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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Another Sousa Profile "Sousa's Swagger Suggests Golden Age Ahead as QPR Coach"

Following in the immediate footsteps of Dave McIntyre's brilliant piece re Sousa

Daily Mail/Ivan Speck - Sousa's swagger suggests golden age ahead as QPR coach
-As long as there is no cap on the wealth of football club owners in the Championship, Queens Park Rangers ought to be able to celebrate the vision of a glorious future.
- When one-fifth of the club belongs to the world’s fourth richest man, Indian steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, cheques at Loftus Road come with an extra nought on the end.
- Finding the right man to spend those cheques and lead Rangers to the Barclays
Premier League is an art that money cannot easily buy, yet there is a swagger in west
London that suggests the imaginative appointment of Paulo Sousa, a fully paid-up member of Portugal’s golden generation of players, was more than just a flight of fancy by the QPR board.
-The 38-year-old has no previous experience as a club manager. No matter. He speaks and acts with an assurance that belies his lack of knowledge of life in English football’s second tier.
- After a frenetic London derby against Crystal Palace last week, Sousa qualified his admission that the style was different to that encountered in a playing career that took in five different leagues around Europe with a wry aside: ‘But the points are the same.’
- Ask him to compare the level of technical ability he has found in his Rangers squad and he says: ‘I can’t compare. I need to adapt. My job is to create exercises so that the players can grow every training session. Their level is what it is and I want to extract the best from them and try to increase their level.’
As a defensive midfielder, Sousa graced the colours of Benfica, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan and Panathinaikos among his eight clubs. None were in England, although, as a Champions League winner with Juventus, he turned down Arsenal in 1996 in favour of Dortmund — and promptly won the Champions League again with the German club.
- He said: ‘At that moment Arsenal wouldn’t have given me the same chance to stamp my football on the team. I had played against Dortmund twice and I thought that I could be a big part of that team and give great things to them. I think I made a great decision.
- ‘As a coach, it was one of my priorities to come to England. I was offered posts elsewhere. I had two job offers in Portugal but I didn’t accept them because they didn’t suit my ideas.
- ‘English football is at the top now, the atmosphere at games is special and I’m proud to be here. The fans bring their emotions to games. Dealing with emotions is not easy, but it’s fantastic when you put passion into this atmosphere.
‘As a player I worked very hard to try to repay the fans’ attitude and that is what I try to pass on to my players in training sessions, to repay the fans with good quality football and with emotion.’
- It is impossible not to see the honour that runs through the expressive Sousa, speaker of five languages.
- ‘A player who has played at a high level, whether he has won a lot of things or been on a big salary, he cannot retire. He has to give his ideas and his qualities back to football — as a manager, a director, a fan, everything. You have this responsibility.
- ‘As a coach, I try to understand not only each player’s game, but also his personality so that I can give my best to him and give him the confidence and chance to play his football with the qualities he has.’
Sousa’s players have already been seduced by his methods as he attempts to lift them towards the play-off places. They are 18 points behind leaders Wolves, whom they host on Saturday, but only two behind sixth-placed Preston.
- Midfielder Gavin Mahon said of Sousa: ‘You can believe that he has won Champions League winner’s medals because he has a physical aura about him. He’s confident in his own ability.
- ‘He’s very professional, very organised. He’s young, hungry and he loves being out on the training pitch passing his knowledge on to us. He’s trying to change the way we play as a team and his coaching is quite demanding. He doesn’t let anyone slack off. If you make one or two bad passes, he lets you know straight away.’
- The burning question at Loftus Road is whether Sousa will have to fend off interference from above, notably co-owner Flavio Briatore, when it comes to team selection and the signing of new players.
Sousa said: ‘That’s not for me to think about. I have come in to do one job.
Together, me and the club will try to bring more quality to the team. If the board decide they have enough money to improve the quality of the team in January, of course I would like it.
Diplomacy is another of the impressive Sousa’s talents. Daily Mail

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