Tag Archives: Queens Park Rangers

The Managers: Gerry Francis

Premier League Clubs Managed: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1994), Tottenham Hotspur (1994-1998)

Gerry Francis was a club legend at Queens Park Rangers and guided Tottenham Hotspur through a challenging but exciting period in the mid-1990s when he could call on the likes of Teddy Sheringham, Jurgen Klinsmann and Darren Anderton to drive the team on in the Premier League.

Management for Gerry in the top-flight ended over 20 years ago but he was still involved as a coach in the top-flight all the way until Tony Pulis’ departure from Crystal Palace on the eve of the 2014-2015 season getting underway.

QPR and England hand-in-hand

In his playing career, Gerry Francis made his name at Queens Park Rangers. He made his first-team debut against Liverpool FC back in March 1969. Throughout the 1970s, he was part of a Hoops squad that were thrilling to watch and challenged the elite in the old First Division. He was captain of the club during that period and also got the thrill of winning 12 international caps for England, skippering the Three Lions in eight of those games after being appointed captain by Don Revie. Unfortunately, this was during a difficult period for the men’s international team, who failed to qualify for the World Cup finals in both 1974 and 1978.

After a decade of loyal service to QPR, Francis left for Crystal Palace in 1979 but already troubled by a persistent back injury, his influence on sides he played in afterwards were limited. He ended his playing career in 1987 having had stints at Coventry City, Cardiff City, Swansea City, Portsmouth and Bristol Rovers which is where he hung up his playing boots. It was at Bristol Rovers where he would enjoy his managerial breakthrough.

Gerry had already a season on his books as a player-manager with Exeter City in 1983-1984 so he wasn’t a complete rookie when he took over as manager of Bristol Rovers. They were in the Third Division and he succeeded Bobby Gould in the role. Bristol Rovers were a club who often sold their best players and didn’t have much of a transfer budget but Francis often got the best out of his players. In 1990, he guided the club to the Third Division title which remains the only honour of his managerial career. In 1991 though, a return beckoned to the club he called as home.

Lack of consultation

Having made 313 league appearances across two spells as a player at Queens Park Rangers, the fans were thrilled to have Francis back as their manager when he returned to Loftus Road in 1991, succeeding Don Howe as manager. Like his playing days, Francis’ insistence was clear – to go out and have fun and thrill the supporters and at QPR, his sides definitely did that.

In the inaugural Premier League season, QPR finished fifth and were the highest-placed of all the London clubs in the division. Les Ferdinand flourished and finished as runner-up to Teddy Sheringham in the race for the Golden Boot and the Londoners were becoming a good watch for all concerned.

A ninth place finish followed in 1993-1994 and once again, Ferdinand was amongst the goals but Francis was becoming frustrated by the club’s desire to sell its best assets available. In March 1994, ambitious Wolverhampton Wanderers offered him the chance to manage them but Francis turned them down, staying loyal to QPR despite being annoyed by seeing Darren Peacock transferred to Newcastle United on transfer deadline day. Wolves eventually appointed the former England boss Graham Taylor as their new manager.

His resolve was being tested and in October 1994, his patience finally ran out. QPR made a slow start to the season and were amongst the relegation strugglers. Owner Richard Thompson decided to offer another club legend, Rodney Marsh, the opportunity to return to the club in a Director of Football capacity. Francis was not consulted about these desires and was absolutely furious. Ever the professional, he got on with the job in-hand and back-to-back home victories in three days over Aston Villa and Liverpool FC started to guide Rangers away from danger. This time though, he knew he couldn’t stay.

He tendered his resignation a week later which was reluctantly accepted by the board. Five days later, a new opportunity emerged at another London club who were in a spot of bother.

Testing Tottenham

Tottenham Hotspur had sacked Ossie Ardiles in early November 1994 after a string of poor results which had culminated with a shock 3-0 loss to Notts County in the League Cup third round. Off-the-pitch, the club was facing a deduction of points for financial irregularities and had been banned from playing in the FA Cup. It didn’t seem like the most enticing job available.

Francis though realised there was plenty of potential in the squad and he took the job when offered the position by owner Alan Sugar. His principles remained the same as at QPR but also, defensive responsibility was required after the Ardiles reign which often bordered on recklessness. Tottenham immediately improved defensively and the likes of Sol Campbell, Colin Calderwood, Dean Austin and Justin Edinburgh became better players due to confidence and also, Francis’ coaching. Their improvement meant the likes of Klinsmann, Sheringham, Anderton and Nick Barmby could focus on doing the damage in a potent attacking line-up.

Tottenham became the first team in the campaign to stop Manchester United scoring at Old Trafford, beat champions-elect Blackburn Rovers 3-1 in February and with their ban successfully overturned, also reached the FA Cup semi-finals, knocking out Liverpool FC 2-1 at Anfield in the quarter-finals. They were tipped to go all the way in this competition but lost 4-1 in the semi-finals to a Daniel Amokachi-inspired Everton at Elland Road. In the Premier League, Tottenham finished in seventh place which was a good achievement considering they were just outside the bottom four relegation positions when Francis took over.

The summer of 1995 saw Klinsmann return to Germany and Barmby sold to newly-promoted Middlesbrough. Chris Armstrong arrived from Crystal Palace and formed a good partnership with Sheringham, whilst Ruel Fox added pace to the flanks after his October arrival from Newcastle United. Tottenham finished in eighth position in 1995-1996, with a 4-1 home victory over Manchester United on New Years’ Day among the highlights.

Fans though were unhappy with his handling of Anderton, who was developing a reputation of becoming an injury-prone player. Across his two full seasons at White Hart Lane, Darren was restricted to just 25 Premier League appearances due to injuries with many supporters believing he wasn’t given enough recovery and rehabilitation time by the manager after his latest injury setbacks.

In October 1997, supporters had had enough. Before a televised home game with Sheffield Wednesday, two fans were interviewed on television saying: “Had his time, spent his money, not producing results” and “Just get rid of him, he’s useless!”

