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Saturday, April 16, 2011

QPR Report: 2011/12 Kickoff...Warnock's Weekly Views...Speculating on Crouch/QPR...Magilton Q&A...Clarke's Return


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- Ex-QPRs Play in London Masters: July 9

Neil Warnock: The table counts for absolutely nothing – a 4-1 beating is only ever one game away
What I Learnt This Week - Saturday, 16 April 2011

Some of you may have scoffed when I said in last week's column I wasn't taking anything for granted when it came to our league campaign, and that I expected a tough game against Scunthorpe regardless of their position in the table.

Well, it gave me no satisfaction whatsoever to be proved right when we lost 4-1. Fortunately we got back on track with a really good win at Barnsley on Tuesday but Sc**thorpe certainly reminded all of us that nothing has been achieved yet.

I'm not making excuses, but the build-up to the game was difficult. It wasn't quite as bad as Harry changing his team minutes before kick-off in Madrid the other week, but there were a lot of complications with injuries and other issues. As a result I had to make three changes but it looked as if they had paid off when one of the players I brought in, Rob Hulse, put us ahead early on.

But then we forgot everything that has been good in our game. We conceded silly free-kicks, and allowed free headers from those free-kicks; Paddy Kenny made a rare error; then Clint Hill thought he was Beckenbauer and was caught out. I couldn't wait for the whistle to go by the end.

The last time I got beat 4-1 by anyone was when I managed at Crystal Palace. Have a guess who it was. Yes, Sc**thorpe United, at Selhurst Park. I remember sitting with Simon Jordan afterwards saying I couldn't carry on, I couldn't get any more out of the team. I think I said "I couldn't get blood out of a stone" a few times, but he wouldn't have any of it. He knew me, knew how disappointed I was, and he said, "No, go home. We'll speak over the weekend but you're not going anywhere". If he'd not been a friend I'd have quit.

After a result like Saturday's you really want to go home, sleep in your own bed, get away from football for a few days. However, we had already decided to stay up north to save on the travelling. I wasn't sure this would work out but the lads enjoyed it. They played golf, went swimming, sat in the sauna. It was much better for their recovery than two long coach journeys. I was also able to shoot over to Leeds to see my grandson Charlie. Watching him laughing his head off in the bath while Sarah squirted water at him enabled me to forget all about Sc**thorpe.

2. First time I've ever subbed a player for his own safety

At Oakwell Adel scored a wonderful goal after 47 seconds. However, sometimes the saying, "you can score too early" is true because Barnsley then felt they had nothing to lose and had a real go at us. Fortunately we defended magnificently from centre-forward backwards, though I was a bit concerned when six of their players surrounded the ref for a penalty shout.

The one that did upset me was a report in one of the lesser papers the following day which said: "Taarabt was lucky not to be sent off when he angrily kicked out 10 minutes before the break, boss Neil Warnock lost patience with his star player when he hauled him off midway through second half."

Well, that's completely wrong. There's no way I would have brought him off as I thought he was doing fine, even though the crowd were baiting him. But then there was a tackle on him from behind which was the most cynical foul you could imagine. It took both his legs. When the ref hesitated I thought he was just wondering, "red (which it should have been), or yellow?" Then he made a sign with his hands that the player got the ball. I thought, "if that's not even a foul it's going to be open season on Adel from now on". I was concerned the next challenge would be even worse and didn't feel I could put his career in jeopardy just to preserve our lead. So I took him off. In more than 1,000 games managing I've never felt I had to do that before.

Adel had the last laugh as we held on to get three points, not that he was the only one nursing a bruise or two. Heidar Helguson was tackled into the gravel in front of the dug-out and there was blood everywhere as he got changed. I said to the lads, "that's what you get when come up north".

3. Bolton and Stoke are not in town just to make up numbers
Losing Carlos Tevez is a massive blow to Manchester City ahead of today's FA Cup semi-final because Manchester United are looking as if they are hungry for everything at the moment. But you never know, there hasn't been much between the teams in recent games and one of City's other stars might step up. I still can't understand why the game is being played in London – well, I do, it's so the fans can pay for building Wembley.

