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Friday, January 13, 2012

QPR Report Friday Update QPR Youth Beat Everton...Tough QPR Statement...Hughes and Warnock...Flashbacks

- Next Newcastle: Stats/Past Results/Past Joint Players
- For comprehensive and latest QPR news-related pieces and discussion, visit the football-only, somewhat-different QPR Report Messageboard. All QPR Perspectives genuinely welcomed! Or comment on any of the articles posted below - QPR REPORT Available on TWITTER!

- The New QPR Training Ground?

- Farewell to Darlington?

- Year Flashback: Ali Russell Officially Leaves QPR

- Flashbacks: The QPR FA Youth Cup Teams of three and Thirteen Years ago!
- QPR youth team from three years ago, Jan 2009, that lost to Newcastle in the FA Youth Cup
QPR: Bulmer, Wright, Ilesanmi, Ehmer, Harris, Olley (Bailey 74), Parker, Perring, German, Smith, Sylvan-Vanterpool (Nanetti 69).
Subs: Cox, Brittain, Molloy Match Report -
- QPR Youth team that beat Crewe in the FA Youth Cup 4th Round, 13 years ago, jan 1999, DJ Campbell on our bench?)
Team: ]Bull, Newall, Browne, Burgess, Brown, McFlynn, Wright, Jeanne, Pacquette, Bubb(thingy 80), Walshe. Sub not used - Gradley, Mills, Campbell, Cochrane Match Report -

- Rowan Vine Makes Guardian Blog "Quote of the Day"

Guardian Blog/Paul Doyle
Series: The Five
The Guardian's tea-time take on the world of footballSoothsaying from the Gallas oracleClick here to have the Fiver sent to your inbox every weekday at 5pm, or if your usual copy has stopped arriving
"Footballers have basically been gagged on here as fa warnings are being handed out for fun..everybody is so sensitive,thanks a lot bin laden" - QPR striker Rowan Vine takes to Twitter to lay the blame for footballers being punished for … um, ill-advised remarks on Twitter, squarely at the door of a dead al-Qaida leader." Guardian

Tough QPR Statement -

Due to a technical issue beyond our control, we are unable to bring you live commentary from tonight's FA Youth Cup tie against Everton.
Perform Group - who run the operational side of www.qpr.co.uk - have failed to provide us with a full explanation, but the Club will formally request that they write to all of our subscribers to explain the problem.
We totally accept that this level of service is unacceptable and we will be requesting our own written apology from them in the coming days.
We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
A full report from tonight's fixture will be available on www.qpr.co.uk later this evening.

QPR Youth Beat Everton in the FA Youth Cup
Report from the QPRofficial site

Ten-man QPR Under-18s recorded a major scalp in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup with a 1-0 victory over Everton.

Bruno Andrade's 50th-minute blockbuster brushed aside the current Premier Academy League Champions, meaning the R's will travel to either Newcastle United or Watford in round five of the competition.

Article continues

In front watching new QPR boss Mark Hughes, his backroom team and a whole host of First Team members - including skipper Joey Barton and Jamie Mackie - Rangers even had to contend with Frankie Sutherland's dismissal for a challenge on Johan Hammer on 75 minutes.

But Steve Gallen's men showed fantastic grit to hold on for a commendable win - with the impressive Andrade's beautifully-struck shot from fully 35 yards proving decisive.

The visitors were first to go close after just three minutes.

A ball into the box eventually found its way into the path of Anton Forrester on six yards, who - with his back to goal - held off his marker before turning to fire a shot just inches wide of the upright.

But the R's were soon on the attack themselves. Andrade intercepted a loose pass before driving into the Toffees half to unleash a fierce effort from 30 yards that was parried away by the hands of James Fitzgibbon.

Moments later, Hallam Hope picked up possession on the left-hand side of the box before teeing up Conor Grant, whose tame effort forced a comfortable save from Gareth Deane.

Play switched to the other end on six minutes, where Marcel Henry-Francis saw a weak shot from 20 yards held low by Fitzgibbon.

Two minutes later, Deane was called into action again to produce a smart save from Ryan Higgins' driven free-kick from distance.

Everton, it must be said, were on top inside the opening stanza.

Forrester was unlucky not to do better with an effort on 11 mintues, after he spun on 12 yards to fire a shot just wide of the right-hand post.

