworth on Players Leaving

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times
Birch to return as boss?

MARC Bircham has vowed to return to QPR in the future - possibly as manager - following his release by the club this week.

The Rangers midfielder was one of eight players to learn they would not be offered new contracts when their current deals run out this summer.
But, after making a cameo farewell appearance as a late substitute in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Stoke, Bircham declared: "My next goal is to come back and manage QPR.
"I'm doing my coaching badges now and in the long run I will be back, whether it's as a player or coach.
"You can never say never - people at Millwall asked me the same thing when I left them and you just don't know, boards change, situations change.
"The reason I played football was to play for QPR and I fulfilled my dream. My worst nightmare would have been if it didn't go well and the fans didn't like me.
"The only thing driving me was to play one last time and I was disappointed not to get longer, but when I was out there I just tried to get the ball as much as possible.

"Stoke don't really like me too much, so it was quite fitting that my last game was against the team that hates me the most - and they didn't make the play-offs."
Bircham, who turns 29 on Friday, admitted that it came as no surprise to hear his five-year stint with the team he has supported since boyhood was over.
The former Millwall man helped Rangers to the Division Two play-off final in his first season, promotion the following year and to establish themselves in the Championship.
But his days appeared to be numbered a year ago when he was transfer-listed by manager Gary Waddock, only to resurface as team captain when John Gregory took over.
"The way I got treated last summer, I think it was time to go then really," Bircham reflected. "I could have gone and there were a couple of options, but I was so disappointed that I wanted to prove a few people wrong.
"It left a bitter taste in the mouth. Gary Waddock was blaming Gianni [Paladini], Gianni was blaming Gary Waddock and I didn't know if I was coming or going."
Ongoing back problems meant an operation became inevitable and, with no hint of a new contract coming his way, Bircham opted to go under the knife after pulling a hamstring against Southampton in January.
He recalled: "I could have carried on, but I didn't want to be having the operation at the end of the year and not have a club. I spoke to the gaffer in February and he said 'we'll see how it goes and talk about that afterwards'.
"Once I heard that I decided to have the op done and hopefully be back for the end of the season. I had to think about the future.
"Touch wood, it's gone well and I feel good. I've been talking to a few clubs and the future looks very bright."
As expected, Rangers boss John Gregory also confirmed that strike pair Paul Furlong and Kevin Gallen and goalkeepers Paul Jones and Simon Royce would be released.
Two more senior players, midfielder Steve Lomas and left-back Mauro Milanese, are also leaving, but captain Marcus Bignot and striker Marc Nygaard have both been offered new one-year contracts. Kilburn Times

Gareth Ainsworth -Kilburn Times - Step on the Gaz

THE gaffer was determined to make sure we didn't finish the season with a defeat and I think we can be proud of the way we played against Stoke.

We brought in a couple of younger lads and they came through with flying colours against a team who started the day with a good chance of the play-offs.

Our home form in the last month has been excellent and I hope we can build on what we've achieved next season - and, make no mistake, it is an achievement.

Maybe we didn't turn it around quite as dramatically as Sunderland but, like them, we were bottom of the league at one point. Ask anyone from Leeds, Luton or Southend if they'd swap their season for ours and you know what the answer would be.

It would have been nice for Furs to cap the afternoon off with a legitimate goal rather than the one he cheekily put in after the whistle had gone!

Of course, Furs is one of those leaving the club and I'd just like to say what a great example he's been to me. His enthusiasm for training is as high as ever and his name will still be in the Sunday papers next year, no doubt about it.

The standards that Furs has set at the age of 38 are something for me to try and emulate in the next few years and it's been a pleasure to play with him.

I can honestly say that was also the case with Lomey, both the keepers and Mauro - he's played at the highest level and he's shown what a terrific professional he is in the two years he's been here.

For someone who hardly spoke a word of English when he arrived, he's fitted in very well with the banter and he knows a lot of English words he probably shouldn't now!

When I first came to QPR, Birch and Kev really made me welcome and I'll miss them too. If anyone deserves the plaudits, Kev certainly does - he's been a fantastic servant to this club.

For me, the summer will be all about popping into the training ground, trying to get my fitness back and making sure I'm ready for next season. At least with nobody else around I can be sure it'll be rock music in the gym every day!

Finally, I just want to say a heartfelt thank you to the QPR fans. None of the players would say 'we did this on our own' - we all know that your fantastic support, especially in the last 10 games, made a big difference.

There's a lot to be positive about for next season and I'm already looking forward to it. Kilburn Times

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