Tottenham won that match 3-2 but despite the arrivals of David Ginola and Ferdinand that summer from Newcastle United, results just weren’t coming. 11 days after a second half collapse at Anfield which saw Spurs on the wrong end of a 4-0 scoreline, Francis resigned as first-team manager, despite Sugar trying to do all he could to persuade him to change his mind.

Coach time

In September 1998, Gerry decided to return to Queens Park Rangers as manager for the second time with the club now in the First Division. He couldn’t rekindle the magic of his first spell and despite keeping them in the division; they were often closer to the relegation strugglers rather than the play-off positions. He resigned in February 2001 before returning to Bristol Rovers four months later for a second time as manager there too. Like at QPR, it was a bad move and after a family illness meant he had three weeks of compassionate leave, he resigned just before Christmas 2001. That was the end of his management career.

Gerry returned to the Premier League in October 2008 as a first-team coach at Stoke City to work underneath Tony Pulis. That was after rejecting a similar role at Newcastle United due to the club’s uncertainty regarding the future of owner Mike Ashley at the time. When Pulis left Stoke in May 2013, Francis left too and resurfaced with the Welshman when Tony took over at Crystal Palace in November 2013. He stayed with the Eagles until Neil Warnock’s appointment as manager for the second time was confirmed in August 2014. Although Warnock wanted him to stay on, Francis elected to leave due to his close links with the previous manager.

Gerry Francis is a proud man and actually was never sacked as a manager which is an impressive feat. He might lack the managerial honours but often got the best out of his players and enjoyed some whirlwind moments whilst the no.1 at both Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur.

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Shock Results: Queens Park Rangers 1-0 Chelsea (October 2011)

Goalscorer: Heidar Helguson 10 PEN

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Paddy Kenny, Anton Ferdinand, Fitz Hall, Clint Hill, Luke Young, Joey Barton, Shaun Derry (Jamie Mackie 82), Alejandro Faurlin, Adel Taarabt (Tommy Smith 62), Shaun Wright-Phillips, Heidar Helguson

Chelsea: Petr Cech, Jose Boswinga (SENT OFF), Ashley Cole, David Luiz, John Terry, John Obi Mikel, Frank Lampard, Raul Meireles (Florent Malouda 72), Juan Mata (Nicolas Anelka 45), Didier Drogba (SENT OFF), Daniel Sturridge (Branislav Ivanovic 36)

Referee: Chris Foy, Attendance: 18,050

The West London Derby in October 2011 between Queens Park Rangers and Chelsea will go down in the annuals as one of the stormiest clashes in Premier League history. The ramifications of this defeat for Chelsea would last for over a year and ultimately, saw their captain retire from international football and see his reputation damaged heavily.

Chelsea went into this game as favourites to claim all three points in the first Premier League meeting between the teams since March 1996. Victory would see Andre Villas-Boas’ side move into second place in the Premier League table after Manchester United’s derby humiliation at the hands of Manchester City earlier in the afternoon.

Referee Chris Foy was set for a busy afternoon and his first big decision came after just 10 minutes. David Luiz clumsily shoved Heidar Helguson in the penalty area. The Icelandic striker went to ground easily but it was an unnecessary challenge from the Brazilian and there was enough contact for Foy to award QPR a penalty. Helguson took responsibility, snatching the ball off Adel Taarabt and got his spot-kick just beyond Petr Cech’s dive to give Neil Warnock’s side an early lead.

Chelsea were controlling possession but lacking a cutting edge and then, they completely lost their discipline in eight mad minutes. First on 33 minutes, ex-Chelsea winger Shaun Wright-Phillips got goal-side of Jose Bosingwa who brought him down. The incident was adjudged to be denying a goalscoring opportunity although this was debatable as John Terry was covering. Nevertheless, Foy brandished the red card and Chelsea were furious, challenging the referee to change his mind. He didn’t and Bosingwa had to walk, much to Villas-Boas’ chagrin.

Daniel Sturridge was substituted to allow the defensively-minded Branislav Ivanovic to arrive in the right-back role. However moments later, Sturridge’s strike partner was also off the pitch as he became the second player to see red for the aggrieved visitors. This time, there could be little complaint. Didier Drogba dived rashly into a tackle on Taarabt and his two-footed lunge caught the Moroccan. He gave the referee no choice but to send him off and he knew it, judging by his reaction when his fate was sealed. This meant Juan Mata had to be sacrificed at half-time and with his departure, any creative influence Chelsea had was diminished.

The Blues managed just two shots on-target and the game turned into a nasty affair, with sly challenges and constant fouls which suited Warnock’s side fine. Luke Young missed a couple of good opportunities to extend QPR’s lead and the biggest obstacle Paddy Kenny had to face was to save a header from close-range by half-time substitute Nicolas Anelka.

The controversy didn’t end when Terry and Kenny clashed in the six-yard box. Anton Ferdinand got involved in the argument and Terry was seen by the television cameras yelling some profanity at Ferdinand’s direction. An allegation was made that the comment had been racist and it led to a criminal investigation. Terry was later charged by the FA, stripped of the England captaincy and elected to retire from international football before an FA hearing almost a year later. He was banned for four matches and fined £220,000.

Ultimately, this overshadowed a brilliant victory for QPR who kept their cool in a tempestuous setting and it was their first home victory infront of their home supporters since returning to the Premier League. They avoided relegation on the last day, whilst Chelsea finished a disappointing sixth but still qualified for the UEFA Champions League after winning the competition, beating Bayern Munich on penalties in the final.

