PANIC? JIMMY WON’T HEAR A BIT OF IT
Rangers gravy train no more, says boss
AS JIMMY Floyd Hasselbaink strode in for his post-match press conference after his side’s 2-1 defeat against Sunderland in the EFL Cup in midweek, he could have been forgiven for thinking how quickly fortunes change in football.
His QPR team went into the international break at the end of August in fifth place after a solid 1-0 win at Wigan. But a 1-1 home draw with struggling Blackburn Rovers was followed by that horrendous 6-0 defeat by Newcastle United.
Then came another Championship reverse, albeit just a 2-1 loss at table-topping Huddersfield Town last Saturday.
As the R’s returned home to Loftus Road for the first time since their Newcastle debacle, it felt there was more on the line than usual for an EFL Cup thirdround match.
Hasselbaink’s much-changed team needed to put in a strong display to regain the trust of the supporters and, to be fair, they did that, even though the Premier League visitors ultimately triumphed 2-1 with a double from Paddy McNair.
In his slow, deliberate style of speaking, the 44-year-old said afterwards he was ‘very proud’ of his players and suggested there was no need for concern following a run of one win in six Championship games that had seen the R’s slide to 16th place.
But modern-day football is a cut-throat business. A few bad results, one or two hammerings and a manager can suddenly be ‘under pressure’. The media get on your case, the fans are on your back and life takes a turn for the worse.
There were rumours that West Brom boss Tony Pulis was being lined up – simply because he sat next to QPR director of football Les Ferdinand at the Newcastle game! – or that Steve McClaren could be brought in to add a helping hand.
So, when you get the chance, it’s natural that you want to get your message across – and Hasselbaink took his.
“Guys, let’s not forget, you know, that we are only four points off the play-offs – let’s keep things in perspective,” he said. “We are changing a lot, the budget has gone down drastically, we have brought in seven young players, you know, the Bidwells, the Cousins, the Syllas – young players.
“The only older one we have got is Joel Lynch because we needed an experienced centre-half, so let’s keep things in perspective
(voice gets higher), guys, you know.
“There’s lot of things going around, panic and all this and that, but we are fine.
“Did I want to lose 6-0 against Newcastle? No. That’s not in my nature and we shouldn’t have lost 6-0.
“Did we get the right response against Huddersfield? The first 14 minutes, yes, but then after they scored we felt a little bit sad for ourselves. Second half, I saw a team that really runs and is hungry. We are still improving and we are going to keep on working. We are going to be competitive. “What we have to understand in everything that is going on is that we are not the QPR that pays all that kind of money to individuals. We have to do it different so let’s make sure we all know that.”
Indeed, the QPR gravy train is no more and the club are looking to youth, to produce players and pick up bargains from lower down the ladder.
Goalkeeper Matt Ingram, 22, signed from Wycombe, was highly impressive against the Black Cats and looks as though he will challenge current No.1 Alex Smithies for the gloves.
“Matt is eventually going to be a Premiership goalkeeper, that’s our belief,” said former Burton boss Hasselbaink. “He’s pushing Alex and he put in a good performance, but we had 11 good performances.
“That’s what I’ve told my players. If you are going to lose, this is the way you lose – with grit, with hunger, with commitment. We were almost there.” The ex-Chelsea and Leeds striker has the backing of his players to turn their minislump around and get them back on track. Dutch compatriot Tjaronn Chery, top scorer with four goals, told The FLP: “The feeling in the room was not bad (after the Sunderland game). Everyone knows today was a good game. “And, if you win two games in the league, everyone forgets the last few. Jimmy’s a good manager. He likes to work really hard. He tells people what he wants and he gets the team together. Everyone wants to play, but everyone has to work.”
CALM: QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink
MY BOY LOLLIPOP: Tjaronn Chery, above. Impressive Matt Ingram, right