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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Will Sousa Be Given Time?...Warnock on Briatore, Sousa and QPR...Mahon's Return....Lee Camp Excelling...Richard Langley Gets Chance

[As always, visit the QPR Report Messageboardfor additional articles and for views:---- Financial Meltdown Hits the Premier League ----- Six Great Football Injustices ---- Profile of a Successful Championship Manager------ Reminder: Loan Transfer Window is about to close!

Huw Turbervill The Telegraph - Will Paulo Souza be given the time to make QPR 'project' work?
- So another bright new dawn at Queens Park Rangers, with new manager Paulo Souza declaring: "It is an honour to be part of this project."
- Owner Flavio Briatore also seems to think he has finally got the right man, after Luigi De Canio, Iain Dowie and stand-in manager Gareth Ainsworth's short-lived tenures. Briatore, who arrived at Loftus Road in August 2007, said: "Paulo has great experience after working with the Portuguese national team and he is part of the new generation of coach."
- But before anyone starts looking too far ahead, they might like to reflect on some of the tidings that were expressed at similar junctures in the Briatore era.
- Like when De Canio arrived, replacing Mick Harford, the interim boss who had filled the sacked John Gregory's shoes. "De Canio is fully aware of the high standards and objectives that the new management has set for the future of the club," said chairman Gianni Paladini. "He is ready and eager to take up the challenge."
- De Canio was an impressive, charming and open figure. "I am very excited at this fantastic opportunity," he said. "It will be an honour." No one knows if he returned to Italy by choice in the summer, but I, for one, would like to have seen him continue his good work - they were playing attractive football and he would surely have taken them to the play-offs at least.
- For whatever reason, he went back to Italy, and Iain Dowie was his surprise replacement. A kind of 'back-to-basics, no-thrills' choice. "I'm privileged to have been given the opportunity under the new ownership to return to the club where I served my managerial apprenticeship," said Dowie. "This is a very exciting long-term project."
- Unfortunately it was not a long-term project for him. From the off there were stories of behind-the-scenes rows, and he lasted only 15 games.
- Ainsworth was then given his chance, but despite hints from Briatore that he would like to have appointed him permanently, defeats to Ipswich and Burnley were apparently unpalatable, so they have opted for Souza, the former Portugal midfielder, on a two-and-half-year deal.
- Sousa said: "It is an honour to be part of this project. I have great belief in my ideas and my coaching ability and I firmly believe I can achieve the objectives set by the management. I believe in playing positive, attacking football and am looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead."
- There it is, mentioned again ... 'the project'. An exciting trip to the Premier League presumably, but without breaking the bank achieving it. And preferably playing attractive football, to put on a good show for the fans, and for Briatore and his entourage.
- Souza's CV shows he has real pedigree. He won 51 international caps, and played for Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Juventus, Inter Milan, Parma and Borussia Dortmund.
- He was assistant coach of Portugal, working with Luis Felipe Scolari, now at Chelsea. They will not have far to go now if they want to meet for coffee - maybe there is a good cafe on Holland Park roundabout.
- It seems Souza's English is better than De Canio's, which will help, but he needs time to learn about English football, and time is something that, if recent events are anything to go by, he will not be afforded a great deal of.
- He will, however, have the services of striker Heidar Helguson, on loan from Bolton until January, and he will be in the squad for Saturday's trip to his former club Watford.
- QPR were a striker down, as Rowan Vine has undergone more surgery on his fractured leg. QPR have missed his creativity this season. Telegraph

Neil Warnock/Independent4. Flavio Briatore might have met his match in Sousa
- I can't say I know Paolo Sousa, the assistant coach from Portugal's national set-up, who has been hired as QPR's boss. If I'd had the chance to talk to him I might have told him already that life's far more difficult in the Championship than in the Premier League, because the standard of players just isn't as good and it's harder to win things. Sousa's impressed me already, though, and I'm enjoying watching how he goes on.
- He obviously wants to have his say on selections, which was the cause of all the problems for Iain Dowie, his predecessor at Loftus Road. I'm not sure about the level of investment Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone have put in – there aren't the big-name signings you might have expected – but they are not going to have a better chance of going up to the Premier League than they'll get this season. I only see three, maybe four teams, being ahead of all the others and it's there for anyone's taking among many of the rest. Sousa looks like he's going to add to the drama..." Independent