Despite a flurry of chances in the opening ten minutes, there were no real opportunities to note for a 20-minute spell. That had much to do with the R's growing in confidence as the half progressed.

The next clear-cut chance arrived on 33 minutes, where the Toffees went agonisingly close.

Everton broke at pace and, when Forrester sped away down the left and fired a low centre across goal, Hope's stretching leg was just unable to turn the ball into the net.

The visitors went even closer shortly after. Forrester was again involved, blasting a shot against the foot of the left-hand post after the ball broke loose in the box.

For Rangers, it was Andrade who posed the greatest threat in attack.

He duly went close just two minutes later, turning on Bradley Simmonds' pass before blasting a shot just over the bar on 20 yards.

Unsurprisingly, it was that man Andrade who struck the opening goal for the R's with a sublime effort in the 50th minute.

The 18 year-old picked up possession in his own half before running into space on 35 yards and smashing a low effort into the bottom right-hand corner of the net - that with his weaker left foot.

Everton went mightily close to draw level - again striking the woodwork - on 59 minutes.

The visitors won a free-kick 25 yards from goal and, when Higgins stepped up to fizz a shot on target, Deane pulled of a spectacular save, tipping the ball on to the bar and over.

Rangers were now having to withstand some considerable pressure and were, in truth, hanging on as the second period wore on.

But that's no disgrace, it must be said, against a side who - at youth level - were crowned the best in England last term.

Everton then spurned an excellent chance to level. Tyias Browning's hanging cross was headed down by Grant for Hope, who - albeit on the stretch - smashed a shot into the side-netting from close range at the right-hand post.

At the other end, Andrade was again in on the act, breaking free of his marker after a ball from Jake Downs before his drilled effort forced a fine two-fisted punch away from Fitzgibbon.

Rangers were reduced to ten men with 15 minutes left to play.

Sutherland's strong challenge - that after the whistle had already gone for an earlier foul - saw the Republic of Ireland Under-19 international win the ball but also catch opponent Hammar after, before referee Mr Lymer reached straight for a red card.

Five minutes of time added on saw the Toffees search for a late leveller - but they couldn't find their way past a defiant Rangers rearguard, who held on to book their place in round five.

QPR: Deane, Downs, Walker, Champion, Brown, Sendles-White, Sutherland, Simmonds, Henry-Francis, Andrade, Webb.

Subs: Monakana, Lumley, Daly, Monthe, Hubble.

Goals: Andrade (50)

Red Cards: Sutherland (75)

Everton: Fitzgibbon, Browning, Johns (Touray 83), Heneghan, Hammar (Dier 77), Lundstram, Higgins, Thomas (Waring 79), Hope, Forrester, Grant.

Subs: Taudul, Pennington.

Bookings: Dier (80)

Referee: Mr C Lymer QPR

Everton Official Site

Cup Exit Frustrates Sheedy

Thursday 12th January 2012 22:46 by Andy Lewis@efc_andylewis
Lessons to be learned in defeat, says U18s boss.

Kevin Sheedy bemoaned Everton’s inability to translate their dominance into goals as the Blues slipped out of the FA Youth Cup with a 1-0 defeat to QPR at Loftus Road.

The visitors bossed the fourth round tie for the most part, enjoying the lion’s share of possession and frequently threatening the hosts’ goal.

But the breakthrough never arrived and they paid the price as Bruno Andrade scored what proved to be the winner early in the second half.

And Sheedy told evertontv: “We have put a lot of balls in the box and had people in the box but they are not reading it to get on the end of it.

“And although we were dominant, created most of the chances and forced their keeper into a couple of good saves – for all our effort we didn’t get the goal.

“So you can look back and say we were the better side – which we were, we created the better chances – but we have not got that person in the right place at the right time.

“And in cup football if you don’t score goals then you leave yourself wide open. We can’t seem to keep clean sheets at the same time, so we are bitterly disappointed really.”

While the FA Youth Cup is a big part of the Under-18s’ calendar, fundamentally it is all about improving the players.

And for Sheedy, in defeat, sometimes the lessons are that bit more meaningful.

“The players have put in 100 per cent but we let ourselves down at times,” he added. “We gave away the ball cheaply when in some good positions and for all our dominance we needed to be better at certain things.

“Generally the performance was really good and the effort was good but we keep playing really well and not wining games and that is not a good trait.

“We need to change the mentality and start getting people on the end of good chances and there are things we will go away and work on.