Shock Results: Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City (August 2012)

Goalscorers: Michu 8, 53, Nathan Dyer 63, 71, Scott Sinclair 81

Teams:

Queens Park Rangers: Robert Green, Anton Ferdinand, Clint Hill (Shaun Wright-Phillips 64), Fabio, Nedum Onuoha, Samba Diakite (Shaun Derry 86), Ji-Sung Park, Adel Taarabt, Junior Hoilett, Djibril Cisse (Andy Johnson 77), Jamie Mackie

Swansea City: Michel Vorm, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton, Jonathan de Guzman (Kemy Agustien 70), Nathan Dyer (Scott Sinclair 77), Wayne Routledge, Danny Graham, Michu (Mark Gower 84)

Referee: Lee Probert, Attendance: 18,072

Queens Park Rangers had flirted dangerously with relegation in their first season back in the Premier League after a 16-year absence in 2011-2012. However, Mark Hughes was about to embark on his first full season in the dugout at Loftus Road and he’d invested in eight new arrivals, including the likes of Robert Green, Andy Johnson and Ji-Sung Park to help their prospects.

They faced Swansea City on the opening weekend of the 2012-2013 season. Swansea were under new management themselves. Following Brendan Rodgers’ departure for the Liverpool FC job, it was Michael Laudrup now guiding the Swans through their second Premier League season. They were about to leave a nasty sting in QPR’s season which they never recovered from.

The visitors made a dream start, leading inside of eight minutes. Nathan Dyer was tackled fairly on the edge of the penalty area by Clint Hill. The ball fell perfectly to Swansea new boy Michu and the Spaniard’s first-time effort seemed to catch Green out completely by surprise. The ball trickled past him to give the Welsh club the lead.

Although they trailed at half-time, QPR did create some decent openings. Michel Vorm saved well from point-blank range to deny Jamie Mackie and Junior Hoilett curled a left-handed effort just wide of the post. Hoilett was another new arrival having joined from relegated Blackburn Rovers. Swansea were still a big threat on the counter-attack though. Chico Flores smashed the crossbar with a header from a corner and Green had to be at full stretch to push away a Jonathan de Guzman free-kick.

Michu was a formidable threat all afternoon. Having been denied by the underside of the crossbar on the stroke of half-time, he made no mistake on 53 minutes. Ex-QPR player Wayne Routledge made a surging run through the heart of the QPR midfield and he picked out Michu, who produced an exquisite left-footed finish beyond Green’s despairing dive. By now, it did look like the points would be going back to south Wales but the way the home side crumbled would have sent alarm bells ringing throughout the ground.

Another counter-attacking goal led to Nathan Dyer making it 3-0. Michu robbed Fabio of possession. Routledge’s pass reached the path of Dyer who dispatched his strike with the minimum of fuss. Like Michu, Dyer would double his tally. He beat the offside trap on 71 minutes and once again, took his goal very well. There was time for substitute and Manchester City transfer target Scott Sinclair to complete the rout nine minutes from the end of a one-sided contest.

QPR failed to win a single game under Hughes in 2012-2013 and he was sacked in November after 12 winless league matches. Swansea won the League Cup and recorded an excellent 9th place finish in only their second Premier League campaign. They also won 4-1 against QPR in the reverse fixture.

Premier League Rewind: 14th-16th January 2012

Results: Aston Villa 1-1 Everton, Blackburn Rovers 3-1 Fulham, Chelsea 1-0 Sunderland, Liverpool FC 0-0 Stoke City, Manchester United 3-0 Bolton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion 1-2 Norwich City, Newcastle United 1-0 Queens Park Rangers, Swansea City 3-2 Arsenal, Wigan Athletic 0-1 Manchester City

Three teams seemed to be in the fight for the title race in the 2011-2012 Premier League season. The two Manchester clubs were covered by just three points after 20 matches, whilst Tottenham Hotspur had been on an incredible run of form, losing just once since late August to sit just three points shy of top spot.

The first signs though that the pace was going to catch up on Harry Redknapp and Spurs were evident on this January weekend when they dropped points at home to struggling Wolverhampton Wanderers. Steven Fletcher put the visitors infront after 22 minutes and despite having 28 shots on-goal and 68% possession, the hosts could only muster one goal through Luka Modric early in the second half. It was a missed opportunity for Tottenham.

Manchester United went to the top of the table for 48 hours after a convincing 3-0 success over Bolton Wanderers. It was a wonderful return to the first-team for Paul Scholes. Scholes retired from professional football in May 2011 but decided to reverse his decision in time for the FA Cup third round weekend. On his Premier League return against the Trotters, Scholes opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time. Second half goals from Danny Welbeck and Michael Carrick sealed the victory.

However, Manchester City responded on Monday evening with a hard-fought 1-0 victory away to Wigan Athletic. Edin Dzeko’s 22nd minute goal was the difference as Roberto Mancini’s side regained their three-point advantage at the top of the table.

Chelsea consolidated their position in the top four after a narrow 1-0 win over Sunderland. With new signing Gary Cahill watching on in the stands, Frank Lampard’s goal beat the Black Cats, who lost for just the second time since Martin O’Neill had succeeded Steve Bruce as manager in early December. The Blues were now four points clear of Arsenal who went down 3-2 to Swansea City. The Swans were enjoying a fantastic season under the guidance of Brendan Rodgers. This win lifted them into 10th position with Danny Graham scoring the winner. It meant Arsenal had lost back-to-back league games to start the 2012 calendar year.

Mark Hughes was back in the managerial dugout having succeeded Neil Warnock at Queens Park Rangers. It would be a losing start though for the Welshman as QPR lost 1-0 to Newcastle United, who moved into the top six and level on points with Arsenal. Leon Best scored the only goal of the game for the Magpies who were the surprise package of the season. QPR had lost six of their last seven matches and were now in the relegation zone.

They replaced Blackburn Rovers who still had the momentum from the fantastic New Years’ Eve victory at Manchester United. Despite having top goalscorer Yakubu sent off after just 23 minutes, Blackburn still had enough to defeat Fulham 3-1. However, just three points covered the bottom five in the table, so it was too close to call at this stage in the fight to survive.

What else happened in January 2012?

