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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

On a Great Footballing Day for QPR...Three Asides

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-A great QPR footballing day as QPR, under acting-Manager (Acting Head Coach), Gareth Ainsworth, came from 0-2 to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-2 with a late goal. (Match reports below). With this win, QPR moved up to 60 points, with three games remaining.
-[Note: This is the first time QPR reached the 60 point mark Ian Holloway's 62 points in 2004/05. Of course Holloway had far fewer resources to work with). Last seaason, QPR finished with 58 points. In 2006-07, QPR finished with 53 points. And in 2005-06, concluded with 50 points.
- [Previous "Championship" Finishes: 2000/2001, QPR's relegation season (Francis/Holloway), QPR relegated with 40 points. The previous season, 1999-2000, QPR reached 66points. In 1998/1999 (Francis replaces Harford)QPR got 47 points. In1997/1998: (Houston-Harford)QPR got 49 points. Finally, 1996-1997, QPR's first post-relegation season (Wilkins/Houston)QPR finished with 66 points.]

On the occasion of QPR's first game since the departure of Head Coach Sousa, three additional things beyond the actual great result: One prior to the game; one during the game; and one after:

- Prior to the game: As was noted in reports on every QPR Messageboard, the statement that was posted on the Official Site, shortly prior to the game (see below), was actually read over the speakers at Loftus Road. (If this has ever previously occurred, certainly not aware of it. The contents of the statement, which certainly was not the usual QPR-type statement, speaks for itself)

QPR Official Site - THE Club STATEMENT (Reposted)
- Contrary to reports in today's press suggesting Luigi De Canio was sacked from his position as First Team Coach at QPR in May 2008, the current Lecce boss has made the following statement.
- De Canio, the then Genoa Manager, had principally agreed to join the R's in the wake of Flavio Briatore's successful takeover of the Club, before eventually joining in October 2007.
- De Canio said: "It's not true that I was sacked by Queens Park Rangers Football Club, in fact, it was the very opposite.
- "I was offered a substantially improved deal to stay in West London, but my personal circumstances at the time led to me leaving.
- "I don't want to divulge the circumstances surrounding my departure, because it is personal. But I left with a very heavy heart."
- Furthermore, the Club can also confirm that Mick Harford - who filled the void left by former boss John Gregory on a temporary basis - was offered a deal to stay on at the Club, and was not sacked, as has been stated in some newspapers this weekend.
- Harford said: "It is true that I was offered an improved deal to stay at the Club.
- "In addition, I was always of the understanding that I was only a temporary option and I was well aware that the Club were in talks to replace me with a new First Team Coach."
- Finally, the Club would like to reiterate that Paulo De Sousa's employment with the Club was terminated after it came to the Club's attention that Mr De Sousa had, without authority, divulged highly confidential and sensitive information. The Club, with legal advice, responded in this way to protect its position.
- De Sousa, who won only seven of his 26 matches in charge, left the Club on Thursday.
- Following reports today, the Club can also confirm that legal action will be taken in the coming days. QPR

- During the Game: QPR defender Kaspars Gorkss was Injured - (and certain messageboard postings were suggesting the injury was more serious than originally believed. (That remains to be seen)

- QPR Official Site - GORKSS TO SEE SPECIALIST- Kaspars Gorkss has been taken to Charing Cross Hospital for assessment on the facial injury he suffered following Akpo Sodje's second half challenge in the R's 3-2 victory against Sheffield Wednesday.
- Gorkss suffered a heavy blow to the face late on, and although he soldiered on with a Terry Butcher style head bandage, Head Physio, Paul Hunter, revealed the Latvian defender will see a specialist this evening.
- "Kaspars suffered a deep laceration on his forehead and due to the nature of the cut he will require special stitches to close the wound," he told www.qpr.co.uk. "We're confident he should be fit and available for our trip to Wolves." http://www.qpr.co.uk/page/NewsDetail/0,,10373~1626252,00.html

- And after the game: In a post-match interview, according to SkySports - "Ainsworth refused to comment on speculation that co-owner Flavio Briatore picked the team for the match."