Watford Observer/Anthony Matthews - Mahon relishes return to Watford
Tomorrow's local derby with Queens Park Rangers is set to be an interesting experience for Gavin Mahon.
Not only will the former Watford midfielder be returning to Vicarage Road in a playing capacity for the first time since moving to Loftus Road at the turn of the year, he will also be out to impress a new boss if selected.
Rangers appointed former Portugese international Paulo Sousa as their new first-team coach on Wednesday and Mahon was still digesting the news when he spoke to the Watford Observer only a couple of hours after the appointment was confirmed.
"I remember seeing him as a player," said the 31-year-old of the former two-time Champions League winner with Juventus and Borussia Dortmund. "He was a top player and hopefully he can bring some new ideas and new training methods."
Sousa will certainly be under pressure to get results from the outset. Rangers were one of the pre-season favourites for promotion and although they are handily placed in tenth, three points outside the play-off zone, they have suffered from the bug that affects the majority of Championship teams – a lack of consistency.
"We would like to have had a bit better start but we are in a resonable position," said Mahon, who "is trying hard to get back in the team" after being forced to settle for a place on the bench for the last four league games during Gareth Ainsworth's caretaker spell in charge following the departure of Iain Dowie.
Whether the Hornets' 2004 Player of the Season starts or not tomorrow, he is looking forward to returning to a club for whom he made more than 200 appearances during a near five-year spell.
He said: "I've only been back once for the Hull game in the play-offs, so it will good to go back and see a few old faces.
"I only spoke to Sean Dyche yesterday, I still live in St Albans, so I still bump into a few of the boys. I was there long enough to make a few friends which is good."
However, Mahon, who was a popular target for the Vicarage Road boo-boys, admits he is not sure what reception he will receive from the Watford fans, although he is hoping it will be a favourable one.
"I didn't have the best of starts, but once I got back to full fitness I played over 200 games," the former Vicarage Road skipper reflected.
"They paid £150,000 for me and five years down the line we’d been promoted to the Premiership and played in an FA Cup semi-final.
"I had a few good letters when I left from people who said they appreciated my work. Maybe it [the reception] will be mixed? Hopefully it will be good but you never quite know."
Mahon was controversially deemed surplus to requirements by Aidy Boothroyd in the aftermath of the season-defining home reverse against West Bromwich Albion at the start of last November and his Hornets' career ended on a low, substituted in the 2-1 defeat against Bristol City almost a month later.
That game was played on December 1 when Watford were still top of the Championship. Almost a year later they find themselves third from bottom of the table.
"I said on the record then that I didn't want to go at that time, I wanted to go at the end of the season," said Mahon, whose deal at Vicarage Road would have ended in the summer.
"Some people have said I got out at the right time. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't.
"By all accounts they've been a tiny bit unlucky," he added of Watford's fortunes this season.
"They've been scoring plenty of goals but defensively maybe there's been a lack of concentration at times and they've had some bad luck.
"From the supporters' point of view I don't know what they were expecting because a lot of the big-name players have gone. They have still got players good enough for this division, but that's for the supporters."
Looking ahead to tomorrow's game, do not expect the recent sequence of high-scoring affairs at Vicarage Road to continue if Mahon's light-hearted prediction is anything to go by.
"At the minute we are not scoring too many goals, but we are very strong defensively. Watford are scoring lots of goals, so it will probably be a 0-0," he said with a smile. Watford Observer

