So what goes on in the mercurial mind of Adel Taarabt when he is out on the football pitch? “Before I get the ball, I know what’s going on,” he says. “So when I receive it, I know someone is ‘on’ and I can pass it.
“I know already if I’m going to shoot or turn or dribble. I know that before I get the ball. I know exactly what I’m going to do and I feel very calm. All the time I feel calm when I have the ball. In football it’s important that your first touch is good because, then, nothing bad can happen to you.”
Calmness has not always been a quality associated with Taarabt, whose career has, at times, been as volatile as the club he now plays for – Queens Park Rangers. He has played under eight managers at Loftus Road and, aged just 23 and having joined less than four years ago, he is now the longest serving first-team player.
There is more. Taarabt has often divided opinion, and drawn some colourful and bold descriptions and comparisons — from Zinedine Zidane to Paolo Di Canio. Genius or fruitcake (Harry Redknapp has called Taarabt both)? wizard (as Martin Jol declared him) or simply not up to it (as Juande Ramos flatly observed before refusing to give him a squad number)? No one has doubted the Moroccan’s ability but several have seriously doubted whether they – or he – can properly harness it.
Taarabt himself is clear – even if he looks momentarily confused when reminded that Redknapp, when he was Tottenham Hotspur manager, labelled him a “complete fruitcake” as a teenager at White Hart Lane. “What’s a fruitcake?” Taarabt says. “Ah, I’ve got a strong character and if I’m not happy, I say things. Maybe some other players will keep it to themselves.
“But me, I don’t like injustice. If I see something that’s not good – with a manager or a player – I tell them. I can’t just say ‘OK, tomorrow is another day, I will leave it’. I’d rather have it out there, face-to-face. It’s simple.”
Taarabt has already had “face-to-face” conversations with Redknapp, now in charge at QPR, and a man he deeply admires, just as he calls his predecessor, Mark Hughes, “a great manager”.
“He has something that not a lot of managers have,” Taarabt says of Redknapp. “A lot of managers can organise the team and so on but Harry wants a player to feel he is the best.”
Taarabt gives a simple example – before last weekend’s 2-1 victory at home to Fulham, QPR’s first win of the season in the Premier League, at the 17th attempt. Taarabt scored both goals. “He came to see me and said, ‘I think you’ve nothing to learn from Berbatov because I think you can be better than him’.
“So I’m thinking, ‘If he thinks that then I’m going to show him he’s right and that I am better’. And this is Harry. He will tell you, ‘I won’t change you for anyone’. And not just me. He’s said the same to the other players and when a manager says this to you and you go on the pitch you want to show him he was right.
“I saw it at Tottenham also. Modric was there and Juande Ramos didn’t play him. We played at Stoke and Luka was put on the floor. He wanted a free kick and Ramos turned and said, ‘He’s not a player for English football’. Harry arrived and just said ‘fantastic player’. And after that Luka, game after game, wow.”
Taarabt also has that ‘wow’ factor, which was honed on the streets from the age of four.
Born in Morocco, his family moved to Berre-l’Etang near Marseille in the south of France as his father, a builder, pursued work. “I didn’t learn my skills in a football academy,” he says. “They taught me to turn this way, that way, control. But they didn’t teach me step-overs, nutmegs. They were natural. They came from God, I think.”
Balls were improvised, scrounged – and sometimes stolen. Taarabt and his friends would stand outside the wall of the local football club and any wayward shot meant a ball was lost – and taken to the nearby high rises where the boys played four v four day after day. “Five or six teams, three goals and you stayed on,” Taarabt says. “You hated to lose. When you went out you knew it would be 20, 30 minutes before you played again. You would go crazy.”
From Lens, his first club, he went to Spurs in January 2007. There, after Jol and Ramos, Redknapp encouraged Taarabt to go on loan to QPR, who he helped finally raise from the Championship and save from relegation last season.
The situation had appeared dire — and although it appears even more perilous this campaign, Taarabt says he would not swap the scenarios.
“Last year with the last 10 games you saw the teams we were going to play, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, and everyone thought ‘no chance’. But now we have more than 20 games left and I prefer that,” he says, drawing hope from last weekend’s win.
Taarabt explains what that victory felt like – and the frustration at the team’s mistakes this campaign. “You are playing, lose a goal and then you are watching the time – 75 minutes, 80 minutes and, ah, it’s hard,” he says. “When you are winning 1-0 you control the game, you are calm.”
That run of matches without a victory added to the pressure he felt to make a difference. “Everyone is waiting for you to do something but it’s not easy to go past three or four players and score,” Taarabt says. “And sometimes it’s not ‘on’ and you should not do it but you try to do it because you are thinking ‘but I have to do something’.
