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Saturday, October 25, 2008

QPR's Reading Draw - Roles of Briatore and Ainsworth - "Discussions" Over Players...Reports and Comments

QPR under caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth ended Reading's 100% home record with a 0-0 draw. A great result for QPR who are now 9th with 19 points. Updated League Table. Whether Chairman Briatore, who was at the game, had any role in the team selection, certainly there were a couple of interesting un-Dowie- like team selections. However while wishing Gareth Ainsworth all the best in the world, and a great managerial future, hopefully the Ainsworth-for-manager(Chief Coach) calls don't go anywhere. (Feel free to discuss today match or any of the recent managerial "issues," or the choice of the next manager on the QPR Report Messageboard.

Queens Park Rangers caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth insisted he chose the players who ended Reading's 100% home record with a 0-0 draw at the Madejski Stadium.
Iain Dowie was sacked as Hoops boss on Friday - allegedly over a clash on team selection with co-owner Flavio Briatore, the F1 motor racing mogul.
Ainsworth said: "There are discussions about the team and discussions about individual players. Flavio has put a lot of money in the club and he wants to know how his investments are going.
"Already we have made a point that we are going to be meeting regularly, not just with Flavio but with the other people who have put their money in the club.
"I have the final input on who goes out there and talk my way through the meetings justifying every player. But with a performance like that today the team picks itself, which is a great problem to have.
"He doesn't discuss the strategies but he does see the players and says what he sees.
Ainsworth confirmed that Briatore had talked with the players before kick-off.
He said: "He was in the dressing room before the game but he has done that before 80% of our games since he has been in charge.
"He chats with the lads but it is way before the match time. It is not as though he comes in a minute before kick-off or even an hour it is way before and great to see his entourage.
"He is a winner and he loves to be involved in sport. If I were a chairman I would love to be involved in things. It is better than having somebody who is totally quiet and you never see
." Sporting Life

QPR Official Site - Gareth Ainsworth - SO PROUD
- Caretaker Manager Gareth Ainsworth was full of praise for his players after they capped a tough few days with a stunning performance at Reading this evening.
- With Iain Dowie leaving the Club just 24 hours earlier, the R's were faced with a stiff test at the Madejski Stadium, where the Royals had enjoyed a 100 per cent home record prior to the arrival of Ainsworth's men.
- But the R's battled hard and fully deserved their 0-0 draw in front of the live SKY cameras.
- "This result marks a pleasing end to a difficult week," Ainsworth told www.qpr.co.uk. "I can't describe the emotions running through my body right now, they're probably more powerful than anything I ever experienced as a player.
- "I am so proud of the lads and every single fan who was here this evening to back the team. They sang their hearts out.
- "Some of the Reading players told me afterwards that we were the best team they have played here all season, which was great to hear.
- "We could have nicked it, but I think a draw was a fair result.
- "The work ethic of the players was instilled by Iain, and today they showed just what they are capable of.
- "I spoke with Iain yesterday. He wished me luck, and I've got a lot of respect for him. I learnt so much from him.
- "Now I find myself in the position of Caretaker Manager and I am going to give it my all, and do the best I can for this Football Club
- Prior to kick off, Ainsworth found himself faced with the unusual task of having to deliver a team-talk to the players. And he admitted: "I didn't have a speech prepared for them. I just said what I felt at that time.
- "And I can't have wished for a better response from every single one of them."
- The R's are now getting themselves ready for the visit of high-flying Birmingham City on Tuesday night. And the temporary gaffer is looking for a big home following at Loftus Road.
- "I just hope the fans come out in their numbers for the game," he added. "Let's get the place rocking and see what we can do!" QPR

