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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Ainsworth Managership Hold...Briatore Involved...Chopra Cost...Ferguson Ignores...Ainsworth on Cardiff and Manchester Sunday...Venables' First Victory


--- QPR play uneaten-away Cardifftoday (2 wins and 5 draws). QPR will be hoping that the traditional Manager-of-the-Month "curse" continues, given that Cardiff manager Dave Jones, is the latest reipient of the Manager of The Month award. Throw in the sickness of a number of Cardiff players... Many QPR fans of course have special feelings towards Cardiff, dating back to a playoff final, preceded by a hotel fire alarm!

--- For QPR, it's now over two weeks since Iain Dowie was axed as manager. Names keep coming up in the press and boards. This week's names: Roberto Mancini, Darren Ferguson, David O'Leary, Sam Allardyce. But jounalist Dave McIntyre believes Gareth Ainsworth remains the leading candidate for the Job.

--- Cardiff of course have QPR target, Michael Chopra joined on loan (Chopra's reasons for why he decided against QPR). Some QPR messageboard posters are defending QPR's failure to sign Chopra: Noting wages and demanded transfer fee. The papers are suggesting Sunderland were "demanding" five million pounds for a permanent Chopra tranfer move to QPR (as if a Sunderland "demand" was necessarily what the actual transfer fee would be) and a high weekly salary (as if QPR are not already paying considerable wages to some players).

--- Gareth Ainsworth in his pre-match comments, notes the team is moving up to Manchester on Sunday morning which might seem a little early, given that the Manchester United game is Tuesday night.

--- Finally it's 28 years to the day, since Terry Venables picked up his first QPR win bonus (if managers actually got win bonuses!) as QPR crushed Luton 3-2.

--- [Meanwhile, in other football news: No QPR - or ex-QPR players - in the Championship, League One or League Two "Player of the Month" Awards and owner Roman Abramovich's financial losses lead to Chelsea cut backs!

--- Comment on these or other QPR matters on the QPR Report Messageboard

Dave McIntyre/BBC606 on Gareth Ainsworth and QPR
- "Gareth Ainsworth will move a step closer to being formally installed as coach by boss Flavio Briatore if Rangers beat Cardiff at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Despite much speculation about a new man coming in, the job is Ainsworth’s to lose and, results permitting, he will remain in the role indefinitely
." BBC606

Mirror - Predator: Flavio Briatore
Having conquered F1, Flavio Briatore appears to believe he can steer QPR to the Premier League.
Italian tycoon Briatore has got involved with team selection at Loftus Road since sacking boss Iain Dowie.
And the Renault team boss, who has left rookie coach Gareth Ainsworth in charge of QPR, has now even taken delivery of a magnetic tactics board for his own use. Mirorr

- Cardiff lost ground in the promotion race last Saturday with a narrow defeat at Ninian Park against league leaders Wolves. More worryingly for the Bluebirds were the injuries picked up by star strikers Ross McCormack and Jay Bothroyd, Simon Glanville takes a look at how our next game will shape up against Q.P.R. at Loftus Road this weekend.
- Early Cardiff team news: Dave Jones has moved quickly to arrange cover for McCormack and Bothroyd by making every City fan happy with the capture of former Bluebird Michael Chopra. The Sunderland striker will be returning to Ninian Park for two months to plug the gap up front and will go straight into contention for Saturday's game.
- Chopra has been brought in to boost the striking department because both McCormack and Bothroyd picked up hamstring injuries in the game against Wolves. Ross will be out for up to four weeks while Jay's injury will keep him out for double the time of his striking partner. Eddie Johnson will be hoping he can force his way into the Dave's plans.
- Mark Kennedy, Tony Capaldi and Riccy Scimeca remain on the mid-term injury list and are unlikely to be involved for another couple of weeks.
Early Q.P.R. team news: Mikele Leigertwood will miss the game through suspension after being sent-off for Rangers in their last home game against Birmingham. The club had appealed his dismissal but have been unsuccessful, with the ban increased from three games to four....
- Q.P.R.'s season so far: Usually when a club sacks a manger it is a desperate measure, but Iain Dowie found himself out of a job despite taking Rangers up to 9th in the league. Expectation at Loftus Road is massive with new big-money owners, and Dowie's reign was brought to an abrupt end after an inconsistent start.
The season started well for the Hoops with a win over Barnsley at Loftus Road. Defeat at Sheffield United followed but wins over Doncaster, Southampton and Norwich and a point at Bristol City put The Hoops in a strong position after five games.
It then went downhill for Dowie as defeats to Coventry, Derby and Birmingham and only a point at home to Blackpool got the owners ready to yield the axe. Despite then beating Forest and earning a credible point at Swansea, Dowie was shown the door and Gareth Ainsworth has since taken over as caretaker. He has taken The Hoops up to 7th with four points from three games in charge, a draw at Reading, a win against Birmingham at home and defeat in their last game at Ipswich.
Rangers are also still in the Carling Cup and have a mouthwatering tie against Manchester United to look forward to after getting past Swindon, Carlisle and Premiership Aston Villa.
Last meeting: The Bluebirds should go into the game against Q.P.R. with some confidence after taking six points off The Hoops last term. At the beginning of last season Cardiff won comfortably in London, with goals from Steve MacLean and Paul Parry enough to secure a 2-0 win. In the return fixture at Ninian Park in January, City again came out on top by a two goal margin. This time the score was 3-1, with a brace from Joe Ledley and another from Parry putting us firmly in control. Patrick Agyemang did grab a late consolation for the visitors, but they could not find a way back against Cardiff's strong defence.
Teams from last meeting at Ninian Park on 29th January 2008:
Bluebirds: Oakes (Enckelman 79), McNaughton, Capaldi, Johnson, Loovens, Rae, Whittingham (Blake 88), Ledley, Ramsey, Parry, Hasselbaink (Thompson 89). Subs not used: Purse, Sinclair.
Q.P.R.: Camp, Delaney, Stewart, Connolly (Blackstock 45), Hall (Mancienne 38), Mahon, Buzsaky (Ephraim 61), Rowlands, Leigertwood, Vine, Agyemang. Subs not used: Lee, Crowther. Attendance: 13,602. Cardiff

