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Sunday, October 21, 2012

QPR Report Sunday: QPR-Everton...Hughes Still Not Worried...Great Granero Profile/Interview...40 Years Ago: Dave Thomas Makes QPR Debut


Above - Like so Much Else of QPR History in Photos: From the 1880s to the 21st Century - Bushman QPR Photo Archives


     "....The highest basic wage paid by the club is £3,500 per week, which is augmented by bonuses and incentives. The players' budget is estimated at £3.5m"

- Everton Fan Site, Royal Blue Mersey "Everton at Queens Park Rangers: Q andA With QPR Report

And the Everton Perspective (and other QPR Perspective)

A Pretty Damning Piece...

Observer/Sean Ingle - QPR v Everton, Premier League, 4pm Sunday 21 October

Mark Hughes relaxed as QPR reel and odds on the sack shorten

Queens Park Rangers are yet to win a game and their manager is being criticised – should Hughes be laid back or laid off?

For someone who is coin-toss odds to be the first Premier League manager to be sacked Mark Hughes is remarkably calm. At his weekly press briefing on Friday questions intended as grenades were swished away as if confetti. Every fourth-estate doom-trumpeter pointing out Queens Park Rangers' woes – their three-week residency at the bottom of the league, the lack of a single victory, the failure of their expensive band of renegades to gel – was greeted with a relaxed counter-thrust. Wait until the injuries abate and the squad has more time together, he said, deferring his day of judgment to some undetermined point in the future.

Under pressure? Hardly. Hughes' answers carried the self-assurance of someone playing poker with marked cards. Little wonder: the QPR chairman, Tony Fernandes, recently gave him a vote of confidence that sounded more like a paean to an exalted idol: "My faith in Mark has not wavered," he said. "Not at all. I'm 1,000% behind him. I love him. "He's honest, hard-working, ambitious and he's a friend. He's a proven product."

Ahead of Sunday's game against Everton not everyone is so convinced. After their narrow escape last season, and heavy investment in players during 2012, QPR looked ready to kick on; instead they have suffered a sophomore slump. Is it a blip or something more significant?

QPR's seven games this season, taken in isolation, hardly represent a significant sample size.Yet Hughes's overall record since taking over at Loftus Road is not much more convincing.Rangers have won 22 points in Hughes' 25 games in charge, an average of 0.88 points per game. That is relegation form. Defeat against Everton would take that tally below Neil Warnock's 0.85 points a game last season. And look what happened to him.

The results are no clearer when you dig deeper into Opta's data.Hughes' QPR have a higher average goals tally than Warnock's (1.2 a game compared with 0.95), and slightly better pass completion stats (76.0% versus 74.4%). But they have also committed more fouls (11.4 compared with 10.3 a game) and conceded more goals (1.88 goals a game compared with 1.75). Before Hughes moved to Shepherd's Bush he was seen as an arch-propagator of traditional British footballing virtues: solid defence, backs-to-the-wall grit. Organisation, organisation, organisation. Now what?

Then there has been the tinkering – with players, formations, those in favour, those out. There have been games – against Spurs and Arsenal at home last season – where Hughes reaped the rewards for his managerial cunning. But sometimes it seems change for change's sake. Since 10 January, when Hughes took charge, QPR have used a total of 37 players in the Premier League, more than any other team.

Clive Whittingham, the editor of Loft for Words, is particularly critical. "He's got absolutely no idea what his best team or formation is," he says. "That was a problem last season as well. When Djibril Cissé got a red card against Sunderland it forced him to play another system, with Bobby Zamora up front and an extra man in midfield, which helped keep us up. But he found it by accident. At the moment he's just wildly thrashing around trying to find something that works."

Hughes would plead a succession of injuries – particularly in defence – as a mitigating factor. Clint Hill is a Rangers stalwart, for instance, but he lacks the legs to play left-back, as his recent performance against West Brom showed.