I expect the players of Bolton and Stoke are delighted because they don't get to play there very often, some of the fans may feel the same. Mind you, thinking about it, City haven't been there for a long time either, not since the play-off final against Gillingham in 1999. That was to get out of the third tier. It seems a world away now.

Bolton and Stoke have two very different styles but they both have managers who deserve to be leading teams out at Wembley. Owen Coyle's a young manager with a massive career ahead of him and Tony Pulis is someone who has seen and done it all. His team plays more football than people give them credit for, too, though I remember thinking when he was at Plymouth that if [long-throw specialist] Tony Capaldi broke his arm they'd be relegated. That might have been the case with Rory Delap when Stoke first got into the Premier League but there are more strings to their bow now.

4. I can't wait for the Clasico – or the latest Chelsea rumours
There were no surprises in the Champions League in midweek leaving most of the interest on what will happen next. Barcelona v Real Madrid promises to be special. I can't see anyone beating Barcelona, but if anyone can it is Jose Mourinho. Almost as intriguing is what will happen at Chelsea in the next few months. That's going to keep the back-page journalists busy all summer.

5. I hope Holloway and his team can hang in there
I had to feel for Ian Holloway last weekend as I watched the Blackpool-Arsenal game. When you are a small team in the Premier League you never seem to get decisions against the big teams. I can just imagine, when he did not get that penalty when DJ Campbell was brought down with the score 2-1, that his mind went back to the Man United game when he should have had a penalty when they were leading 2-0. United came back to win, but I doubt if they would have done from 3-0 down.

You do feel everything gangs up on you when you're going through a lean spell, but he is going to have to forget about all those incidents and focus on the next match. If Blackpool are going to stay up, and I really hope they do, Ian is going to have to be at his best.

Still, they might get lucky in their final game. They are at Old Trafford, which looks daunting, but if United have sewn up the title by then what sort of team do you think Sir Alex will put out if he has the Champions League final a week away? He has got a bit of previous after all.

6. I am not looking forward to Amy following the fashions
No game today, again, because we've got yet another Monday night fixture, this time against Derby at Loftus Road. All the other teams will have played by then. The fixtures people do like to put a bit of pressure on us don't they?
The good thing is the enforced break gave me some time to come down to Cornwall to recharge. Not that everything down here is good for my blood pressure. Amy has recently become a teenager and to celebrate she went to a nightclub – one for youngsters opening at 7pm. Sharon dropped her and three friends off, then waited outside in the car reading a book before collecting them at 10.30. I was in Barnsley, which was a good thing because when we spoke later she said: "I'm so glad you didn't drop them off. If you saw what the other girls are wearing you'd be horrified." Sharon described the look as "pants, vests and high heels". They do up grow up quick, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it. After Sharon picked them up they all came back to our house. When she rang me – I was driving down from Barnsley – it was 12.45am. She was going to bed, they'd just put a Harry Potter movie on.
Will and I went crabbing the next day. We caught three, but he didn't half squeal when the biggest one bit him. Worse was to follow as we then had a skimming competition which, somehow, the girls won. Sharon and Amy fluked an 18-er between them, our best was a 12-er. Still, it's been a healthy few days off to clear my mind.

7. Knock, knock...
Finally, what made me laugh most this week was a joke from Jo Brand. She said, "My bloody next-door neighbour banged on my front door at 2.30 this morning. Thank God I was still up playing the drums." Independent

David McIntyre Blog - And it’s a hat-trick

Three blog entries in as many days can only mean one thing: I haven’t shifted any news stories and have had a bit of time on my hands.

There was only one genuine QPR story out there this week, so on Wednesday morning I intended to get hold of Peter Ramage, who played for the reserves the previous day.

Back from injury quicker than expected. Out of contract in the summer. A pretty well-known player, having played in the Premiership. It was all there. Yep, that one would have some mileage and would cover the parking ticket I picked up on Monday.

But Ben Kosky had obviously had his Weetabix, as he’d already spoken to Ramage by the time I was ready to face the day. His article in the local Times newspaper pretty much covered it all. A good read, I thought.

It would be great to think Ramage will get a contract and play in the Premier League for Rangers, who’ve had few better pros.

Kosky was on the case obscenely early for a man who ought to be getting all the rest he can, given that he’ll soon be slaving over a promotion pull-out.