“It is nice to have a good run in the cup but it is all about player development and this is a bad experience they will have to learn from. There are things to take on board and there are lessons to be learned from this.” Everton

-- Everton Fan Perspectives of QPR-Everton

Dave Mcintyre/West London Sport

Paul Parker has urged his former team-mate Mark Hughes to strip Joey Barton of the QPR captaincy.

Parker, a popular skipper during his time at Loftus Road, insists sacked boss Neil Warnock was wrong to give the armband to Barton following the controversial midfielder’s move to west London.

Parker was a fans’ favourite at QPR.
Hughes will be without the suspended Barton for his first two matches in charge, after which time he is likely to have signed at least a couple of influential players.

And Parker said: “I think ‘Sparky’ should take the captaincy off Barton.

“I hope he brings in someone who’s earned the right to be captain – someone who knows how to conduct himself off the pitch as well as on it.

“I don’t see what Barton did to warrant being made captain. I totally disagreed with Warnock’s decision to give it to him.

“Leave Barton to get on with being what he is, which is a half-decent Premier League player.

“I’m quite happy to eat humble pie if he proves to be more than that, but I just don’t see it.”

Parker, who played alongside Hughes at Manchester United, is also hoping the new Rangers manager can get the best out of Adel Taarabt.

He believes Warnock was too quick to sideline the Moroccan after Taarabt struggled to adapt to the Premier League.

“I was extremely disappointed with the way Warnock handled Taarabt this season,” said Parker.

“He should remember that one man got QPR out of the Championship: Adel Taarabt.

“He’s a very talented player. Hopefully Sparky can nail him down and get the best out of him.

“Taarabt’s got as much talent as Paul Gascoigne with the ball at his feet, but he doesn’t have Gazza’s mentality when he’s not got the ball.

“Working with Mark Hughes will be good for him in my opinion. He can make him a more complete player.” West London Sport

The Independent Blog - Michael Holden

Managerial Methods: Who is the better manager – Mark Hughes or Neil Warnock?

Some lively debate has been doing the rounds on Twitter this week after Warnock was sacked by QPR, with Hughes immediately lined-up to replace him, but the above question is one that few seem to have asked or addressed in any great detail.

Initially, there was a groundswell of support for Warnock from those who instantly sensed injustice. They believed he wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip after leading the club from mid-table mediocrity to the Championship title in his first full season at the helm. Fresh blood had come through the door in August and it was wrong of the club to demand a winning formula from Warnock so soon afterwards. His remarkable achievement in getting the R’s into the Premier League ahead of any reasonable schedule surely warranted a higher degree of trust.

However, this source of conventional wisdom was soon diluted, primarily by those who simply dislike Warnock on a personal level. He can be a pretty abrasive character in the vicinity of a football field and never more so than when he has a microphone thrust in front of his face moments after a game. His spiky nature and not-so-subtle attempts at sarcasm when he feels hard done by are always liable to rub people up the wrong way.

Needless to say, we were always going to see the worst of Warnock in the interviews that led up to his dismissal when the pressure was starting to mount and so, with his most recent outbursts still sharp in focus, there was no shortage of people willing to toast the demise of a man known to many as Colin.

Meanwhile, the news that Hughes was the number one candidate was initially greeted with virtual applause. Hughes was instantly viewed as an upgrade, a manager of genuine Premier League pedigree and a solid appointment better prepared for the calibre of players that Rangers are trying to attract.

According to many, Hughes would enter the building and instantly bring a more professional outlook by virtue of his greater experience of life at the top level. He had achieved good things with Wales and Blackburn, and then he departed with his head held high from further stints at Manchester City and Fulham.

However, Hughes is not without his detractors and they surfaced in growing number once the ink had dried on his two-and-a-half year contract. Interestingly, many of those most willing to counter the conventional wisdom about the Welshman are those who follow his previous two clubs, neither of which he left on particularly bad terms.

There was little animosity towards the Welshman at either City or Fulham at the time of his departure but their supporters have been quick to enter the fray when others saw fit to parade Hughes as a beacon of progress and ambition. The notion that he comes with a guarantee of relative success is one they are only too willing to challenge.

Neither set of supporters believes their team was in any better or worse position when Hughes left compared with when he arrived. Progress might have been made but it was so slow as to be deemed immeasureable, barely in-keeping with either his budget (at City) or the quality of the team he inherited (at Fulham).

