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Saturday, October 29, 2011

QPR Report Saturday Update: The Four Year Plan...Warnock's Perspective...Ferdinand vs Terry...Cook Exit?...Luigi DeCanio Appointment Flashback

- Four Year Flashback: Four Years Ago Today: LUIGI DE CANIO Appointed QPR Manager
- Throughout the day, the QPR Report Messageboard has news updates, comments and perspectives - even links to other board comments of interest re QPR matters (on and off the field) along with football (and ONLY football) topics in general....Also Follow: QPR REPORT ON TWITTER

- UPDATE: JOHN TERRY "Vs" Anton Ferdinand: Latest Stories..Who's Saying What..What's Been Revealed

- Four Year Flashback: Four Years Ago Today: LUIGI DE CANIO Appointed QPR Manager

- Walk to Spurs for QPR Tiger Cubs on Sunday

- Next: Spurs-QPR


Inside the 'basket case': the film that will shock football

Glenn Moore is given an exclusive look at award-winning documentary that goes behind the scenes at QPR

Saturday, 29 October 2011

One firm rule of movies is the star never dies early on. Yet in Steven Soderbergh's new flick, 'Contagion', Gwyneth Paltrow's character is killed off in the first reel. That, she explained recently, meant the audience knew no one was safe.

It is the same in another forthcoming film, The Four Year Plan. The key character rubbed out may be rather less photogenic, but Iain Dowie's sacking after 15 matches in charge of Queen's Park Rangers gave out much the same message: no one was safe.

Dowie is the first of seven QPR managers (and caretakers) featured in a startling movie which goes behind the scenes during the turbulent period in which Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone were in charge of the west London club. From the outside the club appeared a basket case during this time. This eye-opening film confirms that is what it felt like much of the time on the inside too. As then-captain Mikele Leigertwood says: "The last three years has been a nightmare to be honest."

Ecclestone (nicknamed 'mini-me' to Briatore and vice-chairman Amit Bhatia) has only a cameo role but the billionaire figures, in a revealing scene when he walks into the dressing room before a game, looks at the water bottles and energy drinks, and says "we need to cut down on this expenditure".

Elsewhere in the film, financial meetings are covered in which other cuts are discussed – such as how many flowers are provided in executive boxes, and how much is spent on hospitality meals. The match-day bill for flowers is slashed by two-thirds, saving £10,000 a season. Ishan Saksena, the MD, explains: "The philosophy [in football] is if you are spending so much on players, what is another 10, 20 grand here or there? But when you add up those 10, 20 grand, it's like a few million which we can use to buy players." Meanwhile the directors travel to matches by helicopter and Ferrari.

The real star is Briatore who, whether in shot or at the other end of sporting director Gianni Paladini's phone, dominates the film like Tony Soprano, already ready to terminate the employment of another hapless manager. He variously describes them as "idiot", "prick" and "crazy". The film also confirms the suspicion, widely held at the time, that he influenced team selection.

What it reveals, however, is that sometimes he did so to impressive effect. One episode focuses on a match against Cardiff City. Briatore and Paladini are shown discussing tactics before the match. Briatore states that Gavin Mahon, who is returning from injury, must be brought on during the game and a way needs to be found for this message to be transmitted to the caretaker manager Gareth Ainsworth. Do they send a text, phone or go via the masseuse?

With the match scoreless after an hour and Mahon still on the bench, Briatore simmers in the directors' box. "That prick in the dug-out is choosing to lose the game. If he loses this game I'll sack him," he says. Finally he orders Paladini to tell Ainsworth to bring on Mahon. Paladini reluctantly leaves the directors' box. Minutes later Mahon is seen preparing to come on. Standing behind him, in the tunnel, is Paladini. In the next scene Mahon rises to head in an 80th-minute winner, in the directors' box Briatore goes wild with a sense of joy and vindication.

It's a scene to chill any manager. As is the contempt shown by the directors towards Dowie and later managers Jim Magilton and Paulo Sousa. The latter is told to change his team at half-time, via a phone call from Briatore to Bruno Oliveira, Sousa's startled assistant. When Sousa blames the loan of leading scorer Dexter Blackstock to Nottingham Forest on the board in a post-match press conference, he is accosted in the managers' room by Paladini (in front of the bemused Keith Curle and Mick Jones, then on the staff of visitors Crystal Palace, now working with Neil Warnock at QPR). The conversation is in Italian, but the tenor is clear even without the sub-titles.

