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Sunday, November 23, 2008

After Five Straight Losses, Watford Play QPR - and Win: Reports and Comments

- QPR helped Watford end their run of five consecutive Championship losses. With Hall's sending off, he's definitely missing the Crystal game. And next QPR face Charlton - who yesterday axed their manager! New Manager Syndrome?

- The Times/Nick Townsend - Watford inflict misery on QPR: Watford 3 QPR 0
- It is doubtful whether Paulo Sousa had this in mind for his debut as a club manager. (Or, as QPR prefer to refer to their men in charge, first-team coach.) The former Portugal international midfielder’s reaction to his appointment at Loftus Road had apparently been: “I always wanted to work for a big club.”
- Perhaps he believed that with its proximity to Chelsea, managed by the former Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari - under whom he was assistant with the national side for five years - he would discover a similar preponderance of quality, or at least potential.
- Despite his declaration afterwards that “I believe in these players and that results will come”, this will have injected reality. Rangers made Watford, still in relegation peril, look like assured promotion challengers, not a side that have been on a losing run of five league defeats. If Malky Mackay, a candidate for Watford manager, required a boost to his CV, the visitors couldn’t have been more compliant on an afternoon of misery.
- Normally, players turn it on for the new boss. Here barely one of them advertised their claim to a shirt next week.
- However, QPR, already well off the promotion pace, insist they are a big-club-in-waiting - once their potential is realised by their monied owners, Flavio Briatore and his associates, in conjunction with the right man in charge.
- According to Briatore, he consulted Scolari and Jose Mourinho before confirming the appointment of Sousa. Though he is Rangers’ third “manager” already this season, the new man insisted: “There is no pressure. I’m here for the medium to long term, to build a solid base to go to the Premier League. If you go to the Premier League without that base, of course you go down.”
- Life is no less complex at Watford, who are still deliberating over their own vacancy. Mackay, who was interviewed on Wednesday, admitted: “I’d be delighted to get the job. This helps my case.”
- Watford had the game won by half-time. Tommy Smith, the club’s leading scorer, converted a penalty awarded for a push by Damion Stewart on Tamas Priskin. Darren Ward soon added a second and the impressive Lee Williamson placed it beyond the visitors with a fine drive.
- Rangers’ Fitz Hall was dismissed late on for a foul on Watford substitute Will Hoskins. It could hardly get any worse for their new manager. He can comfort himself with the thought that, under him, things can only get better.
-Star man:Lee Williamson (Watford)
WATFORD:Loach 6, Mariappa 6, Ward 7, DeMerit 7, Doyley 6, McAnuff 7 (Hoskins 78), Williamson 8 (O’Toole 82min), Harley 7, Jenkins 6, Priskin 7, Smith 7.
QPR:Cerny 6, Delaney 6, Stewart 6, Hall 5, Ramage 6, Mahon 5 (Tommasi 45min, 5), Leigertwood 6, Ledesma 6 (Parejo 53min, 5), Ephraim 6, Blackstock 5 (Di Carmine 61min), Agyemang 6
Yellow cards: Watford: Harley QPR: Mahon, Lesdma, StewartRed card: QPR: Hall
Referee:A Penn Attendance:16,201 The Times