- As for the Match!:

SKY SPORT - Ainsworth never lost faith Laws blasts Wednesday's mentality
- Ainsworth: Delighted with team
QPR caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth says that he never lost faith in his players, despite having to come from two goals down to beat Sheffield Wednesday.
- The 35-year-old has been put in temporary charge of the team after Paulo Sousa was controversially sacked last week.
- Although they were on top in the first-half, the Hoops went into the break behind against the run of play, but Ainsworth revealed that the dressing room were still in high spirits at the interval.
- "It was down to a fantastic bunch of lads in the dressing room," he said.
- "We dominated the first half and could have been three or four up. All the raised voices at half-time came from Sheffield Wednesday's dressing room.
- "We kept calm, knew we were doing the right things and, although I had a little flutter at 2-0 down, I still had faith."
- Ainsworth refused to comment on speculation that co-owner Flavio Briatore picked the team for the match.
Goals from Rowan Vine, Gavin Mahon and Damion Stewart turned the match around after the break as the Owls surrendered a comfortable lead.
- Sheffield Wednesday boss Brian Laws lambasted his team, accusing them of acting unprofessionally and promised some stern treatment for absent-minded players.- He said: "We were fortunate to be two goals up. We started nervously and defended like a pub team.
- "There were poor performances and they never stopped. Defensively that was the worst I've seen. It was like the Keystone Kops.
- "If you do go 2-0 up you should never let it go like that. You could see the writing on the wall and it bitterly disappoints me.
- "I'm not going to accept that. If they have switched their minds to holiday mode then they will regret it.
- "QPR had more desire to be on the end of balls than we did and it showed with their last two goals. Too many people thought the job had already been done." SkySport

- Gareth Ainsworth hailed a magnificent comeback from his reinvigorated charges, as the R's fought back from the brink of defeat to beat Sheffield Wednesday.
- On the day the Club remembered one of their true greats, Mike Keen, who sadly passed away this weekend, the R's showed a similiar battling spirit to that great day in 1967, to come back from two goals down to record a memorable victory.
- "The boys deserve all the plaudits tonight," Ainsworth told www.qpr.co.uk.
- "We always believed, even at 2-0 down, and to come back in the manner we did says everything about the spirit that exists in that dressing room.
- "It's never quiet here, there's rarely a dull moment - it's just the way we do things!
- "It's a great feeling for me to see how the players responded."
- Despite dominating the first period, Rangers trailed 1-0 at half-time and went a further goal down when Marcus Tudgay fired home from the spot early in the second period.
- Undeterred, Ainsworth's men responded in style, with Rowan Vine, Gavin Mahon and Damion Stewart completing the comeback in style.
- "We had a really good work ethic today and that was replicated in the stands, where the fans were first class.
- "We had nothing to lose at half-time. It was never-say-die stuff after that and when we got one, I had a feeling something special was about to happen.
- "We knew we were doing the right things and the lads deserve all the positive things that will be said about them in the coming days."
- Ainsworth added: "It's the way we love to do things at this Club.
- "The football we played was the way we, as a Club, want to play. It was a magnificent performance." QPR

Sheffield Wednesday Official Site - Managerial Comments Laws left livid at QPR
- Sheffield Wednesday manager, Brian Laws, was left angered by his team's performance at Queens Park Rangers after seeing his side lose 3-2 having been 2-0 ahead at the hour-mark.
- Sloppy defending throughout the game allowed Rangers back into the game but the home side could have been clear before Wednesday opened the scoring.
- "We prepare our players as well as we possibly can and I take pride in the way I do my job so to see the players out there not showing the pride that we expect was very difficult to take," Laws fumed.
- "Our defending was like pub football and QPR could have been ahead in the first half because they hit the post twice but once we were in front we should never have given the game away so easily.
- "The last two goals we gave away were pretty much identical because they were headers from corners where our players thought they had done their defensive jobs properly but they obviously hadn't.
- "I am very angry at that performance and our supporters should not expect to have to watch something like that. The players certainly know how I feel and I don't know why they put in a performance like that but I certainly don't accept what I saw today." Sheffield Wednesday -

