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Saturday, October 02, 2010

QPR Report Saturday Update: Warnock's Views...Warnock's Superstitions!

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- QPR Youth Player, Christian Nanetti Departs QPR

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- Four Year Flashback: John Gregory Delighted and Optimistic

- Birthday for Ex-QPR Don Shanks (Dave Sexton's First Signing for QPR)

- QPR's August 2009 Statement re Hooliganism

- Crystal Palace-QPR Previews and Look Backs

- Crystal Palace vs QPR Supposedly Livestreamed on Fox Soccer Tv

- Steffan Moore Update

- Sousa Axed by Leicester

- Year Ago Today: Sousa Talking re QPR (and his Axing)

- Manchester City's Amazing (Financial) Losses

Neil Warnock's Superstitions! - Daily Star/Sami Mokbel -NEIL WARNOCK'S QUIET A WINNER
- MOTORMOUTH QPR boss Neil Warnock is keeping a vow of silence ahead of his return to Crystal Palace today – due to his latest superstition.
- The usually outspoken Warnock is known for some of his crazy superstitions, the most outrageous being that he will stop at traffic lights on his way home on a winning run – even if they are GREEN.
- Now Warnock is refusing to hold any pre-match press conferences until his table-toppers slump to their first league defeat of the season.
- Warnock, who left Palace to take over at Loftus Road earlier this year, has led Rangers on a run of seven wins out of their opening nine league games.
- Asked to comment on his return to Selhurst Park, Warnock said: “Until we lose a game I don’t want to say anything before a game. I don’t want to jinx it.”
- But speaking after Tuesday’s goalless draw with Millwall, he said: “I know how much they will be up for it because when I was at Palace I used to talk about the ‘Big-Time Charlies’ from QPR.” Daily Star

When Saturday Comes (WSC) - Thom Gibbs - Palace v QPR - contrasting fortunes but both happy
2 October
~ As a QPR fan from south-east London I have mixed emotions about playing Crystal Palace. Inevitably many of my friends support the Eagles and I find them a strangely difficult team to dislike. Today, with Rangers top of the Championship (both traditionally and financially) and Palace in convalescence after administration, the teams meet at Selhurst Park. Rarely have their fortunes been so markedly different. It’s come to something when you project your own middle-class guilt on to a footballing situation, but I can’t help feeling sheepish about the visit to Palace.

Not only are Rangers embarrassingly loaded in comparison to the shoestring operation at Selhurst, but we’ve also had the cheek of nicking manager Neil Warnock and two key players, warhorse midfielder Shaun Derry and imposing left-back Clint Hill.

Warnock has handled his switch with something approaching dignity – he’s at pains to point out how much he likes Palace at every opportunity, often to the annoyance of QPR fans who clearly believe that any new recruit should pretend he has a tattoo of Stan Bowles and has always really liked hooped shirts.

Supporting Rangers this season has been a surreal and brilliant thing, all comfortable 3-0 wins and barnstorming away performances. We’re unbeaten after nine games with a goal difference of plus-20 and have only conceded two goals all season, both in the same game. Crazy statistics for a club used to mid-table ignominy and farcical managerial changes in recent years.

The Eagles have made a predictably uneven start after escaping relegation on the last day of 2009-10, but the mood at Selhurst is defiantly buoyant. My Palace-supporting friends are full of “we’re just happy to have a club” rhetoric and pleasantly surprised by the attractive passing football employed by George Burley.

With a young team and a remarkably dedicated (if somewhat incongruous) Ultras section in the Holmesdale End there’s a buzz to the club, a sense that fans, players and management are connected. Draught Real Ale will return to the supporters’ bars for the QPR game due to popular demand. A small touch, but exactly the sort of thing that engenders a positive relationship between club and support.

Rangers’ performances so far this season suggest promotion is on the cards, and while a return to the top flight would be the uncontested highlight of my 20 years supporting QPR, what comes next? Parking the bus at Old Trafford trying to keep the score down? Scraping a Europa League place with prohibitively expensive players after one outstanding season? Perhaps just a first win in the FA Cup since 2001?

Let’s not get carried away. With QPR flattered by a 3-0 victory over Doncaster last Saturday and frustrated by a well-drilled Millwall side in the week, while an improving Palace held Cardiff, this fixture may upset the formbook. Despite appearances to the contrary and my unerring pessimism, this is a pretty good time to be supporting both teams. Thom Gibbs When Saturday Comes

Neil Warnock/The Independent

Neil Warnock: I'll get a warm reception from the fans back at Selhurst Park, until the second the whistle blows

What I Learnt This Week

'Palace gave me back my enthusiasm for the game,' says Neil Warnock

For years the first fixture I looked for was my boyhood team, Sheffield United. That was doubly so after I had to finish managing them, and then returned to the game with Crystal Palace.

Which is why it struck me when the fixtures came out this summer that the first match I looked for was the trip to Selhurst Park. I made so many friends at Palace, and have such good memories of the club. I really owe Palace. The club gave me back my enthusiasm for the game. I was thinking about retiring, now I'm getting the vibes I had when I started 30 years ago (30years! Where did they all go?).