On the forums there is also exasperation that Park Ji-sung and, particularly, Shaun Wright-Phillips seem to have a permanent pass into the first XI, despite poor performances this season. Meanwhile Adel Taraabt and Junior Hoillett have started five matches between them. "It's what I see on a day-to-day basis," said Hughes, explaining his decisions. "Do I see a body of work leading into a game? In fairness Adel has come back and done really well. He hasn't been able to perform at the right level before. He is now – that's why he's playing."

It is not all doom and gloom. Esteban Granero and Alejandro Faurlín have impressed in midfield, as has Samba Diakité, when he has been able to stay on the pitch. And there remains optimism among fans that this team is, yes, too good to go down.

Still the question should be asked: why does Hughes look so secure? Especially with Harry Redknapp floating around. Partly it is down to Fernandes, who has shown no sign of wanting to commit hara-kiri. But there is a lack of anti-Hughes invective from the stands too. After years of petty drama and wild instability under Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, everyone craves normality.

As Whittingham explains: "If we sacked Hughes we'd get someone who would make another seven or eight signings in January. In the summer we got rid of Rowan Vine and Patrick Agyemang, who'd been sitting on massive contracts and not playing. Now it's DJ Campbell and Rob Hulse who we don't seem to have any use for. We have this massive squad with lots of players doing nothing. There's not a lot of love for Hughes but not many want him sacked either because they don't want more upheaval."

Still, that could change. The nightmare scenario for fans is that QPR could do a Portsmouth. Loftus Road is the smallest stadium in the Premier League, with a capacity of 18,500. Relegation could lead to the club's main bankroller, Lakshmi Mittal, pulling out. And with many players on big wages, that would spell trouble. "You don't know what clauses they have put in players' contracts," Whittingham says. "But if we went down, it would take a lot of bankrolling."

For now, though, it is all about the present. When asked to sum up his feelings about his team's predicament, Faurlín cut to the chase. "We are disappointed and frustrated," he said. "The quality is there, we are working really hard. But the first win will make a massive impact. We need that win." And they need it today. Guardian 


Hughes’ praise for Everton ahead of Super Sunday clash

The Everton model is a lesson for everyone. Longevity is vital for a club"

Mark Hughes

MARK Hughes has laid praise to Sunday’s opponents Everton and insists the stability in place at Goodison Park is a key reason for their recent success.

The Toffees – who have one of the Premier League’s longest-serving managers in the shape of David Moyes – have made an excellent start to the season and go into the weekend fourth in the table.

Speaking withwww.qpr.co.uk,Hughes said: “The game at the weekend is another big test for us.

“The vast majority of the teams we’ve played so far this season have been in the top half and started brightly.

“Everton have made a really impressive start to the season.

“The Everton model is a lesson for everyone. Longevity is vital for a club – and certainly one in our position that are only in their second season after coming up from the Championship.

“You need that continuity and longevity of players and management to allow you to grow as a group.

“Chopping and changing personnel is difficult. You need that understanding of how people work and what’s expected.

“That needs to be introduced over a longer period than we’ve had at the moment.”

Hughes – whose side go into Sunday’s contest still searching for a first league win – continued: “We’ve done some good work leading up to the game and have people back at a better level of fitness.

“I certainly expect a good game against good opposition – but hopefully with a better outcome for us in terms of the result.  QPR Official 

Jason Burt/Telegraph -  Esteban Granero enjoys journey from Real Madrid to Queens Park Rangers ... and calls in at Oxford University

Esteban Granero likes to walk. “I walk a lot,” he says. Recently the Spaniard made a day trip to Oxford, to see the university and gain a feel for a city that has always fascinated him

