O’neill hits back at Toon taunts

Midweek Sport - - THURSDAY MARCH 8 - By LUKE LOR­DAN

NE­DUM ON­UOHA con­cedes QPR have the hard­est run-in but is con­fi­dent they can stave off rel­e­ga­tion.

The R’s lie in 16th place in the Premier League, although only goal dif­fer­ence sep­a­rates them and the bot­tom three.

Mark Hughes’ team have won just once in 15 matches and face a toughlook­ing final 11 games, in­clud­ing trips to Manch­ester United, Chelsea and Manch­ester City on the last day of the sea­son.

Liver­pool, Arse­nal and Tot­ten­ham all visit Lof­tus Road be­fore the close of the sea­son as well, but On­uoha is not fazed by the up­com­ing fix­tures.

“Of course it’s the hard­est run-in,” He said.

“But teams play­ing us be­tween now and the end of the sea­son know that we have to go into games try­ing to get three points. It’s go­ing to be just as tough for them. It doesn’t mat­ter who you play against be­cause teams will be favourites.

“But it’s foot­ball – and any­thing can hap­pen.

“I don’t re­ally look back my­self. Go­ing into ev­ery game, you’ve got to try to win them.

Strug­gle

“It doesn’t mat­ter who you’re play­ing against. Ev­ery­one’s got some­thing to play for.

“If you just de­cide, go­ing into a game, that they’re prob­a­bly go­ing to win be­cause they’re a bet­ter team, then you’re go­ing to strug­gle.

“As West Brom showed on Satur­day, any­thing’s pos­si­ble in this league. They’re not too far ahead of us and they still went and beat Chelsea. They were de­served win­ners.”

An eight-point gap now sep­a­rates 15th-place As­ton Villa and QPR, who face a trip to fel­low strug­glers Bolton this week­end.

“I called it a ‘ mini league’ a few weeks ago and it is that at the minute,” said On­uoha, who joined the Hoops from Manch­ester City in Jan­uary.

“Ev­ery­one has to start win­ning games, that’s the pri­or­ity for all of the five sides down there.

“But for­tu­nately the one thing that you can say has been con­sis­tent about the other four down there – Black­burn, Wolves, Bolton and Wi­gan – is the fact that they’ve not put too many wins to­gether.

“Who­ever can get the most wins be­tween now and the end of the sea­son will prove to be cham­pi­ons of the mini league.”

prob­a­bly MARTIN O’NEILL ridiculed “hard man” Cheik Tiote af­ter re­open­ing his bit­ter war of words with Alan Pardew – ac­cus­ing the New­cas­tle boss of talk­ing non­sense.

The Sun­der­land boss re­vis­it­ing the stormy Tyne-wear derby in a bid to set the record straight, ac­cus­ing Toon mid­fielder Tiote of play-acted to help get Stephane Sesseg­non sent off.

The ri­val bosses had to be kept apart on the touch­line dur­ing Sun­day’s bad-tem­pered 1-1 draw.

And O’neill said: “Tiote, this ‘hard-man’, clutched part of his anatomy that wasn’t even touched.

“He was hit be­tween the chest and neck – enough to hit a fly over.”

Pardew claimed the Black Cats em­ployed an “ugly” game­plan.

But O’neill blasted: “His was an ex­tra­or­di­nary anal­y­sis. I wasn’t happy with his com­ments and I’m choos­ing to air my views.”

NOT BOTH­ERED: On­uoha

isn’t fazed by QPR’S run-in and in ac­tion

against Black­burn TOUGH: Hughes

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