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Sunday, December 21, 2008

Lee Cook Feeling Wanted and Wanting to Stay - and Praising Sousa

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Telegraph/Andrew Warshaw - Lee Cook hoping to end career at Loftus Road
- When Lee Cook left Loftus Road for Fulham in July last year, he gave his £250,000 signing-on fee back to QPR as a parting gift to the club he supported as as a boy and used to watch from the terraces.
- It made him a hero among many QPR fans, so it’s hardly surprising, after an injury-ravaged season in which he didn’t make a single first-team appearance across the capital, that he was welcomed back with open arms for his third spell at Loftus Road.
- Now, he never wants to leave again, especially given the long-term ambitions of the financially revitalised club.
- Inspirational in Rangers’ exciting 3-2 win over Preston on Saturday, their third straight home win under new manager Paulo Sousa, Cook hopes a permanent deal will be “done and dusted” in the January transfer window. Rangers are still outside the playoff positions but Cook says Sousa’s attention to detail is rubbing off on everyone.
- “The one thing that has stood out for me is his tactical awareness. It’s going to take time - he has said that to us - but he goes through every single detail. We’ve completely changed the way we’re playing.
- “From a personal standpoint, I love this place. For me to commit my future here is very much something I want to do. I’ve had to take a step back because I missed a year. The aim is still Premier League football but I’d like it to be with this team.
- Cook aded: “The manager keeps telling me how important he thinks I am. When you have Paulo Sousa telling you that, it’s a big boost.”
- On Saturday, Sousa started with a diamond formation and saw the on-loan Heidar Helguson twice give his team the lead.
- If their first equaliser rounded off the best move of the match, Preston’s second came from a dubious penalty but when Sousa switched formation and stuck Cook out wide, substitute Dexter Blackstock won the game with an expert header from Martin Rowlands’ freekick. Telegraph

Daily Mail/Laura Williamson - QPR 3 Preston 2: Sousa's switch gives Cook the winning feeling
- Lee Cook praised Paulo Sousa's tactical awareness as a double substitution gave Rangers victory.
- The new QPR boss brought on top scorer Dexter Blackstock and Fitz Hall with 10 minutes to go, and Blackstock scored the winner six minutes later, heading Martin Rowlands' free-kick past Preston keeper Andrew Lonergan for his 10th of the season.
Preston had clawed back Heidar Helguson's opener for QPR through a Chris Sedgwick strike, but the Iceland international scored his third goal in two games to give Rangers a 2-1 lead at the break.
- Cook was the provider for both of Helguson's goals and could have claimed the second himself as he revelled in the freedom of Sousa's 4-4-2 diamond formation in an entertaining first half.
- The midfielder said: 'Helguson stole it from me. He got up and celebrated first. I know it was my goal. He owes me one, definitely.'
- But Cook who, like Helguson, is a loan signing at Loftus Road, said he has been impressed by the start the striker has made at the club.
- Cook said: 'We've lacked that kind of player. He's great in the air for his height and he gets in the right positions to score goals.We've missed those kind of players
Red-hot Heidar: QPR striker Helguson was on target twice in the deserved win
Yet Helguson's brace looked to have secured only a point when Callum Davidson equalised from the penalty spot after referee Alan Wiley controversially ruled keeper Radek Cerny had brought down Sean St Ledger.
- In step: Chris Sedgwick (right) celebrates his goal with team mate Sean St Ledger
Rangers were denied a penalty of their own three minutes later when Blackstock went down under pressure from Youl Mawene, but the striker grabbed the winner on 86 minutes as Sousa's brave tactical changes were rewarded.
- Cook said of his manager: 'His tactical awareness is something that's stood out for me, and that's going to be really good for us.
- 'He doesn't mind making changes. He put me out wide for a good 20 minutes as an outlet, brought the subs on, completely changed the formation and we ended up winning the game.'
- Preston manager Alan Irvine was left disappointed. 'I think we deserved something,' he said.
- 'In the first half QPR were the better team and I was praying for the half-time whistle to come, but in the second half we were the better team and I thought we would go on to win
.' Daily Mail

Preston Official Site - Back To Working Hard
- Scottish midfielder Barry Nicholson got a chance in his favoured central midfield on Saturday, with the illness to Richard Chaplow. After the game he said that whilst the side had played well in the second half, they must work harder at dealing with set pieces if they are to maintain their push at the top end of the table.
- "Going toward towards the end of the game we were probably looking to take the point," said the former Rangers man. "A point away from home is decent at a difficult place to come and another set piece has killed us. It seems the only goals we concede are at set pieces, so it is obviously something that we have to really work hard on to stop that happening.
- "I think we tried to get it down and play. The surface wasn't the best, but once you made your first couple of passes and got it settled we could knock it about a bit and for 35 minutes of the second half we looked very good until the set pieces, where they threw a few bodies on and changed the game.
- "At the time we were well on top and if we could have gone on and scored the third goal and we went ahead it might have been a different game, but it wasn't to be. It is now back to working hard with another big game on Boxing Day."
- The game against Derby is a big one for Nicholson who says they must bounce back immediately: "We have to get back to winning ways straight away. We would have taken point on Saturday, but now it is vitally important we take all three in the home game against Derby and then try and kick on a couple of days later at Barnsley. We want to stay in the mix in the Play-Offs, but to do that we have to get wins."
- He returned to the starting line-up for the first time since the 2-2 draw at Norwich and is hoping not to have wait as long for his next chance: "I was pleased to be back in. It is disappointing when you are not involved. It is good to still be in the squad and to come off the bench, but I want to start games. It is unfortunate for Chappy that he picked up an illness, but it gave me a chance to get back in. I don't know now what the gaffer will do after the defeat, but I just tried to work hard and do what I normally do. We will wait and see."
- And he also reserved praise for the travelling yellow army: "They gave us some great backing. Coming up to Christmas time a lot of money is being spent elsewhere, so we were glad of the support; they were very vocal and kept us going." Preston

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