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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Match Reports and Managerial Comments re QPR Win Over Birmingham

QPR Official Site- Gareth Ainsworth - BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS
-Caretaker Manager Gareth Ainsworth insisted no praise could be too high for his players, as Samuel Di Carmine's stunning strike gave the hosts victory against high-flying Birmingham City.
Rangers played the entire second half with ten men, after Mikele Leigertwood was given his marching orders on the stroke of half-time for an innocuous looking foul on Blues midfielder Lee Carsley.
- Despite disagreeing with the decision, Ainsworth chose to draw on the positives rather than dismissal, telling www.qpr.co.uk: "I'm a very proud man tonight.
- "I believed we could win the game at the break and that's why I chose to keep the two front-men on the pitch. It paid dividends and that's because each and every player gave me and the Club absolutely everything.
- "I acknowledge when a player gives 100 per-cent - if we go down, we go down fighting together, but that wasn't the case tonight and we've beat one of the best, if not the best side in this division."
- Ainsworth paid special praise to match-winner Di Carmine, commenting: "He proves time and again in training that he's capable of something like that and I'm just delighted for him.
"It was a fantastic strike - absolutely stunning."
The 35 year-old also spared a thought for Leigertwood, who he believed was harshly done by.
"I thought it was a very harsh decision," he said.
"We didn't get many decisions go our way tonight, but that can't detract from what was a whole-hearted, committed performance and a great, great victory."
Ainsworth concluded: "Without the commitment, we wouldn't have won.
"The boys are incredibly tight as a unit and you could see that with the way they performed.
"To draw against Reading and then beat Birmingham within the space of four days is beyond my wildest dreams." QPR

Gareth Ainsworth put forward a strong case to be named QPR's permanent manager by guiding his 10-man side to a surprise 1-0 victory over Birmingham.
Ainsworth, in caretaker charge following Iain Dowie's sacking last Friday, looked on as Rangers - who played for the entire second half a man down following Mikele Leigertwood's sending-off - knocked the visitors off the top of the Coca-Cola Championship.
"It's all been very sudden but the boys are as tight as ever and and it showed tonight," said Ainsworth.
"I've got a taste for it. It's something I want to pursue in my career but I'm just taking it game by game.
"If I'm still in charge on Saturday I will take the team to Ipswich. I've had no indication, my only focus is on QPR winning games."

Ainsworth could be an ideal candidate for Flavio Briatore, if the chairman and co-owner is wanting to take a hands-on role in picking the team.
Today's team selection was vindicated when Samuel Di Carmine, who barely figured under the former manager but has started the last two games, lashed home a superb winner from 25 yards in the 54th minute.
Fellow Briatore signings Damiano Tommasi and Emmanuel Ledesma were also in the line-up, but Ainsworth insists he has no issue with the perceived interference from above.
"There will be discussions on players from the parties, I'll put my case forward for players and other people put their case forward for players - and then the final input is mine on the pitch," he added.
"People might have opened their eyes at the changes tonight but the main thing is QPR have won this game 1-0 with 10 men.
"The investment in this club is massive and people are interested in their investment and want to know what's going on.
"I'm happy to be in those meetings and discussions about players, but on a Saturday it's me in the dug-out."
Ainsworth felt the straight red card shown to Leigertwood by referee Stuart Attwell - he of the 'goal that never was' at Watford last month - for a crude challenge on Lee Carsley was "harsh".

But Birmingham, who forced fine early saves by Radek Cerny from Kevin Phillips and Cameron Jerome, rarely threatened again until Phillips had an injury-time strike ruled out for offside.
"It was a great start, we looked dangerous but that was about the sum total," said manager Alex McLeish.
"I'm disappointed we didn't put more pressure on them with 10 men but they had a bit of a cause.
"But the disappointment for me was the performance level. I can take a defeat but we had too many players off the boil." Sporting Life

