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Thursday, January 31, 2008

QPR Snippets: Bradford Extremely Unhappy..Injury Update...Kanyuka Debuts Versus Furlong..Jim Smith Celebrates Thirty-Five Years of Managing...Bancole

Bradford on Ricketts - Yorshire Post
"...Further down the football ladder, however, the transfer window continues to wreak havoc with Bradford City yesterday discovering the planned sale of goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts to QPR had collapsed due to the Jamaican having his application for a work permit turned down – causing ramifications for the club.
Bradford joint chairman Mark Lawn said: "We were assured by his agent it would go through and that is why we used the wages we thought we had freed up to bring in two or three lads that we wanted to have a look at with regards possibly signing permanently in the summer.
"We also told Ady Boothroyd that Scott Loach (who joined on loan from Watford on Tuesday) would be first choice for the rest of the season.
"It is not a matter of life and death by any means, but it is something we could have done without. Donovan joined us in the Championship so is in the top three or four earners at the club.
"The transfer window is not popular in the game because it drives up wages and drives up transfer fees.
"We have been through two administrations at Bradford City so we adopt a sensible approach. But other clubs might be tempted to commit to spending money they cannot really afford and that is a worry for the game." Yorkshire Post

Head Physio Paul Hunter has reported mixed news from the treatment room this morning (Thursday).
R's defensive duo Matthew Connolly and Fitz Hall both limped out of Tuesday's 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City at Ninian Park, and while the former's injury isn't as bad as initially feared, former Wigan defender Hall will definitely miss Saturday's showdown against Bristol City.
"Matt sustained a heavy blow to his thigh which caused his knee to hyper-extend," Hunter told www.qpr.co.uk.
"We were initially quite concerned about the knee, so we sent him for a scan, but I'm pleased to report his knee is fine. Effectively he has just suffered heavy bruising.
"It is too early to say at this stage whether he will be fit for this weekend, but needless to say, we will be giving him intense treatment in order to give him the best possible chance.."
Hunter added: "Unfortunately Fitz suffered a torn groin muscle and will now require a period of rehabilitation.
"He will certainly be unavailable for Saturday's fixture, but it is just too early to say how long he will be out of action for." QPR

Swindon Advertiser - Kanyuka takes the hits for Town
PAT Kanyuka was given a painful introduction to the rigours of League One football but he insists he still will not be ducking out of any challenges as he bids to repay Swindon's faith in him.
The Congolese defender made an impressive debut at the heart of Town's defence in Tuesday night's 1-0 win at Luton, despite having to play the last quarter with a bandage over his head covering a deep wound.
Post-match he received six stitches - after being kicked in the head by old pal Paul Furlong, but the hurly burly nature of lower league football will not daunt the ambitious youngster.
Kanyuka was released by Championship outfit QPR just a fortnight ago, after injuries saw his obvious potential fail to live up to expectations at Loftus Road, before being picked up by Robins' boss Maurice Malpas.
Jerel Ifil's suspension handed him his chance sooner than was expected, and now he is just keen to help Town into the Championship and show Malpas he has made the right decision.
He said: "A lot of things happened in the game. I got a nice memory of my first game back.
"But it is good to get that first kick on the backside to make me know it is not going to be easy in this league so it is good experience.
"I wanted to stay on the pitch and wanted to repay the manager's faith in me, I was not going off and it was great to help get those three points.
"Swindon have given me my new chance and I am thankful for that. It is up to me show the manager, the fans and the other players what I can do and that I was not a mistake."
In a twist of fate, Kanyuka's debut saw him directly up against former QPR teammate Paul Furlong, right, as he was given a tough test for his first League One game.
Wily campaigner Furlong has scored goals throughout his career but Kanyuka dealt admirably with his pace and power, undoubtedly finishing the game the winner of that individual battle.
He said: "Funnily enough I used to tease Furlong at QPR for doing that.
"I used to say Furs you are sweet in the eye but a terrier on the pitch', and he showed me that today. I know how defenders felt like last season.
"It was good to play against him though because I knew all about his movement so it is good. I thought I did okay as well but I obviously need to continue that for the rest of the season, and improve."
While Kanyuka was impressing the away travelling at Kenilworth Road, skipper Hasney Aljofree was doing all he could to help the new man settle in - something that did not go unappreciated.
He said: "Hasney really helped me out. He is very experienced I have gained a lot already.
"It is strange for me to say that after just one game but I have gained from playing alongside him.
"He is a different sort of player, he is more vocal and I really appreciated his help.
"I got first hand experience of the challenges that do fly around in League One.
"You don't really get too much time on the ball and I have got the scars to prove that.
"It was not a very good game. Luton are battlers and the situation they are in now they were looking to impress the new manager. But we certainly matched them."
While Kanyuka & co stayed solid at one end, Christian Roberts' stunning solo strike won the game for Town on Tuesday with the Congo hopeful admitting the quality of the strike was no surprise.
He said: "I have seen Robbo score goals like that in training all the time.
"He did it on Thursday so it is natural to me already.
"I will see the physio and see what he has to say about Saturday. I will see how the cut heals but if he gives me the go-ahead I would love to play." Swindon Advertiser

Jim Smith - Thirty-Five Years of Managing Oxford Mail - The eagle has landed
THERE were no obvious signs, when he was a player, that James Michael Smith would go on to become one of our game's top managers - apart maybe from the leadership qualities he possessed, and his undoubted strength of character.
The young Yorkshireman had been a trainee at Sheffield United, but was unable to break into the first team, and he would embark on a path that would take him through the lower divisions, as a wing-half with Aldershot, Halifax Town and Lincoln City before eventually taking charge of a team for the first time at Boston United.