Obviously people have asked me what sort of reception I will get but I don't see any reason for it to be a bad one. The Palace fans were fair to me when I went back with QPR last season and hopefully today should be the same. I think the majority of fans will be OK, Palace fans appreciate people who worked hard for them.

Personally I don't have a bad word for them. I still feel bitter about the way the club was forced into administration by a hedge fund last season, especially with Blackpool having gone up. No disrespect to them, but when it happened I thought we were more likely to get into the play-offs. We were two points behind Blackpool with a game in hand. I still can't understand why the guy did it. He didn't get his money back. It was a pointless exercise.

This time Shaun Derry and Clint Hill are also going back, but they did so well for Palace I can't see them getting stick. Until the game starts that is. Once the whistle blows I fully expect Palace fans to rally round their team and give us all stick, and why not?

Shaun and Clint only left because with all the turmoil there they did not know what their futures would be. They didn't have contract offers at the time and they asked me if there might be a place for them at Rangers. I did feel they would be good in the dressing room, but if I'm honest I didn't think either would be regulars. It just shows you can never write anyone off in this game.

On the pitch I think it will be a difficult afternoon. I remember last season I feared we would be relegated if we lost at Selhurst, things were that poor. Fortunately we got the right result and both clubs stayed up. This season our respective positions are very different but it's a derby, and there's the added spice of our return, so I don't think the league table will mean anything. We'll need to be at our best.

2. Stinking cold has made this my first week to forget at QPR

This has been one of the worst weeks I've had since I've been at QPR, but before you read anything into that it's because I have had a diabolical cold which started on Sunday. I only started feeling human yesterday.

What is it about us blokes? When we get colds we think we're dying don't we? Women just seem to fob it off. I must say I was quite pleased to have to have the missus around to look after me, though she must have got fed up with me at times.

3. Derby matches are great – but you don't want too many

The only 90 minutes I have enjoyed this week was our match against Millwall on Tuesday. That was the perfect example of how form goes out of the window in derby matches and I'm glad we haven't got many of them. One year at Sheffield we had eight with Wednesday, Leeds, Barnsley and Doncaster in the division. They are far more demanding physically and that does take its toll.

Tuesday was typical, a real scrap and one of the best 0-0 draws I've been involved in. The attitude of the players was superb but Milllwall fought tooth and nail to protect their goal and we couldn't quite break them down.

I feared the worst when I noticed the referee was Lee Probert. The last time I had him at QPR he and the fourth official had me sent to the stands. For what I will never know, and neither did the Football Association because I wasn't even charged. However, I have to say Lee and his team more than played their part in a robust game. I think I only shouted at them once or twice during the match. The only grievance I had was when someone like Adel Taarabt is being man-marked and the guy fouls him for the sixth time. I think that is a good case for persistent infringement. Yet he gets off while Heidar Helguson is booked for showing his disgust at being wrongly given offside.

I do have problem with these petty bookings – like that, or players taking their shirt off in celebration – when offences like simulation, or players trying to hurt opponents, are not properly punished.

It was a great atmosphere but it was spoilt when I heard about the trouble around the ground which resulted in 11 arrests, I'm told. There really should be better liaison between the guys running the fixture computer, and the police, to make sure matches like this are not played in the evening, it is asking for trouble. In fairness, to compound the problems Chelsea were playing a couple of miles away and they could not have known that until the European draw was made.

4. Just getting your debut doesn't mean you've made it

It'll be strange to see so many of the young lads I gave debuts to playing against us. I expect to see Nathaniel Clyne, Wilfred Zaha, Kieran Djilali, Kieron Cadogan. Sean Scannall and Lee Hills might have been involved too if they were not injured. I feel quite proud.

The kids are the future for Palace, they have such a good youth system. As well as those lads they've already sold Victor Moses and John Bostock.

I gave 15 lads their debut at Palace, but it is sobering to note two of them are already out of the game. Injury was not the problem, they just lost their way a bit. There's a lesson there for all young lads coming through: getting a debut does not mean you've made it; if you don't work hard to sustain progress you'll fall by the wayside.

5. All the fun of the fair when I cut loose with my pellet gun

Will came home the other day looking all sheepish. He said, "Dad, I have something to show you." I feared the worst, but it was a certificate for being the best performer of the week in street dance. It's now got pride of place on the mantelpiece.

Amy is doing very well in shooting, she got 81/100 with her pistol. I still can't believe our 12-year-old girl wants to take it up as a hobby, but she really enjoys it. I'd love to have a go at clay-pigeon shooting myself, it looks so difficult. In Cornwall I have a pellet gun. I use it with one of those targets you see at fairgrounds, when the metal bits flip down when you hit them. I feel like I'm at the funfair.

6. Preston's comeback was the highlight of the week

I thought West Brom's victory at Arsenal would be performance of the week, then Preston came back from 4-1 down to win 6-4 at Leeds. That is just incredible, I bet neither Darren Ferguson or Simon Grayson can believe it still.

