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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Kevin Gallen on Letting Neil Warnock Manage...Matt Connolly on Sousa and Warnock


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Kilburn Times/Ben Kosky - Gallen: backing the boss is key to QPR success

QPR legend Kevin Gallen expects the club to be serious promotion challengers next season - provided they back new boss Neil Warnock to the hilt.

Gallen, who scored 97 goals over two spells with Rangers, senses his old club have finally turned a corner by appointing Warnock and giving him greater command of team affairs.

The 34-year-old striker, who is now assisting Luton Town's bid to return to the Football League, told the Times: "The most important thing is that they've given the manager the reins to do what he wants to do.

"Neil Warnock's got more control, whereas for the previous two or three years that hasn't been the case - who knows what might have happened if Iain Dowie, Paulo Sousa or Jim Magilton had been given that control?

"They've made it clear that it's all down to Neil now - he'll have the full respect of the players and that's the way good football clubs are run.

"When I was playing at QPR, I wouldn't have gone behind Gerry Francis' back to talk to anyone else - firstly because I had too much respect for him and also because I'd have been out the door. It was Gerry who ran the team, nobody else.

"Neil's got his own ideas and, if he's going to be backed in the transfer market over the summer, then I think the club can progress and get into the play-offs.

"Look at the teams who might be coming down next season - I don't think they'll be the same calibre as Newcastle and West Brom - and it might be a slightly more competitive division."

As a lifelong Rangers fan, Gallen would love to see Loftus Road staging Premier League football - and derby clashes with neighbours Chelsea - once again.

Next Monday marks 15 years since the last time QPR defeated their rivals from Stamford Bridge, with the teenage Gallen heading the only goal of the game.

He recalled: "It was my first time playing Chelsea in a professional game. As someone who had grown up supporting the Rs I always wanted to beat them - and we used to beat them frequently in those days.

"Looking back at the team we had I was so happy just to be part of it. I'd been in awe of people like Ray Wilkins, Les Ferdinand, David Bardsley and Clive Wilson - to be playing with them was really a privilege.

"It was an incredible first year for me, making my debut at Old Trafford and scoring at Anfield and Highbury, but to get the winning goal against Chelsea - and with a rare header - was right up there.

"We had a great second half to the season, played some really good football under Ray Wilkins and finished eighth in the Premier League. It seems more of an achievement now than it did then."

Sadly, the paths of the two clubs diverged dramatically from that point - Rangers were relegated the following season, while the arrival of Ruud Gullit at Chelsea heralded their rise towards the elite of English football.

And, apart from two very routine Chelsea victories in recent cup ties, the fixture that used to be viewed as the 'real' west London derby has been gathering mothballs ever since.

"I don't look back that much but I'm proud of being the last QPR player to do that and the acclaim I got from the supporters," Gallen added. "I've had people come up to me talking about my magic hat for years!

"But it's disappointing for the supporters that it hasn't happened since then. That's something QPR need to rectify soon. Kilburn Times

KILBURN TIMES/Ben Kosky - Connolly plays down Paulo's Rangers return

MATTHEW Connolly insists QPR will not be distracted by the presence of former boss Paulo Sousa when they tackle promotion hopefuls Swansea on Saturday.

The Portuguese will be back on the Loftus Road touchline for the first time since his controversial dismissal by former Rangers chief Flavio Briatore 11 months ago.

But Connolly, who missed the Rs' 2-0 defeat at Swansea in October due to illness, told the Times: "Paulo's not at QPR now - he's not going to be the talking point.

"I think he's a fantastic coach and he was a great player in his day as well, so he's got bags of experience. He's done very well for Swansea this season and they're right up there.

"They've got some very good individuals and it'll be a tough game. But now we're here with Neil Warnock and Saturday's all about us trying to get three points and get up the table as quickly as possible."

Sousa lasted just five months as QPR boss before the club sacked him for revealing that top scorer Dexter Blackstock had been loaned to Nottingham Forest behind his back.

But Sousa, a double European Cup winner in his playing days, was back in management just weeks later, replacing Roberto Martinez at the Liberty Stadium, and he has guided the unfancied Swans to fourth place in the Championship.

They look virtual certainties for a play-off spot in May - while Rangers are closer to securing Championship status after their recent revival under the new manager.

Connolly added: "We've not been picking up enough points, but everyone's seen how Neil Warnock has got us playing at a high tempo, closing people down and working as a team.

"I think that's what we've lacked in the past more than anything - playing as a team.

"But now everyone's working hard and it's paying off so far. We want to win every game and we've got to concentrate on doing that. Kilburn Times

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