  • There are 32 confirmed deaths when passenger cruise ship Costa Concordia sinks off the coast of Italy.
  • Two men are found guilty of the murder of London teenager Stephen Lawrence, who was murdered in April 1993. They are jailed for life.
  • Former CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland, Fred Goodwin loses his knighthood as a result of the near collapse of RBS four years earlier.
  • The Scottish Government announces that it plans to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014.
  • Legendary EastEnders character Pat Butcher, played by Pam St Clement, makes her final appearance in the BBC soap opera. Her character dies in a cancer storyline.
  • The FBI shutdown the Hong Kong-based file-sharing website, Megaupload.
  • Nick Hewer takes over as presenter of Channel 4 teatime show, Countdown.

The Clubs: Queens Park Rangers

All-Time Premier League Record

Played Won Drew Lost Scored Conceded Goal Difference Points No of Seasons
278 81 65 132 339 431 -92 308 7

 

Most Premier League Appearances

Player Appearances Total
Andy Impey 142
Simon Barker 132
David Bardsley 131
Clive Wilson 118
Alan McDonald 116
Les Ferdinand 110
Ian Holloway 107
Trevor Sinclair 101
Ray Wilkins 84
Steve Yates 82

 

Most Premier League Goals

Player Goals Total
Les Ferdinand 60
Bradley Allen 20
Charlie Austin 18
Kevin Gallen 18
Gary Penrice 17
Simon Barker 15
Danny Dichio 13
Andy Impey 11
Trevor Sinclair 10
Djibril Cisse 9

 

Biggest Premier League Victories

Match Date Season
Queens Park Rangers 5-1 Coventry City 23rd October 1993 1993-1994
West Ham United 0-4 Queens Park Rangers 28th August 1993 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd October 1992 1992-1993
West Bromwich Albion 1-4 Queens Park Rangers 4th April 2015 2014-2015
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Ipswich Town 2nd October 1993 1993-1994
Everton 0-3 Queens Park Rangers 20th November 1993 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Newcastle United 4th February 1995 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 Southampton 30th March 1996 1995-1996
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 West Ham United 27th April 1996 1995-1996
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0-3 Queens Park Rangers 17th September 2011 2011-2012

 

Worst Premier League Defeats

Match Date Season
Fulham 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 2nd October 2011 2011-2012
Manchester City 6-0 Queens Park Rangers 10th May 2015 2014-2015
Chelsea 6-1 Queens Park Rangers 29th April 2012 2011-2012
Queens Park Rangers 0-5 Swansea City 18th August 2012 2012-2013
Leicester City 5-1 Queens Park Rangers 24th May 2015 2014-2015
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Leeds United 4th April 1994 1993-1994
Blackburn Rovers 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 26th November 1994 1994-1995
Leeds United 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th January 1995 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 0-4 Bolton Wanderers 13th August 2011 2011-2012
Tottenham Hotspur 4-0 Queens Park Rangers 24th August 2014 2014-2015

 

Managers

Manager No of Seasons managed Left the Club
Gerry Francis 3 11th November 1994
Ray Wilkins 3 4th September 1996
Neil Warnock 3 8th January 2012
Mark Hughes 2 23rd November 2012
Harry Redknapp 3 3rd February 2015
Chris Ramsey 2 4th November 2015

 

Highest Home Attendances

Match Date Attendance Figure Season
Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Manchester United 5th February 1994 21,267 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Manchester United 18th January 1993 21,117 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Liverpool FC 23rd November 1992 21,056 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 0-0 Arsenal 2nd September 1992 20,868 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur 3rd October 1992 19,845 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 1-3 Liverpool FC 18th August 1993 19,635 1993-1994
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Leeds United 24th October 1992 19,326 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 2-3 Manchester United 10th December 1994 18,948 1994-1995
Queens Park Rangers 2-1 Aston Villa 8th May 1993 18,904 1992-1993
Queens Park Rangers 3-0 West Ham United 27th April 1996 18,828 1995-1996

 

Intro

Queens Park Rangers have experienced an up-and-down adventure in the Premier League. They were the best team in the capital in the 1992-1993 Premier League season but were relegated just three seasons later. Neil Warnock ended their 15-year hiatus in 2011 but QPR have since gone down on two more occasions, attempting to spend big and not getting the balance of their squad right. Former Premier League manager Steve McClaren has recently replaced Ian Holloway and will try to get the club away from the mid-table reaches of the Championship on a regular basis.

 

1992-1993

Queens Park Rangers finished as London’s top team in the first Premier League season, ending in an excellent fifth position. Les Ferdinand achieved back-to-back hat-tricks during the Easter programme and finished runner-up to Teddy Sheringham in the race for the Golden Boot. It wasn’t quite enough to achieve European football for the following season but it showed how far Gerry Francis’ side had come.

 

1993-1994

Although there was a drop from fifth to ninth place, Queens Park Rangers were once again an entertaining side to watch in 1993-1994. Francis’ excellent reign saw him linked to the England job when Graham Taylor resigned and he then turned down the chance to manage an ambitious Wolverhampton Wanderers in Division One in March 1994. The sale of Darren Peacock to Newcastle United frustrated the manager but Les Ferdinand sparkled again with 16 goals.

 

1994-1995

Queens Park Rangers underperformed badly in the 1994-1995 early weeks and a nine-game winless sequence early on saw them struggling in 20th after a 4-2 loss to Norwich City in October 1994. Their season kick-started at the end of October with back-to-back home victories over Aston Villa and Liverpool FC but the corner would be turned without Gerry Francis. He resigned in early November after feeling trust had broken down between himself and the board over the planned appointment of club icon Rodney Marsh as a Director of Football.

Francis was replaced by former player Ray Wilkins, who was released by Crystal Palace to take his first job in management. He guided QPR to a fine eighth-place finish and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Les Ferdinand was top scorer again but would leave in the off-season to join Newcastle United.

 

1995-1996

The decision not to reinvest the Ferdinand money was a bad decision, even though both Kevin Gallen and Danny Dichio did well in a struggling side. Three wins in the first eight matches did have QPR in 12th place at the end of September but that was the highest the Hoops would get all season in the table.