Such behaviour is anathema in football but the film is also aimed at an audience beyond the game. There will be those who will think that if Briatore, a successful businessman, wants to micro-manage, as he may have done in his other companies, why not in football? What is the difference between influencing team selection and telling his production director at Benetton to change a clothing line?

Even before Sousa has gone (fired for breach of contract over the Blackstock incident) Paladini and Briatore discuss the next appointment. The job spec features a low wage, but a big bonus for promotion, and making use of the players they have. He'll be told, says Paladini "we won't break your balls as long as you win". Magilton accepts this deal but lasts only a few months with Paladini confirming rumours that Magilton butted Akos Buzsaky. Caretaker Mick Harford has a brief run, then Paul Hart is appointed. Five games later he's out.

Next up, Neil Warnock, who says as he is introduced to young striker Antonio German: "Have you shook hands a few times with new managers?" In The Independent columnist, however, QPR have finally found the right man and the film concludes, after the scare over the possibility of suffering a points deduction over alleged contract transfer irregularities, with promotion.

There are shots of the team training, and clips of matches, but this is not a film about how a team is prepared, it is about how a club is run. The title comes from Briatore's target when he buys into Rangers, "to be Premier [League] in four years".

It is given resonance by film of a protest by Rangers fans as things go awry: "Four-year plan – you're having a laugh," they chant as police hold fans back. As this illustrates, Briatore is not popular among QPR fans, but as the Italian points out in another scene, "we saved the club", before threatening to sell and see it "go back to League One". The irony is that his plan was achieved – within four years of Briatore's arrival, QPR were in the Premier League. He and Ecclestone have since sold up. Bhatia and Paladini, both of whose passion for QPR is evident, remain.

The film won the best documentary award at the recent Marbella Film Festival and Ad Hoc films are now negotiating a pre-Christmas limited cinematic release. It arose, said director Mat Hodgson, "organically". He had been doing corporate filming for the Mittal family, the co-owners to whom Bhatia is related by marriage.

This led to filming at QPR which became a film project. "It wasn't commissioned as a vanity project, it's warts and all," said Hodgson, who adds that none of the QPR directors, when they saw the final cut, asked him to make any changes. "Films like this don't get seen because people are too protective of themselves," said Hodgson, "they deserve credit for allowing us to show what it is really like to own a football club." Independent

- Next Stop for "The Four Year Plan" - Amsterdam


Neil Warnock: How City win helped us beat Chelsea in our crazy derby

What I Learnt This Week

Saturday, 29 October 2011

I don't know which of the two scorelines was most unexpected last weekend, the one in the Manchester derby or that in our own derby against Chelsea.

It might be that one influenced the other because events at Old Trafford did my job for me when it came to relaxing our players.

There is a TV in the dressing room and at half-time our strength and conditioning coach, Carl Serrant, asked me if I wanted it turned off. I said, "Not really they are better off watching that than thinking about the game they are about to play." And they were, as they definitely didn't need reminding of the importance of a local derby we hadn't won in 16 years. It did go off at 3-1 when the lads went out for their warm-up but we found out the final score before we kicked off and it's true to say the whole dressing room was stunned – which for me was a lot better than being nervous about our game.

Good job too because it was an electric atmosphere. The noise when we came out was deafening and both sets of supporters kept it up all game. From the bench you couldn't shout any instructions because within 10 or 15 metres it was drowned out. I think one of the papers said there may have been only 18,000 but it sounded like 50,000.

Obviously we had worked on combating Chelsea in training, but no one could have forecast the way the game went which is what makes the Premier League the greatest in the world. We started off very well, then circumstances took over what with us getting the penalty then Chelsea's two sendings-off. It seemed unreal. Watching it from the bench it almost seemed like slow motion.

At half-time I wanted us to push on but we let them have the ball and their players are so good technically they kept it, even with nine men. While we had opportunities to finish the game off with four or five excellent breaks our final decisions were really poor and that gave Chelsea every encouragement. Only a good save by Paddy Kenny from Nicolas Anelka won us the game.

It reminded me of when I was at Sheffield United and we played Arsenal in the FA Cup at Highbury. We had a gameplan which was to be difficult to break down. Then Dennis Bergkamp got sent off in the first half. At the break I said, "Let's try and win it," and we opened up. I don't think we kicked a ball in the second half against 10 men, though we managed to force a replay with a penalty in the last minute.

