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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nick Ward on Not Playing for QPR...Also Views of Gareth Ainsworth & John Gregory

Kilburn Times Provides Views of Nick Ward, Gareth Ainsworth and John Gregory

Kilburn Times/Ben Kosky - Casualty Ward stays hopeful
26 September 2007
FORGOTTEN man Nick Ward believes he can still carve out a career at Loftus Road - but admits he is open to offers elsewhere.
Three goals in the last six games says plenty about the QPR midfield's lack of creative output this season, yet the Australian playmaker seems to be a long way from the first-team reckoning.
Ward has never been afforded a run in the side since John Gregory took over as manager and he was loaned to Brighton for the entire second half of last season.
"I think it can still work out for me at QPR," the 22-year-old midfielder told the Times. "But, if not, I want to stay in Europe. If an opportunity comes up in January I'll look at it.
"I haven't had a good chat with the gaffer yet - when I have spoken to him I don't get a lot out of him and I really don't know whether I'm in his plans or not.
"Since John Gregory's been at the club, he's never played me in central midfield, not once. People can say what they like about me as a player but the fact is I've never played in my preferred position."
Gregory has tended to deploy Ward in one of Rangers' problem slots, on the right of midfield, or even as an emergency striker in the Carling Cup defeat by Leyton Orient.
But, apart from a substitute appearance against Cardiff four days later, the Rs boss has left Ward out of his squad on every occasion this season and was happy to let him sign for Brescia during the summer.
Ward admitted: "I'd have liked to go to Italy - I went there for a couple of weeks and the football side of things went well, but there were issues with money and stuff like that and the move fell through.
"I came back a lot sharper and feeling more positive, then I played in a couple of games for QPR and felt I did well. But that was it."
The silver lining for Ward during his struggle to catch Gregory's eye is that he has retained his place in the Australian under-23 squad as they bid to qualify for next year's Olympic Games.
Despite taking some criticism from Australian Football Federation chiefs at the time of his move from Perth Glory, Ward played - and scored - in the under-23s' 3-0 win over Lebanon earlier this month.
He added: "I think my form has been good with the Australian team. The coach, Graham Arnold, was very happy with me and said I was looking back to my best after losing my way a bit last year.
"But I'm not planning to go back to the A-League at this stage. It's just a matter of getting my head down and making the most of my chance when it comes. Kilburn Times

Gareth Ainsworth/Kilburn Times - September 2007
IT'S unusual for a 34-year-old to get butterflies before a match - but I felt as nervous on Saturday as I did when I was 18!
After being out injured for five months, I felt as if I was a youngster again, itching for my first chance to impress. It was a last-minute decision by the gaffer to put me in at the start - he told me to blast it and see how long I could go.
Coming off at half-time was partly because I'd run out of breath, partly because I'd turned my ankle going up for a header with Dan Shittu. I would have carried on with some strapping, but the gaffer said 'you've done what I needed you to, now sit and watch the rest of the game'.
It felt fantastic to be part of a good team performance. I thought Danny Cullip was outstanding, Adam Bolder had probably his best game of the season, and a few of the lads looked more positive than they have of late.
It would have been nice to have scored on my return and I won't make any excuses for the chance I missed. I didn't know it at the time, but I was relieved to hear later I'd been flagged offside.
Maybe I need to turn the sat nav on in my boots before our next game, at West Brom on Sunday.
West Brom are renowned for being a good passing side, but we gave them a right old game up there last season.
It was one of the first games where we really started to feel like a team and, if we give anything like the performance we gave against Watford, the result is no foregone conclusion.
After that we go to Layer Road and, having missed the game there last season, it'll be my first time there since my Lincoln days.
I don't think it's changed much but, just because their ground isn't the best, doesn't mean we'll take Colchester lightly. They've lost a few players and staff - some to us - but they'll still be a difficult team to beat.
Finally, there's been a lot of speculation about the gaffer's position recently and I think that's inevitable when there's been a takeover of the club.
The stories about financial uncertainty get superceded by rumours about players or the manager being replaced.
All I can say, as the senior pro at QPR, is that every one of the players is 100 per cent behind John Gregory. He's built a great family here and everyone wants to do well for each other.
We can - and will - only do our best and, as long as you do that, you can hold your head high whatever happens. Kilburn Times

Kilburn Times - Forming a queue for the Rs
26 September 2007 - By Jonny Weeks
HAD John Gregory looked over his shoulder towards the director's box on Saturday, he would have noticed a gaggle of unemployed managers seemingly queuing for his job.
Ex-Chelsea boss Gianluca Vialli, former Wimbledon and Sheffield United manager Dave Bassett and the highly-rated Martin Allen all watched from the stands as Rangers earned a battling point against table-topping Watford.
But Gregory, after a year in the hotseat at Loftus Road, says rumour over the tenability of his position doesn't trouble him one bit.
"I didn't look at the director's box - I was only looking at the pitch," was his tempestuous post-match rebuttal.
"I don't worry about the speculation. I worry more for my players because they're the ones who have to go out there and get on with it on the pitch.
"They're the ones that have got the most difficult job. I think it's been a little bit unsettling for some of them.
"But there's no pressure on me at all. I'm just the manager."
Gregory drew parallels with the sacking of Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho last week, laying the entire blame for the self-styled Special One's departure at the feet of the media.
"You're always looking for blood," he said. "You guys killed Mourinho.
"But it does not bother me one bit what the media say about me. Just leave my boys alone."
During Saturday's 1-1 draw with the Hornets - easily the most entertaining match of the season - Gregory's men came from a goal down to claim their first home point of the season.
New owners Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone were not at Loftus Road to witness the display.
But Gregory says the motor racing moguls have made contact to discuss the future of the club - perhaps an indication that the manager's head is not yet on the chopping block - and he expects more extensive dialogue in October.
"We've discussed the direction we'd like to go in," he said.
"But obviously they [Briatore and Ecclestone] are extremely busy with Formula One at the moment.

"I think that will tail off in the next month when I'm sure they will spend a little bit more time here at the club."
Unless Rangers take something from their next game, Sunday's visit to West Brom, Gregory's record this season will be equal to or worse than last year's start, which prompted the club to remove Gary Waddock from the manager's role...
Kilburn Times

Mikele Leigertwood will miss the trip to the Hawthorns on Sunday, after being shown a red card in the 1-1 draw against Watford last weekend.
Leigertwood, who will serve a one match suspension, was booked on the stroke of half-time and then received a second yellow card for a foul 10 minutes from time.
Speaking about the incident, R's gaffer John Gregory said: "Mikele made two fouls throughout the match.
"The referee could have easily let him off, but he was too quick to blow the whistle over the 90 minutes and unfortunately we'll lose Mikele for one match as a result."
Despite his sending off, Leigertwood - who joined the R's on the eve of the transfer deadline from Sheffield United - is enjoying life in W12.
And the 24 year-old central midfielder, who bagged an early contender for goal of the season with a stunning strike at the Walkers Stadium, is convinced the R's will soon start climbing the league table.
"It's only a matter of time before we start winning games," he told www.qpr.co.uk.
"We've created decent chances in our last three fixtures and once we stick the ball in the back of the net, we look a different side, as we showed against Leicester and Watford in the closing stages.
"A scrappy 1-0 would suit us down to the ground at the moment." QPR

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