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Monday, December 24, 2007

QPR's Colchester Victory...QPR's Future...Ainsworth's Positive Attitude

Telegraph/Stewart Jackson -QPR faithful fear a sting in the fairytale
The nine-year-old boy's face was screwed up in quiet concentration. It was the sort of question that deserved serious attention from any young supporter: if you could buy any player for your club, with money no object, who would it be? Oh to be a Queens Park Rangers fan right now.
A nudge in the back from his brother and out spilled the answer: "Some good, young English players. Hungry players." Pardon? The football genie is here - you can have anyone in the world. The next youngster had similarly restricted ambitions: "It would be great if we could buy Lee Cook back off Fulham."
It was akin to a child being given carte blanche for Christmas and asking for a hoop and stick. When a younger boy finally did let fantasy get the better of him - "Kaka!" - he quickly followed up with the name of Michael Mancienne, his favourite current QPR player, who is on loan from Chelsea. Such is the stunted optimism that has been passed down to the younger generations at Queens Park Rangers, the richest club in the world. Even the children refuse to believe in football heaven. Understandable perhaps when you think that before Saturday's 2-1 win over Colchester, they were in the bottom three of the Championship.
After the arrival of motor racing moguls Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, last week brought the announcement that the world's fifth-richest man, Lakshmi Mittal, had bought a 20 per cent stake in the club. Mittal is worth £26 billion, more than twice as much as Roman Abramovich, so the FA Cup third-round tie at Chelsea ought to produce some amusing chants.
QPR v Chelsea used to be a run-of-the-mill London derby, the sort of game that barely registered outside the capital. But since dropping out of the Premier League in 1996, Rangers have been to League One and back, administration and back, tragically lost striker Ray Jones in a car accident and had a chairman allegedly held up at gunpoint in the boardroom. "A proper soap opera," as midfielder Gareth Ainsworth put it.
At least they climbed out of the bottom three on Saturday, which is a start, and reinforcements will arrive on the pitch once the transfer window opens on Jan 1. Today Colchester, tomorrow the world.
There is a genuine 'we'll believe it when we see it' mentality pervading the pubs of Shepherd's Bush. "We've had a few false dawns here," said one fan. "Nothing ever goes smoothly." Running parallel to that is the fear that having billionaire backers could turn Rangers into 'the new Chelsea' - perceived to be buying success, and losing their soul in the process.
John Reid, the secretary of the QPR Loyal Supporters' Association, said: "If season ticket prices go up to £1,500 it will disenfranchise people, and that will kill the soul of any club. If you look at Chelsea now, there are people going there who really don't know the history of the club. I don't want that to happen to QPR.
"If new money comes into the club and the good times return, we don't want the fans who have supported QPR through the bad years being unable to go."
Being in west London, of course, gives the new owners an affluent clientele right on their doorstep. A QPR side winning games in the Premier League would attract people who can afford to pay £60 a game. But where would that leave the kid wearing last season's shirt who just wants Lee Cook back on the left wing? For QPR's sake, let's hope he's in the Ellerslie Road stand with his dad and not watching at home on TV. Telegraph

Life will never be the same for Rangers now that Loftus Road is Loadsa-Dough Road.
And no-one is happier to see an end to the era of penny-pinching and in-fighting than midfielder Gareth Ainsworth.
"We've had everything at this club over the past couple of years from guns to gardening leave and, of course, losing a young teammate," said Ainsworth as Rangers moved off the bottom. "It's been a soap opera but now it seems there might be some light at the end of the tunnel." Ainsworth was referring to ex-coach Ian Holloway being suspended by chairman Gianni Paladini before his departure; a court case in which Paladini claimed he was threatened at gun-point by a shareholder; and the car crash death in August of teenage star Ray Jones.
But the bailout by Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, followed by multi-billionaire Lakshmi Mittal taking a 20 per cent stake in the Hoops, has completed the transition from pennies to heaven.
"It's great to be part of the club again," added Ainsworth. "This place is going higher and higher.
We can go all the way to the very top. We're all wondering what is going to happen in January and who's going to come in.
"There might be a few worried players in the dressing room. I'm not concerned personally, though. If someone is better than you, they should take your place."

First priority for manager Luigi Di Canio must be to strengthen a defence more prone to slapstick than Mr Bean.
Rangers were coasting after strikes from Akos Buzsaky in the 27th and 52nd minutes, the first of which was a sumptuous curling drive from the edge of the area.
But panic spread after Mark Yeates pulled one back after 62 minutes and the 80th-minute dismissal of Damion Stewart, following an ugly lunge at Yeates, didn't help but they held on.
Colchester deserved a draw and would have had it had Teddy Sheringham not hit the post from a yard out. Mirror

The Sun - ROCKIN’ Ranger Gareth Ainsworth has a new heavy-metal hero — Lakshmi Mittal.
And QPR’s guitar-playing winger cannot wait to climb the charts with the new billionaire backer who made his fortune in the Indian steel industry.
Hot Mittal — the world’s fifth richest man with an estimated fortune of £20billion — snapped up a 20 per cent stake in the unfashionable west London outfit last week.
And with wealthy F1 pals Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore already in pole position in the boardroom, QPR are the planet’s richest club just months after flirting with administration again.
Ainsworth, who fronts his own rock band off the pitch, said: “I’m so excited and relieved the club are out of the dark years now.
“I was here when we won promotion from League One in 2004 and then went into administration the following year. Over the years we’ve had everything at this club from guns to gardening leave and, of course, losing a young team-mate in Ray Jones
It’s been a real soap opera but it seems there’s some light at the end of the tunnel. It looks as though it’s going to be fantastic and it feels great to be part of this club again.
“I’ve come through the bad times at the club and now, hopefully, it will be nice to have a few good years at QPR. This place is going higher and higher — we can go all the way to the very top. The people who took over this club are winners and I’m sure they want the same for QPR. We’re all behind them.
“I don’t know much about the new man other than he’s the fifth richest man in the world — and I’m a good few quid behind him!”
Akos Buzsaky opened the scoring with a curling 27th minute strike and made it 2-0 with a neat finish after the break. But the hosts were made to sweat after Mark Yeates pulled one back — and Hoops had Damion Stewart sent off eight minutes from time.
QPR survived a late penalty scare when ref Dean Whitestone waved play on after Us striker Kevin Lisbie went down. The decision incensed Colchester boss Geraint Williams who ran on to the pitch at the end.
Williams, whose side replaced Rangers at the foot of the Championship, said: “I just wanted to have a chat with the referee but you get ushered away like a naughty schoolboy.
“If I said what I really thought of him I would get fined and my family would be a lot poorer for Christmas.”
SUN STAR MAN - AKOS BUZSAKY (QPR). A class act with two top strikes. The Sun

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