No pressure, but the 2004 version his predecessor and I put together was a bit special, even if I do say so myself. Good luck, Ben.

Anyway, I wanted to add a couple of things to the blog I stuck up yesterday. The comments were appreciated.

Although Neil Warnock’s made no secret of his short-term aim to have another crack at the top division before retiring, and I do think this will be reflected in Rangers’ transfer dealings, I should probably have also mentioned the fact that he has also spoken about building a legacy at the club that will last beyond his time there.

Also, a number of people on Twitter and the like have since mentioned Peter Crouch as a possible signing.

That’s an interesting one, because I’ve always believed that if Rangers were promoted, and Gianni Paladini was still involved at the club, it was a certainty Crouch would be their number one target.
- Now, at this point, I ought to hold my hands up and admit I also believed there was more chance of Nicky Ward signing for Liverpool than of Rangers being promoted while Paladini’s there, so what do I know?
- Not a lot, clearly. But I’d be shocked if Rangers don’t make some kind of move for Crouch in the summer.
- Paladini always works especially hard to make popular signings, and none are more popular than former players. Cook and Shittu being the two main examples.
- This summer, Crouch is likely to be the player most QPR fans are talking about and have on their wish lists. I have no doubt Rangers will try to get him.

Plus, the strong relationship between Rangers and Tottenham, which was the sole reason Adel Taarabt ended up at Loftus Road and was also a factor in the loan signing of Kyle Walker, makes more business between them highly likely.

Whether it’s over Walker, Naughton, O’Hara, Kranjcar, Crouch or whoever, I think the two clubs will be talking in the coming weeks.

Incidentally, Ward has got himself a trial at Charlton. Next stop Anfield. David McIntyre Blog

SKY/Pete O'Rourke - Clarke returns to Rangers
Striker quits Preston loan spell
By Pete O'Rourke -
....Skysports.com understands Leon Clarke has cancelled his loan spell at Preston for personal reasons.
- Clarke joined the Championship strugglers on loan from Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season during the January transfer window.
- The 26-year-old made six appearances for North End, scoring one goal in the draw with Watford.
- However, Clarke has not featured since the defeat to Burnley at the end of February and he has now cut short his loan stint to return to Loftus Road.
- Clarke will be unable to play for Rangers upon his return under the terms of his loan deal, but he will continue to train with Neil Warnock's Premier League hopefuls. Sky

Click Lancashire/Jamie Allen - Leon Clarke ends loan spell with Preston North End
Leon Clarke has cancelled his loan spell at Preston North End due to personal reasons.
- Clarke joined North End on loan from Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season during the January transfer window.
- The 26-year-old made six appearances for North End, scoring one goal in the draw with Watford.
- However, Clarke has not featured since the defeat to Burnley at the end of February and he has now cut short his loan stint to return to Loftus Road.
- Clarke will be unable to play for Rangers upon his return under the terms of his loan deal, but he will continue to train with Neil Warnock's Premier League hopefuls. Click Lancashire

Sport.co.uk meets...Jim Magilton

Posted by Sport.co.uk on: 15 April 2011 - Author: Vithushan Ehantharajah

In December 2009, following an alleged altercation with a couple of his players in the dressing room at Vicarage Road after a disappointing display against Watford in the Championship, manager Jim Magilton left his post at Queens Park Rangers by mutual consent.

After a playing career which spanned 18 years, which included stints at Oxford United, Southampton and Sheffield Wednesday after starting out at Liverpool, Magilton took the step up into management at Ipswich Town after seven years as a player at Portman Road at the end of his career. Sport.co.uk caught up with the former Northern Irish international after two years out of the game, to discuss his plans for the future, Ipswich Town and his eventful experiences in management...

Are you looking to get back into management?

I would only be tempted back in if it ticked all the right boxes. It would be with a supportive board and chairman, who share the same ambitions as myself. If all that was agreed upon then yes I would definitely consider going back in. I don’t want to jump back onto a managerial merry-go-round to be honest, it’s not my style. I had four fantastic years with Ipswich and QPR and I’d love to use that experience at another club, but it would have to be at the right club.

Are you a bit tentative because you’ve had your fingers burnt with regards to your period at the helm of QPR?

