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Monday, April 25, 2011

QPR Report Monday: Further Cardiff Reports...Hull

More Photos from Cardiff

- Throughout the day, updates, comments and perspectives re QPR and football in general are posted and discussed on the QPR Report Messageboard...Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER

- QPR Face Mass Points Deduction...Warnock May Axed at End of Season (Three Tabloids Reporting this)

- - Earlier Compilation of Cardiff vs QPR Match Reports, Managerial Comments & Photos

- NEXT: Hull

- Three Year Flashback: Cristal and Caviar at QPR

- Thirteen Years Ago Today: THE Greatest Own Goal "For" QPR

- Ex-QPR's Mel Johnson Joins Liverpool Scouting Team


Guardian/Joe Loevejoy
Neil Warnock on brink of seventh promotion after defying odds at QPR
• Rangers manager turns round struggling club in 13 months
• 'It's incredible how the lads have responded,' says Warnock

No manager since Graham Taylor has polarised opinion quite like Neil Warnock, but there is nobody better when it comes to gaining promotion, and a win at home to Hull City on Monday will see his QPR team back in the Premier League with two games to spare. They will then face another battle over alleged malpractice in the recruitment of Alejandro Faurlín.

In 25 years in management Warnock has made as many enemies as he has friends, and he gets called combative and mouthy in equal measure, but what is beyond dispute is that when (rather than if) he takes his latest charges up it will be his seventh promotion with six clubs, and none of his peers have bettered that.

This latest success is all the more creditable in that it has been achieved so quickly and at minimal cost. When Warnock replaced Paul Hart in March 2010 (becoming their 10th manager in as many years), the demoralised team he inherited had lost six of their previous seven matches and sat 20th in the Championship. The improvement was instantaneous. His first two games brought wins against West Bromwich Albion and Plymouth Argyle, an unbeaten run of eight dispelled the threat of relegation and they finished a respectable 13th.

After a parsimonious spend on reinforcements, QPR defied the odds to become the Championship team of the season, front-runners virtually from first to last. Rivals all expected them to falter at some stage, but they have never cracked – their indefatigable spirit evident on Saturday when they were twice behind against third-placed Cardiff City but fought back for a deserved draw.

Two well-matched teams produced a rollercoaster ride that was a credit to the second tier, illuminated by goals of the highest class from Jay Bothroyd and Adel Taarabt, and both clubs could yet be promoted, albeit by different routes.

In contrast to Warnock's quick fix, Dave Jones has spent six years fending off creditors and patiently assembling the best team Cardiff have had since John Toshack was sold to Liverpool, in 1970. Beaten by Blackpool in the play-off final last season, they are stronger this time for the loan of Craig Bellamy, whose partnership with Bothroyd, backed up by Michael Chopra, ought really to have matched Rangers point for point over the season. Instead, Taarabt eclipsed them as Championship player of the season, his supremacy underlined by these two goals.

For those of us of a certain age, Warnock's quotes are reminiscent of another QPR manager from yesteryear, Tommy Docherty. His post-match dissertation ranged from the heat and his factor‑15 sun cream through the merits of women's football to Barnsley's "manslaughter" tackling.

On a less esoteric level, Warnock said: "I thought it was a fantastic match. Dave [Jones] has been building towards this for six years, my team has come together in 13 months. It's incredible how the lads have responded. It's not all down to me, it's down to the bread-and-butter Shaun Derrys, Clint Hills and Heider Helgusons. They've done superbly. 'Taarbs' [Taarabt] is our shining light but we haven't really got any stars as such. Team spirit and determination has got us where we are."

The elephant in the room, which nobody brought up, was the FA hearing which finishes on 6 May which could see QPR docked points over alleged third-party ownership of Argentina's Faurlín.

INDEPENDENT - Taarabt fires Rangers to verge of promotion but final hurdle looms large
By James Corrigan

And so begins a fortnight which, for whatever reason, promises to be among the most notable in the 123-year history of Queen's Park Rangers.

Today, victory over Hull City will trigger the Loftus Road promotion party – although, with their goal difference, even a point would be enough to render acceptable a mass popping of corks. But then will follow the hearing which could see their euphoria and anticipation transformed into bitterness and recrimination.

In private, QPR officials say they are confident of avoiding a points deduction when an independent regulatory commission rules on seven charges brought against them by the Football Association. But if the gavel was to drop hardest – which would bizarrely happen two days before the end of the season – then the same officials also admit to being prepared to start an almighty legal wrangle to rival any in the FA's history.

QPR might refuse to play in the play-offs until the appeal is heard. It is a scenario so messy it is barely worth the consideration.