QPR Official Site - Match Report
- QPR produced a spirited, determined display, coupled with some sensational attacking football to come back from two goals down to record an astonishing 3-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
- After first Gavin Mahon had put the ball past his own keeper, and Marcus Tudgay added a penalty early in the second half, it seemed like all the hard work had been for nothing.
- But Rowan Vine tapped home from close range to spark a remarkable comeback from the R's as Mahon atoned for his earlier mistake with the leveller with a brave diving header, and Damion Stewart blew the roof off Loftus Road with a late, late winner, nodding in a Lee Cook cross.
- It could've been half as exciting as it was had Heidar Helguson buried two good chances early in the first half, but as always, Rangers had to do it the hard way, and the final whistle was greeted to a huge cheer from the relieved R's faithful.
- Two fixtures in three days meant changes, five in all. Stewart, Mahon, Jordi López, Cook and Helguson all returned to the starting line-up, whilst Liam Miller returned to the substitute's bench.
With Radek Cerny in goal, the back four saw Stewart partner Kaspars Gorkss in the middle, with Matt Connolly and Peter Ramage given full-back responsibilities.
- Helguson positioned himself as the lone striker up front, behind him the midfield five of skipper Mahon, Spaniard López, Tottenham loanee Adel Taarabt, the returning Cook and on the right, Wayne Routledge.
Joining Miller on the bench were forwards Vine and Hogan Ephraim, defender Damien Delaney and Mikele Leigertwood.
Sheffield Wednesday included former Rangers striker Leon Clarke partnering loan man Luke Varney in attack.
Within the opening minutes and the visitors threatened Cerny in the Rangers goal for the first time. Etienne Esajas crossed from the left, the ball evaded everyone especially a well placed Varney, and the Czech keeper showed great awareness to block a feint touch from Clarke that looked dangerous.
- But Rangers were enjoying their fair share of possession and Taarabt came within a whisker of opening the scoring for the home side.
A quick throw-in from Cook to the Moroccan began a neat interchange of play involving the duo and Helguson who, after Taarabt had released him down the left and burst into the box, played a first time pass into the path of the lunging African.
Taarabt however, could only poke it over the bar.
Buoyed by that well made chance, Rangers threatened again a minute later. Neat passes found López in space in front of the Owls defence, and when he spied Helguson lurking with intent just inside the box on the right, a neat flick over the Wednesday backline set the Iceland striker away.
Taking one touch to set up the chance, Helguson drove his shot frustratingly wide of the left-hand upright.
- The home side were well into their stride, and went even closer minutes later. One again, the build-up was neat and quick, and Taarabt it was who played a cute pass that cut the two centre-backs out the game.
It was Routledge who had made the run and as Lee Grant sprinted from his line, he waited until the precise moment to dink his shot pass the Owls keeper. Loftus Road watched aghast however, as the ball looked to be heading in, it bounced back off the post and was cleared for a corner.
- The resultant set-piece as well nearly brought an R's goal, as Stewart rose highest to send a looping header flying towards the top corner. Varney, however, was on hand to head it clear.
- The Super Hoops were well and truly in control, and López, after Helguson's fine through ball, agonizingly rolled an effort wide with only Grant to beat.
It didn't stop there. After bamboozling Richard Wood with another of his tricks, Taarabt strode forward and unleashed a drive that was always going wide. It was, however, breathtaking stuff from rejuvenated Rangers.
But, as is often the case when you miss a host of chances, the opposition scored. A fizzing Esajas cross caught out Cerny and Mahon both trying to clear the danger, and the latter beat the former to hand the Owls the lead.
Not to take this set-back lying down, the R's struck back. Unbelievable skills from Taarabt allowed him to slip another fantastic pass into the path of Helguson who, with Grant to beat at a tight angle, smashed the outside of the post with a great effort.
- Still in the mood for fine, fee-flowing football, another dazzling move presented a glorious opportunity for López.
Routledge broke quickly after picking possession in his own half. Spying Cook free on the left, he found him with a cross field pass. Cook took one touch and freed Taarabt breaking free ahead of him. The Moroccan held it up, and picked his pass to the Spaniard.
The former Real Mallorca man's first touch took him clear of a Wednesday defender, and his second drew and brilliant save out of Owls keeper Grant.
Apart from an Esajas snap-shot that whizzed narrowly wide of Cerny's goal, the half was uneventful, and the somehow Rangers went into the break 1-0 down.
- Such was the ferocity of the blue and white tide in the first half, Owls Manager Brian Laws replaced Richard Wood with the giant Mark Beevers, hoping the youngster would steady a nervy Wednesday backline.
- It seemed to boost the visiting side as eight minutes into the second period, they doubled their lead. Clarke got the wrong side of Stewart and Gorkss in the box, and as the two tried to clear the danger they inadvertently bundled the ex-Rangers man to the ground.
Up stepped Tudgay to send the resultant penalty straight down the middle.
In response to the change, Caretaker Manager Ainsworth made his first change. Off came Taarabt and on came fan's favourite Vine.
And what a change it was. Six minutes after he stepped over the white line, he had the ball in the net.
- He had Routledge to thank in fairness. A lung-busting run from the diminutive wide-man as he skinned Tommy Spurr and Richard Hinds in the same turn of pace. In space, he lashed a shot that was well saved by Grant, but only into the path of Vine who calmly tapped into an empty net.
Celebrating at both sides of the ground, the delight on the striker's face was brilliant to see, and it was clear to see how much the goal meant to him after missing so much football this year.
In a bid to keep the fortune in Rangers' favour, Ainsworth introduced Ephraim for the impressive López.
But it was Cerny who was the busier keeper minutes later, keeping out an Esajas shot.
- However, it was Rangers who threatened again, and completed the comeback in the 73rd minute. A Cook corner was headed away into the path of Ephraim who gave Cook another bite of the cherry.
- Delivering a better cross this time, the R's winger sent a delightful cross to the back post where who else but Mahon was on hand to atone for his earlier own goal with a diving header beyond Grant.
Mahon's bravery cost him further involvement in the match as he succumbed to a foot problem and was replaced by Leigertwood.
- Rangers poured forward in a bid to complete the comeback and were handed a golden opportunity as the final ten minutes ticked slowly by.
When Beevers clipped the darting Vine, the R's were awarded a freekick right on the edge of the box. Cook's effort, however, clipped the wall and was cleared.
- It seemed almost inevitable, but the third duly arrived two minutes before full time.
After Beevers conceded a corner, Cook once again needed two attempts to deliver a fine cross to the back post and there was Stewart to climb high and nod home at the far post to send Loftus Road into chaos.
Wednesday pushed forward in search of a leveler, Tudgay heading inches over late on, but Rangers held on for a fantastic victory.
- QPR: Cerny, Stewart, Mahon (Leigertwood 76), Routledge, Gorkss, Ramage, Connolly, Cook, López (Ephraim 68), Helguson, Taarabt (Vine 56) .
Subs: Delaney, Miller. Goals: Vine (62), Mahon (73), Stewart (88)
Bookings: Taarabt (45), Cook (70) Red Cards:
Sheffield Wednesday: Grant, Spurr, Hinds, Tudgay, Potter, Esajas, Varney, Wood (Beevers 46), O'Connor (Johnson 78), Clarke (Sodje 78), Buxton.
Subs: McAllister, Jeffers. Goals: Mahon OG (35), Tudgay pen (53) Bookings: Varney (36), Beevers (81) Referee: Mr D Deadman
Attendance: 13,742 QPR

