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Thursday, March 15, 2012

QPR Report Thursday: Premiership Managers Rank The Best (Nothing QPR)...On This Day (The Ides): Record QPR Defeat...QPR CEO To Speak at Soccerex

- On This Day in Football, March 15 (The Ideas...!)...Future QPRs! In the League Cup Final - Don Rogers' Swindon Defeated Frank McLintock's Arsenal

- QPR REPORT MESSAGEBOARD - Visit the cutting-edge, football-only, QPR Report messageboard (and see items you won't usually read elsewhere
Visit the truly-fascinating Bushman QPR Photo Archives for additional QPR History

- QPR's Amit Bhatia Refutes Report of Buying-Millwall

- On This Day in Football, March 15 (The Ideas...!): A Record Defeat for QPR...Later QPR: In the League Cup Final - Don Rogers' Swindon Defeated Frank McLintock's Arsenal

- QPR CEO Philip Beard Speaks at the Soccerex European Forum, in Manchester at the end of the Month on "The Financial Management of Clubs"

- Squatters at Joey Barton's Home

- Rodney Marsh will be the Guest on QPR's Official Site "London Calling" on Thursday

- Flashback: Forty Years Since the Rodney Marsh Era at QPR Came to an End

- Managers' Choices: The Best Ten Players in the Championship, League One and League Two

- Football League Awards Given Out: Best Player...Best Manager...Best Young Player...Etc (And look back at 2011 and 2010)

- Annual QPR Player of the Year Dinner? No Date Announced as of Yet?

Guardian - Has Brendan Rodgers been the best Premier League manager this season?

Swansea's manager came top in a survey of his top-flight peers, with Manchester City tipped for the title ahead of United

The Swansea manager, Brendan Rodgers, has won high praise in a survey of Premier League managers by being voted the most impressive so far this season by his peers. Rodgers, who won 47% of the vote, has guided the Premier League debutants to 11th in the league after 28 matches by encouraging expansive football at all times and shunning the safety-first approach usually favoured by newly-promoted sides.

Norwich City's manager, Paul Lambert, polled second with 40%. His side are just one place below Swansea in 12th, having entertained with a no-fear approach while making household names of players with little to no previous Premier League experience: Grant Holt, Steve Morrison, Anthony Pilkington, Wes Hoolahan.

The phrasing of the question – "which manager has most impressed you" – may explain why Sir Alex Ferguson did not poll, and perhaps hints at a lack of popularity among his fellow managers. The only other two managers to attract any votes were Roberto Mancini and Steve Kean, who both polled at 6%. Kean's ability to avoid a public meltdown despite being subjected to ferocious criticism from Blackburn's disgruntled fans (who see him as being synonymous with Venky's amateurish ownership) has not been ignored.

Premier League managers tipped Manchester City for the title ahead of Manchester United, Spurs as the most entertaining team and Newcastle's Demba Ba as the signing of the season. Phil Jones pipped Daniel Sturridge in a vote of who has been the best young player, while Robin van Persie was considered the best striker. Swansea's Leon Britton polled third in the vote for best Premier League midfielder, with only Manchester City's Yaya Touré and David Silva considered better.

Read the questions and answers and comment below the line

Which Premier League manager has impressed you the most this season? 1 Brendan Rodgers 47%, 2 Paul Lambert 40%, 3 Roberto Mancini 6%, 4 Steve Kean 6%

Who has been the signing of the season so far in the Premier League? 1 Demba Ba 56%, 2 Phil Jones 13%, 3 Scott Parker 13%, 4 Sebastian Larsson 6%, 5 Juan Mata 6%, 6 Craig Bellamy 6%

Which current Premier League players do you rate as the best in each position?