“It means you end up ‘forcing’ your game and you should never do that.”
That, he says, is changing. Maturity means he is more aware of when and when not to run with the ball. “I think I’ve improved a lot,” Taarabt says. “When I was 17 it was dribble, dribble, dribble. Now I’m mixing it much more. I think I’ve improved a lot and that’s normal. I’m getting older.”
There is frustration that QPR have given away “too many cheap goals”. “It’s been too easy for the opponent and it’s been like that all season,” he says. “If you play against Man United and Rooney or Van Persie put one in the top corner then fair enough but if you concede two goals at set pieces then that’s not acceptable. Concede to a piece of magic but not a set-piece.”
Taarabt feels a crucial part of QPR. He has been continually linked with moves away – Paris St-Germain and more recently Manchester United – but states emphatically: “I’ve given to this club but this club gives me a lot. Every season people say ‘he’s going to leave’ but I am still here.
“For me, coming here was the best decision I’ve made in my career and I hope, I think, I can do more for the club I feel important and want to continue to be so – to score goals, win games.
“It’s been a very difficult season but we’re still in there with a chance. Everyone was thinking we were maybe out of it but I think we can do it.” Telegraph
Redknapp plans QPR clear-out after blasting 'overpaid' remnants of Hughes' regime
RTE - Manager Harry Redknapp blasts QPR players' Wages
Stan Bowles in Photos - Brief Bowles video snippets : -- Stan Bowles couple of seconds.......Bowles invovlement in 1975 Goal of the season......(and as posted yesterday)1977 Video of QPR (with Don Givens, Stan Bowles and Leighton James at home to Manchester United [Additional Bowles video clips welcome!)
It's almost thirty years since Stan Bowles played his last professional game for QPR, and still the memories linger on. The man who, in the eye of fans, superceeded Rodney Marsh as THE greatest at QPR! (Last year, supporters of every club were asked to pick their all time favourite player for their club. QPR fans selected Stan Bowles. (So did Brentford fans!)
Say QPR and #10 and the shirt belongs to either Marsh or Bowles....
For anyone old enough to remember the early 1970s: The despair at QPR/The End of the World: When Rodney left QPR in March 1972....And then six months later, the signing of Bowles joining (an already rampant) QPR under Gordon Jago...
Bowles made his QPR debut versus Nottingham Forest - September 16, 1972 after QPR paid a record transfer fee of 110,000 pounds.....Made the first; scored the second
Gordon Jago signed Forward/Midfielder Stan Bowles for QPR in September 1972 paying Carlisle 110,000 pounds (a then-record for QPR). Bowles played 250+ games scoring 70 league goals. Tommy Docherty sold him to Nottingham Forest in December 1979 for 250,000 pounds.
Bowles helped QPR to promotion in his first season and of course was an integral part of the 1975/76 "Championship" Side.
The only question for QPR fans is who was QPR's greatest-ever: Stan Bowles or Rodney Marsh...
Recent fan surveys give that title to Bowles. In a recent PFA Poll of fans, fans of each club were asked to vote for the best player in their club's history. For QPR fans, the vote went to Stan Bowles. (For Brentford fans, the vote went to...Stan Bowles!)
September 1972: Bowles Joins QPR
Bowles made his debut at home to (pre-Brian Clough's) Nottingham Forest, September 16, 1972, two or three days after signing from Carlisle for a club-record 110,000 pounds. Bowles, wearing from that very first game, HIS #10 shirt. Within an hour, he had made the first goal for Don Givens...and scored the second...as Gordon Jago's QPR won 3-0 (Andy McCulloch getting the third). And QPR, of course, went on to promotion.
QPR's team that day. Parkes
Clement Evans Hazell Watson
Venables Francis Busby
Givens Bowles Mcculloch
From Bowles' autobiography "Stan The Man"
"I was 23 years old when I joined Queens Park Rangers in September 1972, for a then club record fee of 112,000 pounds...
"Rodney had made the No. 10 shirt his own, and, since he moved, no one wanted to tough the thing....The shirt thing didn't seem a big deal to me. I hadn't really heard of Rodney Marsh. So I just shrugged and said: "If no one wants it, I'll wear it."...
"...[A]s luck would have it, I scored one and made another for Don Givens in my first game - against Nottingham Forest on September 16th, 1972. We won 3-0, and the fans seemed to take to my style of play; which, to them, was a bit like Rodney's"(Stan The Man, page 33)
- Seven Years later, Bowles finally left QPR - ironically for Nottingham Forest (by then managed by Brian Clough).