Birmingham Official Site - McLEISH'S POST-QPR THOUGHTS
When it comes to football matches Alex McLeish likes to pick up results. He knows that sometimes, inevitably, every team loses games - but he much prefers winning and that's a mentality he's working hard to instil into all of his players.
That's why the Blues boss was so disappointed with the manner of his side's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Queens Park Rangers on a cold, wet and, at times, snowy evening at Loftus Road. McLeish is not despairing - he is delighted with a start to the season that has yielded 30 points from 14 league games - but following the game in the capital there could be no doubting his disappointment.
Alex McLeishHe told bcfc.com: "I'm disappointed, not just with the fact that we lost but more with the manner of our performance. Early in the first half we controlled midfield and had a couple of excellent chances - shots from Cameron Jerome and Kevin Phillips that were both saved by Radek Cerny - so from that point of view it could have been very different if we had gone ahead at that stage, but we didn't and really the rest of the game was very disappointing.
"I was raging at full-time and I'm sure that the fans who came down here and once again gave us wonderful support were raging too, and I can understand that.
"With the players we have we should have been better but in the end it wasn't to be and what is important now is that we bounce straight back, starting with the game against Coventry at St. Andrew's next Monday."
The fact that the Coventry match has been put back 48 hours for television may well help Blues' cause with regards to getting injured players fit again.
The Loftus Road defeat was compounded by a groin injury picked up in the pre-match warm-up by Garry O'Connor and a hamstring problem suffered by Stuart Parnaby after just ten minutes of the game. Seb Larsson had earlier been omitted from the squad due to a groin injury and Blues also have Damien Johnson, Stephen Kelly, Radhi Jaidi and David Murphy in the treatment room.
A bright spot on a frustrating night at QPR was the debut of 19-year-old Jared Wilson, the Academy product getting his big chance when Parnaby was carried off.
McLeish said: "Jared is an excellent player and I've always said I'd have no problem putting him in the side at some point. He did very well when he came on and although all players can always keep learning and improving, I've no doubt he's got a very bright future in the game." Birmingham

The Times/Kavey Solhekol - Samuel Di Carmine strike settles QPR's nerves - QPR 1 Birmingham City 0

Flavio Briatore is a man of many talents. As well as running the Renault Formula One team, the Italian businessman is also the chairman and co-owner of Queens Park Rangers. He also owns nightclubs and restaurants — which might explain the money that has been thrown at the fixtures and fittings at Loftus Road, especially in the VIP areas that boast walls of marble and leather — but most of his time recently has been taken up by QPR.

A difference of opinion over team selection led to Iain Dowie, the manager, leaving the club last week and since Briatore started having a more hands-on role in choosing who would play QPR have started to look a team who could be playing in the top flight next season. On Saturday they became the first side to leave the Madejski Stadium with a point this season and last night they produced their best performance of the campaign to beat the Championship leaders despite playing most of the match with ten men.

Despite the off-field drama, most QPR supporters are backing the Briatore’s regime and few were sad to see the back of Dowie. The former Charlton Athletic manager was in charge for only 15 matches, but that was long enough for the chairman to realise that Dowie was not a leather-and-marble kind of manager.

Dowie’s face did not fit because his idea of boutique football — a term coined by Briatore to describe his QPR masterplan — was playing with a lone striker against Blackpool and Swansea City. The Italian wants his team to play with two strikers, especially at home, and the next permanent manager will have to be someone who entertains and wins while taking on board some constructive input and criticism from his employer.

Cynics would say that last night’s QPR team had a distinctly Italian flavour with Damiano Tommasi, the 34-year-old former Italy midfield player, starting for the first time since his summer move from Levante, of Spain. Gareth Ainsworth, the caretaker manager, was in the dugout, but the chairman is in control.

Briatore was shifting uncomfortably in his seat in the directors’ box soon after the kick-off as Birmingham showed why they are top of the table after their best start to a season. Alex McLeish, the Birmingham manager, has an embarrassment of striking riches at this level, demonstrated by the fact that he could switch one Scotland forward, James McFadden, with another when Garry O’Connor was injured during the warm-up. McFadden caught the eye in the first half by drifting into space on the flanks to create chances for Cameron Jerome and Kevin Phillips.

Radek Cerny, the QPR goalkeeper, had to be at his best to deny Jerome and Phillips during the opening exchanges before QPR got back into the game through long-range efforts from Lee Cook and Martin Rowlands and close-range strikes by Dexter Blackstock and Emmanuel Ledesma.

In the dying minutes of the first half, Mikele Leigertwood, the QPR defender, was sent off for a crude late challenge on Lee Carsley. Stuart Attwell, the referee who was taking charge of his first Championship match since the Watford “ghost goal” controversy, had no option but to show him a red card.

Despite playing with ten men QPR took the lead in the 54th minute through Samuel Di Carmine. The Italian forward beat Maik Taylor with a stunning right-foot strike from 20 yards after Tommasi had won the ball from McFadden. McLeish responded by bringing on two strikers, Marcus Bent and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie, but his team were not moving the ball around quickly enough to trouble the home defence.

Phillips could have saved Birmingham’s unbeaten away record when he found space in the six-yard box but Cerny and Mahon kept his close range-strike out before QPR threatened to double their lead through a 25-yard free kick by Emmanuel Ledesma that was saved at full stretch by Taylor. The Times

The GUARDIAN/John Ashdown - Di Carmine strike makes sense of Briatore's power gameGuardian report Match facts Championship

If the club owner Flavio Briatore is, as has been widely intimated, playing a role in QPR's team selection perhaps it is not the negative influence that it may seem. After becoming the first side to take a point away from the Madejski Stadium against Reading on Saturday, Samuel Di Carmine's thunderous drive gave Rangers, reduced to 10 men after Mikele Leigertwood's red card just before half-time, a win over the former league leaders Birmingham at a rain-sodden Loftus Road. Maybe this managerial lark isn't so tough after all.