Potential was the keyword often banded about, with Hughes always insistent that, behind the scenes, he had put solid foundations in place and the full rewards were yet to come. However, as a City fan myself, I would vouch for the latter view that there was little evidence of an impending boom on the pitch. Put simply, if the over-riding emotion at the time of his appointment was excitement, by the end it was indifference.

So everybody has their own opinions on one side or the other but, alas, few have sought to draw direct comparisons between the two men and there’s probably a good reason for that. The truth is, as questions go, they don’t really come any more abstract or subjective because the two men might as well be from different worlds. It’s like comparing Stan Bowles with Les Ferdinand. Different styles, different eras.

Except in this case it’s not different eras at all and the question is one we should attempt to answer because both men are available for work right now and one has just taken the other’s job. So what’s holding everyone back? If time isn’t the obstacle, what is preventing people from discussing the relative merits of the two men in respect of the situation facing QPR?

In my view, it all comes down to a glass ceiling. Neil Warnock isn’t viewed as a Premier League manager and he never will be. He hasn’t played in the top flight and he isn’t connected to the aristocracy by virtue of having worked for anyone who has. In simple terms, he is a second-class citizen, an unkempt and lonesome individual who has gained entry to an elite gathering on a couple of occasions by virtue of his own successes against the odds.

Hughes, by contrast, is the complete opposite. His entire career was spent playing top-level football, he is extremely well-connected and, perhaps most importantly, he can put his medals on the table for any players with big egos who might wish to question his judgement. Never would Hughes take a job in the Championship or lower down. It’s beneath him and he wouldn’t know where to start in any case. One struggles to imagine that he’s ever been to watch a lower league game off his own back.

But therein lies the crux of the problem for Warnock and the reason why, sad though it is to say, QPR were probably right to make the change they have this week. No matter what he achieves in the game and regardless of his many undoubted talents, Warnock simply doesn’t belong in the Premier League and this decision, although made with a heavy heart by Tony Fernandes, shows that he isn’t welcome.

My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that Warnock is the better manager – and by some distance. It might not count for a great deal in the Premier League, but you can only work with the resources you’re given and you can only beat what’s put in front of you, and few men will ever come close to matching Warnock’s seven promotions, which it must be pointed out, are spread rather progressively across what we now know as the Conference, League Two, League One and the Championship.

Furthermore, three of those promotions have been achieved in four attempts via the play-offs, which is perhaps the greatest testament to Warnock’s man-management and motivational ability because we all know the tension that surrounds those games and how equal the competing teams tend to be. Three promotions and a lost final from four lotteries, that’s more than just luck.

However, success is always relative and he was never going to take QPR to the standards they now aspire to because his humble background ensures that players of proven Premier League calibre – the sort of players that QPR have signed since winning promotion, and more of whom they still wish to attract – would never buy into Neil Warnock and his methods.

They will always focus on what he doesn’t know rather than what he does. And it doesn’t matter who you are and what you’ve got to say, you’re never going to make a difference if the people you’re relying on to carry out your orders aren’t listening.

A prime example to illustrate this inherent lack of respect can be provided by Joey Barton and his public remarks about Adel Taarabt barely a few weeks after he walked through the door at Loftus Road. Taarabt, as everyone knows, is a complicated character and an enigmatic sort of player, yet Barton, in no uncertain terms, questioned his ability to cut it at this level.

I’m sure there was no malice intended. Indeed, Barton probably believed he was doing it for the benefit of the team as a whole but his comments were ill-conceived and, in an instant, he had created a problem, not only for the player but also his manager.

If Barton had cared for one second about the time and energy that Warnock had invested to get the best out of Taarabt over the past 18 months, had he stopped to think about where QPR would be right now without the Moroccan’s magic in the Championship last season, then his conscience might have prevented him from undermining the authority of his manager and the confidence of a new team-mate.

Instead, it merely serves as a shining example of why both QPR and Neil Warnock are probably better off with the job going to a man who will do nothing in particular but cater for the whims and habits of players on big money who are good enough to keep the R’s in the Premier League without needing a great deal of direction.

And if a situation ever arises that leads those players to question whether Hughes really knows what he’s doing? Well, he can always put his medals on the table.