Goalkeeper 1 Joe Hart 69%, 2 Pepe Reina 13%, 3 Brad Friedel 6%, 4 Shay Given 6%, 5 Tim Krul 6%

Defender 1 Vincent Kompany 88%, 2 John Terry 6%, 3 Thomas Vermaelen 6%

Midfielder 1 David Silva 31%, 2 Yaya Touré 25%, 3 Leon Britton 13%, 4 Scott Parker 6%, 5 Gareth Bale 6%, 6 Moussa Dembélé 6%, 7 Ramires 6%, 8 Luka Modric 6%

Forward/striker 1 Robin van Persie 25%, 2 Sergio Agüero 19%, 3 Demba Ba 19%, 4 Luis Suárez 13%, 5 Wayne Rooney 13%, 6 David Silva 6%, 7 Gareth Bale 6%

Who has been the best young player in the Premier League this season? 1 Phil Jones 31%, 2 Daniel Sturridge 25%, 3 Kyle Walker 25%, 4 Oriel Romeu 6%, 5 Scott Sinclair 6%, 6 Chris Smalling 6%

Who will win the Premier League? 1 Manchester City 67%, 2 Manchester United 33%

Which team in the Premier League, other than your own, do you enjoy watching play the most? 1 Tottenham Hotspur 75% 2 Manchester United 13% 3 Arsenal 6% 4 Swansea 6%

Which player do you think has been most influential in the Premier Leagues's 20 years? 1 Ryan Giggs 50%, 2 Eric Cantona 13%, 3 Paul Scholes 13%, 4 Alan Shearer 13%, 5 Thierry Henry 6%, 6 Cristiano Ronaldo 6%

Other than your own ground, which stadium/fans create the best atmosphere? 1 Liverpool (Anfield) 50%, 2 Stoke City (Britannia Stadium), 3 Newcastle United (St James' Park) 4 Everton (Goodison Park) 7%, 5 Tottenham Hotspur (White Hart Lane) 7%

The survey was conducted by Barclays for the Barclays Premier League Guardian

Dave McIntyre Reacts to Four Year Plan & Gianni

Dave McIntyre/West London Sport - The Four Year Plan

At the recent premiere of The Four Year Plan I remarked to someone that I think of such gatherings of the QPR clan as being like a dysfunctional family’s wedding, where you’re simply glad if it all passes off peacefully.

Things have changed it seems, but the film itself will forever offer of a glimpse into life at Rangers during some crazy times.

But despite the hype surrounding the documentary, it really only scratches the surface, which is why I felt a bit disappointed after seeing it for the first time last year.

“The star of the show is Amit Bhatia, who is portrayed as a cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Alf Ramsey.”

It was only on second viewing, this time surrounded by others at the premiere, that I realised what a treasure the film is if you don’t happen to have spent much of your working life close to QPR.

Despite some flaws, the film is a must-see for any Rangers fan.

It can give the impression that Briatore, Ecclestone and Mittal took over at the same time and that the story is told over a four-year period.

In fact it is filmed over three years and begins following the arrival of Mittal, who bought a stake some time after the others.

The late Harold Winton, a former Rangers director and benefactor – and a man who loved a bit of mischief making and a conspiracy theory – amusingly reckoned the cameras were put there by Mittal so he could keep an eye on what the others were up to.

The “others” isn’t what Winton referred to them as though.

Harold was one of several people well placed to comment on the QPR soap opera who were interviewed during the making of the film.

These interviews seem to have been largely banished, which is a shame because I think they may have given supporters a better understanding of events.

The star of the show is Amit Bhatia, who is portrayed as a cross between Mark Zuckerberg and Alf Ramsey.

Not here will you find his less impressive moments, or any direct disagreements with the likes of Briatore for that matter.

Those hoping for a hatchet job on Paladini will be disappointed.

But the broad thrust of the story – that Bhatia is a good egg who cares deeply about the club, brought sanity to the boardroom and was a crucial factor in Rangers winning promotion – is accurate.

The film certainly flatters Gianni Paladini and in some ways even Briatore, who appears more foolish than destructive.

Paladini is accurately portrayed as Briatore’s whipping boy and more supportive of managers than he’s given credit for, with the exception of Paulo Sousa.

Doing justice to Paladini’s role in the QPR farce was beyond the makers of The Four Year Plan as it would have meant filming three or four years earlier. I’ll come back to that.

Briatore, as early reviews noted, is comparable to Tony Soprano. Footage of his determination to get his orders down to the dugout is pure gold.

However, despite its billing as a film that shines light on events at the most troubled of clubs, there is a definite lack of what I’d call genuine ‘only at QPR moments’. And believe me there have been hundreds of those in recent years.

