RED­KNAPP REL­ISHES MCCLAREN MEET­ING

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

IT’S NOT quite mas­ter ver­sus ap­pren­tice but QPR’s vic­tory over Wi­gan has set up a re­union for Harry Red­knapp and Steve McClaren at Wem­b­ley – and the Rangers boss is relishing the chal­lenge.

Char­lie Austin’s ex­tra­time win­ner sealed an ag­gre­gate play-off semi­fi­nal win for the R’s af­ter the striker had ear­lier equalised James Perch’s first-half ef­fort.

It pits 67-year-old Red­knapp and Derby boss McClaren – who guided his side to a con­vinc­ing 6-2 semi-fi­nal vic­tory over Brighton – against each other in the win­ner-take­sall clash this Satur­day.

Rams boss McClaren was given a coach­ing role by Red­knapp last sum­mer af­ter his ca­reer took a nose­dive – a dis­as­trous ten-game spell at Not­ting­ham For­est was fol­lowed by the sack at Dutch side Twente.

And de­spite see­ing his for­mer ally jump ship to take the Pride Park hot­seat in Septem­ber, Red­knapp is look­ing for­ward to get­ting reac­quainted.

“We’ve got a great game to look for­ward to with Derby,” said Red­knapp. “It’s go­ing to be a great day out and a great game.

“It’s a cup fi­nal, two good teams and I’m re­ally look­ing for­ward to it. Steve McClaren is an ex­cel­lent coach and Derby are a sharp, bright team.

“There is not much be­tween us. It will be great for the own­ers and fans and play­ers and that is all that mat­ters to me. I would love to see them back in the Pre­mier League.

“The fans drove us on, the play­ers drove us on against Wi­gan and it was an ex­cel­lent per­for­mance.We kept go­ing, they com­peted with their lives.”

De­spite a rau­cous set­ting at Lof­tus Road it was Wi­gan who scored first as James McClean’s cross was tapped home by Perch from three yards af­ter he nipped in front of Clint Hill.

It took un­til 17 min­utes from time be­fore the R’s lev­elled, Gary Cald­well brought down Ju­nior Hoi­lett just in­side the box and Austin kept his cool from the spot.

And the for­mer Burn­ley striker su­perbly di­verted Bobby Zamora’s ball past Scott Carson for a price­less win­ner six min­utes into the first pe­riod of ex­tra time.

“We gave it our all,” said Wi­gan boss Uwe Rosler. “The play­ers squeezed ev­ery lit­tle drop they had.

“The squad of play­ers have been tremen­dous.We started with play­ers who or­di­nar­ily would not have started. Be­fore they scored we had some good chances and in ex­tra time I thought we were the bet­ter side and we were un­for­tu­nate not to get to penal­ties.”

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