PANIC? JIMMY WON’T HEAR A BIT OF IT

Rangers gravy train no more, says boss

The Football League Paper - - CHRIS DUNLAVY - By John Lyons

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.

De­lib­er­ate

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.

Com­pa­triot

“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.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

CALM: QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink

MY BOY LOL­LIPOP: Tjaronn Ch­ery, above. Im­pres­sive Matt In­gram, right

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