25 October 2007 - Bowle-r hat: Stan Bowlesï¿½s England cap is going under the hammer
THE first England cap won by one of Carlisle Unitedï¿½s most colourful and talented players is expected to fetch up to ï¿½6,000 when it is auctioned next week.
The light green velvet cap was awarded to Stan Bowles when he made his debut for England against Portugal in Lisbon on April 3, 1974, not long after leaving Brunton Park. It will be auctioned at Bonhams in Chester next Wednesday.
The signing of Stan Bowles, from Crewe for ï¿½14,000 in October 1971, was one of the best bits of business in Carlisle Unitedï¿½s history.
For less than a year later,in September 1972, Carlisle sold him to Queens Park Rangers for ï¿½112,000.
Carlisle needed someone who could score goals after selling prolific striker Bob Hatton ï¿½ 38 goals in 93 league appearances ï¿½ to Birmingham for ï¿½90,000. So manager Ian Macfarlane swiftly moved for Bowles, who made his debut for Carlisle, alongside John Gorman,Stan Ternent and Chris Balderstone, in the 2-1 win against Oxford United at Brunton Park on October 30, 1971.
He went on to become Carlisleï¿½s joint top scorer that season.
At QPR, Bowles scored 71 goals in 255 league appearances and became a legend. In 2004, QPR fans affectionately voted him the clubï¿½s greatest ever player.
It was at Manchester City that Bowles started gambling and it was an addiction that nearly wrecked his promising football career before it really started.
Bowles admitted: ï¿½Iï¿½ve never tried to stop the gambling.Itï¿½s part of me and has been pretty much all of my adult life.I was an apprentice at City earning ï¿½7 a week,but Iï¿½d run the bets across the town for a Manchester gang, from pub to pub, when it was illegal to do that. I was earning more doing that than I was from football.Thatï¿½s how I got myself into trouble at City, because I wasnï¿½t turning up for training.ï¿½
One of the final straws was when he failed to turn up at Manchester airport to join City team-mates as they set off for a friendly against Ajax in Holland. He claimed later that he had over-slept.
Years later he admitted : ï¿½I had everything going for me and tossed it out of the window.ï¿½
He became a friend of George Best, who starred for Cityï¿½s arch rivals, Manchester United. Bowles said : ï¿½I used to enjoy a drink with George Best.
ï¿½He was telling me one day about the statue of him they had put in Belfast. I told him there was one of me outside Ladbrokes.ï¿½
During his career Bowles frequently clashed with authority and fell out with several managers, including Malcolm Allison, Brian Clough and Tommy Docherty.
Stan Bowles won five England caps, but his fans think he should have won more...
News and Star
BRIAN BEDFORD TURNS Seventy-Nine
- Stan Bowles rightly receives much attention as the QPR hero born on Christmas Eve. But there is another great QPR hero also born on that day: Brian Bedford. Bedford Born December 24, 1933.
In 250+ league games for QPR, between 1959 and 1965 (all in the old Third Division) with Alec Stock as manager, Bedford scored 160+ goals. Joined QPR from Bournemouth in 1959. Went to Sc**thorpe in September 1965 (Six months before Rodney Marsh arrived at Loftus Road)
1959-60 25 goals
1960-61 33 goals
1961-62 34 goals
1962-63 23 goals
1963-64 23 goals
1964-65 23 goals
1965-66 1 goal
QPR Official Site - BLAST FROM THE PAST - Brian Bedford
-In our latest instalment of exclusive past player interviews onwww.qpr.co.uk,former R's front-man Brian Bedford comes under the spotlight.
Brian Bedford (1959-1965)
- Dexter Blackstock had a fantastic campaign for Queens Park Rangers in 2006/07, notching 14 goals; and Patrick Agyemang has made an immediate goalscoring impact since his January transfer from Preston North End.
But what would be the modern day value of a striker who was guaranteed to score a minimum of 25 goals for the R's every year? One such player from the past was Brian Bedford.
In his six full seasons at Loftus Road, Bedford scored a grand total of 180 goals. His lowest tally was 25 in 1963/64. His highest was a staggering 39 in 1961/62, thereby equalling George Goddard's record from 1929/30 for the all-time QPR record of League and Cup goals scored by one player in a season.
Bedford was born in Wales and joined Rangers from Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in July 1959. He remembers the transfer with some amusement.
"When I signed for QPR, Alec Stock had just been named as the new Manager," said Bedford.