Plenty within the club have spoken of Briatore's keenness to be actively involved in first team affairs - the defender Peter Ramage was quoted by the London Evening Standard yesterday for saying he had "never encountered an owner who is so hands-on" - so it was no surprise that Samuel Di Carmine, one of the players, it has been suggested, that Briatore had wanted to play a greater role, stayed in the team for his second start of the season.

Disappointingly for conspiracy theorists, his retention in the starting XI did not come at the further expense of Dexter Blackstock, the top scorer left out at the weekend. He returned to the side with Daniel Parejo, another thought to be a favourite of Briatore, dropping to the bench. The most exciting name on the team sheet, however, was that of Damiano Tommasi, the former Italian international midfielder, brought in for his first appearance at the club.

Briatore is nearing a year in charge of the club and is already searching for his third manager after the departures of Luigi de Canio in the summer and Iain Dowie last week. The Italians Roberto Mancini, Roberto Donadoni and Gianluca Vialli have all been linked - somewhat ambitiously - with the role, while the Peterborough manager Darren Ferguson is a domestic possibility. The caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth, himself a candidate, albeit an outside one, said this week he had thrown himself into the role "full blast" and it certainly appeared that way last night as, watched intently by Briatore from the touchline, he helped loft long balls for his centre-halves to head clear during the warm-up.

His team, though they matched his endeavour, initially struggled to match the league leader's incisiveness. Despite Garry O'Connor pulling out after an injury in the warm-up and Stuart Parnaby being carried off inside 10 minutes, Birmingham twice forced early chances. Cameron Jerome, playing off the back of Ranger's high defensive line, should have done much better when clean through and Kevin Phillips produced a superb save from Radek Cerny with a rasping volley.

Having survived that scare QPR began to disrupt Birmingham's control and Maik Taylor was forced into two smart saves, both from Martin Rowlands, before the break. But any building momentum appeared to be halted with the sending off Leigertwood for a high, studs-up challenge on Lee Carsley on the stroke of half-time.

Rangers, though, responded in the best possible fashion within 10 minutes of the restart. Tommasi caused trouble down the right and cut the ball inside for Di Carmine to unleash an unstoppable drive from 25 yards that flew into the top corner to put Ainsworth's side 1-0 up. Inside a minute later they were fortunate to hold on to the lead when Phillips' shot hit Gavin Mahon on the line. Fortunate is the right word - Mahon seemed unaware of the shot, appealing for offside.

Ledesma then stretched Taylor with a curling free-kick, with Rangers looking to pinch a second on the break as Birmingham pushed forward.

As Rangers sank deeper to protect their lead in the closing stages, Alex McLeish ushered his men onto the attack. The home side, with Tommasi excelling, stood firm, while City lost their place at the summit The Guardian

SKY SPORTS - Ten-man QPR stun Blues
Di Carmine seals win after Leigertwood sent off
- Birmingham were knocked off the top of the championship after going down 1-0 to ten-man QPR at Loftus Road.
- Samuel Di Carmine hit a stunning first goal in English football to secure the unlikely victory after Mikele Leigertwood's sending-off.
- The young Italian, who arrived on loan from Fiorentina in the summer, crashed home a powerful 25-yard drive in the 54th minute to inflict City's first defeat on the road this season.
- Chairman Flavio Briatore is rumoured to influencing team selection at Loftus Road, a thorny issue which seemed to lead to the surprise sacking of manager Iain Dowie last week.
- But Di Carmine, who barely got a look-in under Dowie, has started the last two games and vindicated Briatore's supposed interference with his brilliant strike.
- Rangers' win was all the more remarkable as they played the second half with 10 men following Leigertwood's sending-off.
- The defender was shown a straight red card by referee Stuart Attwell - on his first Championship outing since awarding the infamous 'goal that never was' at Watford last month - for a crude tackle on Lee Carsley in first-half stoppage time.
-Ruled out
Kevin Phillips did put the ball in the net deep into injury time but his effort was dramatically ruled out for offside.
Popular midfielder Gareth Ainsworth is in temporary charge of Rangers, and as well as Di Carmine he also named Briatore signings Damiano Tommasi - for his debut - and Emmanuel Ledesma.
The Birmingham team also needed some hasty reshuffling, with striker Garry O'Connor injuring himself in the warm-up and full-back Stuart Parnaby having to be stretchered off in the 10th minute.
In between time, Rangers goalkeeper Radek Cerny pulled off stunning saves to keep out fierce low drives from Cameron Jerome and Phillips.
But Rangers grew in confidence as the first half wore on, and as the break approached Maik Taylor clawed away a dangerous free-kick from captain Martin Rowlands.
Dexter Blackstock then slid in to meet a Lee Cook cross only to put it wide before Taylor blocked from Rowlands once more.
Straight red
And in stoppage time Attwell produced a straight red card for Leigertwood after a bruising studs-up challenge on Carsley.
But nine minutes into the second half the hosts took a shock lead when Di Carmine picked the ball up 25 yards out and unleashed a rocket shot which flew past Taylor into the top corner.
Ledesma forced a flying save from Taylor with a curling free-kick while for City, Jared Wilson's cross-shot missed everyone.
With snow by now falling in west London and City piling forward, Phillips slid the ball home in stoppage time but was flagged offside and Rangers clung on. Sky Sports