A dire run of seven successive defeats from Boxing Day to 11th February would give Wilkins’ side too much to do. Despite a 3-0 victory in their final home match of the season against London rivals West Ham United, Queens Park Rangers were relegated in 19th place – ending their 13-year stay in England’s top-flight.

 

2011-2012

After an absence of 15 years, Queens Park Rangers returned to the top-flight in-time for the 2011-2012 season with Neil Warnock as the club’s manager. He invested in experience in the summer, with the likes of Joey Barton, Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Kieron Dyer among the new recruits.

QPR actually made a decent start and when they won 3-2 away at Stoke City in mid-November, they moved into ninth place. However, that would be Warnock’s final win as manager. Two points from the next eight matches saw them drop into relegation danger and Warnock lost his job as a result. He was replaced by Mark Hughes.

Loftus Road became a tough place for stronger sides to visit. The likes of Liverpool FC, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were all beaten there in the run-in and it was this fortress that ensured QPR escaped relegation on the final day of the season by just a single point.

 

2012-2013

It took Queens Park Rangers a full 17 matches before they even tasted victory in a wretched 2012-2013 campaign. When it came in a 2-1 success over London rivals Fulham, the die looked like it had already been cast. Mark Hughes was sacked in mid-November and an ageing squad just didn’t perform even for Harry Redknapp. It was a team with plenty of individuals but they didn’t seem to gel as a team.

Redknapp did make QPR tougher to beat when he arrived but just three further victories were achieved against Southampton, Sunderland and most surprisingly, away at Chelsea in January 2013. Shaun Wright-Phillips’ winning goal at Stamford Bridge was the only bright spark in a wretched season. Relegation was officially confirmed by a forgettable 0-0 draw at Reading in April, who also went down on the same afternoon.

 

2014-2015

After a late winner from Bobby Zamora in the Championship play-off final against Derby County, QPR returned to the top-flight and Redknapp was still at the helm. He spent £32 million in the summer in a bid to try and avoid the problems of the last Premier League campaign.

He did have a proven goalscorer in Charlie Austin. Austin scored 18 Premier League goals and netted a hat-trick in a thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over West Bromwich Albion in December. It was part of a home sequence that saw QPR amass 13 points from five games, including a 2-2 draw with defending champions Manchester City, where Austin again starred with two goals.

Away form was less impressive though. They collected just seven points on their travels and none under Redknapp’s time at the club. He stepped down in early February, citing a knee operation as the cause for his abrupt departure. Chris Ramsey took caretaker charge but QPR were fighting a losing battle and their fate was sealed by a 6-0 loss at Manchester City in May.

Premier League Files: Andy Impey

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1996), West Ham United (1997-1998), Leicester City (1998-2002, 2003-2004)

Andy Impey made 289 appearances during a Premier League career that ultimately spanned 10 seasons. He scored 12 times in the top-flight, playing for London clubs Queens Park Rangers and West Ham United, before finishing his Premier League days with Leicester City in 2004.

Impey made his professional debut for Queens Park Rangers in 1991 and would play for the Hoops for six seasons. He was an auxiliary player who could play either at left-back or on the left-hand side of midfield. Impey’s consistency was shown by his teammates who voted him as the club’s Player of the Season in three consecutive seasons (1993, 1994 & 1995).

Impey stayed with QPR after their relegation from the Premier League in 1996 but he would eventually cut his ties with the club and joined West Ham United in 1997. Harry Redknapp was a fan of Impey’s and was very annoyed midway through the 1998-1999 season when he was sold to Leicester City behind the manager’s back.

Impey was part of Martin O’Neill’s squad that won the League Cup in 2000 and he appeared as a substitute in the final against Tranmere Rovers. Whilst he made over 100 appearances for the Foxes, Andy never quite found the form he demonstrated when he was at QPR. His final Premier League appearance was in February 2004 when Leicester lost 3-1 to Newcastle United at St James’ Park.

Shortly afterwards, he moved to Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest on-loan and the move became permanent in the summer of 2004. He finished his playing days with Millwall and Coventry City before calling time on his playing career in 2006.

In 2015, he rejoined Queens Park Rangers as an academy coach.

Premier League Files: Darren Peacock

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (1992-1994), Newcastle United (1994-1998), Blackburn Rovers (1998-1999)

Darren Peacock made nearly 400 league appearances in his career. He spent eight seasons in the Premier League playing for Queens Park Rangers, Newcastle United and Blackburn Rovers. A very nasty neck injury ended his playing days at the start of the millennium.

Darren began his career in the lower leagues of English football with Newport County. When Newport went bankrupt, Hereford United picked him up on a free transfer in 1989 and turned him into a very capable and towering central defender. In his first full season with them, he was voted Player of the Year. Gerry Francis and Queens Park Rangers were impressed and in 1990, parted with £200,000 to bring Peacock to west London.

He made over 100 league appearances for the Hoops and was a constant threat at attacking set-pieces. On transfer deadline day in March 1994, he was sold to Newcastle United for £2.7 million. It is believed that this transaction started the rift between Francis and the club’s board which led to his decision to resign as first-team manager seven months later.

Kevin Keegan had every faith in Peacock’s abilities and he immediately broke into their first-team setup, helping Newcastle to a third-place finish in their very first Premier League season. In total, he would make 176 appearances for Newcastle, scoring four goals. One of his rare goals was the opener in the 5-0 demolition job Newcastle dished out on Manchester United in October 1996.

Kenny Dalglish started to break up the team that had come within a whisker of the Premier League title in 1995-1996 and in 1998, sold Peacock to Blackburn Rovers. This is where his injury problems began to occur. He scored just once against Southampton in a 3-3 draw but Blackburn’s decline was well underway and they would be relegated at the end of the 1998-1999 campaign. It was whilst he was on-loan at Wolverhampton Wanderers that saw the end of his career.

In a match against Fulham, he collided with his own goalkeeper, Michael Oakes and suffered damaged vertebrae in his neck and compression to his spine. Despite being knocked out in the collision, he carried on playing and it was only when he returned to Blackburn that it became clear how close he had come to paralysis. In December 2000, he retired on medical advice.