The thing is, I wasn’t really burnt. The situation at the club became untenable for me, and leaving was the decent thing to do; as it turned out three consecutive managers lost their job, after me. I knew what a fantastic job John Gorman and the staff were doing; we had the club up to 4th or 5th, and we had a great squad of players to work with. In the end I felt that the job was unfinished. It was the same sort of thing at Ipswich really – we were just getting the club working as it should be. There were to be some major changes in the summer, but unfortunately the only change was mine. I was disappointed at both because I saw the potential in both clubs, and wanted to be a major part in their futures, but unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to finish either project.
With regards to Ipswich – you were a player for 7 years and moved straight into management.

It’s was difficult, there’s no shadow of a doubt about it. There are no rulebooks or guidelines; you’re just going off your own instincts. In no other profession do you just move into a different job, of greater responsibility, purely because you did something vaguely similar for a while. I had no official training, but I had a board and chairman who were fantastic; they made the appointment and gave me great backing. When the new owners came in, my remit changed because expectations rose. At a club like Ipswich you have to be able to deal with that because they have had many successful years; going back to Sir Alf Ramsey, Sir Bobby Robson and George Burley.

I worked for two fantastic managers – in George Burly and Joe Royle – and they were superb and I learnt a lot, but the transition from player to manager was huge. I feel that I could have gone away, managed at the lower levels and really got an apprenticeship in management and worked my way up. But that wouldn’t guarantee that I would ever come back as manager of Ipswich Town; when the opportunity arose to manage the club, I snapped their hands off. This was a club that I was extremely happy at and, when Joe left, I thought I would throw my hat in the ring. I eventually got the job and three years down the line I was so much more experienced and comfortable in the position.

What surprises me now is the amount of managers who have lost their jobs, this season alone, without even getting a proper crack at the whip. People want to get rich quick – there is no longevity. You only have to look at managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger, David Moyes, even John Coleman at Accrington Stanley; once they have bedded in and they bring their own character and philosophy onto the club, then you stand a better chance of success. The problem with the Championship is that the Promised Land is just around the corner and everyone wants to get there.

With respect to getting rich quick, Neil Warnock has done a brilliant job at QPR and they look set to confirm their promotion to the Premier League. Having worked with the owners, if results don’t go particularly well for QPR in the Premier League, can you see them keeping faith with Warnock?

I couldn’t answer that really – my job at the club was just to deal with the players. Any meetings I had with any of the board were generally quite amicable. Until of course the situation arose at Watford. At the time they felt they dealt with it, but I didn’t – but that’s just a difference of opinion. I’m sitting here after losing my job, so that’s that really; I felt it wasn’t right. Neil Warnock will know whether he’ll get some lee-way in the Premier League, and I hope he does because he has done a magnificent job at QPR.

On the incident, which brought about your departure from QPR [Magilton was involved with a confrontation with midfielder Akos Buszaky in the changing room after their defeat at Watford]. The board aligned themselves with the player rather than yourself.

Well that week, Stoke City had a similar incident. The chairman of Stoke came out and stood by Tony Pulis, and quite rightly so. There were two similar instances that week, at two different clubs, and both acted differently. Whatever the reasons at the end of the day I lost my job and that is it. I left by mutual consent. John Gorman, Keith Lamb – two of the most highly respected, honest people in football – left in support of me; that should speak volumes for anything that people felt about what happened at that football club.

How do you feel about Ipswich’s season; currently 13th after having been in the relegation zone when Paul Jewell took over?

He is a very experienced manager and knows the league very well; he’s got teams promoted out of that division and knows the game and will do a very good job for the club. Having worked with the squad for the back end of the season, he will know what he will need to do in the off-season to get the side ready for, hopefully, a promotion push next season.

Do you think the club will be able to hang onto their younger prospects over the summer so that they can play a part in that push next season?

Well I gave Connor Wickham his debut at 15, and have worked very closely with him. Conor and his family know that he has been given an opportunity to play for a great club, and know the amount of players who have gone on from Ipswich to have great careers and play for England. He needs to be at a club that is going to develop him as a player. Of course there are a lot of admirers, and rightly so, but at the moment the club will look after him and giving him the right guidance and coaching. He’s signed a new contract so it is clear that he knows all those things, and that Ipswich is where he needs to be playing his football right now. Also playing in the Championship will be so beneficial for his development because it is such a competitive league.