Caretaker Manager Gareth Ainsworth has warned his players not to 'shy away from the challenge,' when the R's welcome fellow promotion hopefuls Cardiff City to Loftus Road on Saturday afternoon.
Ainsworth - who enjoyed a short spell at Ninian Park in 2003 prior to his move to W12 - is fully aware of the threat Dave Jones' men will pose in West London, but is confident his players can rise to the challenge and continue their impressive home form.
"First and foremost, I'm really looking forward to it," Ainsworth told www.qpr.co.uk.
"They were the last Club I played for prior to my move to West London and I enjoyed my time there.
"I know what a Cardiff City side, under Dave Jones, will bring to the table and I'm relishing locking horns with them."
Ainsworth added: "It's a very important match for us, as it is for them.
"It's a great challenge for us and one we simply can't afford to shy away from.
"The league table is starting to take shape now and heading in to the festive period, it's vital we maintain our fine home form."
Ainsworth will be minus the services of Mikele Leigertwood for the visit of the Bluebirds, with the midfielder serving the second match of a four game suspension following his red card against Birmingham City last time out.
"Losing Mikele is a blow," said Ainsworth.
"We thought we had good grounds for an appeal, but it was turned down and we've moved on now.
"With the exception of him and Rowan (Vine), I've got a fully fit bunch to pick from."
Despite being relatively new to the managerial game, Ainsworth is aware of the need to focus on the here and now, and not let his emotions get the better of him ahead of a certain trip to Old Trafford in a few days time.
"The United fixture hasn't even come in to my thoughts," he said.
"The lads spoke about it briefly when the draw was made, but the entire focus this week has been on Cardiff City.
"We'll move on to United on Sunday morning, but Cardiff comes first!"

Western Mail/Terry Phillips - Bluebirds keen to keep loan star Michael Chopra
-MICHAEL CHOPRA is back and looks certain to lead Cardiff City’s attack alongside Eddie Johnson at Queens Park Rangers today....
- Jones would love to re-sign the goalscorer on a permanent basis and the question was asked during talks on the loan move. Sunderland would want to recoup the £4.5m they have already paid for Chopra, who joined the Premier League club 16 months ago.
There are two more payments possible – £250,000 after three more league appearances (three more games needed) and the same again after 50 Premier matches
- “Roy Keane does not want to sell Chops, but maybe we can get him for longer by extending the loan,” said Jones. “But we are not thinking beyond the end of the current loan spell right now.
- “If anything changes between now and then, we will react to that.”
- Sunderland certainly won’t let Chopra, still only 24, go on the cheap and will want their money back if this loan turns into a full transfer.
- To achieve a £4.5m signing while also building a new stadium, Cardiff City would surely have to raise cash by selling another player.
- That could well mean Joe Ledley, with only 18 months left on his contract and no sign of him signing a new deal, could be allowed to move if the right offer came during January.
- Stoke City offered £6m for Ledley in August and the Bluebirds turned that down flat. Ledley was certainly tempted by the chance of Premier League football – and has been below his best for Cardiff this season.
- If Stoke return, even with a slightly lower offer, then Cardiff could well say yes to fund a big-money move for Chopra.
- The alternative is for Ledley to stay. His value, unless he changes his mind and agrees a new deal, would be likely to drop dramatically.
- That is the dilemma Jones and chairman Peter Ridsdale will face as Chopra’s initial loan spell draws towards a close.
- He is here until December 31 – 11 games in total. That starts against Queens Park Rangers today – and will finish against Plymouth Argyle at home on Sunday, December 28.
- City had to pay a loan fee to sign Chopra for the next two months, around £200,000. They are also having to pay his full Premier League wages of £25,000-plus a week.
- Chopra’s salary, plus that of Johnson, on loan from Fulham and on similar money, means a mighty chunk of the playing budget is being spent on those two.