But he was in love with football, and listening to those who knew the game undoubtedly rubbed off on him, with a passion.

"I was pretty often the captain," he recalled.

"At school and then Sheffield United's youth team, and although I never captained Aldershot, I did at Lincoln and obviously Boston where I became player-manager."

There were many early influences in sharpening up Jim's mind about what made a good football team.

"I don't think there were many tactics in those days," he said. "It was all about players, and fitness. We were part-time, so we did it Tuesdays and Thursdays in the evenings - and the guy who took us was part-time.

"I didn't think then that's what I'm going to be - a manager - but obviously you start going out on courses and it sticks with you.

"It was a different era then. My first manager was Joe Mercer who was very influential, very smart, very correct, and very, very enthusiastic.

"After that I played under Vic Metcalfe and Willie Watson (at Halifax) - they were two of the nicest men you could ever meet.

"Jimmy Sirrel was another influence (at Aldershot) with his ideas and enthusiasm.

"I went to Lilleshall to get my coaching badges and that's when you learned things.

"You pick up bits and pieces, but you do it yourself mainly. It's always been in my blood."

After a year at Lincoln in which he made 54 appearances, Smith signed for non-League Boston United as player-manager, and made a good start, with his team invariably near the top of the very competitive Northern Premier League.

One of the players Jim signed at Boston was Howard Wilkinson, who would himself go on to become a leading coach. He is the last Englishman to have managed a top-flight-winning team when his Leeds side won the title in 1991-2.

"Howard was always very interested in the coaching side of the game," Smith added.

"He was doing his badges at college and then I left, and he took over from me."

Smith left Boston because his good record there led to Colchester United offering him the position of player- manager at Layer Road in 1972.

Success came quickly as Smith guided Colchester to the Fourth Division title in 1974.

His performance attracted the attention of bigger clubs, and in 1975 he quit, and hung up his boots, to join Blackburn Rovers as manager.

"That was my big break, yes," Smith admitted.

"As much as I loved Colchester and wanted to do well there, when a club like Blackburn Rovers come along - it may have been run-down - but it's a big club, a real football club.

"I got a really good team at Blackburn, probably as good a team as I've had. We just couldn't get a goalscorer and so missed out on promotion."

"After that I thought we ain't going anywhere here', and Birmingham approached me.

"It's the first time I've ever walked out really and the chairman, Mr Bancroft, never spoke to me for about two years!"

Smith took over from Sir Alf Ramsey at St Andrews, a hard act to follow anyway, but then injury problems conspired against him and Birmingham were relegated from the old First Division the next year.

However, Smith guided the Blues back into the top flight the following season.

These days, there aren't many managers who last after relegation from the top flight.

"Most don't survive ten games if they're losing", Jim laughed. "Ten or 11 and you've gone . . ."

In 1982, Smith parted company with Birmingham and joined Oxford United as manager.

He led them to the Third Division championship and the Second Division championship the following season, a feat never achieved before.

"They were some of my happiest times," he says.

"Of course, it's always happier when you're winning, ain't it?

"It was one of those things that happens very occasionally. It doesn't happen to every manager, that's for sure.

"Ian Greaves had done a great job before and I took it on.

"But to go on and win back-to-back promotions and championships was very special."

Despite the Bald Eagle's spectacular success at the Manor, in leading Oxford into the top flight for the first time, United chairman Robert Maxwell refused to improve his contract, which led to Smith's resignation and then being offered the job of manager at QPR, which he accepted.

In his first year at Loftus Road, Smith took Rangers to the League Cup final, but they lost 3-0 to his former club Oxford.

He continued to manage QPR until 1981 when he left to become manager of that perennial sleeping giant, Newcastle United.

However, the following year Newcastle were relegated and although they almost bounced back, finishing third and then losing to rivals Sunderland, who had finished sixth, in the play-offs, spelled the end for him at St James' Park.

"Newcastle was a nightmare time, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world," he said.

"That is the biggest club I've ever been involved with. If you could just get that right . . .

"When I was there - though I didn't get involved in it - there was an unbelievable battle for the club with Sir John Hall and Gordon McKeag. It was evil really.

"My job was impossible really and I resigned."

At Newcastle, though, they consider Smith was sacked. But it didn't take long for him to bounce back and he was appointed manager of Portsmouth the same year.

Jim had a successful four years at Portsmouth, which included reaching the FA Cup semi-finals in 1992 where they agonisingly lost on penalties to Liverpool.

They missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference, by just one goal, their Premiership dream ended by defeat in the play-offs, and Smith was sacked two years later after a gradual decline in the team's fortunes.

"We should have won the bloody FA Cup that year," he said.

"We lost in the semi-final to Liverpool, and the year after we lost in the play-offs. I've never won a play-off."

Smith then went into semi-retirement and became chief executive of the League Managers' Association in 1995.

But it wasn't really his cup of tea.

"I didn't find it very interesting," he admitted."We had no teeth then. I attended meetings at the FA on disciplinary or whatever, and we were asked for observations, but couldn't comment unless asked to.

Smith was offered the manager's position at Derby County and in his first full season in charge, the Rams came second in Division 1, gaining promotion to the Premier League.

And for three seasons Derby showed impressive improvements in the Premiership, finishing 12th, 9th and 8th.

"I took Steve McClaren from Oxford to be my assistant and it was a great combination," Jim said.

"I was talking to Paul Simpson the other day. He said he'd been around a bit, but the best two he'd ever seen were me and Steve, a good mix of age and youth, and it was good.

"Steve's a top coach and we had good times together.

"For obvious reasons we gelled and it was a bitter blow," he said with a chuckle, "when Alex (Ferguson) stole him off me!"

In the next two seasons Derby narrowly avoided relegation and Smith resigned in 2001 after refusing an offer to become director of football.

The next year, Smith was appointed assistant manager at Coventry, working alongside Roland Nilsson.

But after failing to clinch a play-off place, Coventry's entire management team was dismissed.

Later in 2002, his old club Portsmouth invited him back as assistant manager to Harry Redknapp and he accepted.

Smith helped Redknapp win the Division One title at the first attempt and went on to become a major part of Pompey's consolidation process in the Premier League.

In November 2004, both Smith and Redknapp resigned from Portsmouth after the appointment of a director of football which they felt threatened their authority and control in team matters.

Redknapp soon became boss at Southampton and Smith was appointed his assistant a few weeks later, having turned down the role of chief scout.

Going back to Fratton Park with Southampton that season necessitated some heavy-handed police protection for both men. Or so it was felt.

"Typical police, they thought we were going to get shot or something!" Jim said.

"They let all the burglars run around and spent a fortune on protecting us' at the game, but there was no problem."

Being No 2 is never the same as No 1, though.

"Assistant manager is a totally different role," he says.

"Only someone who's been a manager can understand that. The manager's the one who has to make the decisions. As an assistant, you've just got to support him and help him.

"But we had a great team at Portsmouth - Harry likes to play the game the same way.

"But it was a nightmare with the chairman, Milan Mandaric.

"For whatever reasons, I don't know why, it was just always confrontational.

"He hated the fans' song of Harry and Jim'. He wanted to be thought of as the reason for the success."

Smith's contract at St Mary's was not renewed in the summer of 2005 due to cost-cutting, but he returned to front-line management when he was appointed Oxford United boss again in March 2006, becoming a director of the club at the same time.

"It's a big disappointment to me that it didn't work out the second time at Oxford," he said.

"The biggest disappointment was not keeping them up, in all honesty.

"Looking back over those six or eight games, or whatever it was, and seeing the goals that we missed - that was been the story throughout.

"And I can see it now, in the play-off second leg here, all Rob Duffy has to do is put it in the back of the net, which he's been doing all season, but he tries to go around the goalkeeper and fell over."

But over 35 years of managing in the Premier and Football League, and nearly 40 years of management if non-League is also included, the Bald Eagle has many, many more good memories than bad.

And so he should, because it isn't just the promotions and titles that he's won, but the style of football he has tried to get his teams to play.

"I'm pleased that, wherever I've been, the football we've played has been good," he said.
"Everywhere I've been, at some given time, the punters will have said wow, that was some performance'.

"I remember going to watch the FA Cup final replay at Wembley between Man City and Tottenham when Tottenham won and it was quite exciting.

"I was in the stand and Tottenham fans afterwards were saying never mind that performance, the best game of the season was at Birmingham when you beat us 1-0'.
"Ossie Ardiles also said: That was such a game.' "I remember going into the press box for the interviews afterwards and I was still shaking. It was only 1-0 but it was some game.
"That's what I'd want to be remembered for . . . (he started chuckling because he knew, as I did, that it sounded like he was talking as though he was about to snuff it!).
"At some given time in that period that I was the manager, they would have had good football." Oxford Mail

Evening Star - U's recruit new goalkeeping coach [Ademola Bankole]
ADEMOLA Bankole has been recruited as Colchester United's new goalkeeping coach, while Aidan Davison recuperates from an exploratory operation on his troublesome shoulder.
Former Nigerian keeper Bankole, who featured in the World Cup Finals of 2002, will take Dean Gerken and Mark Cousins under his wing over the next few weeks.
The 38-year-old can draw on bags of experience in English club football with the likes of Crewe, QPR, Brentford and MK Dons.
Davison has been sidelined with a sore shoulder since the 1-0 defeat at Coventry at the end of October. He is currently resting at home....Report

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