Steve Coppell Comments/Sporting Life
- Steve Coppell Reading manager Steve Coppell made it clear he regarded team selection as solely his preserve.
He said: "Picking a football team is not a committee decision. If I don't pick the team what do I do?
"An owner has a right to say 'I'll be manager' and some have done that, like Ron Noades. He bought a club and became a manager
Neither side created many chances although Reading felt they should have had a penalty shortly after half-time when Noel Hunt's cross hit Gavin Mahon on an outstretched arm.
- Coppell was not too disappointed that his side had fallen further behind Birmingham and Wolves in the Championship table.
He said: "0-0 is not the end of the world. As people famously say, we can extract the positives. We tried to win the game.
"We can criticise some of the things we did but as long as I have that kind of effort every game I won't be too disappointed." Sporting Life

TELEGRAPH/David Edbrooke - Gareth Ainsworth stakes his claim for QPR job after holding off Reading
Gareth Ainsworth all but put his name forward for the permanent manager's position at Queens Park Rangers after leading the London club to a point against Reading on Saturday.
In the post-match press conference Ainsworth, who has been placed in caretaker charge following Friday's sacking of manager Iain Dowie, looked both proud and relieved to have avoided a defeat. He will not be the only one feeling relieved.
- After dismissing Dowie, QPR co-owner Flavio Briatore might have been open to criticism from supporters had QPR lost, but they dealt with Reading's threat, to become the first side to take points off Steve Coppell's men at the Madejski Stadium this season.
- Ainsworth described the occasion as a "baptism of fire", but in reality the side that ground out a point were selected after a consultation with Briatore. Afterwards he hinted at Briatore's involvement. "He [Briatore] loves taking an active part and seeing how his investments are doing," said Ainsworth, whose team included Italian Samuel Di Carmine and compatriot Damiano Tommasi on the substitutes' bench. "There's a few other people here who do too," he added.
- Irrespective of the intricacies of QPR's team-selection policy, Ainsworth intimated that he would be keen to manage the team full-time. "Obviously I'm very proud to lead QPR. I can't say 'give me the job', but I'm really looking forward to being in charge again." When asked if management was something he wanted to get into, he replied: "Without a doubt." He faces stiff competition, with former England manager Terry Venables and ex-Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini both linked with the vacant role.Steve Cotterrill and former West Ham manager Alan Curbishley are also in the running, but Ainsworth could not have done much better to further his case.
- Indeed, QPR caused Reading plenty of problems, with Di Carmine forcing Marcus Hahnemann to parry his shot to safety in the first half and Akos Buzsaky testing Hahnemann with a 35-yard effort after the break.
- Earlier QPR goalkeeper Radek Cerny spilt Stephen Hunt's cross, leaving Matthew Connolly to avert the danger through dubious means; Connolly appeared to prevent Jimmy Kebe from striking the ball with a tug at his shirt, yet no penalty was given. Cerny later made amends, pulling off the save of the match to keep Kalifa Cisse's dipping header out.
- Ainsworth will need more performances like this if the pressure that Dowie was under is anything to go by. Dowie's record at QPR was reasonable, with eight wins, three draws and only four defeats. Central to Dowie's demise was his lukewarm relationship with Briatore, which was worsened by rows over team selection. He had also seemingly become a pawn in the power game at QPR between Briatore and vice-chairman Amit Bhatia.
- Briatore had planned to raise ticket prices moving forward, but Bhatia, who represents the interests of Indian Lakshmi Mittal – the world's fifth richest man who has a 20 per cent stake on the club's board – last week released a statement pledging to reduce ticket prices at Loftus Road.
- Feeling undermined by Bhatia, Briatore reasserted his authority by dismissing Dowie. Dowie's loss is Ainsworth's immediate gain, but he will know that, just as time waits for no man, so QPR wait for no manager. Telegraph