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB

Al Jazeera/Jason Dasey - How QPR can find their spark under Hughes

It will be a baptism of fire for Mark Hughes at Queens Park Rangers but the timing is right to make a positive change.
Jason Dasey Last Modified: 12 Jan 2012 17:28

QPR are a smaller club than Hughes' old haunts Man City and Fulham but they have the ambition [GALLO/GETTY]

Things are likely to get worse before they get better as new manager Mark Hughes tries to turn around Asian-owned Queens Park Rangers.

The January appointment at the newly promoted club is a shrewd one because it means that the former Manchester United and Chelsea striker will be able to attract better talent in the transfer window than his unfashionable predecessor, Neil Warnock.

Already he’s been linked to players like Andrew Johnson, Chris Samba and Nedum Onuoha with whom he’s worked before. They’re clearly a cut above the likes of Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Paddy Kenny, who go back a long way with Warnock.

And with an annual salary of around $4.6 million a year that puts him just behind Roberto Mancini, Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson, Hughes will soon be feeling the weight of expectations as he prepares himself for a relegation dogfight.

It’s a different kind of pressure to what he experienced during his 18-month stay at Manchester City, but the fans will be no less impatient for instant results.

The problem is that he takes over a dressing room in turmoil.

Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin, QPR’s best player this campaign, has just been ruled out for the season with an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Another midfielder Joey Barton is serving a three-match suspension after the outspoken club captain received a red card against Norwich in the Hoops’ last Premier League game.

And last season’s top scorer Adel Taarabt is on his way to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea to represent Morocco in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Defensively, the R’s have been a shambles, especially with the prolonged absence through injury of their key August signing, Anton Ferdinand. During their miserable run of just one win in 12 games since October, they’ve failed to keep a clean sheet as they’ve slid to 17th on the table.

Fitz Hall, Matt Connolly and the unfortunate Danny Gabbidon – who debuted with an own-goal in QPR’s opening day 4-0 home defeat to Bolton – can simply not cope with the high demands of the Premier League.

And, up front, the west Londoners are even worse with only Wigan having scored fewer times. Take away the unexpected return of seven league goals in 13 matches from Icelandic veteran Heidar Helguson and QPR could be propping up the table.

Jumping through Hoops

Hughes’ challenge is that he must get his team clicking within a fortnight – even before new signings arrive - to have a realistic chance of ensuring premiership action next season.

After Sunday’s tough trip to Newcastle, relegation rivals Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn loom in the next month so those results will go a long way to deciding QPR’s fate. With matches against Spurs, Chelsea and Manchester City in the final three weeks of the season, it would be unwise to count on any late escape act.

Relegation would be an unmitigated disaster for everyone at Loftus Road, including Malaysian owner Tony Fernandes who’s promising a budget of $30 million for new players before the end of January.

It is only seven months since a perceived lack of ambition saw Hughes walk out on Fulham after guiding the Cottagers to eighth place and into the Europa League via the Fair Play League.

Yet there are so many similarities between Fulham and QPR. They are small, historic and not very successful clubs with compact grounds in the same London borough. Yet Hughes clearly believes more in the vision of Fernandes than of Fulham owner Mohamed Al-Fayed.

Hughes will have the task of controlling Joey Barton and making the right signings in January [GETTY]

And that takes some imagination as Hughes works at Rangers’ Harlington training ground off the M4 motorway and under the flight path near Heathrow Airport, the same depressing cow paddock where the Welshman first kicked the ball around during his days with Chelsea in the mid-1990s. That was before Roman Abramovich’s billions turned QPR’s neighbours into one of the world’s slickest and most successful clubs.

Fernandes has shared his plans of building a new training facility along with a 30,000-seat stadium. But for now, that’s no more than talk with Hughes and his assistants having to make do with modest facilities.

In September 2004, he took over a Blackburn team in the bottom three and guided them to a comfortable 15th position – nine points above the drop-zone – and an FA Cup semi-final. The following season they finished sixth, thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

They were known as a super-fit and sometimes overly physical side. In all of Hughes’ four seasons in charge at Ewood Park, they finished bottom of the premiership’s disciplinary table.

A harder edge wouldn’t be a bad thing for QPR who’ve won just once at home this season – and that was against a Chelsea team reduced to nine men. Too many times they’ve just rolled over, including a dire 6-0 drubbing against Hughes’ former side Fulham on October 2nd.

Back in 1996 as Hughes rounded off his first year playing for Chelsea in London, the Blues finished in the bottom half of the Premier League standings and QPR were relegated. And Fulham? They were 17th in England’s fourth tier.

