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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

QPR Furious at Blackstock Comments?...Players Praise Sousa...Richard Langley: Need Stability and Sousa Needs to be In Charge of Transfers

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Kilburn Times/Ben Kosky - Paulo's the daddy
-HOGAN Ephraim has labelled Paulo Sousa a 'father figure' - and insisted the entire squad are staunchly backing the under-fire QPR coach.
- Sousa's position has again been called into question after he broke ranks over the controversial exit of Dexter Blackstock, claiming that the board acted without his knowledge.
- Rangers officials were furious at Sousa's comments which, coupled with his failure to secure a play-off spot, have increased suggestions that the Portuguese will soon follow a well-trodden path out of Loftus Road.

- But Ephraim, who credits Sousa with reigniting his career in a new central midfield role after months of stagnation under John Gregory, Luigi de Canio and Iain Dowie, emphasised the players' support for their coach.
- "Since Paulo Sousa's come in my game's gone on to a new level," Ephraim told the Times. "From the moment I left West Ham until the moment he came here, I don't think I learnt one thing and that was disappointing.
- "But he's taught me so much stuff it's unreal and all my gratitude goes to him - it reminds me so much of being back at West Ham and with the England youth team.
- "I'm thoroughly enjoying that role in the middle. Although at first I didn't believe I could play there, he's made me learn it and keep learning it and at the moment that's where I consider myself best.
- "I know for a fact that all the players are behind him and personally there's not one thing I wouldn't do for him. He's like a father figure to me in football and I want to play under him, it's as simple as that. Hopefully that'll be the case for a long time."
- The 21-year-old Londoner says it is down to the players, not Sousa, to shoulder responsibility for last Saturday's bore draw with Crystal Palace, a result which all but ended their lingering hopes of a push for the top six.
- "We had more chances than Palace, but we were nowhere near the standard we set ourselves and can only blame ourselves for that," Ephraim reflected.
- "We turned up expecting to put on a performance and get a win, however necessary and we didn't do that, so we're thoroughly disappointed. It just wasn't good enough, especially in the first half.
- "On the back of that performance, a lot of people have got to produce next week. We have to do it for ourselves and the fans who paid money to come and watch - if you haven't got that pride as a professional footballer, you're in the wrong business."
- Sousa's future was the subject of renewed speculation this week after QPR sacked his right-hand man Bruno Oliveira.
- As is now standard practice when a member of staff leaves, the club gave no reason for the dismissal of Oliveira, who arrived with Sousa as assistant coach four and a half months ago.

- Incredibly, he was the EIGHTH man to hold the number two coaching role at Loftus Road since Ian Holloway's assistant Tim Breacker was suspended along with the manager three years ago. Kilburn Times

Kilburn Times/NBen Kosky - Delaney: We're playing to save our jobs
- DAMIEN Delaney concedes the play-offs are now out of QPR's reach - but says there is no lack of motivation for the rest of the season.
- The Rangers left-back fears the team's failure to nail a top six position may prompt a fresh wave of recruitment this summer, which would leave every player looking anxiously over his shoulder.
- "With five games to go, it's too late for us," Delaney admitted. "We'd have to win them all and I'm not sure that'd be enough anyway.
- "We'd have to go on an amazing run, which we're capable of, but we'd also need other teams to fall apart.
- "I don't think it matters where we finish for the league table, but it does for us because next year's going to be a big year for the club - and if anyone in this team switches off, he'll be out of the door very quickly.
- "Even if there might be nothing to play for in the league, you're still playing for your future and you always are, that's the way I look at it. We're an honest bunch of players here, whatever else you say about us, and we'll try our best until the end of the season.
"I don't think anyone could accuse us of not trying or not caring - we've tried hard all season, but we've come up a long way short. How many times have we drawn 0-0 and said we deserved something more?"
Even if the Rs were to glean maximum points for the rest of the season, they could only reach a total of 72 - unlikely to be enough for a play-off spot.
Burnley, who are Rangers' next opponents, need just six more points to get to 72, while Cardiff - prior to last night's home game with Derby - wanted eight from seven games to put themselves out of reach.
But Delaney and his team-mates have an extra incentive to take three points at Turf Moor on Saturday - the heartbreaking memory of their last-minute FA Cup replay defeat just three months ago.
Jay Rodriguez struck the Clarets' winner in the last minute of extra time to ensure that Rangers' horrendous run of eight years without an FA Cup win would stretch at least another season.
"That hurt an awful lot," recalled Delaney, who played in both ties against Burnley. "To get 119 minutes into a game and lose was devastating and we want to put that right.
"We've got two games next weekend and it doesn't matter where you are in the league, you want to be able to look in the mirror. You want to be able to walk off the pitch and look your team-mates in the eye."
After facing fifth-placed Burnley, Rangers host mid-table Sheffield Wednesday on Easter Monday (kick-off 3pm).
Midfielder Jordi Lopez, who missed the Palace match with a groin strain, should be available again this weekend and could replace Liam Miller in the starting line-up.
Kilburn Times

Kilburn Times - Blackstock
- PAULO Sousa is resigned to soldiering on with a depleted front line for the rest of the season following the bizarre departure of Dexter Blackstock.
Sousa confirmed after Saturday's 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace that the decision to loan Rangers' leading scorer to struggling Nottingham Forest was not made by him.
Blackstock's exit, coupled with Heidar Helguson's injury, means that teenager Samuel Di Carmine - the club's only other out-and-out striker - will lead the line for the Rs' five remaining games.
Asked about the Blackstock move, the QPR boss said: "I gave the players two days off after the Bristol City game, then Mr Paladini said to me 'he goes on loan, we've got an agreement and this is the decision from the board'.
"We have only Sami and [Rowan] Vine is coming in after one year - he did well in those 20 minutes and I'm very happy for him.
"I'm not frustrated - I need to adapt myself, accept all the decisions and do my best with the players I have."
Blackstock, who has scored 12 times for QPR this year, made his Forest debut in their 1-1 draw at Barnsley on Saturday. Kilburn Times

Richard Langley/Kilburn Times
AFTER QPR's 0-0 draw with Palace, all hopes of making the top six have been squandered.
Although it's not yet mathematically impossible, it will take nothing less than a string of miracles for the dream to be kept alive.
The emphasis from the board down to the players now has to be on next season.
Stability throughout the club is paramount and Paulo Sousa needs time to develop the club with his ideas.
This means having the right preparation for next season and making his own shrewd purchases when the window opens again.
- However, in my opinion, it also means that the manager is given the chance to take sole responsibility over the players at the club.
- That means having total control over which players are being signed, sold or loaned in or out.
The recent loan of Dexter Blackstock to Nottingham Forest came as a surprise to the Rangers fans - and more importantly the manager.
This shock move will have disgruntled most at QPR, including players, especially considering his constant goal threat over the last three seasons.
Having Sousa in command of all decisions is the only way to get a true reflection on his work at QPR.
There needs to be more transparency and honesty with regard to who is making the final decisions. After all, the onus will be on the manager should things not work out.
We have a lot of successful businessmen taking care of the finances at the club - but that is where I believe their input should stop.
If we can presume that Sousa is to gain the ability to make his own choices at the club, this season will be put down to a learning curve.
But having seen what the Championship is made up of and what it takes to be successful, I think judgement on the former Portugal star will not officially start until August."Kilburn Times

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