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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Looking Back and Looking Forward:- Perspectives of Gavin Mahon, Mikele Leigertwood & Gareth Ainsworth

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - Gavin Mahon: "Gav can get back on that bus"

GAVIN Mahon believes QPR need a change of attitude next season to meet the expectations that will be heaped upon the club.
Rangers' owners have made clear their ambition to oversee a promotion challenge from a club who have floundered in the lower regions of the Championship - and below - for most of the last decade.
Mahon is familiar with the sudden transformation in a club's fortunes, having spent three years battling relegation with Watford prior to the arrival of Adrian Boothroyd.
"I remember Adie's first words were 'get this season out of the way, then we'll get promoted next year'," Mahon recalled. "Everyone thought 'hang on a minute!'
"I'll never forget the first day we came back for pre-season, he had a room at the back of the training ground with 30-odd chairs in two or three lines and one at the front.
"He sat at the front and said 'this is the bus to the Premiership, does anyone fancy getting on board?' He gave us that belief, even though we didn't have the best players and we had the confidence to keep doing what we were doing.
"As the season went on, we realised we could achieve something special. That's what we need at QPR - we've definitely got the talent, we just need to have that belief.
"We all know what needs to be achieved at this club and I've said the squad of players we've got here is better than the squad when Watford got promoted."
And since his move to Loftus Road at the turn of the year, the combative midfielder has noticed a mental fragility that manifests itself all too often in the QPR side.
Rangers have surrendered a total of 10 points through last-minute goals since Luigi de Canio took charge and, but for their inability to defend a lead, might well have been able to mount a genuine play-off challenge.
"Half-time in the game against Burnley summed it up for me," said Mahon. "We were 2-1 up at home and the lads' heads were down. I was thinking 'this shouldn't be happening after we've played 40 minutes of good football'.
"We've talked about fitness levels and concentration, which maybe we need to work on, and belief we can pull a result through. Even when you're not playing so well, you have to be hard to beat.
"We want teams coming off the pitch knowing they've been in a game and maybe that means experienced players taking more responsibility to keep the youngsters going.
"Whether it's ugly or scrappy, just see the game out and move on to the next one. If we go one down, it's not the end of the world and that's the mentality we need to get through to all the players."
If Mahon can help to bring that change about, his one-season love affair with the Premier League could yet be rekindled in a Rangers shirt. Kilburn Times

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - Mikele Leigertwood -Mikele aims to match Baggies next year
MIKELE Leigertwood believes QPR can set down a marker for next season by ending the campaign on a high against promoted West Brom this weekend.
Three points for the Baggies at Loftus Road on Sunday would clinch the Championship title, but Rangers are anxious to bounce back from the disappointment of a 3-0 thumping at Norwich.
That defeat ended Rangers' seven-game unbeaten run and midfielder Leigertwood told the Times: "We wanted to stay undefeated for the rest of the season, but that's gone now.
"West Brom will be looking to win the league, but we're at home and we've got to give a good account of ourselves against the top players and in front of our own fans.
"We need to show that we can be up there next season. We haven't got anything to play for apart from our pride, but everyone's passionate about putting on the shirt and giving their best."
Leigertwood was serving a suspension when the Rs last met West Brom, but the embarrassing memory of a 5-1 defeat that prompted the dismissal of manager John Gregory still rankles.
And the former Crystal Palace and Sheffield United man has no doubts about the positive transformation Rangers have undergone since that miserable September afternoon.
He added: "We owe West Brom one after getting beaten heavily at their place, so we'll be looking to turn that around on Sunday and end the season on a high.
"From that day, we've come a long way, with a change of management and changes in the playing staff, and of course we've had our ups and downs.
"We've been on a few unbeaten runs and probably haven't got as many points as we'd have liked overall, but we're going to stay positive and I hope next season we can really push for the top."
QPR will be without defender Damion Stewart for their final game of the season after their appeal against his red card at Norwich was turned down by the FA.
Referee Phil Joslin sent Stewart off after a minor challenge on Norwich's Ched Evans, who was then sent flying by what looked a much more forceful one from Lee Camp.
But the decision was upheld and Stewart will also be banned for the first game of next season as the red card was his second this campaign. Kilburn Times

Kilburn Times - Gareth Ainsworth
WEST Brom might be going for the title on Sunday, but we don't want to give them anything - instead we want to send out a message to the entire Football League.
Our opponents are on their way to the Premier League, but we want to be in their shoes this time next year. It's a great opportunity to look at West Brom, respect what they've achieved and think about where we want to be.
It's only seven months since the last time we played West Brom, but it feels like an eternity because so much has changed since then.
This is the new QPR and we want to be successful. I believe we've got even more potential than West Brom and the key to realising it, in my eyes, is desire more than skill.
Congratulations to West Brom, though. There are one or two aggressive, long-ball merchants in the top six this season, but Tony Mowbray's boys have consistently been the best footballing side and it's one of the rare occasions when the cream has risen to the top.
Whoever else goes up this season, I'd say West Brom are the most likely to survive because of their style.
We've played some good football ourselves since the gaffer arrived and one thing I'm certain of is that you'll see a different game from the one at the Hawthorns.
Of course, it'd help if we can keep 11 men on the pitch - a problem that made life very difficult at Norwich last Saturday.
Like thousands of others, I couldn't understand why Damion was sent off - he did push the guy, but surely the referee couldn't construe it as a professional foul.
I don't understand why we lost the appeal either. Maybe it's a case of not wanting to undermine the referee, but I really feel for Damion.
I feel for Reece Crowther as well - he was getting ready to come on for his debut because we all assumed it was Campy who'd be off.
It also meant I broke a personal record when myself and Hogan were sacrificed - that's certainly the quickest I've ever been substituted!
The supporters deserve a mention for the way they sang all afternoon despite the way the game was going.
I take my hat off to them - it's easy to go and see your team just round the corner, but travelling long distances is another matter and I can't wait for us to give those fans something to really cheer. Kilburn Times

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