There’s one sense, above all, that struck Granero. “In the colleges, you can hear only the steps of the people, you can’t hear anything else and this is amazing,” he explains. “Otherwise, it’s silence.
"I’ve never felt that in Spain or anywhere I have visited and I’ve been to many places — maybe the only other place like this is Kyoto, Japan.
“Have you been there? They have this old town, untouched, and if you wake up early in the morning, when there is no noise, you find people wearing these wooden shoes when they are walking. You only hear the sound of their boots on the ground. Otherwise, silence.”
It was also early one morning, his first day off since his move from Real Madrid to Queens Park Rangers , when Granero drove up the M40 to Oxford.
“I could almost feel that people were there because they wanted to do something and I felt that also,” he says. “I felt small but it was inspiring — just walking, seeing the people. People who go there [to study] are not just happy with what they have, they are looking for something else and that’s how I feel about coming to England.”
It’s an intriguing, thoughtful response to a routine question as to what he does on his days off . . . but then it’s also a typical answer from Granero — whose interests range from Buddhism to Bob Dylan to, now, the quads of Brasenose and Balliol colleges. It is no surprise to hear he has almost completed a degree in psychology.
It is also interesting how the 25-year-old knits his responses to the bigger issue as to why he left Madrid, why he quit the Bernabeu for the Bush and QPR — and the role played by Chelsea’s Juan Mata, his best friend in football, in his bold decision. “He encouraged me to come here and had good words to say about Queens Park Rangers,” Granero says.
“He’s brilliant — wherever he goes he’s brilliant. He has the style. When he went from Castilla [Real Madrid reserves] to Valencia he was very young, there were many older players and it looked difficult for him. And he passed over them straight away. He goes to Chelsea — 10 minutes and he scores!
“He’s so talented and clever and he’s one of my favourite footballers and a good friend of mine. We were in the academy at Real Madrid together, with the national team academy, and now we live in the same city and we’ve always wanted to do that.” But the move was a bigger decision.
“I was born in Madrid, grew up in Madrid and I had the chance to spend my whole life in Madrid,” Granero explains. “But I wanted to enjoy football, I have always been very competitive.
"I want to compete against myself — and the way to do that is to set yourself a great challenge. This [QPR] is a perfect challenge for me — this team, this club, this league, this country. It’s a perfect fit from my point of view and with a big challenge like that I was always going to be happy.
“I have wanted to play in England since I was a child. Football was born here and they feel this sport in a way that they don’t feel anywhere else. Not in Spain. In Spain football is great, they have good players but the sport is not the same as here in England.
“I would talk to my family and say ‘one day I will play in England. I don’t know when — maybe when I am 20, maybe 25, maybe 30. Maybe for the best team in England, maybe for a team in the second division. I don’t know but someday I will play there’. And, this summer, I felt it was the right time to come here and test myself. I was plenty sure of that.”
Granero arrived as one of 12 new signings in a bewildering switch-around in the QPR squad that also resulted in 19 players leaving. At £3.8million his transfer fee was also substantially lower than first reported, making his arrival even more of a coup for manager Mark Hughes.
However with just two points from seven matches QPR are at the bottom of the Premier League and in search of their first win of the season, at home to Everton on Sunday.
“So far the results have not been good for us but they will be very good, very soon because the team is good, the players are good and we are working very hard to fix some things and also because I think this period [of the season] is made for growing up,” Granero states.
“We will improve a lot. The level will be increased and we will start winning. And when we win one game, we will win another and everything will go better for us. I think we are pretty close. I think the next game will be our first win even though we are playing against a very good team in Everton.”
His confidence is born of experience. Although he joined Real Madrid aged eight, he moved to Getafe — the other Madrid team — for two seasons, initially on loan, before being bought back. It started very badly — in fact Getafe had an identical record to QPR after seven matches with just two points — and ended in a rapid climb up the league table, a Uefa Cup quarter-final and the final of the Kings Cup.
“It was the best season for Getafe that they could remember,’ Granero says. “And it’s similar here. I think this team is better, has better players but there are many new players, quality players.” Getafe won their eighth league game.
Understandably he draws on that experience — and also the experience of returning to Madrid and fighting for a place. In three seasons, Granero made a healthy 67 appearances despite the usual flurry of big-money, big-name signings. “When I was there I came from Getafe, I was nobody,” he says.
“They [Madrid] were full of great players and every year they sign the best player they can find for your position because they have money to do that. That was good for me because in those three years I played quite a lot — 60, 70 games - which meant that if I had despaired about people being signed in my position I would have left after the first year.
“But I stayed for three years and I didn’t leave because of anyone being signed. I can fight for my place against anyone.”
There is an obvious adjustment to football in England. “It’s harder to play, it’s more physical, more intense,” Granero says of his experience of the Premier League so far.
“It’s also more pure. The referee is not stopping the game all the time I think I’m a technical player and that’s a part of me that’s needed here. It’s important. But I also know if I’m only a technical player then I am not needed here. I can do much more for the team — defending, fighting.
"I want to be involved in everything. Here you have to be a complete player, it’s not just about technique. Technique is good and important for your team but just technique? That would be worth nothing.
“We have had difficulties but I think I’m the kind of player that when things are difficult, when there is a bad moment, who wants to take responsibility, who wants to get the ball and try and change things and push the team more.
“I don’t like those who hide. Those who are there when things are going well, and then not there when times are hard. Sometimes I play this sport well, sometimes I’m really bad. I’m not the perfect player but I always want to make the best of everything.”
He feels the same about QPR. “There are teams in England who are survivors in the Premier League and they are happy with that,” Granero says. “You can see with this team that that is not enough. They are looking for more.” Step by step, just like him. Telegraph