Fortunately for the Hoops faithful, the players have clearly decided to do just that and instead act as Neil Warnock has urged – "worry only about the football". Even Alejandro Faurlin has managed to do so, the Argentine midfielder at the centre of the third-party ownership controversy.

While he was influential enough in limiting Cardiff City to a solitary point – when these other automatic promotion chasers in the Championship were so desperate for all three – this was the Adel Taarabt Show. Appropriately enough, really, seeing as this has been the Adel Taarabt Season.

True, Craig Bellamy did rival the Moroccan in the man-of-the-match stakes which a lung-busting performance which augurs so well for the Bluebirds' final three-match charge to overhaul Norwich's one-point advantage and claim second place. But the manner in which Taarabt twice struck back – first after Jay Bothroyd's spectacular curler and then late on after Bellamy's own clinical conversion – was bound to steal the headlines.

The neutral should hope for QPR's elevation to be sealed as it will be so intriguing to see how Taarabt copes in the Premier League. Put simply, he is delightful to watch. As was this entire 90 minutes.

"Those first two goals you wouldn't get in the Champions League," Warnock said. "What an advert for the Championship. Both clubs have a great appetite for the game this year. It'll be interesting to see what happens in the run-in now.

"But the champagne hasn't been anywhere near the ice for us yet," Warnock added. "We have the hardest match of anyone on Monday as Hull went 17 matches undefeated. We'll just play it by ear."

Their opponents, meanwhile, head to Preston, whose manager, Phil Brown, has promised Cardiff that: "I can guarantee there won't be a repeat performance of how we played against Millwall."

Preston's 4-0 embarrassment on Saturday did raise the hopes, but having lost second place and therefore the old "destiny in our own hands" optimism, Cardiff may well be vulnerable against a side aware they are but one match above the relegation zone. Yet Dave Jones, a former Preston player, is adamant this will not be the case.

"We're not going to wallow in self -pity just because we didn't get maximum points today," said the Cardiff manager, who claimed QPR "were taken to the cleaners".

"Yes, we've lost the advantage and given it to somebody else – but let's see what they can do with it because there's a lot of twists and turns to come. We are already guaranteed a place in the play-offs, so we've done stage one. Now the aim is to get to stage two." Independent

TELEGRAPH/Simon Briggs

Queens Park Rangers and their Morrocan magician Adel Taarabt are a one-man band

It is interesting to speculate where Queens Park Rangers would be without Adel Taarabt, the Morrocan magician who has scored 18 of their 67 goals this season, and provided the assists for many more.

QPR manager Neil Warnock sets up the other nine outfield players in a rigid framework and looks to Taarabt for inspiration, rather as a jazz troupe will maintain a steady beat while the saxophonist sets off on a solo.

The tactic has worked brilliantly all season. After Saturday’s thrilling encounter against Cardiff — in which Taarabt scored twice to nick a 2-2 draw – QPR need only one more point from their final three games to ensure automatic promotion (assuming the fuss over Alejandro Faurlin and his third-party ownership does not lead to a points deduction).

Taarabt has not just performed above all expectations at QPR (earning the Championship’s player of the season award), he has stayed fit too, starting all but two of their games. But when he was absent a fortnight ago, against relegation candidates Sc**thorpe, QPR went down to a 4-1 defeat, their heaviest of the season.

If and when QPR make the jump to the Premier League, they can hardly maintain a strategy that relies so heavily on one player, no matter how brilliant he might be. The billionaires who own the team, Formula One’s Bernie Ecclestone and Indian steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, need to unbuckle their wallets.

After such an eye-catching season, Taarabt may not even be at Loftus Road next August. But then Warnock’s presence cannot be viewed as a certainty either. The story of QPR has long been a soap opera and recent reports suggest that the owners may replace him imminently (even though he is about to equal the Football League record – held jointly by Graham Taylor and Dave Bassett – of seven promotion campaigns).

Marcello Lippi, the former Juventus manager who won the 2006 World Cup with Italy, has been identified as a possible successor, as has Republic of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni. A P45 would be tough on Warnock, who has turned QPR from relegation battlers to virtual promotion certainties in just 13 months. Last week, he spoke of his eagerness to spend “another two years in the Premier League” after the bitter ending to his single top-flight season with Sheffield United in 2006-07.

Warnock’s organisational skills were crucial on Saturday, when Cardiff’s powerful strike pairing of Jay Bothroyd and Craig Bellamy produced performances that would have won them the headlines in any other game. After the game, Cardiff manager Dave Jones complained that “we took them to the cleaners for the most part”, before paying tribute to QPR’s defensive resilience.

