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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Assessing QPR's Magilton Appointment


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Assessing QPR's Magilton Appointment

Dave McIntyre/BBC606 - The last man standing
So, Jim Magilton is the latest man handed the task of never losing a home game watched by Flavio Briatore.

His predecessors discovered that while embarrassing Briatore in front of his guests at Loftus Road doesn’t itself get you sacked, it does lead to your card being well and truly marked.

For Paulo Sousa, that point of no return was reached in February against Ipswich, whose manager that day has ended up succeeding him at Rangers.

Perhaps this time, given that the credibility of QPR’s owners is under more scrutiny than the manager’s, the axe won’t fall quite as quickly.

Magilton’s appointment has shades of Ian Holloway’s back in 2001.

A manager just sacked by another club, who few initially considered a realistic contender for QPR given his recent failure elsewhere and the other names linked with the job.

For Holloway then, read Magilton now.

The biggest similarity is that, like Holloway, Magilton quickly declared that he wanted the job and eventually got it after the club’s interest in a number of others came to nothing.

Of the other interested British candidates, only Aidy Boothroyd seems to have been seriously considered having guided Watford to promotion in 2006.

A number of foreigners have been considered, including former QPR coach Luigi De Canio who was a serious contender until recently.

In the end, the players’ preference for an English-speaking manager with Championship experience appears to have held some sway.

A departure from that would perhaps have been justified had a big name or an impressive European coach like Antonio Tapia, who established Malaga in La Liga, been prised to London.

Otherwise, a British manager with knowledge of the Championship was a sensible option, and Magilton arguably fits the bill.

His spell at Ipswich means his stock is not as high as other managers who weren’t interested or the likes of Neil Warnock and Kevin Blackwell, who weren’t obtainable.

That Magilton failed at a stable, well-run club like Ipswich has to be a concern now he has been thrown into the very different set-up at Rangers.

He has also been criticised for hesitation in the transfer market – something that will not go down well at all at QPR, a club that can’t stop and won’t stop signing players.

On the other hand, Magilton was at Ipswich a long time and many have found the going tough at clubs where they have gone straight from being a player to a manager.

Other potential positives include the fact that Magilton believes in a brand of football that would please most QPR fans as well as key players like Akos Buzsaky and Rowan Vine.

Managers take the blame when things go wrong and get the credit when they go right. That’s the nature of the game. But the bottom line is that the game is about players, and the main task for any manager is to get the best out of them.

If Magilton has learned lessons at Ipswich, then good man-management and, frankly, some basic commonsense could be enough at a club that has some very good players but has been held back by shoddiness and a general lack of direction and stability.

A definite positive is that despite being a newcomer to QPR, Magilton will not be going into the job completely blind – and that’s very important.

As a close friend of Iain Dowie, he will know what he’s getting himself into and some of the problems he is about to encounter.

And as someone who has faced QPR in recent seasons, he will already know a good deal about the squad and no doubt have ideas about how to take it forward.

Another important factor is that Rangers have taken so long over this appointment, a manager with a grasp of realistic transfer targets is needed because most clubs – certainly those who’ll challenge for promotion - tend have their summer signings in the bag or close to it long before June.

Even more importantly, he already has a good knowledge of other Championship clubs.

This is crucial, because Rangers’ scouting network needs improving and any shortcomings are more likely to be exploited with an inexperienced or foreign coach at the helm.

This was a real problem during De Canio’s brief spell, although improvements made by Dowie and Gareth Ainsworth helped Sousa after his arrival.

A new man, like any manager, can work with team reports that land on his desk.

But without a background knowledge, they are reliant on that team fielding the same players and doing the same things as when a scout happened to watch them.

You can be an outstanding coach but if the opposition change shape and bring on players you’ve never even heard of because they didn’t play when your man was watching, you’ve got a problem.

This, I believe, has been a major issue for Rangers in the past and was partly responsible for so many late goals being conceded and points dropped under De Canio.

Magilton should be given the time and support to improve the club’s whole infrastructure rather than simply being a hostage to results or the misguided opinions of his bosses.

If that happens, Rangers could be stronger a year from now.

In the meantime, that background knowledge of the Championship is vital - and many of the seemingly stronger contenders didn't have it. BBC606

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