I do feel for Simon. At Plymouth once we blew a 4-1 lead at Wrexham with less than 20 minutes left. We even had a chance to go 5-1 up but missed it. Wrexham drew level then missed a fantastic chance to win it in injury time. That would have been a sickener.

On the other side I will never forget the play-off semi-final second-leg with Sheffield United when we came back from 2-0 down to beat Nottingham Forest 4-3. I can still see Paul Peschisolido celebrating his goal.

7. Mackie's been singing in the rain after his Scotland call-up

The lads have been helping out Surrey-born-and-bred Jamie Mackie with the Scots anthem after his call-up. I think he's just getting to the bit about beating the English army. Seriously, I am so pleased for him, even though it's a bit strange that nine games ago no one outside the West Country had heard of him. Now, through his Scottish grandad, he may be their best chance of qualifying.

I'm pleased to help out Craig Levein who's a good bloke, though from QPR's point of view it's not ideal. Jamie's not been training because of a tight hamstring and we were looking forward to the international break to give him the chance to rest it. We have a similar situation with Heidar, but he's desperate to play for Iceland and I don't believe you should stop people playing for their country. I don't suppose Tommy Smith and Patrick Agyemang, who are desperate to get in our starting XI, will be too upset if one of them gets knackered, even if I will be. Independent

Guardian/David Lacey - QPR hark back to less predictable days

The top flight is so predictable that lesser-ranked teams cannot contemplate the top six

QPR's march recalls the days when football's plot was less predictableThe Premier League script is so predictable that the lesser teams cannot even contemplate breaking into the top six

QPR's position at the top of the Championship is a reminder of a time when the lesser lights were able to challenge for the top prize in English football. Photograph: Joe Giddens/Empics Sport

After West Bromwich Albion had won at Arsenal last Saturday to rise to the dizzy height of fifth in the Premier League their manager was asked if he thought they could finish in the top half‑dozen. Roberto Di Matteo reacted as if the idea was too far-fetched to warrant a serious response. He was probably right yet if a side placed so high in September cannot realistically contemplate being there at the season's end then the situation is depressing indeed.

In the Premier League plutocracy everyone knows his place. The usual clubs will contest the title and Champions League places while the promoted teams will be considered cannon fodder until they prove otherwise. A few of the others will seek the crumbs of a place in the Europa League but most will be content simply to stay out of the bottom three. If only someone could come up with a new script.

Harking back to a time before the First Division clubs, motivated by the prospect of more money and greater voting power, broke away to form the Premier League 18 years ago can give a misleading impression. Those were not the good old days. In the modern game the quality of the football is better, the pitches are better, the stadiums are better and compared to the hooligan‑ridden 70s and 80s the spectators are better.

Yet the plots were less predictable and more capable of unexpected twists. Already the new season is promising to tell a familiar tale. Chelsea and Manchester United will again decide the championship with aesthetic accompaniment from Arsenal, and maybe another tweet from Tottenham, while Manchester City continue to delve into their bottomless financial pit hoping to find a team rather than an assortment of expensive but disparate spare parts. The thought of anyone below the salt mounting a serious challenge for one of the places at high table is more bizarre than ever.

Unless one of the plebs' ships comes home, as the SS Jack Walker did for Blackburn in the mid-90s, the general scene will remain unchanged. For many of those following football today it must be hard to imagine clubs such as Burnley and Ipswich Town, or even Derby County and Nottingham Forest, winning the league and competing in the European Cup. Yes, there will always be the occasional upset, such as Hull winning at Arsenal or Burnley beating Manchester United, but these will merely be passing oddities, not signs of unusual things to come. When Brian Clough's Forest won 4-0 at Old Trafford a week before Christmas in 1977 everyone realised that these were champions in the making, and so it proved.

The sight of Queens Park Rangers striding away at the top of the Championship has stirred the memory cells. QPR had four seasons in the Premier League between 1992 and 1996, finishing sixth, ninth and eighth before they were relegated. With their present wealthy backing they might be just what the top division needs to break the monotony.

In the mid-70s QPR were the most tactically advanced team in the country. Dave Sexton's squad included seven England players, among them Gerry Francis and John Hollins. There was no orthodox centre-forward, Don Masson and Francis provided the links between defence and attack, Dave Thomas and Don Givens the width and pace, and Stan Bowles the guile.

Sexton's team all but won the championship in 1976. When QPR completed their fixtures they were top but Liverpool had a match in hand, away to Wolves, and were losing 1-0 until the last quarter-hour when goals from Kevin Keegan, John Toshack and Ray Kennedy took the title to Anfield.

Di Matteo may find the idea of West Brom challenging down the finishing straight outlandish but nobody was laughing at the notion in 1978-79 when from November onwards Ron Atkinson's Albion were in the top three for all but one week and finished third behind Liverpool and Forest.

There have always been eras when the league has been dominated by one or two clubs – Arsenal in the 30s, Wolves and Manchester United in the 50s, Liverpool in the 70s and 80s – but the lesser lights have been allowed to shine more brightly than they are permitted to do now. Within relatively recent memory Norwich and Swansea have each presented a plausible prima facie case for becoming champions. Today they and their like would be laughed out of court Guardian

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