Directors slagging off the manager behind his back, querying his decisions, even plotting against him – these things do happen in football. They happened at Loftus Road when Briatore still thought QPR was a restaurant.

I don’t think any scene in The Four Year Plan topped the infighting over Ian Holloway’s apparent reluctance to sign Gary Cahill on loan, to give just one example, or was as ridiculous as players like Armel Tchakounte and others being signed.

So, a bit like past fly-on-the-wall insights into dressing rooms, where managers go berserk and on one infamous occasion even offer to fight their players, The Four Year Plan is fascinating and in its own way unique, but in many ways not unique to the club in question.

Only when Sousa is confronted following his comments about Dexter Blackstock’s move to Nottingham Forest did I sense the film was finally hotting up and beginning to portray the QPR I know.

The best section of the film is the climax, which involves stunning behind-the-scenes footage of the build-up to the Faurlin hearing and the day promotion was confirmed.

Those scenes will bring a lump to many throats and their lasting value to QPR fans mean director Mat Hodgson ought to be recognised in some way when the end-of-season awards are handed out in a few weeks’ time.

As the film reaches its fantastic conclusion, Neil Warnock stars as the hero of the hour and his appointment is an obvious turning point.

Consistent with QPR’s portrayal of events, the film implies that Warnock was headhunted by Bhatia. Who else?

Rangers were able to get Warnock to Loftus Road in the end.

This is comparable to the club’s mission to convince everyone that various managers signed players and not Mr Paladini.

Warnock, like others before him, was Paladini’s recommendation to the board, and he was targeted for the job long before he eventually took it. He was very much Paladini’s choice.

What changed was that there was a collective decision that Briatore would be seen to step back and Paladini would relinquish the title of sporting director, all in the hope that a strong manager could be attracted.

The real game changer though was simply that Crystal Palace went into administration, meaning QPR were able to get their man.

The sea change works and relative sanity prevails long enough for Rangers to achieve their goal – despite Briatore’s presence continuing to loom large.

But although the film gives a great insight into some of his antics, it charts a period when Briatore’s input was actually waning – even before the phantom takeover by the Mittals and Warnock’s arrival.

Yes he was still influential, and was omnipresent via Paladini’s phone, but the peak of Briatore’s self-styled dictatorship came during the first year of his involvement – before filming started.

He did step back – relatively speaking of course – following the sacking of Iain Dowie, whose troubled reign is a crucial time in terms of understanding the Rangers story but is barely covered in the film.

As I often say when talking about the QPR debacle of recent years: It’s a 2005 thing, not a 2007 thing.

Briatore didn’t bring farce to W12, he arrived to bankroll it and The Four Year Plan charts some of what then occurred.

I’d argue that as farcical as Briatore’s tenure was, the two years prior to it were even worse. Yes, worse. And a Four Year Plan-style account of that period really would have been an eye-opener for QPR fans and given them a better idea of how and why their once-great club became a laughing stock.

And while Briatore’s visits were too frequent and his input obvious, his direct day-to-day role was often overstated.

A look at Paladini moseying around with his sidekick Gianni di Marzio – sometimes quoted in the Italian media as a ‘QPR transfer adviser’ – would have given Rangers fans a much more telling insight into their club, but would not have been as interesting to other viewers.

That’s a trade-off The Four-Year Plan’s makers will no doubt have had to weigh up. I felt QPR supporters lost out to the wider public as a result, but the many fans who found the film to be a riveting expose will strongly disagree. West London Sport

Evening Standard/James Olley - Lights may go out on Sparky’s career if Queens Park Rangers are relegated

There is an implicit acceptance that Mark Hughes could walk into a job at another Premier League club should Queens Park Rangers be relegated but the truth is that his reputation is on the line in a dogfight he clearly felt was beneath him.

Now we are going to find out. Make no mistake, QPR are in a right mess. Despite the justifiable outrage at yet another case to strengthen the argument for goal-line technology — Clint Hill’s effort was disallowed in defeat against Bolton last weekend — they will not go down because of refereeing decisions.

No side ever does. It will be because they weren’t good enough and that would be a disastrous reflection on the managerial ability of a man who believes his destiny is to take charge of one of the game’s elite clubs.