That's how good these sides are and it was such an achievement to beat Chelsea, even in the circumstances, when you think where the club was 18 months ago – fighting relegation to League One. To beat one of the best sides in the world, and get your first home win in the Premier League, it's what dreams are made of. I waited around afterwards on the pitch and just took it in; it was amazing listening to the crowd. A lot of our fans had never seen a victory against Chelsea. There is quite a rivalry. We stopped at a garage on the way back to get a few things and the guy serving was a Chelsea fan. I tried to have a joke but soon realised it was no laughing matter as far as he was concerned.

Unfortunately it was all overshadowed by the incident the FA are investigating which is a pity as I feel the players deserve a pat on the back. As for the investigation, I'm sure you'll understand I cannot say anything while it is going on.

2. I love going to Spurs – but always lose there

The Manchester game reminded me of us conceding six at Fulham. Having conceded goals quickly what was needed was to put a foot on it and be disciplined, but we kept going forward and every time we lost the ball Fulham scored.

It was the same with United towards the end. At 3-1 down, desperate to do well for their fans, they kept going forward, and got punished like we had.

I have no doubt it'll never happen again in my lifetime but it just shows at the moment how Manchester City are. It was more or less a second string they played at Wolves in midweek and they scored five. So guess who our next home match is against ... yes, Manchester City next Saturday tea-time.

Before then we have the small obstacle of Spurs away tomorrow. When you look at the team Harry Redknapp has put together they have got to have a great chance of getting that fourth spot. Full credit to Daniel Levy for keeping Luka Modric. Everyone thought they would sell at the last minute as they did with Dimitar Berbatov. With the signings of Scott Parker and Emmanuel Adebayor they have definitely got the depth and they are so entertaining to watch.

As I've mentioned in the past, White Hart Lane is probably my favourite ground to go to even though I don't think I've ever got anything there. I remember going there with Notts County in the FA Cup in 1991. We took the lead with a wonderful Don O'Riordan 30-yard shot, then I witnessed Paul Gascoigne thump Paul Harding which should have been a red card, and I'm sure referee Peter Foakes saw it. Gascoigne gave Harding a black eye but instead of being in the dressing room having a shower he made the equaliser and scored a late winner. We were gutted, but you need that bit of luck in the cup, and Spurs ended up winning it.

3. Day Harry quit English game after facing me

It's funny, given how long Harry and I have been in the game, but we haven't come up against each other very often. I will remind him of one meeting though after the match and I'm sure he'll remember it. Back in September 1976, when I was playing for Aldershot, he played his one and only game for Brentford at the Recreation Ground. I'm sure he'll remember it vividly because had it not been for a one-off while coaching at Bournemouth six years later, it would have been his last game in English football. It was a fantastic 1-1 draw, but Harry was substituted. I can't recall if he was injured, but he must have looked at the Rec and thought, "That's enough for me."

Talking of the Recreation Ground it was great to see it full for the Manchester United Carling Cup game this week. It is wonderful the way they have revived the club since they went bust and had to start again in non-League; all credit to the board and their backers.

Michael Owen again made the most of a run-out to score. He gets stick from people saying he should have gone elsewhere to get games, and he's only staying at United for money, but he likes being at a great club. Like David Beckham he is a tremendous professional and never gives less than 100 per cent. I wish we had him, but we'd have to build some stables near the training ground for him to consider it.

4. It was a piece of cake to mark Shaun's birthday

We had a couple of presentations at the training ground on Tuesday. First, some of the unsung heroes at the club, people like the kit-man and IT expert, got some Championship winners' medals we had struck with permission from the Football League. It was great to recognise their part in our success.

Then it was cake time. As you can see, we had a birthday cake for Shaun Wright-Phillips with 30 candles on it. I was amazed he blew them all out with one puff – unfortunately it was before the picture was taken.

5. I had a wonderful time at Amit's Diwali party

On Wednesday I was invited to the house of Amit Bhatia, our vice-chairman, for Diwali. It was an amazing night. Everyone was so friendly. It's wonderful how different faiths have celebrations at different times of year. One or two had watched the Chelsea game – Amit must have filled half a stand with the number I met who'd been to the game. Amit told me he also had friends and family who watched it live in India. The chairman, Tony Fernandes, was in Malaysia watching it. It really is the most multinational league in the world.

The family missed out as they are in Cornwall for half-term but they've had some consolations. Will's been to see Tintin and Amy went to a concert by Jessie J with her friend Phoebe taking my seat.

6. 'The Four Year Plan' is superb – you must see it

Elsewhere in these pages you will see a feature on The Four Year Plan, a behind-the-scenes, warts-and-all, documentary about the last four years at QPR. I was lucky enough to see an advance copy and I must admit the whole family were glued to it. It is a must-watch. I can't wait for the premiere, to walk down that red carpet and see it on a big screen.

