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Friday, May 27, 2011

QPR Report Friday: Chasing Fans With Money...Players Linked to QPR...Marc Bircham Q&A...Flashback: QPR Exit Administration...Faurlin Profiled

- From Bushman's Updated Memories and Photos of 1968/69 Season

- 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 Report Their Phones Still Experiencing Difficulty

- Flashback Nine Years: QPR Exit Administration (and with the ABC Loan!)

- Twenty-Nine Year Flashback: QPR's FA Cup Replay Loss

- Year Flashback: Crystal Palace's Derry Set for QPR!

- Mikele Leigertwood Signs for Reading on a permanent deal.

The full 86-page FA report on "FA vs QPR and Giannia Paladini" can be read here..Selected Excerpts from the FA Report Can be Read Here

- Flashback to the Briatore/Ecclestone Takeover

Metro - Arsenal and QPR continuing to chase fans with deepest pockets - Final Third

Champions League final-goers aren't the only fans feeling the pinch this week, with QPR and Arsenal also upping their prices as the money men continue to chase those supporters with the deepest pockets.

Tomorrow night the best teams in Europe, stacked with the best footballers in the world, will compete for the biggest prize in club football. The quality will be reflected in the price, with fans asked to pay a minimum of £150 to get into Wembley, plus the outrageous £26 booking fee.

Uefa have admitted the prices are too high and, as the only people who can do anything about it they have, well, done nothing about it.

But Champions League final-goers aren’t the only fans feeling the pinch this week. One of the Premier League’s new members, QPR, have announced ticket prices for next year. Season tickets are up 40 per cent, despite there being four less games.

In a statement, the club justified the rises by arguing they are ‘in line with other London-based Premier League clubs’.

No mention about whether they’ve considered if their fanbase have a similar financial demographic to the likes of Chelsea. Or whether watching Shaun Derry is worth the same price as admiring Cesc Fabregas.

Talking of Arsenal, Gunners fans who once cautiously welcomed Stan Kroenke’s takeover were quickly up in arms when the American reacted to a sixth trophyless season by cranking up prices by 6.5 per cent.

For years now there have been warnings the Premier League will reach a tipping point, with a golden-egg scenario where fans are squeezed so tight by rising prices they have nothing left to give, and stop giving.

Yet, despite the odd club embarrassing the Premier League with swathes of empty seats, this shows no real sign of happening. Certainly not in London.

The prices at tomorrow’s Champions League final – and at Loftus Road next season – may cause, or reflect, a disconnect between football and its traditional fanbase.

But the men with the calculators aren’t silly. They know there are many able, and willing, to pay inflated prices. It’s not they don’t care who their customers are. On the contrary, they care very much.

They’re chasing the ones with the deepest pockets, as seen by accusations Flavio Briatore wants to turn QPR into a ‘boutique’ football club for London’s super-rich.

If we’re lucky, tomorrow night the likes of Lionel Messi and Wayne Rooney will produce football from another planet. For the average working fan in the street, they might as well play it there. Metro

Marc Bircham: Euro Football Zone Big Interview -Chris Atkins

This weeks big interview is ex-Millwall, Yeovil and QPR player, Marc Bircham. Marc talks to Euro Football Zone about his playing career, his idols, coaching and the future. Thanks go to Marc and hope you all enjoy!

EFZ: So, Marc. First up, you ended your playing career at Yeovil a couple of years ago and you have now moved on to become the Assistant Manager of the QPR Centre of Excellence. How are you finding the move to a coaching role?

Marc: Really enjoying it. What you have to realise is that it is like being a youth player again! To be a player you have to learn the ropes as a youth player, then it comes full cycle and you have to learn to be a coach. I was quite lucky that I started my badge at quite a young age, when I was 25 and then fully qualified last year. So now, I am on the Pro-licence which is the top award for coaches.

Last season of course, following the dismissal of Jim Magilton, you and Steve Gallen took the helm for one game. Do you have any future management ambitions?

Yeah, of course and that is why I started to coach. It is just a progression, you start off with the youth teams, maybe become an Assistant Manager one day, then move on to become a Manager further on down the line. So, hopefully, it is just the beginning on a long road to management.

You played for quite some time at QPR and where somewhat of a fan favourite at Loftus Road? What was your highlight of your playing days at the club?