Wanting too much too soon has been an affliction of QPR’s in recent years. The brilliant documentary The Four Year Plan may have hinted at patience in the title but the reality was a succession of managers walking the finest of tightropes as impatient owners feared the slightest breeze would knock the club off course.

Tony Fernandes enjoyed an instant rapport with supporters but eroded his quickly acquired reputation for establishing order where chaos once reigned by sacking Neil Warnock after eight games without a win but still outside the relegation zone.

Hughes’s first eight League games have yielded only one success — a 3-1 victory over Wigan, who now lie bottom of the table. It is a record that hardly smacks of progress, especially given the sizeable outlay in the January transfer window. Hughes spent £13million on six players and while, of course, it requires time to build a cohesive unit, the positive impact a new manager and a clutch of fresh faces often creates has been virtually non-existent.

It is not an easy dressing room to manage. Players within it have told me of a natural split between those who worked so hard on modest wages to extricate the club from the Championship and recent acquisitions handed lavish salaries predicated upon their top-flight experience.

Joey Barton’s influence on proceedings is often a topic of debate with rumours persisting the midfielder was often unhappy with Warnock’s team selection and substitutions and was more than happy to voice his disapproval. Hughes was parachuted in during a difficult first season in the top flight and had to hit the ground running.

His track record boded well but closer examination suggests he is at a crossroads in his career. In taking Wales to the brink of Euro 2004 — only to be cruelly denied by Russia in a play-off — before guiding Blackburn to the top six and their first FA Cup semi-final in 40 years, Hughes was emerging as a young manager of considerable promise.

His burgeoning reputation took him to Manchester City, where his work was cut short by a dramatic transition in the boardroom with new owners desperate to appoint their own man in conduct that garnered Hughes sympathy.

Even after an average season with Fulham which ended in bizarre fashion as he walked out seemingly to take over at Aston Villa only to remain unemployed until QPR came calling, his stock remained high.

However, the doubts were increasing. Sympathy rarely lasts in football and his past achievements are in danger of being outweighed by yet another staccato story of disappointment.

There can only be so many occasions Hughes cites a lack of ambition — as he did at Fulham — before the finger must be pointed at him.

The next four League games are against Liverpool, Sunderland, Arsenal and Manchester United while the final four are against Tottenham, Chelsea, Stoke and Manchester City.

It is a brutal run-in and one that will test Hughes’s ability to galvanise to the limit. He has done it before, notably facilitating a remarkable turnaround at Blackburn, but he is increasingly living off former glories.

Several fans confronted Hughes after Saturday’s defeat in an angry, alcohol-fuelled outburst and the club’s position in the bottom three will breed frustration and panic at an alarming rate.

In spending £80,000 a week on Barton’s wages and similar exorbitant figures for other established Premier League players, QPR proved they want to run before they can walk in a division that requires more measured transition to establish themselves as a permanent force.

Hughes’s truncated career suggests he has a similar impatience but is he really as good as he thinks he is?

QPR need Hughes to deliver but what the manager may not yet realise is how much he needs QPR to fulfil his grand ambitions.

Howard’s way short of his previous best

Howard Webb didn’t have his worst game when taking charge of Arsenal versus Newcastle on Monday night but he remains a shadow of the refereeing goliath entrusted with taking charge of the 2010 World Cup Final.

Once the best official in this country by a distance, Webb now seems capable of a baffling inconsistency that prompts so much ire among players, managers and supporters.

It isn’t for the want of trying – there is no doubt he remains as committed an official as ever but he is badly out of form.

As a former great respected across the world, is he not now the Fernando Torres of refereeing?

End pointless trend of cutting corners

Needlessly irritating thing about football No6425: Players who take corners outside the quadrant. The marking isn’t there for guidance. Put the ball in it and take the corner. The rule is simple. What possible advantage can be gained by moving the ball six inches outside it? The state of pitches is so good — in the Premier League at least — that a clean contact is possible when staying within the lines. Edging the ball marginally towards the goal is often an utterly pointless attempt to bend the rules that gives opponents a viable complaint if a goal is subsequently scored. It may seem incidental but that’s because the offence is ridiculous and unnecessary. Rant over. This is London

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