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Monday, November 28, 2011

QPR Report Monday Update: Fernandes' QPR Plans...QPR's Goalkeeping Plight

QPR's Former Chairman at Old Trafford on Saturday
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Reuters -QPR eye new recruits and stadium, says Fernandes

Malaysia's AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes speaks during a news conference at Forbes Global CEO Conference in Kuala Lumpur September 14, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Bazuki Muhammad
By Alan Baldwin
SAO PAULO | Mon Nov 28, 2011 1:14pm GMT

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Queens Park Rangers could be after three or more players in the January transfer window but are unlikely to revamp the squad at the end of the season if they stay in the Premier League, according to owner Tony Fernandes.

The Malaysian aviation entrepreneur, who runs Team Lotus in Formula One, also told Reuters at the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix that QPR were looking at sites in West London for a new stadium and training ground.

"We have to strengthen our squad. (On Saturday) we had so many injuries, we just don't have a deep enough squad," he declared.

"I was given 10 days to buy players (at the end of August) and we picked up six or seven in that period and did pretty well. We need to keep building the squad, and we also need to keep building the youth squads, which is important as well."

Fernandes, previously a committed West Ham United fan who failed to buy that club, bought the West Londoners in August from Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone and former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore.

He immediately brought in highly-rated men like Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Armand Traore, Luke Young and Anton Ferdinand.

Asked what he would be looking for, Fernandes replied: "That's really (manager) Neil (Warnock)'s call, but we need to keep strengthening the back, we are short of 'keepers for a start, and up front we could do with a bit more firepower.

"We're having a meeting in the first week of December to discuss that with the shareholders," he added when asked about the budget available.

"It could be maybe three, four (players), I don't know. You could end up with none if you don't find anyone. We had six or seven in the last transfer window, which is way above what I thought we'd get.

"It depends. At the last minute some things come up. It's very hard to tell."


A keen user of social network Twitter, Fernandes recently asked QPR fans to recommend potential transfer targets and he hailed his 'mad Tony Fernandes moment' as an inspired one.

"You effectively have 100,000 scouts out there for you, and there is no way QPR could ever know every single player," he said. "Suddenly we have players we've never heard of and Neil is looking at videos and saying 'not bad'."

Come the end of the season, the club should be more settled.

"I think you can see from my life in Formula One that I'm not a revamper," smiled Fernandes, wearing his familiar red AirAsia cap. "I like stability. I don't make decisions and chop and change. That's bad.

"We've a great manager, we've the nucleus of a great team, so I don't see a wholesale change."

Loftus Road, hemmed in by residential streets in West London and with a capacity of around 18,500, is another matter.

"The key this year is to survive, but we would like a bigger ground and we are looking," said Fernandes.

"It has to be in the area. It makes no sense to move out of where you have spent most of your life, and where the fan base is. So West London is where we are and where we'd like to be.

"Building a stadium is not the easiest thing in the world but there are opportunities in West London.

"The first building that we are going to do is a new training ground, and there are two sites we are looking at, also in West London, so hopefully that will be announced soon."

How big a stadium is needed remains open to debate.

"Some fans are saying 'We don't have a fan base bigger than 20,000'...My gut feel is 40-45,000. That's double where we are right now, but we're in London and there's a strong catchment area," said Fernandes.

"We'll do some studies on that. The beauty of Loftus Road is that it's so intimidating."

The Malaysian also joined in criticism of FIFA president Sepp Blatter for recent comments on racism in soccer.

"His comments were said without a lot of thought, and with a little bit of nonchalance that shouldn't be there for someone who is FIFA president," said Fernandes, whose defender Ferdinand is at the centre of a police investigation after Chelsea's John Terry was accused of racially abusing him.

"He (Blatter) probably didn't mean it the way it came out, but he's the president of FIFA so he's got to be gooder than good.

"Football administration has to sort itself out. It's too big a sport, there is too much money around," added Fernandes.

"When countries are changing and asking for freedom and democracy, and you have organisations such as FIFA, there just needs to be more transparency. The world demands it, and the world should get it."

(editing by Mark Meadows) Reuters

Ian Cooper/London 24
- The QPR Monday Verdict: Rangers manager is faced with a midfield conundrum

Lack of goals from Rangers’ middle men is a problem Neil Warnock must solve in January
Neil Warnock has stated that signing a midfielder will be one of his priorities in January and it is difficult to escape the conclusion that such a player will come as a replacement for Adel Taarabt.