INDEPENDENT/Conrad Leach - Sousa's new boys start on duff note
- Paulo Sousa was not on the touchline for this appallingdisplay by the team he now manages. Having seen what he has taken on at Queens Park Rangers, the former Portuguese international may wish tomaintain his distance.
From winning the European Cup twice, in 1996 and 1997,famously with different clubs, it has come to this. Sousa agreed to take over at the troubled west London club on Wednesday.
Afterwards, however, he didn't try to hide the all-too-obvious truth. Sousa said: "This was a bad performance today. I'm here to change things because things have not been going well."
He then added, somewhat bravely: "There is no pressure on me. I'm here for the mediumto long term, to build a base to get to the Premier League."
It remains to be seen whether he will get the time to jolt this team into life, let alone back to the top division. After all, his employer, Flavio Briatore, has already shown he is a man of little patience – Sousa is the third manager since the Italian bought into the club.
Watford had lost five League games in a row, but QPR somehow made the Hornets looklike a top-three side in the Championship, not a bottom- three one, which was where they started the day.
With both sides lookingwitless, the hosts were awardeda penalty after 26 minutes for a push, and Tommy Smith hit the spot-kick low to Radek Cerny's left.
Seven minutes later Watford, with caretaker-manager Malky Mackay in charge at home for the first time, doubled their lead. Jon Harley passed to Darren Ward, who scored from 10 yards. Mackay was interviewed last Wednesday for the permanent position, and said: "I'd be delighted to get the job."
For Sousa, whose European Cup wins were with Juventus and Borussia Dortmund, the size of the task ahead became even clearer when Smith set up Lee Williamson for the third in the last minute of the first half. Fitz Hall's dismissal with 10 minutes left, for a pointless hack on the substitute Will Hoskins, at least gave Sousa one less selection problem for next week. Independent

TELEGRAPH/Andrew Warshaw - Paulo Sousa watches Queens Park Rangers have pockets picked by Watford
- In one sense, Watford and Queens Park Rangers are similar. Both are underachievers, troubled by off-the-field turbulence and criticised by disgruntled fans. In another they could not be more different: one of them up for sale with no sign of fresh investment, the other bankrolled by some of the game's richest investors. All of which made for an intriguing London derby.
- Having seen Elton John, their life president and most high-profile icon, resign and Adie Boothroyd removed as manager, Watford were in dire need of a tonic after five straight league defeats that had seen them plummet into the bottom three. But so were Rangers, of whom great things were anticipated in the summer but who have just appointed their sixth manager in two years amid constant allegations that new owner Flavio Briatore is adopting something of a dictatorial role by meddling in team affairs.
- The latest manager, former Portugal international Paolo Sousa, only met the players on Thursday, so left tactics to Gareth Ainsworth, back as player-coach after a brief stint as caretaker. While Briatore took his seat in the directors box, Sousa watched the game from just behind the dugout and must have wondered what on earth he has taken on, as his team were sunk by half-time and played the last 10 minutes one short after Fitz Hall was shown a straight red card for a reckless lunge.
- One man's meat, of course, is another's poison. Watford are on the verge of appointing the latest manager of their own and Malky Mackay, in temporary control, will have done his case no harm.
- Tommy Smith sent Radek Cerny the wrong way with a penalty to open the score after a push by Damion Stewart and eight minutes later Darren Ward doubled the lead. Dexter Blackstock missed a chance to reduce the deficit before Smith delivered a terrific ball after a great run and Lee Williamson turned it in.
- Sousa was philosophical, saying: "Today was bad, but I have only been here two days and cannot change everything overnight. I am here on a mid to long-term project to build a solid base to get us to the Premier League."
Where have we heard that before? Telegraph

QPR's 3-0 defeat to Watford proved food for thought for new Manager Paulo Sousa, as the R's gaffer left Gareth Ainsworth in charge of First Team affairs at Vicarage Road.
Goals from Tommy Smith, Darren Ward and Lee Williamson gave the Hornets victory, yet despite the R's disappointing display, Sousa chose to look to the future.
"It was a bad performance, but I've been here for just two days," he told wwww.qpr.co.uk
"I watched from the stands today and it put some ideas in my head and I know I must change things.
"It's not easy to work on change when you've got two games a week, because you need to rest. But I believe in my own ability to make these changes and I'm confident we will make them."
Sousa was angered at the award of the Watford spot-kick, which saw Mikele Leigertwood penalised for an apparent push in the Rangers penalty box.
He commented: "I saw the same thing going on in the Watford box, on both Dexter and Patrick.
"But that's football isn't it and sometimes you get the decisions and other times you don't."
Sousa also touched upon Fitz Hall's late dismissal, commenting: "I thought the referee could have been more sweet!
"We were 3-0 down and the game was over, but he should have protected our player more.
"It's disappointing, because we'll lose Fitz now and we're also without some of our main players who are out injured at the moment." QPR

