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Sunday, January 20, 2008

QPR's "First Tentative Steps Towards World Domination..."

["World Domination" a phrase employed by this blogger a couple of days ago!]

The Sunday Times/Rob Maul Queen's Park Rangers shine with Rowan Vine

NOT short of money or, it would seem, ambition following the bold declaration from co-owner Flavio Briatore that the club would be playing in the Champions League in the next four years, Queens Park Rangers took their first, tentative steps towards world domination yesterday with one of their most efficient victories at home this season, giving them a six-point safety net from the Championship relegation zone.

Hopefully for the F1 magnate those surprising words, which were printed in the Italian press last week, do not look foolish come the London Olympics. Yet, every journey has its beginning. The Rangers crowd were certainly convinced – this was the biggest attendance of the campaign thus far – and the performance, while not necessarily memorable, was enough to see off Barnsley and stretch their vanquished opponents’ unwanted record without a win to eight league matches.

Manager Luigi De Canio agreed with the plan, explaining that the attitude of the club needed to change first. “We can’t change it overnight. We need to play and grow together,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “What I want is players who, when they score, pick the ball out of the net and place it on the centre circle, who strive for a third and fourth. Once we do that we have a winning mentality. We don’t have a crystal ball but (Champions League football) is what we are working for. If not four years then maybe five.”

Confident words indeed. Of the nine signings made in January, six were in the starting lineup, making their full home debuts – which included the permanent captures of Akos Buz-saky and Rowan Vine – with two more on the substitutes’ bench.

Remodelled and clearly revitalised, Rangers took the lead with barely five minutes gone through one of their exciting new talents, Patrick Agyemang, signed from Preston earlier this month. The goal came from his opportunism and bravery, when he intelligently chipped the ball over the advancing goalkeeper Heinz Muller, and then fearlessly nodded the ball into the net from six yards when Dennis Souza tried to clear.

Having scored one, the 27-year-old turned provider in first-half stoppage time. The Barnsley defence, which appealed for an offside flag that never came, were carved open as Agyemang and Vine played two one-twos inside the penalty area and Vine slotted the ball in for probably his easiest goal of the season. Having had reasonable amounts of possession and territory, Barnsley needed to be more lethal in attack. Away from Oakwell, they have scored just 10 goals in 14 league matches. “We got punished for two lapses in concentration,” was manager Simon Davey’s assessment as for the 19th time since January 1950, Barnsley returned to South Yorkshire from this fixture without a victory.

Star man: Patrick Agyemang(QPR) Player ratings. QPR:Camp 8, Connolly 7, Stewart 7 (Lee 84min), Hall 7 (Mancienne 79min), Delaney 7, Vine 7, Rowlands 8, Liegertwood 7, Buzsaky 8, Blackstock 7 (Ephraim 89min), Agyemang 8 Barnsley:Muller 6, Van Homoet 6, Foster 6, Souza 6, Tininho 6, Hassell 7, Campbell-Ryce 7, Leon 6 (Ferenczi 55min 6), Howard 6, Devaney 6 (Ricketts 70min), Coulson 6 (Odejayi 55min 6) Scorers: QPR:Agyemang 5, Vine 45 Referee:R Beeby Attendance:16,197 The Times

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