You came through the youth-setup at Liverpool when Kenny Dalglish was manager for the first time. What have you made of his return?

I think it was anticipated and definitely the right move by the football club; they needed the supporters back on terms and there was only one man who was going to be able to do that after Roy Hodgson. I really don’t think Roy was treated particularly well, but certainly in Kenny they have a man who is Liverpool through and through and will bring his great experience and great quality. His management style with the players is fantastic and you can see the immediate impact it has had on the players. He’s embedded in Liverpool history and knows the club inside out and he’ll bring the aura and personality back to Anfield. That will enable them to bring in some of the best players in the world, because at the end of the day they want to win the Premier League. That is their main ambition.

Were you surprised about at how easily he seemed to pick up where he left off, especially considering how the game has moved on?

No, because Kenny was such a great player – his foresight and imagination on the pitch has been transferred to his management style. He’s watched so much football and there is no experience; I reckon he’s watched more games than any of us put together in his time away from football alone. The fundamentals of the game haven’t changed, not for him especially – Liverpool in the 80s were a pass and move club, but things might not have moved on at the rate they would have liked. But certainly they are going back to someone who was a master at it and someone who enjoyed so much success at the club. As a young boy from Belfast coming into that environment was amazing; it was such a winning mentality and such a fantastic place to be. I felt truly blessed and I learnt so much from my time there. It really was a dynasty, and Kenny will want to get that aura back.

As someone who had 52 international caps for Northern Ireland, what do you make of their recent progress (dropped in FIFA rankings)?

I think they need to address bringing players through the system, but I think they are – slowly but surely. The grass-roots schemes have been majorly improved and kids are being coached more regularly, which is an important step in the right direction. The Scotland game showed that there isn’t a great deal of depth in the squad. Against Slovenia it showed that Northern Ireland need their marquee players; there are players like Aaron Hughes, Steven Davis, Chris Brunt, Kyle Lafferty – quality players that we really can’t do without. We certainly have a big issue with the amount of players coming through, but they are doing a great job with the Under-21s and the Under-19s. It’s all about hours on the pitch; trying to get as much coaching and development at the earliest possible stage, and keeping up a good standard. It’s all about attention to detail. We don’t have a lot of players in the Premier League, and there is a sprinkling in the Championship. The more quality we produce, the more competitive we will be at International level.

Do you think that the Irish FA will stick by Worthington in the next couple of years if the results aren’t as good while he is bringing through younger players?

I don’t think they do – I do feel they always give the manager a good chance to succeed and implement his own values. Lawrie Sanchez did a great job and Nigel has taken up the reigns and he is starting to bring players through. He’s tried to blood Jonny Gorman, Corry Evans. Nial McGinn and I’m sure others will be coming through soon. It’s important to manage them well and make sure they are given a fair crack of the whip, but at the same time you need to manage them well and make sure they are confident and ready to make that step up. It’s hard at international level because you only get them for a small period of time.

Do you think the fans will be as patient? There seemed to be some boos at the end of the Slovenia game.

There were pockets of dissent against Slovenia, which I thought was unjustified. Slovenia are a good side who qualify for World Cups on a regular basis – they are an established side. And also, we had a lot of injuries so the result on the night was very good. The new players gave a good account of themselves and Nigel can build on those performances. Expectation at Windsor Park now is high and probably rightfully so; after going so long without scoring a goal we went on a great run which saw us beat the likes of Denmark, England and Spain. I think the fans need to be wary that there is a period of transition upon us and we may not see such spectacular results without a lot more hard work, and time.

You actually turned down the chance to manager Northern Ireland.

Well there is always a part of me that thinks I’d love the chance to do it, but I personally feel that an international manager should be one who is vastly experienced and has worked with top class players on a regular basis. In international football, you’re getting a group of millionaires and you have to merge them into a team and forge a good solid team spirit and get them working as hard as they can for each other and pulling in the right direction.

Thanks very much for your time Jim, and hope to see you in a dugout soon.

Lovely – thank you very much, I really appreciate it. Sport.co

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