Taarabt has seemingly sealed his own fate at Loftus Road with a series of indifferent displays on the pitch and ill-discipline off it that have surely paved the way for his exit when the transfer window reopens.

There may yet be scope for his return to the first team but every game that passes with the Moroccan on the bench sees him edge another inch out of the exit door. The truth is that his attitude has rarely been one of a player ready to show the commitment and desire to earn his place in the side, it has been on of an individual desperate to secure a transfer.

But since Tony Fernandes’ takeover this season was never going to be about Taarabt, and the upside for his manager is that in Taarabt’s absence, his team-mates have produced displays of expansive football, playing within in a new, more attacking 4-4-2 system that is bringing the best out of strikers Jay Bothroyd and Heidar Helguson.

The negative is that Warnock now presides over a midfield which though defensively strong and attackingly creative, does not carry a goal-scoring threat to match the strikers.

Shaun Wright-Phillips is a potent weapon both on the wings and through the middle, in many ways taking on the mantle from Taarabt, but has faded after his flying start.

Handed a ‘free’ role by Warnock, Wright-Phillips has been unlucky not to break his duck, but history says that throughout his fluctuating career the former Manchester City and Chelsea man has never been a regular on the score-sheet, and is unlikely to be so for Rangers.

Jamie Mackie has also found form, particularly in the last two games against Stoke and Norwich. It was his shot which cannoned back off the post allowing Luke Young to net QPR’s equaliser at Carrow Road. But though a reliable and hard-working figure, Mackie is similarly unlikely to get anywhere near double figures this campaign.

Alejandro Faurlin’s performances from deep have drawn many plaudits already, but his is a role which allows few forays forward, while the same can be said for skipper Joey Barton, who has looked far more at ease in his deeper role of recent weeks.

Indeed, QPR’s only goals from the middle so far this season came in that 3-0 win against Wolves at Molineux in September. Since then, Helguson has scored five, Bothroyd two, and right-back Young two.

Come January, Warnock will certainly have greater concerns than his midfield, namely plugging the gaps in a defence which in the last few weeks has been beset by injuries and become alarmingly porous, conceding 10 goals in the last four games. One, if not two versatile defenders will be added to bring much needed strength in depth.

The lack of a goalscorer from the middle of the park will not make of break QPR’s season, but it could yet be a deficiency which hurts them.

There is an argument to suggest that as long as the likes of Wright-Phillips, Mackie and Barton continue to lay on chances for the strikers, the dearth of goals from further back matters little.

But Bothroyd and Helguson will almost certainly go through periods without a goal, and they are the moments when the presence of a midfielder capable of taking over that responsibility becomes invaluable.

Warnock does have Akos Buzsaky to call on, but has been reluctant to play the Hungary international, whose 12 minutes at Norwich were his first since the defeat at Wigan in September.

DJ Campbell’s return from injury this month will bring an additional option, the former Blackpool man capable of playing up front and in the hole behind the front two if required.

That makes Warnock’s recent assertion that, as well as a midfielder, he is in the hunt for not one but two strikers somewhat hard to fathom. In Bothroyd, Helguson and Campbell the manager would need only one more addition to his front line to be considered rich with options in that department.

Rather, a goal-scoring midfielder is one of the missing pieces in Warnock’s puzzle. Many will still harbour hopes that Taarabt is the man to solve it, but he is clearly craving his big move and is unsuited to a formation which is no longer constructed around him.

It is a problem which, when Fernandes opens his chequebook again in January, will be high on his manager’s list to solve.

Follow me on Twitter @QPRTimes London 24

Gary Speed (RIP)

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David McIntyre/West London Sport - QPR plan to release youngster Elvijs Putnins as a consequence of the Premier League’s refusal to allow them to take a goalkeeper on loan.

And manager Neil Warnock claims he will opt against giving teenagers professional contracts in the future because it could limit his options if his established players are injured.

Rangers asked for permission to make a temporary signing after learning that Paddy Kenny is likely to be sidelined for several weeks.

With stand-in stopper Brian Murphy also sidelined and Radek Cerny hampered by longstanding fitness issues, the club believed they had a strong case.

But the verdict went against them because Cerny is part of their 25-man squad and they also had the option of recalling Latvian keeper Putnins, 20, from a loan spell at non-League Boreham Wood.

Players under the age of 21 do not need to be included in the squad lists submitted by top-flight clubs, so Putnins was eligible to play and was a substitute against Norwich at the weekend.

Putnins was told during the summer that he was being released, but was desperate to stay so QPR agreed he could remain on their books until his contract expires at the end of this season.