Mirror - RANGERS WORTH IT 14/04/2009
- Rangers Worth It Gareth Ainsworth inspired a remarkable turnaround for QPR.
- Caretaker Rangers boss Ainsworth, who took over from Paulo Sousa on Thursday, admitted: "I was a little flustered when we went 2-0 down - but the lads really deserved that win." First Gavin Mahon headed Etienne Esajas's corner into his own goal.
- Then Damion Stewart felled Leon Clarke in the box for Marcus Tudgay to convert the spot-kick.
- But Rowan Vine and Mahon levelled, before Stewart's bullet header wrapped it up late on.
- Qpr 3 Sheff W 2 Mirror

Daily Mail/Ian Gibb - Ainsworth guides Rangers to dramatic win
- While QPR owner Flavio Briatore keeps going through managers like Alan Sugar firing TV apprentices, the solution may well be right under his nose in caretaker Gareth Ainsworth.
- The player-coach guided Rangers to their most exciting win of the season at Loftus Road.
- Though the modest Ainsworth refused to confirm anything beyond taking charge for the rest of the season he did say pointedly: 'I did enjoy it and I'm a very proud man.
'This result was down to the fantastic work of the lads.
- 'Though we did go 2-0 down and were losing at half time there were no problems in our dressing room - while there were raised voices from Wednesday's.'
- Ainsworth would surely be a better bet than Dennis Wise, who has no exceptional track record as a league boss and Paul Ince, sacked by Blackburn, who has never managed at Championship level.
- Rangers did it the hard way, missing six exceptional chances in the first half that included shots against the post by Wayne Routledge and Heidar Helguson.
- But they found themselves a goal down on 35 minutes when Gavin Mahon got the last touch for an own goal after Etienne Esajas had whipped the ball in from the right.
Wednesday were 2-0 up on 52 minutes after Damion Stewart tripped Leon Clarke and Marcus Tudgay converted the spot kick for his 14th goal of the season.
But Rowan Vine slid in the first Rangers' reply in the 62nd minute, seven minutes after appearing from the bench and they levelled on 73 minutes when Mahon this time scored at the right end from a Lee Cook centre.
- And it was a similar move that produced the winner from another villain turned hero in Stewart as he headed in from Cook's centre on 87 minutes.
Wednesday boss Brian Law had no sympathy for his team, snapping: 'If my players are turning their heads towards holiday mode - they'll regret that.
- 'We defended like a pub team and I'm not going to accept that.' Daily Mail

The Star (Sheffield)- Fuming Wednesday boss cancels players' break
- WEDNESDAY were ordered in for extra training today after Brian Laws reacted angrily to the 3-2 defeat at QPR.
- The players would normally have a day off after a weekday match and the Owls manager had planned to give them a two-day break after two games in the space of three days.
- But now they will be at the training ground every day until Saturday's home match against Southampton.
- Laws slammed the performance at Loftus Road as unacceptable and was particularly upset with the team's defending.
- He felt that even the fact that the Owls led 2-0 at one stage did not mask shortcomings and the team were lucky to have such a lead before being hit by QPR fightback.
- "What brought this on, I have no idea; our recent away form has been exceptionally good," said a grim-faced Laws.
- "We couldn't do the basics right. If they have switched their minds to holiday mode then they will regret it.
- "We prepare the players as best we can We study the opposition and give them information. All they have to do is to put their boots on and play." The Star

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