But for all the obvious determination of Clint Hill and Shaun Derry, Taarabt was surely man of the match at Cardiff City Stadium, even though — as Jones pointed out — “he was in his deckchair for a lot of the time”.

Taarabt’s contribution to general play may have been limited, consisting mainly of picking up the ball, trying a couple of dummies, dribbling into a defender, falling over, and appealing unsuccessfully for a free-kick. But whenever he was granted a modicum of space near Cardiff’s penalty area, he was quite lethal. This happened three times. The first two occasions produced goals, and the third a scuffed cross-shot, two minutes from full time, which fell into the path of strike partner Heidar Helguson.

Unfortunately for QPR, Helguson managed to slide the ball into the side-netting just when three points — and a champagne-popping promotion party in the dressing-room — looked the likeliest outcome. Telegraph

MIRROR QPR loving it as Premier League beckons
Monday, 25 April 2011 00:00

LONDON (AFP) - Queens Park Rangers boss Neil Warnock said he “loved every minute” as his side look to win the Championship trophy today and seal their return to the English Premier League after a 15-year absence.

QPR can ensure their promotion to the top flight with victory over visitors Hull at their Loftus Road home.

“We're really thriving on it. I'm loving every minute,” said Warnock after QPR were held 2-2 at third-placed Cardiff on Saturday.

“I couldn't be any prouder to manage a team like that. It has been a long season and the Championship is the hardest to get out of.”QPR were London's top club in the 1992-1993 inaugural Premier League season, finishing fifth ahead of the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham.

However, life has not been easy out of the top flight and they even plunged down to the third tier before former player Ian Holloway, now the Blackpool manager, guided them back up in 2004.

Cardiff boss Dave Jones said his Welsh side had been determined to postpone QPR's promotion celebrations in front of a 26,058-strong crowd.

They sit one point behind second-placed Norwich with just three matches remaining for all teams.

“There was no way they were coming here to have a party. They had champagne in their dressing room and the Championship trophy was here but we were not going to lie down,” Jones said.

“We have ensured our play-off place but there is still a lot of football to be played and there will be twists and turns before the end. ”Warnock said the Cardiff game was a “super match”.

“It was a great advert for Championship football with two great sides giving everything,” he said.

For their part Hull are in no mood to gift QPR the trophy.

Cardiff City 2 QPR 2 by Steve Tucker, Western Mail
Apr 25 2011

NATURALLY you can dress this encounter up any way you want. A great game, indeed a superb advert for Championship football, an excellent performance from Cardiff City, the superior side for most of it, but at its core it could prove a catastrophic result for the Bluebirds.

Since forcing their way back into second spot with a fabulous run of performances and results, the emphasis has been all about not handing the initiative back to their rivals.

Now they have. It’s advantage Norwich, and it is a concern for the Bluebirds.

Sure, Dave Jones’ men are capable of winning all three of their remaining fixtures, starting at lowly Preston today.

The main problem is, though you suspect, so are Paul Lambert’s Canaries and they now are in the driving seat.

Peeping anxiously at the remaining games now, it will be hard for Bluebirds’ supporters not to feel the cold tickle of concern running down their spines.

Norwich host Derby today, then travel to Portsmouth before entertaining Coventry on the final day.

Of course, there is the old Championship truism that “anyone can beat anyone in this division,” but that’s not the most testing of closing fixtures.

The Bluebirds, meanwhile, travel to that most unhappy of hunting grounds today.

Deepdale is a venue where Cardiff dreams have been thwarted before, most significantly when they were thrashed there 6-0 two years ago. They were also done there 3-0 last season and Phil Brown’s men are still fighting for their lives in howsoever unrealistic a fashion.

Next up then for Cardiff is a visit from Middlesbrough before heading off to Turf Moor and play-off chasing Burnley.

Jones’ refrain of late has been that there will be plenty of “twists and turns” before the campaign is done. The Bluebirds now need to hope that is in fact the case.

But it looks like Cardiff have the tougher tests to come and, if that is being unduly negative, it is hard not to be so after witnessing the loss of two precious points against the Championship’s champions-elect.

Under Neil Warnock, Rangers are a tough proposition, runaway leaders who could secure promotion at home to Hull today.

But Cardiff more than matched them here. They took the game to them for long periods, but again, in vital moments, they switched off.

It is something Jones’ men have been prone to all season and one can only hope they are not going to have to pay the ultimate price for it.

To go ahead twice and get pegged back both times is really unforgivable – and it is not the first time it has happened this campaign.

Yes, Cardiff pooped the Londoners’ promotion party in the Welsh capital, but really at what cost to themselves?