I have a number of highlights, I suppose. The biggest highlight would have to be getting promoted on the last day of the season at Hillsborough, seeing eight thousand QPR fans there in a game we needed to win. I'd been told a couple of weeks before that if we didn't go up, the club couldn't afford to keep me. It was pressure time, we had Swindon at home and I think we were fourth in the league at that point, then Sheffield Wednesday away and we had to win them both to go up and we did! It was just a mixture of relief and euphoria. There was that and then there was the time I scored a last minute goal at Brentford the year before and I think there were three games to go in the season. Tranmere had been pushing us all the way to get to the play-offs. I remember being told that Tranmere were winning 2-1 just as we got a corner. The corner came out to me at the edge of the box and I volleyed it in the top corner. I think that was the most celebrated QPR goal since Clive Allen's in the 1982 FA Cup semi-final, it was mayhem! You can see it on Youtube, there were fans running on the pitch!

Agony: Play-off defeat to Cardiff
What about on the other side of things? What was the toughest moment of your QPR career? The play-off loss to Cardiff?

The play-off loss to Cardiff was one. We did fantastically to get into the play-offs, I think we won seven of the last eight games to get in there. So that was magnificent but, it was devastating. I needed an ankle operation and managed to keep it off. I was booked in to have it on the Tuesday and we played on the Sunday, so I remember battling on in the last couple of minutes and I took a whack on my ankle, it was killing! So I literally just played on to take the penalty and they then scored in the last minute. So, it was bad, but the Chairman told us afterwards that it was good we didn't go up, because we would have gone bankrupt. With the bonuses that would have been owed to other clubs, he just said it would have been a nightmare! But, for me the biggest disappointment was the injuries I suffered. I was battling hamstring injuries and in the last season or two at the club, I missed quite a lot of games through injury. It was terrible, we were in a relegation battle and I just couldn't get fit. The injuries were definitely the worst part.

As a player, just how tough is it mentally when you are suffering with injuries?

It is tough. But, you are better off knowing you will be back in say four months, then it is four months. Whereas I think with the hamstring injury I was out 2-3 months and kept trying to come back and breaking down. Breaking down is the worst feeling to have as a player because, when you can't even do the job that you love, but you still have to come in everyday, not being able to play, it is terrible. But, I had a back operation and they said I should have been out six months and I ended up coming back within four and I managed to play the last game of the season, my last game for QPR against Stoke at home. I was just so glad I made that or I would never have played another game for QPR.

Obviously, this season has gone very well for the club. How has the atmosphere been around the place?

The atmosphere has been fantastic. The Under-18's, [we] won our league and the first eleven one their league. It's the first time they have one both ever I think, or in years at least. So there is a feel-good factor around the place. There was a little bit of a dampener with the FA case, but now we can enjoy being champions of the division. The atmosphere around the training ground is solely dependant on the first-team. There is no point the youth team winning most weeks if the first team are down the bottom of the league, because the atmosphere is not going to be good. The atmosphere has been really good, the first team is doing well and the manager is interested in bringing youth players through so it really is fantastic at the moment.

Here at Euro Football Zone we have written a couple of pieces on the talents of Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlín as two of QPR's star players. How highly do you rate the pair of them?

I rate them really highly and next year they will be playing at the standard they should be and that is in the Premier League. But, they were at the club last year when form was a bit up and down. I think the difference this year is that we have some solid men in the team that are going to be your 7/10 players every week. Paddy Kenny, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry have come in, giving a good spine to the team that the flair players can feed off as well. Paddy Kenny won Player of the Season and I think that shows you. I think we had 23 clean sheets this year, so a lot of credit must go to the goalkeeper. As a player, you know the longer the game stays 0-0, if your team has the players who can create something out of nothing, then you can win 1-0. Whereas, last year we were having to score four goals to win.

Who would you say were the best players you played with and against in your career?

For my team I would say, Ray Wilkins. I was a massive fan of Ray and then he came down to Millwall from QPR and I made my debut alongside him. Just to see his enthusiasm and ability at that age, he didn't let me down! I grew up a massive QPR fan, watching them week-in week-out and I think if you speak to Ray he would tell you some of the best football of his career was played at QPR, so then to make my debut alongside him was fantastic. The best player I played against...I played against Hidetoshi Nakata for Japan, he was very good, when I was playing for Canada. Then Rafael Marquez who played for Barcelona, was playing for Mexico. He played in Midfield in that game and everything was very easy for him.

Idol: QPR #10 John Byrne
Who was your football idol growing up?

My footballing idol was John Byrne. I suppose a lot of people will know him from his Sunderland days when they went on a cup run and beat Liverpool. I remember I had my hair like him. He was a typical QPR number 10, he had bags of ability. Him and Terry Fenwick were idols and then when I got a little bit older you had Ray Wilkins and Les Ferdinand. But my first idol was John Byrne, that was about 86/87 when I was just a football fanatic. He was the player that when I scored, I would take my top off and have a retro-QPR shirt with a number 10 on the back. Then I guess the only two non-QPR heroes were Maradona and Gazza.

And of course, whilst at QPR, you had quite an interesting hairstyle. What influenced the blue and white mohican?