On retiring, Peacock moved to the Algarve with his family but returned to England for a two-year spell as manager of non-league side Lancaster City between 2013 and 2015 when his assistant manager was his former teammate at Queens Park Rangers, Trevor Sinclair.

Peacock also had one of the most famous haircuts in the 1990s. His long hair which stretched over the back of his shirt made him a firm favourite with supporters, especially at Newcastle.

Premier League Files: Danny Dichio

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (1994-1996), Sunderland (1999-2001), West Bromwich Albion (2002-2003)

Currently in Canada as Head Coach of the Toronto FC Academy Under-19 side, Danny Dichio’s best Premier League spell came at his first club Queens Park Rangers. In total, he featured in 93 matches between 1994 and 2003, scoring 19 goals for Rangers, alongside spells at Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion.

Born in the Hammersmith area of London to an Italian father and English mother, Dichio made his breakthrough at Loftus Road by signing professional forms in May 1993. 15 months later, he made his Premier League debut off the bench in a home game with Aston Villa. It was a memorable moment for Dichio and a game he will never forget. He scored the second goal in QPR’s 2-0 victory – the penultimate home match in-charge for Gerry Francis before his resignation.

Dichio made eight further appearances after his debut bow in the 1994-1995 season but it was the departure of Les Ferdinand in the close season to Newcastle United that gave him his major first-team breakthrough. He forged a strike partnership with Kevin Gallen and ended up with decent figures of 10 goals in 29 appearances. This included a run of six goals in four games early in the campaign, with braces in matches against Leeds United and Newcastle United.

However, QPR were relegated in 1996 to the First Division and Dichio left for pastures new, moving into Serie A for spells with Sampdoria and on-loan to Lecce. In 1998, he returned to English shores with Sunderland, who were in the First Division at the time of his arrival. His time on Wearside would be difficult. Although the Black Cats won promotion and backed this up with consecutive seventh-place finishes in the Premier League, Dichio struggled to make an impact. Only considered a back-up option to the formidable partnership of Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn, he would score just once across two Premier League seasons.

Next stop was West Bromwich Albion which is where Dichio spent the 2001-2002 season on-loan. He scored on his debut away at Sheffield Wednesday and in November 2001, West Brom paid Sunderland £1.25 million to make the move permanent. The Baggies came up as runners-up in the First Division, which allowed Danny to have another go at the top-flight. He seemed happier at The Hawthorns and finished as the club’s joint-top scorer in the league, netting five goals along with fellow forward Scott Dobie. However, it wasn’t enough to prevent West Brom being relegated.

He moved his family upto the Midlands to join him but was loaned out to Derby County in October 2003 and by the end of the season, was back in London playing for Millwall. Suspension ruled him out of the 2004 FA Cup final. After three further seasons at second-tier level with the Lions and Preston North End, Dichio left the English game completely in 2007 to join newly-created MLS franchise, Toronto FC.

He scored 14 goals over the course of the next three seasons, including the club’s first-ever goal in the MLS. After retirement, he went into coaching with Toronto and is looking after their academy. He combines this with an analyst role on MLS and some Premier League matches for Fox Soccer News.

The Managers: Ray Wilkins

Premier League Clubs Managed: Queens Park Rangers (1994-1996)

One of football’s all-round nice guys, the game has been left in mourning after the tragic death of Ray Wilkins. Wilkins passed away on Wednesday 4th April 2018 in hospital after suffering a massive heart attack. He was just 61-years-old.

A much-loved coach, well-respected pundit and talented player, Ray represented all of his clubs with class and dignity. You simply couldn’t say a bad word about him. He won many friends in the game and this has been made further evident by the tributes that have pouring in for him since his sad passing.

In the Premier League era, Wilkins will be always associated with Queens Park Rangers. He was a much-loved character at Loftus Road but his most enjoyable times were with Chelsea, the club where he made his first significant breakthrough.

A young skipper

Born in Middlesex, he made his name at his boyhood club in the 1970s. At just 17, Wilkins made his debut in the Chelsea first-team, appearing as a substitute in a 3-0 home victory over Norwich City. Just over two years later, he was given the captain’s armband by manager Eddie McCreadie. Still in his teenage years, this could have overwhelmed many players but it just made Ray a stronger presence.

He skippered the club for the next four seasons, helping them win promotion to the First Division. By now, he was already a regular in the England international set-up but in the late 1970s, Chelsea were not one of the English superpower clubs. When they were relegated in 1979, they were going to have to sell Wilkins to help soothe the financial hit from their relegation out of the top-flight.

He signed for Manchester United for £825,000, becoming one of the most expensive players at the time in British transfer history. He made 160 appearances for the Red Devils across five years and won his first major honour too. In 1983, Manchester United defeated Brighton & Hove Albion in the FA Cup final, although they needed a replay to get the job done. In the first match, Wilkins scored his most iconic goal – a curling long-range strike which just highlighted what an excellent midfielder he was.

His performances at Old Trafford caught the attention of Serie A giants AC Milan and in 1984, he moved to Italy for £1.5 million. Like Chelsea and United, Milan weren’t enjoying their most wonderful time in terms of results. They’d actually experienced relegation to Serie B as recently as 1982 but it was still a glamorous city and a historic club to be a part of. He played 105 times for Milan between 1984 and 1987 and won plenty of praise for the way he could control the tempo of a game and his ability for an eye-catching pass.

England highs and lows

On the international stage, Wilkins won 84 caps for England and captained them on 10 occasions. He was part of the squads at the 1982 and 1986 World Cup finals and won caps from Don Revie, Ron Greenwood and Sir Bobby Robson.

He scored just three goals but one of them was an inspirational individual goal against Belgium in the 1980 European Championships. He first lobbed the ball over the entire Belgian defence and then, when clear on-goal, he lobbed the ball again over the advancing goalkeeper and into the back of the net. It was a wonderful goal in England’s first major international competition in a decade.