It was an excellent game played in front of a sell-out crowd and surely the best atmosphere there has been at Cardiff’s new home.

There was a feeling of a ‘one-off’ about it, like some sort of cup final which in the grand scheme of things it probably was.

The conditions were incredible. Boiling. And the Bluebirds themselves started in red-hot fashion themselves.

Less than six minutes in and striker Jay Bothroyd got his 20th goal of the season and easily his best, cutting inside from 20 yards, using Paul Quinn’s clever run down the flank as a decoy and firing home via the underside of the bar.

For Cardiff’s second Bothroyd was provider, his cross looking like it was handled by Matt Connolly in the box.

But the defender’s touch just set it up beautifully for the superb Craig Bellamy to lash home.

Both those Cardiff strikes were book-ended by bitter blows from the genius that is Adel Taarabt.

The Moroccan magician took your breath away little more than three minutes after Cardiff had taken the lead as he almost crossed the ball into the net.

Despite question marks about goalkeeper Stephen Bywater, it was still an audacious piece of skill from the Championship’s player of the season.

For much of the first half, in particular, it did look as if Cardiff had not really done their homework with Taarabt on several occasions allowed the time and space he shouldn’t have had.

Former Bluebird Wayne Routledge was another annoying presence.

It was Routledge who lifted the ball forward on the edge of the Cardiff box on 71 minutes for Taarabt to turn the unfortunate Kevin McNaughton and drive home.

It was tough on Cardiff, but on these occasions they so often prove the masters of their own downfall.

The strange thing was, prior to that goal, Taarabt looked to be losing interest in the game which is an accusation often levelled at the enigmatic star.

But you cannot let your concentration slip for even a second when he is around and that is what Cardiff did.

Warnock’s handling of the temperamental Taarabt has been excellent with the Rangers’ manager effectively building his side around the attacking midfielder.

It is a success story Jones has not really been able to emulate this season with his star turn, skipper Bellamy.

The Wales international is in fantastic form right now and at last seems to be playing in his preferred position instead of being marooned out on the left wing.

Jones has never consistently got the best out of Bellamy, indeed for long stretches of the season he seemed at a loss as to how to meld all his individual talents into one cohesive unit.

It was good to see striker Michael Chopra back earlier than expected from his hamstring injury as he came off the bench at the death, but when it comes to utilising the striker’s talents you do wonder if it is a blessing for Jones or just another headache.

The sad fact is that pound for pound here Cardiff had the better quality, but again failed to make that count.

Indeed, on this evidence those often-ridiculed City fans who insist with the riches in their squad the Bluebirds should really be in the same position QPR are in the league would probably have had their prejudices thoroughly reinforced " Walesonline

By Mario Risoli

BRADLEY ORR admits it would be “extra special” to clinch their Premier League return at home after their promotion party in Cardiff was cancelled.

The Championship leaders were unable to find a late winner that would have ended their 15-year exile from the top flight.

But Neil Warnock’s men will secure promotion – and a £90m windfall– if they beat Hull at Loftus Road today.

Rangers defender Orr said: “It would be extra special to win promotion at our place.

“To go up at Loftus Road in front of a sell-out crowd would be fantastic for everyone involved.

“We’re looking forward to the day but at the same time we’ve got to prepare right for the game.

“It won’t be easy because Hull are unbeaten in their last 17 away games.

“But we’ve got plenty of talent and experience in the dressing room. We need to do what we’ve been doing all season.

“We’re enjoying the position we’re in. Every side in the division wants to be where we are.

“There’s no stress or nerves at the club. It’s exactly the opposite at the moment.

“You have to give the gaffer credit for that because he’s built a close-knit squad and encourages us to have a laugh and a joke.

“We’re close to making our fans proud of us and we’ll be looking to cross the line in front of them against Hull.”

Jay Bothroyd gave Cardiff an early lead with a stunning 25-yard strike before Rangers skipper Adel Taarabt levelled with a curling beauty.

Cardiff looked set to climb back to second spot when Craig Bellamy volleyed them back in front before the break.

But Taarabt nudged Rangers to the brink of promotion with another inch-perfect finish 19 minutes from the end.

Cardiff, who visit relegation- haunted Preston today, now need second-placed Norwich to slip up in the final three games if they are to claim automatic promotion.

Bothroyd said: “We’re disappointed because we let in two soft goals, but our overall performance was really good.

“If we play the same way in the last three games, then I’m sure we’ll get three wins

“People are saying we need to rely on this and that, but we’re just looking to win every game and then see what happens.

“It’s far from over. There are always twists and turns in this division.

“We’ve just got to take care of ourselves and if we get nine points I’m sure we’ll get automatic promotion.” Star

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