Warnock

HARRY’S STAR PLAY­ERS WILL LOVE BIG STAGE

The Football League Paper - - FRONT PAGE - Neil Warnock CON­TRO­VER­SIAL AND UN­MISS­ABLE, A TRUE FOOT­BALL MAN

DERBY may have bat­tered Brighton with fast-paced, freeflow­ing foot­ball, but there’s no chance of them do­ing that to QPR at Wem­b­ley.

De­fen­sively, the Hoops are on a whole dif­fer­ent level. They’re well or­gan­ised, they’ve got play­ers who’ve per­formed at the high­est level. I think it’ll be far more cat and mouse.

If Derby’s wide play­ers play well – Jamie Ward is as good as any­one in the di­vi­sion on his day – and Chris Martin has a good day, then any­thing can hap­pen.

They’ve also got a fan­tas­tic skip­per in cen­tre-back Richard Keogh, who I was des­per­ate to sign dur­ing my time at Leeds.

I went to the board, said he’d cost about £800,00 and they told me they’d sub­mit a bid to Coven­try. They did – but I found out later they’d of­fered £200,000, which they were never go­ing to ac­cept.

I knew he’d be a leader and he’s shown that this sea­son as the bedrock of a very open team. He’s been a rev­e­la­tion and he’ll have to be out­stand­ing for Derby to go through.

The big­gest ques­tion, though, is whether Derby’s enthusiasm will wane. Dur­ing the match, when things aren’t go­ing well for them, will they be able to change gear?

Be­cause, for me, Derby at their best would beat QPR at their best. But the Rams are a lot more hit and miss.

QPR have rarely been spec­tac­u­lar but Harry Red­knapp’s got a level of con­sis­tency from his side and I think he’ll be con­fi­dent that his big play­ers will come good on the big stage.

De­sire

I know Joey Bar­ton has had his crit­ics and plenty of run-ins with me. But as a player, I never had a prob­lem with Joey.

He’s a great talent, and this sea­son he’s got his head down, he’s shown his de­sire, his pas­sion and com­mit­ment. He’s play­ing 100 per cent for the team and I think he’ll be a driv­ing force at Wem­b­ley.

For QPR, play­ers like Joey and Niko Kran­j­car will be piv­otal, as will Richard Dunne and Clint Hill. At their age, they won’t be in­tim­i­dated by play­ing at Wem­b­ley. They’ll thrive on it.

Be­sides, any club with Char­lie Austin on the pitch has got to fancy their chances. For me, QPR have to start favourites.

I’VE en­joyed writ­ing about the Foot­ball League this sea­son. com­peti-tion that It’s a

will al­ways have a spe­cial place in my heart think and I

it’s still go­ing from to strength. strength

When you look round crowds and see

of 8,000 at­tend­ing games in League Two, the and at

full-houses for ev­ery play-off game, we must the be

envy of ev­ery coun­try in the world. Thanks for read­ing and

I will hope­fully see you next

year.

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