When I fist started at Millwall, I had quite long hair, but then when I joined QPR, me and Kevin Gallen had a bet. A drunken bet in fact, about who was the biggest QPR fan and I bet that I would dye my hair blue and white for my first game. It was something that my brother had always said when we were young, if you ever play for QPR, you have to dye your hair blue and white. So I said I will bet you £250 that I will do it and I did it for my first game. Then I got sponsored for two years. Schwarzkopf sponsored me for a year and then --- sponsored me for the next year. So, it was financially worth keeping it!

Finally, if you had to tip one future star of the game, who would it be?

I suppose it would have to be Raheem Stirling because we worked with him at QPR and now he has come to people's attention in the last six months at Liverpool. A fantastic talent, who if they can keep him on the straight-and-narrow and concentrating on his football, I expect big things from him. Chris Atkins/EFZ Interview

Daily Mail - Newly-promoted QPR eye double swoop for Zenden and Mensah
- Bolo Zenden is a target for QPR. The former Holland midfielder is out of contract at Sunderland.
- The London club are leading the chase for Ghana captain John Mensah, who has been released from a loan deal at Sunderland. He will return to Lyon. Daily Mail

Jacob Murtagh/Fulham Chronicle - QPR target Nottingham Forest star
- QPR are weighing up a move for Nottingham Forest midfielder Guy Moussi.
- Rangers boss Neil Warnock wants to add some steel to the engine room ahead of their return to the Premier League, and is keen to pinch the powerful Frenchman for free when his contract expires next month.
- However, Wigan and Everton are also believed to be interested in the 26-year-old, who has made 73 appearances for Forest since his switch from Angers three years ago.
- Warnock has other options on his shopping list, with Hull City's Seyi Olofinjana also on his radar, as exclusively revealed by Chronicle sport last month.
- The Nigerian international, who spent last season on loan at Cardiff City, only has a year to run on his deal at the KC Stadium. Fulham Chronicle

Croydon Today/Daniel Jones - Rangers are the latest top flight club interested in Clyne
QUEENS Park Rangers are the latest club to show an interest in the Eagles' talented full-back Nathaniel Clyne.

The 20-year-old is being tracked by several Premier League teams after starring for Palace this season.

Clyne has been subject to bids from Birmingham and Wolverhampton Wanderers in the past, but decided to stay at Selhurst Park and play first team football rather than warm the bench in the top flight.

However, the Advertiser has been told that a "whole host of clubs" are now after the defender, and he is widely expected to leave this summer.

Neil Warnock's Hoops are just the latest to be considering a move. Warnock knows Clyne well from his time at Palace and feels he could be an excellent addition to the Rangers squad as they prepare for life in the Premier League.

But QPR look certain to face stiff competition for the right-back's signature. Fulham, Tottenham and Arsenal are also reported to be monitoring the situation.

According to sources close to the player, Clyne has no intention of signing a new deal at Palace, that has been on the table since last year, despite his current package making him one of the lowest earners in the first team squad.

Clyne was named the Eagles Player of the Year at the club's awards evening last Saturday, but failed to turn up to collect his trophy.

His absence only added fuel to the speculation that the young defender is determined to leave.

Co-chairman Steve Parish said Clyne's no show was merely a "misunderstanding", but admitted that it would be difficult for the Eagles to hold onto the highly sought after defender much longer.

He insisted no offers have come in for the teenager but knows top flight football would be hard to resist.

"He is a fantastic player and definitely has the potential to play in the Premier League, there is no point denying it," he said. "No one has come in for him yet.

"If they do, the manager will consider the offer and do what's best for the football club." Croydon Today

Argentina Football World/Chris Atkins: Player Profile: QPR's Alejandro Faurlín26 May 2011

English football has been notoriously hard for many South American players to adapt to over the years, and below the top flight the challenge is harder still. Yet, in the tough, battle-scarred world of Championship football, an Argentine midfielder has demonstrated that subtlety and craft are just as important commodities as anywhere else in the footballing world.

Now at the end of his second year in England, Queens Park Rangers' Alejandro Faurlín has achieved a moderate level of fame in football fan circles. However, unfortunately for the player nicknamed 'El Mago – The Magician' at Instituto, this is more as a result of the recent FA Disciplinary Hearing regarding his transfer from Instituto de Córdoba in 2009. (It must be stressed that the hearing was with regards to the conduct of the Club and it's Director of Football, rather than any fault of the player).