The lowest point of his international career came at the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. England were enduring a frustrating tournament, having lost their first match to Portugal and were drawing 0-0 with outsiders Morocco. Wilkins showed a rare piece of frustration when he threw the ball at referee Gabriel Gonzalez after feeling he had been unfairly flagged for being offside. Gonzalez took no-nonsense and promptly dished out the red card. It made Wilkins the first England player to ever be dismissed at a World Cup.

He was suspended for two matches and Robson left him out of the quarter-final defeat to Argentina. His last appearance came against Yugoslavia a few months later. His international career ended on a rather sour note.

Beginning his coaching days

In 1987, Ray left behind Milan and joined Paris Saint-Germain but it was an unsuccessful spell. After just 13 appearances for the Parisians, he left them behind and moved back to the British Isles, joining Graeme Souness at Rangers. He had two excellent seasons with the Glasgow giants, winning the League Cup once and two championships.

In August 1988, he scored one of the most memorable goals in the history of the Old Firm Derby as Rangers enjoyed a 5-1 victory over Celtic at Ibrox. He returned to London in 1989 and joined Queens Park Rangers which is where he spent the bulk of his latter playing days.

In the summer of 1994, he joined newly-promoted Crystal Palace in a player-coach role under manager Alan Smith. He made his debut against Liverpool FC on a horror day for Palace, who lost 6-1 at home to Roy Evans’ young chargers. Wilkins played over 80 minutes but broke his left foot in the match and he wouldn’t play again for the Eagles.

That was because in November 1994, he got the opportunity to return to Loftus Road as player-manager of QPR following Gerry Francis’ resignation. He appeared another 21 times as a player and focused more on a management style that was initially successful. Under his guidance, QPR finished eighth in 1994-1995 and reached the FA Cup quarter-finals. However, star striker Les Ferdinand was sold in summer 1995 to Newcastle United and not properly replaced. Although they still played an exciting brand of football, QPR struggled and on the final Saturday of the season, they were relegated.

Ray’s long association with the club ended in September 1996 when he parted company following a change in ownership. He continued playing after his departure from west London, experiencing brief periods with Millwall, Hibernian and Leyton Orient before hanging up his boots for good at the end of the 1996-1997 season.

Two stints with Chelsea

He returned to management with Fulham in 1997-1998, working alongside Kevin Keegan but Keegan’s influence saw him take over at the end of the campaign. After two decades away, he returned to Chelsea in his first coaching spell, serving as Gianluca Vialli’s assistant following the imprisonment of Graham Rix.

After leaving Chelsea following Claudio Ranieri’s appointment as first-team manager in 2000, Wilkins went on to have spells as assistant manager at Watford and Millwall, assisting Dennis Wise when the Lions were shock FA Cup finalists in 2004. He also returned to the international spectrum, serving as Peter Taylor’s assistant on the England Under-21 coaching staff between 2004 and 2007.

In September 2008, Ray returned to Chelsea as assistant manager after Steve Clarke’s defection to West Ham United to work with Gianfranco Zola. He served as no.2 to Luiz Felipe Scolari, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti. He played an important part in Chelsea winning the league and cup double in 2009-2010.

In his autobiography, Ancelotti wrote: “Ray is one of those select few, always present, noble in spirit, a real blue-blood, Chelsea flows in his veins … without him we wouldn’t have won a thing.”

He was mysteriously axed by the club in November 2010 just days before a 3-0 home humbling by Sunderland. Ancelotti would be dismissed himself at the end of the season.

Later experience

Wilkins finished his coaching days with brief spells at Fulham and Aston Villa, as well as a spell as head coach of the Jordan international football team. His last stint in a Premier League dugout ended in October 2015 when he was sacked by Villa alongside their manager Tim Sherwood after a home loss by Swansea City.

Throughout his coaching days, he was a fantastic pundit and someone who you could listen to for constructive advice on how to improve your game. Wilkins was a regular commentator for Channel 4’s coverage of Football Italia in the 1990s. He also worked as a pundit for ITV at the 1994 World Cup finals and was a regular analyst for both talkSPORT and Sky Sports over the years.

In 1993, he was made an MBE for services to football.

Despite all his success, Wilkins did fight a battle with alcohol. In March 2013, he was stopped whilst driving and found to be four times over the legal drink limit. This led to a four-year driving ban and in 2016, he admitted to his battle with the bottle on talkSPORT.

On Friday 30th March, Wilkins suffered a massive heart attack and had a fall. He was placed into an induced coma at St George’s Hospital and was reported to be in a critical condition. On 4th April 2018, news came through that he had passed away in hospital. One of football’s good guys had been taken far too soon.

Ray Wilkins was a wonderful man, a gifted footballer and a top coach. Football is a poorer place without Ray Wilkins around. My thoughts are with his wife Jackie and the rest of his family.

Ray Wilkins – 14th September 1956 – 4th April 2018

Memorable Matches: Nottingham Forest 3-2 Queens Park Rangers (October 1994)

Goalscorers: Kingsley Black 51, Les Ferdinand 54, Bryan Roy 63, Bradley Allen 84, Stan Collymore 88

Teams:

Nottingham Forest: Mark Crossley, Steve Chettle, Colin Cooper, Des Lyttle, Stuart Pearce, Kingsley Black, Lars Bohinen, David Phillips, Steve Stone, Stan Collymore, Bryan Roy

Queens Park Rangers: Tony Roberts, David Bardsley, Rufus Brevett, Danny Maddix, Alan McDonald (Bradley Allen 65), Steve Yates, Simon Barker, Ian Holloway, Andy Impey, Trevor Sinclair, Les Ferdinand

Referee: Kelvin Morton, Attendance: 21,449

This was Nottingham Forest’s first season in the top-flight under the guidance of Frank Clark. Clark was September’s Manager of the Month and they were still unbeaten before the visit of Queens Park Rangers and the Sky Sports Super Sunday cameras in October 1994. Forest knew a victory would take them second and right on the coattails of early pacesetters Newcastle United.