SUNDAY TIMES/Nick Townsend - QPR manage just fine without Dowie
- Managerless but far from rudderless, QPR became the first visitors this season to extract reward here from Reading, who had hitherto been free-scoring at home. Not bad for Gareth Ainsworth, the man entrusted with steering a passage through potentially perilous waters barely more than 24 hours after Iain Dowie had been sacked on Friday.
- Many people expect Flavio Briatore, who is chairman of QPR’s holding company, to seek a “Saga solution” when he selects Rangers’ fifth manager in two years. Whether, at 65, Terry Venables would relish returning to the club he played for from 1969-74 and managed between 1980 and 1984, is uncertain. Other possible successors to Dowie include Roberto Mancini, Gianluca Vialli and Sam Allardyce. games in all competitions.
Although QPR started yesterday only five points adrift of their much-vaunted hosts and are in the last 16 of the Carling Cup, they had won only one of their past six in the league and there was evidently a lack of rapport between Briatore and Dowie. It reportedly came to a head not just over the transfer policy but over Briatore’s this game. Whoever was responsible for the starting lineup made three changes to Dowie’s last team. They did Ainsworth proud in the first half.
- The long-haired 35-year-old winger was an animated figure on the touch-line and looked to enjoy his probably brief flirtation with management. His team’s cause was aided by the paucity of passing by Reading, whose touch was too often unsure. Leading scorer Kevin Doyle’s intelligent play looked most likely to unlock the visitors’ rearguard, and Noel Hunt came close to heading an opener from his fellow-Irishman’s astute cross. Reading had claims for a penalty after Cerny dropped a cross and Matthew Connolly appeared to hold Kebe as they challenged for the ball.
- An even more plausible demand for a home penalty after Gavin Mahon handled was also rejected just after the interval. Stephen Hunt was just wide with a free kick and Andre Bikey with a header. Rangers came closer to scoring, with Akos Buzsaky, Daniel Parejo, Lee Cook and Dexter Blackstock all testing Hahnemann.
- Kalifa Cisse was foiled by a superb save by Cerny, but a goal then would have been harsh on QPR. Star man:Radek Cerny (QPR) Referee:C Foy Attendance:20,571
READING:Hahnemann 7, Rosenior 6, Bikey 6, Ingimarsson 7, Armstrong 6, Kebe 7 (Long, 79min), Gunnarsson 5 (Harper, 72min), Karacan 6 (Cisse 72min), S Hunt 7, N Hunt 6, Doyle 7
QPR:Cerny 8, Leigertwood 7, Stewart 7, Hall 7, Connolly 6, Buzsaky 6, Mahon 6, Rowlands 7, Cook 7, Di Carmine 7 (Blackstock 60min, 6), Parejo 6 (Balanta 86min)
Sunday Times

Reading Official Site - Coppell rues penalty decision
Steve Coppell was left to rue referee Chris Foy's refusal to give his team a penalty early in the second half of the goalless draw with QPR.
Noel Hunt's cross clearly struck the outstretched hand of Gavin Mahon, and although it may have been a case of 'ball to hand', the fact that the defender's arms weren't by his side could have easily led to a spot kick.
Coppell told our online TV station Reading World, "I didn't really get a good view, but there was such a clamour from the crowd there must have been something in it.
"I always say that if the arm is in an unnatural position and it hits the hand, it's a foul and a penalty
"On this occasion it seems that Gavin Mahon had his hand up above his shoulder - in an unnatural position - but the ref's not given it and we're not moaning.
"He was particularly hot on any handballs that took place in the middle of the park, but not that one."
Full Reading World video highlights will be launched at 5pm on Sunday - sign up for a four-day trial for just 99p Reading

Reading Official Site - Boss: We were below our best
Manager Steve Coppell accepted that his side performed below their best in the goalless draw with QPR, but had no complaints over his team's effort and endeavour.
"Our delivery from wide positions was not as good as it has been," he told our online TV station Reading World
"We had a lot of crosses and corners, a lot of things flashing across the goal, but our delivery and movement wasn't as sharp as it might have been.
"There were loads of things we could have done better - but we had a genuine desire to attack and score goals, so I've got to be pleased with that."
He also had praise for the visitors' defensive efforts, saying, "QPR made it hard, like all teams will here.
"We'll have people coming here and trying to stop us playing, and then it depends on our key players to win their match-ups and individual battles.
"Today we came up against a back eight, nine if you include the keeper, who were well organised and knew what to do."
Full Reading World video highlights will be launched at 5pm on Sunday - sign up for a four-day trial for just 99p. Reading

QPR Official Site - Reading O QPR 0
QPR battled to a well-earned point against a Reading side that had not dropped a single point at the Madejski Stadium.