Nottingham Evening Post - Camp inspires confidence in Forest rearguard
- Lee Camp only turned 24 in August, still very young for a goalkeeper with a long future ahead of him in the game.
- But despite his tender years, he has amassed 183 first team appearances, with almost all his league experience coming in the Championship.
- He got his big break while still a teenager at local rivals Derby under now Scotland boss George Burley, before joining QPR in the summer of last year after a loan spell.
- An ever-present in their struggle against relegation last season, he became a fans' favourite, but dropped out of favour with the billionaire owners after just 12 months at Loftus Road.
Rangers' loss, though, has been Forest's gain.
- Camp oozes confidence on the pitch and is assured off it. He appears to have learned from his mistakes, rather than allowing them to knock his confidence.
And despite not hiding the fact that his family and friends are Rams fans, he has become a big hit on the banks of the Trent.
- His six solid performances might not have been rewarded with the clean sheet they deserve, but he has already saved two penalties.
- Both came in stoppage time, first against Derby and then last Saturday at Bristol City, and both stopped draws turning into morale-sapping defeats.
- There is no doubting the impact he has made – the song "Lee Camp is a Forest fan" can now be heard echoing around the City Ground.
- Some might have questioned Colin Calderwood's decision to bring in another goalkeeper.
- Paul Smith had been an ever-present for more than two seasons, and kept 24 clean sheets as Forest won promotion from League One last season.
Smith's shot-stopping is of the highest order, but Calderwood wanted another goalkeeper to add competition, someone with a strong command of his penalty area.
That is an attribute Reds legend Kenny Burns says is vital to giving confidence to defenders.
- He won two European Cups with Peter Shilton, England's most-capped player, playing behind him.
- And he believes it is no coincidence that Camp's arrival was followed by Forest sparking into life, with their performances getting more assured by the game.
He said: "Lee Camp, for me, is where it all started.
- "It was a great signing. I am not saying Paul Smith is a bad goalkeeper, because he is a very good one, but Camp offers more confidence to his defenders by the way he commands the area.
- "He has thrown in two last-gasp penalty saves and he is making a big impact at the City Ground.
- "It is great to see that confidence is spreading, and although they need to turn draws into wins, you cannot disregard how good some of these points are."
Camp has played in four draws, a victory at Crystal Palace and a defeat against Cardiff, where Forest somehow lost 1-0 despite dominating for large parts.
- But he admits he has not had much to do in his time, and points out how that proves the team are in a false position and will soon be climbing the table.
"If you look at how many saves I have to make and what I have to do in a game, it is very minimal," Camp said after the draw with Bristol City last week.
"For me there has not been a bad performance from the team since I have been here."
He is right, but there is no doubting his arrival has played a big part in that.
And the way the fans have taken to him proves he has played an important role in Forest's revival.
- For Paul Smith, you have to feel sympathy. To make 117 appearances in a Forest shirt in just over two years and then be dumped is going to be hard to take.
- All he can do his work hard in training, push Camp all the way and hope for his chance, or a suspension or a QPR recall for the on-loan goalkeeper.
- Camp is not due to go back until January, but as the London club's backers seem to prefer their new man Radek Cerny, he might be available beyond the start of next year.
- His commanding performances in the last six games have justified Calderwood's decision to bring him in, while his penalty saves have been an added bonus.
And while he is young, his displays are full of maturity.
- It will not be long until be breaks through the 200 league appearances barrier. With any luck, he will do it this season – in a Forest shirt. Nottingham Evening Post

Bristol Evening Post - Bristol Rovers sign Langley with a little help from their supporters
- Bristol Rovers last night swooped to sign midfielder Richard Langley on a short-term contract – thanks to the club's fans.
- The Jamaica international has been training with the Pirates for a month after an initial trial spell in August was cut short after a hamstring injury.
- The signing has been funded by the extended Supporter's Club Share Scheme.
Langley, a 28-year-old former Cardiff City and QPR player, was released by Luton Town at the end of last season after a cruciate ligament injury
- Since training with Rovers for the second time, Langley has impressed the management, especially his performance during the recent reserve team win against Cheltenham Town.
- Director of football Lennie Lawrence said: "We are delighted to announce that we are taking Richard on a short term contract, to add competition for places in our midfield.
- "He has a very impressive pedigree and will be an asset to our squad."
Rovers chairman Nick Higgs said: "We are very pleased to be able to give Richard the opportunity to relaunch his career after a serious injury.
- "If we can get him back to being the player he was before that injury, then we could have a very good player on our hands...." Bristol Evening Post

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