On Sunday morning a group of QPR fans will be walking from Loftus Road to the game at White Hart Lane, raising money for the QPR Down's Syndrome Tiger Cubs. It really is a fantastic cause. You can get more info on it at www.qprcommunitytrust.co.uk/ The Independent

SKY SPORTS - Cook expects Hoops exit

Lee Cook: Looking for a loan move and would still be open to Forest switch
[b]Queens Park Rangers winger Lee Cook reckons he may have played his final game for his boyhood club, as he seeks a short-term loan switch. [/b]The 29-year-old has managed just two appearances in the past 18 months due to a series of injuries, with his latest coming in August's Carling Cup defeat by Rochdale.

The former Watford man spent a week on trial with Championship outfit Nottingham Forest recently, with a view to a loan move, but the departure of manager Steve McClaren saw a transfer shelved.

Cook's current contract is set to expire at the end of this season and he is eager to impress prospective employers with his long-term future at Loftus Road in doubt.

"I can't really see me coming back to QPR and playing regularly again to be honest because I'm training back there now, but I can't play any first-team games as I'm not in the 25-man squad," he told skysports.com.

"If I go back there in January on the back of a good loan spell in the Championship then you never know and they might have to sit up and take notice, but all I need to do is look after my career.

"My contract is up next June, so it is important for me to go out on loan and show people what I can do.

"I have missed playing regular football, but I need to be patient and wait for the right move because I've had options to go certain places.

"People often tell me that I should go out and get some football under my belt, but at the same time I want the right move for me and a club like Forest is one that falls into that category.

"It was great to get up there for that week and get a change of scenery and a different training schedule under my belt.

"For the past six months I haven't really been looked at by QPR in terms of playing in the first team, so to go up there and be a part of everything and be involved was great.

"It was just a shame for me that McClaren walked because it looked like it was going to happen, but I'll just have to go up there and impress all over again, which is my main target." Sky Sports

MIRROR - Warnock tipped for England by rival boss

Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp reckons Neil Warnock could do the job as next England manager.

Redknapp is a hot favourite to succeed Fabio Capello at the end of Euro 2012, but he has been impressed with the job Warnock has done in QPR promoted to the Premier League.

“I’m sure he could do the job. If you have good players you have a chance,” said the Spurs manager.

“Neil has done fantastically. To walk in there and take them up first season takes some doing.

“People think it’s easy, but they’ve all been trying [at QPR] and no one got near it.

“Suddenly, he walks in and up they go. He must be doing something right.

"People love to knock him.”

Redknapp’s men face QPR at White Hart Lane on Sunday - when Scott Parker is set to skipper the hosts.

The former West Ham midfielder, who rejected a potential move to QPR in the summer, was given the armband last week because Ledley King and Michael Dawson are out injured.

“He’s been everything and more since he’s been here,” said Redknapp. “Just fantastic. He really is a good player and a great lad.

“People don’t really understand how to run football clubs - what it takes to have good teams and good dressing rooms.

“It’s like anything in life, you need good people. If you have good lads around you it makes your job easy.

“He [Parker] comes in and trains, he’s clean-cut, is a family man, gets on with his football, you can talk to him about the game, he’s fantastic. You used to be able to do that with everyone.”

QPR ended up signing Joey Barton for their central-midfield slot instead of Parker, and the pair are now set to go head to head.

Rangers are coming off the back of their headline-making win over Chelsea last Sunday and are full of confidence.

Redknapp has defender William Gallas back in the squad but Dawson needs to see a specialist about his Achilles problem.

“Michael started to run but didn’t feel good,” said the Tottenham manager. “He had another scan and now has to go to a specialist on Wednesday again to see why.

“Until he sees the specialist, we don’t know if they want to operate on him - which we don’t want.

“An operation would be a long job. We’re hoping there is nothing there and it’s part of what he’ll feel from scar tissue or something.” MIRROR

- Three Year Flashback: Is Briatore Holding QPR Back?

- CHRIS WRIGHT SPEAKS! - Very Interesting QPRNET Q&A With Ex-Chairman, Chris Wright

- Two Year Flashback: QPR1st AGM - and Ali Russell Response

- Flashback: The Too-Close QPR-Chelsea Relationship

- Flashback: Who Was at QPR Five Years Ago (On and Off The Field)

- Helping Old Players: Something QPR could do well to emulate)

- Football's Fight Against Racism, Anti-Semitism, Homophobia, etc Week (Fortnight)

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