"I travelled up to West London to be interviewed by the Club and Alec said 'You'll score 30 goals a year for me son!' Just like that! So I said 'You're joking?' as my record down at Bournemouth was something like 32 goals over three years. But Alec said 'Yes you will!' And he wasn't far wrong, was he?"
Stock's all-out attacking policy was really beneficial for the strikers at Rangers and Bedford was happy to rattle home goals by the truckload.
"Alec played a big part in my goalscoring. We used to play with those old fashioned players called wingers. We always seemed to get good wide men at the Club like Mark Lazarus who could provide excellent crosses. So I was the benefactor of that.
"Then we would have one inside-forward who dropped deep. I was the inside-right and I would play up front alongside the centre-forward.
"Bernie Evans was my strike partner in my first few years at Rangers. He was a big, strong boy who was pretty useful in the air. So it was just sort of...BANG...flick on...run on...BANG...GOAL...and that's it! Very simple stuff.
"I was a very direct and hard-running player. I could hit the ball with both feet and I was good with my headers.
"I've still got the pen, plaque and two trophies that the QPR Supporters' Club presented me with for my goals in the 1961/62 season. I got six hat-tricks that year, including four in a game against Southend United.
"I recall that the top wage in the Third Division - which Rangers were in at the time - was about ï¿½35 to ï¿½40 a week. Ridiculous really! But it was still much better than the average working man's salary. Not only that, as far as I was concerned I was getting paid for something I loved doing. That was a big thing for me.
"There was certainly much more emphasis on attacking football in those days than there is today. A lot of teams nowadays play with just one lone striker, which I think is ludicrous. I call it 'dinosaur football.'
"When I see one man up front on his own, I feel so sorry for him, because he is on a hiding to nothing and it is not good entertainment for the fans."
After his great goalscoring adventures, Bedford eventually left Rangers to sign for Sc**thorpe United in September 1965. It was a time of great change at Loftus Road.
"Jim Gregory was appointed as Chairman of QPR and he started pouring some money in with new players being signed. Unfortunately, I was just starting to go a little bit over the hill as far as age was concerned. I was nearly 32 years old then. The Club had to offload some of the playing staff and I was one of them, I'm afraid.
"I had six very happy seasons at Rangers. Then they transferred me to that Godforsaken place called Sc**thorpe! I don't think Alec Stock wanted me to sign for any other London team or any nearby club in case I embarrassed him.
"It was very sad. I didn't like leaving Loftus Road. But you have to move on don't you? That's life."
Following spells with Sc**thorpe United and then Brentford, Brian Bedford's football career started to wind down - but he continued to work in the sporting environment after hanging up his boots.
"In 1967, I went over to America to sign for a soccer team called Atlanta Chiefs. While I was out there, I started playing tennis. We had outdoor courts that were floodlit so we used to play well into the evening.
"I became a little bit addicted as I knew my time in football was more-or-less over. So when I returned to the United Kingdom, I became a professional tennis coach. I did it until my knees gave out and so I retired from that.
"Then I returned to QPR as Stadium Manager in the late 1980's for five years. It was a bit archaic compared to what they have at the Club now. There was only me running the whole ground to begin with, although eventually I managed to get a plumber to help out as the place was falling apart!
"I can remember one year when we had a very severe frost. Rangers were due to play Southampton on the Saturday and there were problems everywhere around the stadium. Most of the toilets were leaking and the overhead pipes were burst. So we stayed until four o'clock in the morning before the game repairing everything! We didn't get much money for it, but there you are."
Brian Bedford is now 73 and lives just outside Cardiff. He keeps himself busy on the local golf courses and continues to watch out for all of the R's results.
"I'm a golfing fanatic! But unfortunately, I'm having a lot of trouble with my legs at the moment so I am going to have to buy myself a buggy.
"It is hardly surprising when you consider the amount of strain I have put on my body over the years. One doctor said to me 'This is pay-back time!' It is poor circulation I think.
"I still follow football and the first score I always look for is QPR. I wish the Club well, I really do. They were really good times for me at Loftus Road - the best days of my life actually." QPR
- See Also
- Dave's QPR Site - Brian Bedford
- QPR Net Interview with Brian Bedford - QPR Net/Bedford
- See Wikipedia - Bedford
- Ex-QPR Josh Parker Joins Oxford United
TABLE After Last Newcastle-QPR Meeting A Year Ago - (QPR 17 Points from 21 Games)
- Bottom Ten
Sunderland 21 24
Aston Villa 21 24
Fulham 21 23
WBA 21 22
Wolves 21 18
Blackburn 21 17
QPR 21 17
Bolton 21 16
Wigan 20 15