Birmingham Post/Dave McIntyre - Dismal Birmingham undone by 10-man QPR Queens Park Rangers 1 Birmingham City 0
- Dismal Birmingham City were knocked off the top of the Championship after losing to a Queens Park Rangers side dogged by problems on and off the pitch.
- Blues left west London with nothing after troubled Rangers managed to beat them despite behind-the-scenes chaos and being reduced to 10 men just before half-time.
- And Wolves’ victory over Swansea meant they leapfrogged their local rivals, who have no-one but themselves to blame after failing to capitalise on QPR’s woes.
- The Blues suffered setbacks of their own, losing Garry O’Connor just before kick-off and then full-back Stuart Parnaby after only nine minutes.
- Boss Alex McLeish had to change his line-up at the last minute after O’Connor suffered an injury in the pre-match warm-up – a major disappointment for the in-form striker following his brace against Sheffield Wednesday.
- And Birmingham were dealt another blow when Parnaby was carried off on a stretcher after seemingly suffering an off-the-ball injury.
- But even with the loss of two players, Birmingham’s troubles should have paled into insignificance compared to their opponents’.
- Rangers are swimming in money following last year’s takeover by Formula One magnates Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore.
- Yet the club has been in a mess, with veteran winger Gareth Ainsworth in caretaker charge after manager Iain Dowie was sacked after a training session on Friday for refusing to select a team suggested by Briatore.
- Briatore’s influence on team selection was evident again at Loftus Road, where former Italy midfielder Damiano Tommasi – a 34-year-old who had not played in a competitive match since last season – was handed a debut.
- That seemed like a gift for Birmingham’s strong midfield and the early signs were good as Lee Carsley and Medhi Nafti ran rings around the aging Tommasi.
- Blues should have taken an early lead when Cameron Jerome beat the offside trap to latch on to Nafti’s pass only to see his shot tipped away by QPR keeper Radek Cerny, who produced another good stop to keep out Kevin Phillips’ drive.
- The loss of Parnaby, who was replaced by youngster Jared Wilson, halted City’s momentum and they then had to withstand a spell of Rangers pressure.
- Winger Lee Cook sent a shot wide before Birminghamkeeper Maik Taylor denied QPR skipper Martin Rowlands.
The home team had strong appeals for a penalty waved away by referee Stuart Attwelll when Cook’s cross was headed back into the danger area by Emmanuel Ledesma and seemed to strike Blues defender Franck Queudrue on the arm.
Attwell, in charge of his first Championship game since infamously awarded Readinga ‘phantom goal’ at Watford, then angered QPR’s fans by showing Mikele Leigertwood the red card for a crunching challenge on Carsley.
But that only served to galvanise Rangers, who went ahead nine minutes into the second half with a blistering 25-yard drive from Samuel Di Carmine.
James McFadden, who had been drafted in to replace O’Connor, was at fault. He was caught in possession by Tommasi and when the ball fell to Di Carmine, the R’s forward unleashed a fine shot that flew past Taylorin the Blues goal.
Birminghamalmost levelled straightaway, when Rangers failed to clear McFadden’s corner and Phillips’ close-range effort was cleared off the line by Gavin Mahon.
With heavy sleet making conditions increasingly difficult, QPR continued to make life tough for Birmingham and Ledesma’s well-struck free-kick brought a save from Taylor.
McLeish made a double substitution in an attempt to breath life into his flagging team, sending on Marcus Bent and Quincy Owusu-Abeyie.
But despite piling forward, they never looked like creating an equaliser and failed to register a meaningful effort on target until Phillips had a goal disallowed in injury time.
Phillips slid in to poke Owusu-Abeye’s low cross into the net but was denied a dramatic equaliser by an offside flag. Birmingham Post

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