American Johnson is expected to stay until the end of this season, unless an agreement could be reached with Fulham manager Roy Hodgson, and Jones would love to keep Chopra as well.
- Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City were among other clubs keen to sign Chopra, but he opted for a return to Cardiff.
- Chopra scored 22 goals for the Bluebirds two seasons ago, prompting his £5m summer transfer to Wearside. “This loan move to Cardiff is an opportunity for Chops to get some games,” said Sunderland boss Keane. “It is an opportunity he wanted and has taken.
- “He has been coming to me and asking for a chance and if I can’t guarantee them games here and there is a deal that is good for the player and the club then we will put it to them. “Chops will get some games and I guarantee you he will get goals. We wish him well. He is just on loan.”
- Geordie Chopra can’t wait to get started at QPR today, saying: “It’s ironic that my first match back with Cardiff is against QPR, who were another of the teams wanting to sign me. “The biggest factor in my decision to choose Cardiff ahead of Rangers was that I know many of the players here and I have kept in daily contact with one or two of them.
“The manager, Dave Jones, is as honest as they come and has always been ready to help me with advice when needed.
- Cardiff City have five players ruled out by injury at QPR today – Ross McCormack, Jay Bothroyd, Mark Kennedy, Tony Capaldi and Riccy Scimeca. The closest of those to being fit for Championship action are McCormack and Kennedy, who are hopeful of being available to face Crystal Palace at Ninian Park next Saturday.
McCormack has a hamstring injury and insists he is 90 to 95 per cent certain to play and Kennedy has suffered a calf strain.
While McCormack may be too optimistic in his estimate, he is certainly closing in on fitness fast and both will be back running from early next week – Jones says: “Then we will know more.”
- There was an added complication before today’s clash with big spending Rangers, where ex-Cardiff player Gareth Ainsworth is caretaker manager, when the City camp was hit by sickness.
- A number of players have suffered from a 24-hour bug this week and three were left off the team coach when the City squad left South Wales for London yesterday.
- They travelled to London by car to ensure the sickness did not spread through the squad.
Manager Jones would not reveal which players were ill yesterday because he is confident they will be OK, while he has added teenagers Jon Brown, Aaron Morris and Darren Dennehy to the travelling party.
...Chopra is with Cardiff City on loan for 11 Championship matches including Queens Park Rangers away this afternoon, followed by Crystal Palace (home), Plymouth Argyle (away), Reading (home), Swansea City (away), Preston North End (home), Burnley (away), Ipswich Town (away), Sheffield Wednesday (home), Reading (away) and Plymouth Argyle (home). Wales on Line

Peterbrough Evening Telegraph - Posh boss linked with three clubs
Manager Darren Ferguson continues to ignore speculation linking him with other jobs in the Football League. Ferguson has been linked with Championship sides QPR and Watford as well as League One rivals Huddersfield Town this week.
But the Posh boss insists he has not received an approach from any other club and nor would he welcome it. Ferguson said: "I try and ignore all the speculation and just get on with my job here. It's all paper talk."
Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony insists he would only let Ferguson leave to join a Premier League club. Peterborough Evening Telegraph

On This Date Flashback:
Twenty-eight years ago: November 8, 1980: QPR 3 Luton Town 2: Two goals for Dean Neal; one from Tommy Langley before a crowd of 10,000+ QPR Team: Woods - Gillard Wicks Howe Shanks - Roeder King Waddock Silkman - Langley Neal - Sub: Mcreery. The significance? The first victory for Terry Venables as QPR Manager.

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