The following season Manchester City were one of the teams that QPR faced in the second tier, with the latter finishing higher on the table.

That shows how quickly things can change with the right players and philosophy. Hughes knows this. But for longer-term rewards, he will first have to ride out the storm that’s sure to arrive during his first weeks in Shepherds Bush.

* Former CNN & BBC anchor Jason Dasey is an Asia-based international sports broadcaster and host of Football Fever , the world's first international soccer podcast with an Asia-Pacific perspective. Twitter: JasonDasey Al Jazeera

JEBB STELLING/The Missing Spark - Rangers must stick by Hughes, says Jeff, however the season goes.

There will be a lot of Championship managers out there feeling a little more uneasy about their own position now that Neil Warnock is without a job.

Warnock is a master manager at that level and I'm sure that won't be lost on a number of chairmen and boards with Premier League aspirations.

I've been acquainted with Neil for a long time and I'm a big admirer of his, so he has my sympathy after being sacked by QPR this week.

Back making his Mark: Hughes has been out of the game for too long, says Jeff
I'm sure he won't take any consolation from the fact that he survived at the club for longer than any of the 13 previous incumbents in the last five years (including caretakers)!

The likes of John Gregory, Iain Dowie, Paolo Sousa, Jim Magilton and Paul Hart are among those to give it a go at Rangers but it is starting to look like the ultimate impossible job.

Neil did a fabulous job taking QPR up last year but has been unlucky in two key ways - the timing of the new owners coming in and the timing of his dismissal.

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.Tony Fernandes became the new majority owner of QPR just when the summer transfer window was about to be bolted closed, so he had to go out and buy players that he may not have bought had he been given a little more time.

Not all of those signings have come off but Joey Barton and Anton Ferdinand certainly haven't done badly, while Armand Traore has done ok.

I don't think he bought badly by any means but he bought hurriedly, that's for sure. Had he been given the leisure of buying players in this transfer window with the confidence and the backing of the owner behind him, it could have been a very different set of purchases.

But despite that we've still seen what QPR can do. They've thumped Wolves away, won at Stoke and out-battled Chelsea at Loftus Road. For the record, they also put in a fantastic performance against Manchester City, albeit a losing one.

I know QPR have now gone eight games without a win, but perhaps Tony Fernandes should have looked at the sides beneath his own. Have any of those clubs panicked and sacked their manager?

If he had given Neil another month and sufficient funds, I'm convinced we'd be looking at a different QPR.

Fernandes (who would be well advised to make decisions in the privacy of the boardroom rather than drop huge, unsubtle hints on social networking sites) might also have looked at their upcoming league fixtures: away to Newcastle in their next game, then Wigan at home, Aston Villa away, Wolves at home, Blackburn away, Fulham at home, Everton at home, Bolton away.

These are games that could have yielded a lorry-load of points for him and Rangers.

It makes me think - yet again - that a Championship manager has more job security if he gets to the play-offs and loses than if takes his side up because you are rarely given the time or the tools to do the job of keeping your side in the Premier League.

Blackpool did stick with Ian Holloway (another manager who QPR dispatched years ago) when they were relegated and they've got every chance of coming straight back up because he's still a terrific manager.

I asked this question on last week's Soccer Saturday: 'If QPR do go down, is their manager a failure?' To my mind, the answer is no.

Anyway, for now at least, we have lost one of the game's fantastic characters.

Neil is 63 now but I hope this week's events don't convince him to give up management full-time because he's still got much too much to offer. Plus he speaks as he sees it, which I find refreshing.

He may be too forthright for certain players - I'm certain there have been some who have been reluctant to go to QPR because Neil was the manager. Not everyone responds to his style of management.

But there are plenty of others who have responded. Who would have thought, for example, that Heidar Helguson or Paddy Kenny would have had such successful seasons?

One thing's for sure - I wouldn't want to be in the opposition dug-out in any game when Neil was in charge of QPR!

Any Rangers players who didn't fancy Neil Warnock are in for one heck of a shock because Mark Hughes is no soft touch either!

Mark has been in the Champions League studio on a number of occasions and while he may be softly-spoken outwardly and is a perfect gent, there is a fierce streak in him.

Mark is a driven individual who is desperate for success and I know he feels he has been out of the game for too long.

It's great to see him back but I just hope that the chairman, having made this decision, decides that he will stick by Mark whatever happens this season.