Queens Park Rangers boss Gerry Francis could welcome Danny Maddix back into the starting XI after a lengthy injury absence for the centre-back. They’d had never won at the City Ground before arriving on a rain-soaked afternoon. They would should their attacking potential in a game of two halves. Considering the talents on display, the first half was disappointing with both sides cancelling each other out. The game needed a moment of quality to spark into life and it arrived spectacularly after 51 minutes.

From the right-hand side, Kingsley Black cut inside and produced an exquisite curling shot that bent past Tony Roberts and into the back of the net. It was Black’s second goal of the season and it gave the home side the lead. It was an advantage that would last for just three minutes. Colin Cooper was caught in possession by Ian Holloway. Holloway played through Les Ferdinand and he made the most of Cooper’s error. The forward drove a shot underneath Mark Crossley. It was a cheap goal to concede but Ferdinand wasn’t complaining.

The pace of Roy and Stan Collymore was starting to cause problems for QPR’s defenders. Both were denied by excellent goalkeeping from Roberts. However, the Welshman was about to blot his copybook as Forest regained the lead on 63 minutes. He completely misjudged Lars Bohinen’s vicious corner and as he desperately tried to scramble something onto the ball, Roy stabbed the ball over the goal-line from practically two-yards out to put the hosts back infront.

Although Forest were creating the better chances, QPR’s excellent use of possession kept them right in the contest. Francis brought on Bradley Allen with devastating effect. Six minutes from full-time, he turned Des Lyttle and fired a beautiful low drive from the edge of the area that gave Crossley no chance.

It looked like the points would be shared but Collymore had other ideas. With Maddix tiring as the match went its course, Collymore exploited this weakness. He raced onto Lyttle’s clearing header, outsprinted Maddix and then produced a devastating finish past the onrushing Roberts to win this topsy-turvy clash for Nottingham Forest.

Forest stayed unbeaten until the end of October and finished an excellent third. Francis left Queens Park Rangers a month after this defeat due to disagreements with the board over the appointment of Rodney Marsh as a Director of Football. Nevertheless, they improved rapidly to finish eighth with Ray Wilkins in-charge.

Premier League Files: Clint Hill

Premier League Career: Queens Park Rangers (2011-2013, 2014-2015)

Clint Hill made 72 Premier League appearances across three campaigns for Queens Park Rangers. The tough-tackling central defender is still playing professionally in 2018 – now playing for Carlisle United in SkyBet EFL League Two.

It has been a professional career that has already spanned 20 years. Hill made his breakthrough with his local club Tranmere Rovers in 1997. He made 140 appearances across five seasons at Prenton Park and was involved in some epic cup runs under John Aldridge’s management. This included Tranmere’s surprise appearance at the 2000 League Cup final. It ended in personal pain for Hill. Not only did they lose 2-1 to Leicester City; he was sent off too.

He moved to Oldham Athletic in 2002 but a broken leg in a League Cup tie away at Crystal Palace restricted him to just 18 appearances for them. He moved to Stoke City a year later but injuries again played a part in failing to make a significant impact. He made 80 appearances across five years in Staffordshire and was shipped out on-loan to Crystal Palace during Stoke’s promotion-winning season to the Premier League in 2008.

He made the move into a permanent stay in January 2008 and enjoyed his best spell of football since his Tranmere days. Immediately liked by Neil Warnock for his uncompromising approach towards tackling, Hill stayed with the club until July 2010, when he joined Queens Park Rangers on a free transfer. Warnock had taken over as manager at Loftus Road a few months earlier as Palace were struggling financially and he wasted no time in making Hill an integral part of the QPR defence. He ultimately enjoyed promotion to the Premier League in 2011.

His Premier League bow was not one Hill wants to remember. A head-butt on Bolton’s Martin Petrov saw him sent off as Bolton won 4-0 at Loftus Road. Warnock decided to allow the centre-back to join Nottingham Forest on a three-month loan deal in September but he was recalled early and then became a regular in the team when Mark Hughes succeeded Warnock as manager in January 2012.

Two months later, he thought he’d scored his first Premier League goal away at Bolton Wanderers but it wasn’t given by the officials. Television replays confirmed the ball had crossed the line from Hill’s header. He admitted he was “gutted” by the decision.

QPR survived on the final day of the season despite losing 3-2 to Manchester City and Hill was awarded the Player of the Season by both the fans and his fellow teammates. This prompted the hierarchy to offer him a one-year contract extension which he accepted.

It was another season of struggle in 2012-2013 for Queens Park Rangers. Harry Redknapp succeeded Hughes in November and handed the captain’s armband to the veteran, taking the captaincy away from Ji-Sung Park in the process. However, Hill’s heroics couldn’t prevent QPR from relegation in April 2013.

He remained as skipper on their return to the Championship and helped the Hoops to promotion via the play-offs back to the Premier League for the 2014-2015 season. He finally got his first Premier League goal with a header in a 3-3 draw with Aston Villa but once again, the campaign ended in relegation for the club.

Hill was released in 2016 and spent a season in Scottish football with Rangers, even scoring an equaliser in an Old Firm Derby at Celtic Park. He joined Carlisle United in the summer of 2017. Playing football is something Clint Hill has always been passionate about and by continuing at fourth-tier level in England, this demonstrates his desire to still compete even as he closes in on his 40th birthday.

Great Goals: Bobby Zamora – West Bromwich Albion vs. QUEENS PARK RANGERS (April 2015)

The 2014-2015 season was a tough campaign for fans of Queens Park Rangers. One of their better days came away at The Hawthorns against West Bromwich Albion.

They were already 2-0 ahead in the game when Bobby Zamora produced this remarkable moment. Played through by Matt Phillips three minutes before half-time, he beat Joleon Lescott in a sprint before producing the most delicate of lobs from the edge of the penalty area with the outside of his foot. The ball spun past a helpless Ben Foster and into the net.

Zamora would later say this was his best-ever goal in his career. Queens Park Rangers won the game 4-1 and completed a league double over West Brom for the season. However, they would end the season with the club being relegated to the Championship.