Friday Football Feature: QPR ready for relegation run-in after enthralling comeback


QPR inched out of the drop zone after staging a remarkable comeback against Liverpool at Loftus Road.


By James Dickenson

QPR inched out of the drop zone after completing a staggering comeback against Carling Cup winners Liverpool at Loftus Road.

The away side were enjoying a comfortable two goal advantage with just 15 minutes remaining before Rangers produced an inspirational fightback to take all three points.

Mark Hughes claimed that his team gave the visitors too much respect on Wednesday evening, but late headers from Shaun Derry and Djibril Cisse levelled the scores before Jamie Mackie’s stoppage time strike sent the home crowd into raptures.

It was just the tonic for QPR and their beleaguered boss, who had only taken a solitary point from their last three league games.

The performance will also lift the club that has struggled since their mid-season change of manager, with Neil Warnock given the boot after promoting the R’s.

QPR face seven of the Premier League’s top ten sides, including away trips to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium. If ever there was a time to prove they could beat one of the big teams, that was against Liverpool.

Rangers’ next task is a tricky away game against Sunderland tomorrow, who have found some form of their own under new manager Martin O’Neill. However, ‘Sparky’ is hoping that the West London club can continue their revival.

“This is just the beginning as we have a huge job in front of us but this will give us great belief,” said Hughes.

The former United forward can count himself a little unlucky to have only picked up his second league win in charge of the club since his appointment in January, highlighted during their last fixture against Bolton.

The Wanderers won 2-1, in no small thanks to the officials decision not to award QPR a goal when Clint Hill’s header clearly passed the line. This left ‘Sparky’ fuming, and he must have been delighted to see his side’s luck change this week.

His team on paper look capable of staying up, and if his recently signed strikers can find the back of the net regularly in the next ten games then they have every chance.

Any relegation threatened team live on the steady supply of goals, and in Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse QPR possess two tried and tested Premier League marksmen.

Additionally, Hughes needs his defence to offer severe frugality whilst relying on his midfield to control games and create chances.

In Luke Young, Anton Ferdinand, Joey Barton, Adel Taarabt and Shaun Wright-Phillips the club certainly have some of English football’s most recognised faces. Even so, it is the R’s lesser lights that may prove invaluable to their fight to avoid the drop.

Shaun Derry is as determined and combative a central midfielder as you could hope to have for a team fighting a potential return to the Championship. Taye Taiwo is a proven performer in Europe and his half time introduction against Liverpool helped turn the tide of the match. And Jamie Mackie may not have a glittering C.V. but his injury time winner showed he can be relied upon from the bench.

Much like the recent QPR: The Four Year Plan documentary proved, the West Londoners may need to abandon glamour and style in exchange for hard work and dedication if they are to achieve success this season.

One player who may need to be sidelined is the notorious Joey Barton. Ineffectual against Liverpool, the Merseyside born midfielder was hauled off after the hour mark having put in one of the worst performances of his career and was jeered by a section of his own supporters.

And he certainly had something to say about that. “Disappointed with fans booing, we’re meant to be in it together,” Barton said on social networking site Twitter.

“They won’t break me, guaranteed. I’ve been through much worse.”

It seems the ex-Newcastle star may be too focused on his individual display to help contribute to a team that must remain united. Having said that Barton is the sort of battler you want in your team when the chips are down.

After being informed on Twitter that he had misplaced 357 passes in 29 games this season, Barton tweeted: “915 successful against 357 unsuccessful. So 1263, so its basically 9/12ths which is around 75% successful. Not bad in a struggling team….”

Not bad Joey, but you’re hardly excelling. Perhaps if he equalled his efforts online on the pitch this undoubtedly gifted player could lift his side further from danger.

Tomorrow is a crucial day for the Premier League’s relegation battle, with all five threatened clubs in action. Bolton face Blackburn in a potentially vital clash at the Reebok, Wigan travel to Wolves and Wolves head to Norwich.

QPR find themselves in the north east to play Sunderland, and Hughes will need to man-manage his controversial midfielder and keep his team united if they are to put a decent run of results together. It certainly won’t be an easy feat.

Follow James Dickenson on Twitter @jdickenson2010

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