Kenny’s condition is still being assessed.Warnock says that agreement meant he was subsequently unable to make a loan signing ahead of Saturday’s game, so Putnins will soon be shown the door and other youngsters can expect no favours from the R’s boss in future.

A furious Warnock said: “We couldn’t sign anyone else and they said it was because we’ve got other goalkeepers on the books.

“We gave the lad a free transfer last year but he didn’t want to go anywhere. He wanted to train and stay with us.

“So, to be nice, we said ‘Just train with us if you want, son. You won’t play but we’ll carry on paying you until your contract’s up.’

“We’ll now have to pay the lad up in January. We only kept him out of the goodness of our hearts because he’s a good lad and we don’t mind him training with us.

“They told us that as well as him, we have another kid on professional forms. Well I won’t sign a youngster on professional forms again – and I’m sure that’s not what the Premier League envisaged. Can’t we have commonsense?”

Kenny has had an injection in a bid to speed up his return, but he is expected to be out of action for at least a month.

The club are yet to establish the exact nature of his injury, which is causing pain in his side and upper hamstring.

His absence is a major blow for Rangers and leaves them reliant on the 37-year-old Cerny, who has been nursing a back complaint.

Curiously, should Cerny be unable to play, Warnock may then be able to make a loan signing.

Warnock added: “They won’t let us sign anyone unless Radek gets injured. I could tell them he’s injured but I’m not going to lie to them.

“I think they thought I wanted to sign Jens Lehmann or Petr Cech. We only wanted someone to sit on the bench.” West London Sport

TELEGRAPH/David McIntyre
Queens Park Rangers manager Neil Warnock fuming over goalkeeper row after defeat by Norwich City
Neil Warnock’s latest brush with the football authorities ended in defeat, but the Queens Park Rangers manager says the real losers will be young players.

Elvijs Putnins, a 20-year-old Latvian goalkeeper, has failed to make the grade at QPR and during the summer was told he was being released.

He was desperate to stay, so the club agreed he could remain on their books until his contract expires at the end of this season.

Their benevolence apparently resulted in the Premier League refusing them permission to take a keeper on loan after Paddy Kenny suffered an injury ahead of Saturday’s game. With Kenny’s deputy Brian Murphy sidelined and Radek Cerny nursing a back condition, Warnock believed he had a cast-iron case.

Instead, he was advised to recall Putnins from a loan spell at non-League Boreham Wood. Putnins was on the bench at Carrow Road.

“They told us that, as well as him, we’ve another kid on professional forms,” Warnock said. “Well, I won’t sign a youngster on professional forms again, and I’m sure that’s not what the Premier League envisaged. Can’t we have commonsense?”... Telegraph

INDEPENDENT - Warnock Furious Over League's Goalkeeper Snub

Elvijs had left the building at Carrow Road on Saturday and Neil Warnock, the Queen's Park Rangers manager, was not a happy man. That the Premier League fortunes of his team could yet hinge on Elvijs Putnins, his raw fourth-choice goalkeeper, had left Warnock all shook up.

Putnins, a 20-year-old Latvian whose most recent playing experience amounts to a loan spell with Boreham Wood in the Conference South, remained on the bench, observing Radek Cerny, QPR's No 3 custodian.

But with Paddy Kenny out for weeks with a side strain, Brian Murphy, his deputy, suffering from a calf problem and Cerny plagued by a long-standing back complaint, Putnins could conceivably get a mid-match call.

The Premier League has denied Warnock an emergency keeper on loan and he is not happy: "They said it was because we had other professionals," Warnock said. "We gave Elvijs a free transfer but he didn't want to go, he wanted to train and stay. So, being nice, we said 'Carry on, son. You won't play, but we'll carry on paying you until the end of your contract'.

"We've been told we can't have an emergency keeper unless Cerny gets injured. But there should be some sort of common sense. It's not as though the injuries are false, is it?"

Cerny was hardly at fault as Norwich ended a four-match sequence without a win with goals from Russell Martin and substitute Grant Holt. Luke Young had raised hopes of salvaging a draw, when guiding home the QPR equaliser, but Wes Hoolahan and Holt, the 70th-minute substitutes, combined to secure the victory. "That's why the manager has built a squad," Holt said. "It's a squad game, no one ever plays 11 men for the whole season."

QPR suffered another storm in cyberspace, in which striker Jay Bothroyd was the target for alleged racist abuse. "Racist people are shameful," Bothroyd tweeted back. "I will report this incident." Independent

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