Watford Official Site - MACKAY: 'THE BOYS WERE SURGICAL'
AFTER a morale boosting 3-0 win over Queens Park Rangers at Vicarage Road today, caretaker boss Malky Mackay commended the belief and 'surgical' finishing in front of goal which destroyed the visitors.
The R's had no reply as Mackay's troops stormed to a three goal half-time lead and they never looked like overturning things after the interval.
Tommy Smith, creative and industrious throughout, opening the scoring from the spot before Darren Ward scored against his former club and the in-form Lee Williamson finished the display.
Mackay said: "The confidence grew as the game went on, we had a game plan and we stuck to it.
"Once we got the break I thought the boys were surgical and went at them and the boys turned on the pressure and got their just rewards.
"The last couple of weeks we've been looking for a result like that and playing like that without the final cutting edge."
Crucially today the Hornets kept a much needed clean sheet and although goals win games the door needed shutting on the Watford goal after some leaky times in recent spells.
Mackay said he'd been drumming team shape and the way his side should defend into his men.
He added: "The fact that we then defend the way we did and be resilient I think speaks volumes for the team.
"I've been asking them every day in training to play as a team, so we move over the park together as a unit.
"If that is the case you've always got two or three Watford jerseys around the ball - the minute we win it back we can attack teams and we know we can hurt them.
"But at the same time we've got to lock in at the back and I thought we were magnificent at that today."
Mackay's 'express yourself' philosophy has clearly rubbed off on his men and they looked to enjoy turning on the style at Vicarage Road.
"I asked them to believe in themselves and be the players that I know they can be" said the ex-West Ham defender.
"We've lost goals through silly errors this season, we've showed that we can match anyone and go beyond but we've got to do that consistently and do it every week.
"I know they're good footballers - they've got to believe they're good footballers."
Rookie 'keeper Scott Loach was rarely tested by the lackluster west Londoners and it was a big decision from the Scotsman to include him instead of Richard Lee.
He commented: "I just felt that Scott was ready - he played for the reserves on Tuesday and played very well.
"Off the back of the West Ham game when he played magnificently I thought the time was right for him to come back in at the moment.
- "Alec Chamberlain takes his goalkeepers every day and they've got a great bond.
"It's all credit to Richard Lee who is on the bench today that he's rooting for Scott to do well and he's a good influence on him."
The caretaker also had words of praise for his two central midfield men, adding: "The fact that Lee [Williamson] has been given licence to go forward, young Ross Jenkins sits in there and allows him to do that and gives him that freedom - that's great credit to him.
"He's 17-years-old and he's come in with a great temperament and he can break things up and it allows Lee to be a creative influence for the team." Watford

Daily Mail - Sousa given tough first outing
- Paulo Sousa was given a harsh introduction to life as QPR boss as he watched Watford turn around their recent poor form with an impressive 3-0 win.
Tommy Smith's penalty, after a foul by Damion Stewart, gave the hosts the advantage after 26 minutes.
Watford, who were on a five-game losing streak in the league, then extended their lead through Darren Ward's strike eight minutes later, before Lee Williamson added a third just before the break to put them in a commanding position.
In his first match in charge, former Portugal international Sousa oversaw five changes to the starting XI with Emmanuel Ledesma, Mikele Leigertwood and Patrick Agyemang among those returning.
However, former Watford favourite Heidar Helguson did not make the squad after his midweek loan move from Bolton.
Malky Mackay welcomed back Scott Loach from injury as the Watford caretaker looked to push his claims for the vacant manager's position.
Languishing in the bottom three, Watford's confidence was fragile but they grew into the game imposingly.
And they took the lead when Stewart was judged to have pushed Tamas Priskin in the box.
In spite of QPR protests, the referee pointed to the spot and Smith sent the keeper the wrong way to give Watford the lead.
Then after 34 minutes Ward extended Watford's advantage when he converted Jon Harley's cross.
QPR's best chance fell to the returning Agyemang but he failed to convert Hogan Ephraim's free-kick when there was only the goalkeeper to beat.
And then to add to Sousa's woes, Williamson fired home to leave QPR reeling. Mail

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