From day one, it was clear for all to see that Faurlín was a step above this level of football in terms of basic technical ability and reading of the game. QPR supporters from very early on were aware that they had quite some talent on their hands, however the midfielder's first season in England was not all plain sailing. Until the arrival of Boss Neil Warnock mid-season in March 2010, QPR were hovering within touching distance of the relegation zone and Faurlín's form consequently suffered. But, after a season to settle in to the new environment and aided by the confidence that has spread throughout the team this season, the Argentine has delivered on a regular basis for the Loftus Road outfit.

Creative Lynchpin

Not surprisingly for a 'magician', Faurlín's left foot is a wand. He often plays the simple pass and retains possession for his team, always thinking ahead, as if playing a game of chess. The mercurial Moroccan Adel Taarabt has grabbed the majority of the headlines this season for QPR, but the efforts of Faurlín and Shaun Derry in midfield have afforded the playmaker the freedom to strut his stuff in attack. The Argentine has admitted in interviews with the QPR 'Hoops' programme that he struggled early on with the physicality of the English game, but those who have watched Rangers on a regular basis this season will have noted that the player is much improved in this regard, battling away manfully alongside the rugged Derry.

This has been the key to QPR's successful campaign. Workmanlike players such as Derry, Clint Hill, Kaspars Gorkss and Tommy Smith do the hard-graft week-in-week-out, whilst Taarabt, Faurlín and Wayne Routledge are expected to provide the quality to unlock the defence. Rangers led the league continuously from the first weeks of the season and never really looked like surrendering their advantage. Faurlín's role is crucial to the team, he is the lynchpin around which the team plays. Whilst Derry sits, Faurlin is both expected to be workmanlike in defence, but also to anchor the attacks from deep. Routledge, Taarabt and Smith in particular have thrived upon his ability to spread the play like few others in the division are able to. Whilst Faurlin may often play the simple ball to Derry or Taarabt, he is always alert and looking for the run of wide players, or on occasions a full back galloping forward.

A Tough Start

Faurlín, at the relatively young age of 24, has already experienced much in his career. Once a member of the famous River Plate youth system, the player affectionately known as 'Ali' at Rangers lost his way somewhat and ended up at hometown club Rosario Central, where he would make his professional debut. But, once more, things did not fall into place smoothly for the young midfielder and he was forced to slip down to the Argentinian Second Division, first with Atlético de Rafaela, then with Instituto. It was at Instituto where Faurlín turned his career around, with good performances supposedly drawing attention from amongst others in Europe, Inter Milan. Without going into the intricacies of his eventual move to Loftus Road, it was then in the summer of 2009 that Faurlín made his expected move into the European football scene, with QPR the unlikely destination.

The move has since paid dividends for the Rangers' number 11, with a place in the Premier League now assured for next season. With Faurlín already attracting the interest of Scottish giants Celtic, QPR will fight desperately to hold onto their potential star. Manager Neil Warnock is one person who certainly believes that Faurlín has the ability to make an impact at the highest level next season. When interviewed after Rangers final league game, Warnock showered his man with praise, stating amongst other things that Faurlín will 'set the Premier League alight.'

The Future

So, what of the man himself, how does he see the future for Alejandro Faurlín developing? In a recent interview for Argentine website Día a Día, Faurlín demonstrated the grounded nature that got him through early adversity.

"I came to England and took a big risk. My career had started off really well. I was playing for River Plate, playing for the National Youth Team and then everything fell apart."

"I'm a fighter and I have fought for a lot for things. I will never forget that I was playing Second Division football in Argentina and I won't forget all the people that helped me during that time. This is a reward for all the hard work I put in. This must be a message for all those players in the lower leagues in Argentina. You can achieve important things."

"Life is about taking decisions. I'm living through an incredible moment right now, but I want to stay the same. I want to always be the same guy."

"To reach [the Premiership], [to play] against these players and in those grounds has always been my dream and I made it. But, I will keep dreaming and I will keep fighting".

International Ambitions

Faurlín's approach and down to earth attitude are refreshing in this age of superstar footballers. He shows his fighting spirit each week and is never content to accept his current situation. At 24, there are many more years of football ahead of him and starting with this season in the Premier League, there is no doubt the young man from Rosario will be aiming high. But, what of possible international selection? It is believed Argentina boss Sergio Batista has been alerted to Faurlín's continuous progress in England and has scouted the player on several occasions.

"I heard about it and it is something that really makes me happy." says Faurlín. "Now, playing in the Premier League, I'm sure they will be able to watch me more often and more closely, playing in important matches. I'm sure that will help."

"My goal is to be consistently playing in the Premier League, but I dream of a call up to the national team. Who knows..."

by Christopher Atkins - Editor (Euro Football Zone). Contact me via www.eurofootballzone.com or Twitter @efzeditor - Argentina Football World

- Any American or Canadian Readers of QPR Report/QPR Report Messageboard? (Or any QPR Fans from Central or South America?)

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