I think Mark's track record is good without being littered with the trophies that would make it exceptional. His Blackburn side had a reputation for playing the game in a 'Mark Hughes manner' - they were very combative and, on occasions, perhaps overstepped the line.

It wasn't quite a case of 'win or be damned' but that was what the club needed at the time because he didn't have huge financial backing.

Again, I thought he did very well at Manchester City; he was just unfortunate that when the new owners came in, he wasn't their man and he lost his job in pretty disgraceful circumstances.

But he kept his dignity and I admired him for that. City played some fantastic football under him. Remember his last game, that 4-3 home win over Sunderland? Fulham started slowly under his guidance but I felt he did a good job there too.

That's all water under the bridge. His priorities now are to find a central defender and someone who is prolific up front as quickly as possible because on-loan Federico Macheda doesn't appear to be the answer.

It won't be easy to find a striker of the highest calibre in the January transfer window, that's for sure, but perhaps he could do worse than look down the road at Fernando Torres.

On second thoughts...! Sky


It feels wholly appropriate to be talking to Mat Hodgson the day after Queens Park Rangers sacked their manager, Neil Warnock. For his new fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Four Year Plan, features more sackings of Queens Park Rangers managers than any film ever made.

The Four Year Plan was born when Hodgson approached the new owners of QPR, F1 magnates Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone, after they took over the west London club in November 2007. He pitched a film about their attempts to turn around the struggling, debt-ridden club. "They must have believed in themselves," Hodgson says, "to be up for the notion of documenting this journey."

The original intention was to film for just one year, but the owners' statement of a "four-year plan" to get QPR into the Premier League gave Hodgson both a title and a timeframe. "When I could see what great footage we were getting, that's when I felt we needed to continue."

The footage is indeed, dynamite – The Four Year Plan is possibly the most vivid insight into the running of a football club yet committed to film, not least for the way it reveals Briatore as a man with not even a passing acquaintance with self-doubt, despite his complete lack of football experience. Within minutes of the film's opening, he has described successive managers as "that F***ing hooligan" and "that prick in the dugout".

The club's chairman, Gianni Paladini, fares little better. In one extraordinary scene, we see Dexter Blackstock – at that point the leading scorer in a team struggling for goals – pondering signing the forms that will see him loaned out to Nottingham Forest. "Don't sign it, Dex," urges defender Fitz Hall, before turning to Paladini. "Top striker and we're sending him to Nottingham Forest. Why are you sending our top scorer away?" To which Paladini responds: "It's not me, innit." When the manager, Paulo Sousa, expresses his bafflement about the loan to the press – which duly gets him sacked – Paladini moans to Briatore: "This idiot's going to turn the fans against us … They're saying it's our fault that Dexter Blackstock is going to Nottingham Forest. These guys [managers] start out well, then it goes to their head." A line from club director Alejandro Agag sums up the attitude of the boardroom to the men in the dugout: "If there was an idiot, we found him."

There's no narration in The Four Year Plan: the only voices we hear are those of the people involved interacting with each other. "I never wanted to do interviews," Hodgson says. "Fly-on-the-wall is real. And I also don't trust voiceover, because that can tell the viewer what to think." It's possible, he agrees, that Paladini and Briatore didn't always realise the magnitude of the material they were giving – maybe they thought that when they were talking in Italian, Hodgson wouldn't bother with translations and subtitles. Hence, perhaps, the damning sequence when the pair discuss, sotto voce, the best way for them to get instructions to the manager mid-game without anyone noticing. Hodgson sees that scene as a microcosm of the interesection between "football and business and machismo. They are all encouraging each other – it's a very male environment, and they're using power to impress each other."

Amazingly, through all the upheaval – and the period documented is one of near-constant strife at QPR – Hodgson was allowed to carry on filming. "There were some awful times, when you are not welcome in many places," he says of the events portrayed – he reckons 75% of the film was shot "when things weren't going too well".

So why did it take so long for a film like this to happen? Hodgson thinks the internet made The Four Year Plan possible, by giving fans the knowledge of and thus the interest in the backroom politics of football that means there is an audience for a film largely set in finance meetings. "Ten or 15 years ago, this film couldn't have been made," he says. For which a generation of chairmen and owners must be thankful.

The Four Year Plan is released on DVD in February. It is already available from the QPR club shop. The Four Year Plan

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