In a game of few chances, but exciting nonetheless, Rangers had Radek Cerny and Damion Stewart to thank for keeping them in it as the Czech keeper made a brilliant save to deny home sub Kalifa Cisse, whilst Jamaican Stewart was a colossus throughout.

But Rangers worked hard for a point and could've evened snatched it with Lee Cook and Akos Buzsaky forcing Reading keeper Marcus Hahnemann into saves.

Caretaker boss Gareth Ainsworth made three changes from the side that draw with Swansea in Wales in midweek. In came Matt Connolly, Daniel Parejo and Samuel Di Carmine for his first start in a Hoops shirt.

Out went Damien Delaney, who dropped to the bench, Dexter Blackstock, who joined Delaney in the dugout, and Peter Ramage.

Reading had top scorer Kevin Doyle up front alongside Noel Hunt and youngster Jem Karacan, who has impressed since being given a chance by Manager Steve Coppell, in midfield.

And it was keeper Cerny's night that started the most interestingly as a quiet opening 15 minutes was broken by the Czech goalkeeper having to deal with not only the match ball but a giant inflatable one the thousand or so travelling R's fans had brought with them.

He finally had something else to occupy him moments later when Stephen Hunt's chipped pass was headed on by Karacan into the path of Jimmy Kebe who blasted a shot into the side netting.

On 25 minutes it was Reading keeper Hahnemann's turn as he had to beat away a Di Carmine drive after the Italian striker out-tussled Andre Bikey. At first glance, his shot was going wide but another look showed it may have just crept inside the American keeper's near post.

Stewart was then the R's hero as his block stopped a certain goal as he threw everything at the feet of Kebe.

Cerny then almost gifted Reading a glorious chance as he came for a cross, completely misjudged the flight of the ball and only just managed to gather the loose ball.

The R's keeper made amends minutes later when Stephen Hunt's free-kick was helped on by Kebe and brother Noel's header was well saved by the Czech diving to his left.

The second half opened with Reading having clearly been given a talking too as they raced out the blocks and won a succession of corners. The last of which resulted in a goal-mouth scramble that saw Karacan fire a shot well wide.

Stewart once again came to Rangers' rescue with another fine tackle on Doyle this time, as the Irish international shaped to shoot.

Rangers fought their way back in it and when Buzsaky won a free-kick, Spanish midfielder Parejo thundered a dipping strike straight at the welcome arms of Hahnemann.

The R's fans were making a fantastic noise behind Hahnemann's goal and the players were doing all they can to continue giving them something to cheer about.

Stewart once again foiled Reading when he intercepted a through ball for Noel Hunt that would've sent the Irishman through on goal.

On the hour, Ainsworth made his first ever change. Blackstock replaced the lively Di Carmine.

The introduction of the R's top scorer seemed to lift the players and Buzsaky forced a nervy save from the Reading keeper who was subsequently clattered by the substitute.

Blackstock then clipped a cross for Parejo to volley but the midfielder could not strike the ball with enough venom to worry the home crowd.

Rangers had the bit between their teeth and Cook was next to try his luck from long range, stinging the hands of Hahnemann.

Reading were rattled, and when Leigertwood received his throw back from Buzsaky he crossed superbly and Blackstock rose to nod straight at Hahnemann.

Reading were not out of it yet and Stephen Hunt curled a free-kick inches wide of the desperate dive of Cerny.

Suddenly it was Reading on the front foot and Martin Rowlands almost undid all Rangers' good-work when his clearing header flew inches wide from a Reading free-kick.

Then it was Bikey's turn to go close with a header from a Hunt corner as the hosts continued to orchestrate proceedings.

From another corner, Cerny pulled off a magnificent save to deny Reading substitute Cisse, diving full stretch to turn a top corner-bound header around the post.

