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Monday, December 22, 2008

Analysis of QPR Under Sousa: "Steps in the Right Direction"

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Dave McIntyre/BBC606 - Steps in the right direction
- Rangers’ victory against Preston was thoroughly deserved – partly because of Paulo Sousa’s decision to go all out for the win with 10 minutes to go.
- Many people who work in the game and whose judgement I trust say that the hallmark of a good manager is a team that can switch formations seamlessly during a match.
- In that case, the early signs are very good for Rangers under Sousa.
- He confirmed after the game that the players had been practising a back-up formation should one be needed during a match.
- He didn’t really need to say this though, because it was obvious from the moment the change was made that the players were very clear about what was happening.
- Managers often change formations and personnel of course, usually when chasing a game.
- But more often than not, this means simply a sticking an extra body up front and switching to 4-3-3 or another system all players are familiar with.
- Saturday’s switch was a bit different. It involved a specific plan for when a win might be slipping away from Rangers and following Preston’s second equaliser, that plan was put into action.
- If a winning goal hadn’t arrived – or even if it had been scored by Preston – the fact such a plan was in place and Sousa was ready to make the change would itself have been an encouraging sign.
- Of course it’s easy to praise a coach/manager after a win or two.
- Most teams initially fare well under a new man and when they don’t, it’s often not something the manager is to blame for.
- These are still very early days for Sousa and although, like all managers, he’ll be judged by what happens on the pitch, what happens off it is just as important – especially at QPR these days.
- I was cynical about whoever took the job. In fact, I argued that it really didn’t matter who the coach/manager was.
- This is because the infrastructure at QPR means that a mere coach will only have a limited influence – no matter how good he is
- At most clubs, the manager is the public face of an array of staff he relies on heavily.
- Rangers might be cash-rich, but it is still the case that in many important ways they are the poor man of the Championship.
- For example, there is no chief scout or any credible scouting set-up to speak of.

- This is reflected in the club’s transfer policy of trying to use their money to sign Premier League or Championship players who already have a reputation.
- But it affects more than finding players. It also has a major impact on preparations for games and all sorts of other things that have a much bigger impact on results than what the coach does on a Saturday afternoon.
- You can be the best coach in the world but if your tactics are working a treat and the opposition bring on two players you know nothing about and who didn’t play when the opposing side were watched by someone from your club, then you’ve got a problem.
- Background knowledge, contacts in the game and a strong backroom team are so important.
- Think of the great football Rangers played under the excellent Gigi De Canio, but also how many leads were conceded and how many equalisers were scored or set up by a substitute after a change of system by an opposing team
- The really encouraging thing for Rangers – much more so than a couple of exciting home wins – is that Sousa seems to be taking some steps towards dealing with all this.
- The significance of Dani Parejo’s departure cannot be overstated. It needed to happen in order to undo past mistakes and show the other players who calls the shots.
- Damiano Tomassi’s days at Rangers are also numbered – another sign that the balance in power is shifting towards Sousa.
- And most significantly of all, after swatting up on English players and binging on DVDs, Sousa now seems to be identifying his own transfer targets – an immeasurable step forward for QPR at this stage.
- “He knows what he wants. It’s his way or no way – that’s the bottom line," was how Damion Stewart recently described Sousa's style to me. Others paint a similar picture.
- If this trend continues in 2009, Rangers might be serious promotion candidates. If it doesn’t, no amount of money will ever be enough to get them out of the Championship.
- Stability and good management are much more important than money and if Sousa can bring some of both, Rangers can make real progress.
- You can hear Paulo Sousa’s thoughts on the Saturday’s game by clicking here.
= And look out for my colleague Paul Fletcher’s great blog on his visit to ‘The Boutique’ on a day when, funny enough, the ground actually felt more like the Loftus Road I used to know. BBC 606

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