The News Conservative Party Chief Whip, Sir George Young: A QPR Supporter!

Sir George Young - Come On you R's
25 Oct 2008

Last Saturday afternoon was spent at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, watching Reading play Queens Park Rangers. I drove there with mixed loyalties.

As a young lad growing up in Berkshire, I would make the pilgrimage on a Saturday to Elm Park Road – their old ground - to watch Reading play at home. Known then as the Biscuitmen, because of the Huntley and Palmer’s factory in the town, they never achieved the ambitions I harboured for them. They were subjected to cruel jokes by my friends who supported glamorous clubs like Arsenal and Spurs. They would ask me if it was true that, so small was the home crowd, the announcer read out the names of the spectators as well as the players. And was it the case that the Reading goalkeeper was so short-sighted that he couldn’t even find the ball at the back of the net?

Later, as the MP for Acton in West London, I shared my commitment to Reading with a commitment to Queens Park Rangers. This was not as difficult as it sounds. They were in different leagues, and both sides had white and blue colours. Both were known as the Hoops and the cry from both terraces was “Come On You R’s”. I bought four season tickets for myself and my two sons, who could then invite whichever schoolfriend they wanted to curry favour with. I started taking them at an early age – one son surprised his mother on return by singing a chant he had picked up from the terraces at Loftus Road - “The ref’s a w*nker”. Queens Park Rangers got to Wembley one year and lost, and then sank down the league. At one home game where they were playing appallingly, a dog strayed onto the pitch. The game was momentarily halted. “Leave the dog on” shouted my neighbour, “Take Masson off.”

The game last Saturday was a draw, with QPR thankful to get an away point, having sacked their manager the day before.

I played my last game of football a few years ago for the parliamentary team. We went to Bisham Abbey, where the England team trained, to play a team of Swiss Parliamentarians. We were hoping to get revenge for the Annual Ski Race at Davos which the Swiss Parliamentarians understandably won every year.

We played this match after a bitter row in the Commons, when the Labour Government were accused of breaking a pair – the equivalent of pocketing your opponent’s ball at golf. Relations had broken down and, if MP’s had ambassadors, they would have been recalled. We took to the pitch barely on speaking terms with each other and perhaps took our row to extremes. The Conservatives would only pass to other Conservatives, and the Labour MP’s would only pass to other comrades. By half-time we were severely behind. After sucking an orange, we agreed to call a truce and went on to win. Sir George Young

From Yesterday's QPR Report!

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