But despite Reading dominating the closing stages, the R's held on, and can be proud of a gritty, determined display.Reading: Hahnemann, Armstrong, Gunnarsson (Harper 73), Doyle, S.Hunt, N.Hunt, Kebe (Long 80), Ingimarsson, Karacan (Cisse 73), Rosenior, Bikey.
Subs: Andersen, Kelly.
Bookings: Bikey (89)
Sendings off:
QPR: Cerny, Stewart, Mahon, Hall, Leigertwood, Parejo (Balanta 86), Buzsaky, Rowlands, Connolly, Cook, Di Carmine (Blackstock 60). Subs: Cole, Delaney, Tommasi.
Scorers: Bookings: Parejo (82)
Sendings off: Referee: Mr C. Foy Attendance: 20,571

Reading Official Site
The Royals were held 0-0 by managerless QPR in a real battle of a game at Madejski Stadium on Saturday evening.
Reading were marginally the better side, and had two great penalty claims - first when Jimmy Kebe was pulled back in the area late in the first half, then just after the break when Noel Hunt's cross smacked straight into Gavin Mahon's arms high above his head.
It was not a completely fluid performance by Steve Coppell's side, and the closest they came to scoring was when sub Kalifa Cisse saw his diving header clawed away from under the bar by Radek Cerny.
We threw eveything we could at a stubborn Rangers backline, but found no way through a well-organised defence. Jem Karacan had a half-chance from the edge of the box after a melee, but clear chances were at a premium.

Marcus Hahnemann needed to make a couple of solid saves from long-range efforts, but he was not overly troubled too much as Rangers did far more work in their own half then as an attacking force.

Rangers will say they deserved a point - and you can see the argument for such a viewpoint - but if the penalty decisions had gone our way it would certainly have been a different story.

First half
The game started with a very cat and mouse feel to it, neither side really getting forward with any real conviction until the 20th minute when Jem Karacan made a good run, flicking a header to allow Jimmy Kebe to shot just wide at the near post.

Five minutes later QPR had their first venture into opposition territory, and Samuel Di Carmine's shot was going wide Marcus Hahnemann palmed it around anyway.

The game was beginning to open up and Kevin Doyle showed great strength and skill down the left to work some space, and he got in a good-looking cross that was just too far away from Noel Hunt.

Eight minutes before the break, Reading looked to have a great shout for a penalty. Radek Cerny fumbled a high cross, and Jimmy Kebe went for the loose ball. The Malian was surely pulled back by a defender, but referee Chris Foy was not interested and waved away our vociferous appeals - a huge let-off for the visitors.

Noel Hunt forced Cerny into a save with a header before the whistle, but it was comfortable for the keeper. Reading had got better as the half went on, but it was not one of our best home displays.

Second half
Just after the interval the Royals had another huge penalty shout turned down - this time for a handball by Gavin Mahon. Noel Hunt got a cross in, and Mahon's arms were up high above his head. The ball clearly struck the Rangers man, but referee Foy obviously deemed it accental - a brave decision.

Seconds afterwards Karacan had a very good chance after a goalmouth scramble but badly miscued his half-volley from the edge of the box.

It was then Rangers' turn to enjoy a decent spell, and we looked unusually flaky at the back, Andre Bikey giving the ball away badly on more than one occasion.

Akos Buzsaky stung Hahnemann's palms with a drive from distance, then Parejo got onto Bikey's poor ball to unleash another shot - again though it was a fairly tame effort.

In front of a loud and intense crowd, the game was high on nerves and tension, but low on quality - passes were rushed and all too regularly misplaced.

Reading were trying to up the ante, and Bikey headed just a foot or so wide from sub James Harper's corner kick.

Into the last ten minutes and another corner almost paid dividends but this time Cerny made a cracking stop from sub Kalifa Cisse's acrobatic header.

Rangers were by no means out of it, and they wanted a penalty when Daniel Parejo went down in the box, but there was no contact from Bikey and Parejo was lucky not to be sent off, having been booked seconds earlier.

We threw all we could at the visitors in the last stages, but never looked like carving open a Rangers team who had defended well - but the visitors were also very lucky with the two penalty shouts in their favour. Reading Official Site

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