Ahead of our game this weekend, Adam Boxer from Vital QPR has taken time to answer a few questions for us.
Stretty News: Quote from Tony Fernandes after sacking Neil Warnock in January 2012: “It’s important to note that no one’s job is safe. Results are key. If I don’t deliver I would be the first to step down as chairman.”
Is it correct for a club chairman to be airing his views on such an important issue as the managers situation at a football club via a social networking medium like Twitter?
Adam Boxer: Firstly I think it is refreshing for an owner to interact with supporters to this extent. There is of course an air of cynicism for use of social media that comes with people abusing the privilege, and that works both ways. Supporters abuse players with little riposte, players report and make a spectacle of themselves and overall it has become a major talking point in recent years – even clubs have their own policy regarding social media.
Regards to Mr Fernandes, I think he uses social media for positive interaction with supporters. It is refreshing and indeed there are many clubs out there that would crave such interaction with their chairman. I do feel however as you mention that its use night be better modified, but the basic intent is a positive one, and I for one wouldn’t criticise him for it.
SN: With 4 points on the board, 5 points adrift of safety and almost one third of the season complete it’s a big call to dismiss Hughes. Some would argue it’s bigger call not to sack Mark Hughes ( take not that this interview was given before Sparky got the sack).
Your view on Hughes and the overall management of QPR?
AB: Mark Hughes was a bit of a surprise appointment following the departure of Neil Warnock just under a year ago, and there are some that simply don’t get along with his self-confident attitude set against the backdrop of Warnock’s departure in somewhat regrettable circumstances. It seems however we have come full circle in the whole process.
Neil Warnock had clearly lose the dressing room when Rangers faced off against Milton Keynes Dons in the FA Cup, and with Rangers’ Premier League form dramatically suffering, Mr Fernandes made a self-professed ‘bold decision.’ Here we are nearly a year later,, new faces, new tactics, but familiar problems.
The players seemed to stop playing for their boss against Southampton prompting discussions between Hughes and the hierarchy, where he has been rumoured to have been given more time to show a vast improvement. To my mind Southampton and maybe a couple of games before against Reading was his final warning, and I expect very little in the coming fixtures with Hughes at the helm.
SN: Assuming the Axe falls on Mark Hughes prior to the Manchester United game on Saturday who would you like to see appointed as the new R’s manager? Harry Redknapp and Roberto Martinez are both in the frame apparently.
AB: I think Harry will be able to hold the club to ransom on figures, as the other two are fairly much out of our league to my mind. Rafa has now gone down the road to SW6, and Martinez would be mad to throw away his growing legacy at Wigan to come to a club where expectation will rule the roost.
I expect that Harry Redknapp is the only option should Hughes depart but quite how he would improve the situation would be open to debate given his indifferent spell at Southampton that saw them drop through the trap door. Whoever they pick for the long-term, Hughes or otherwise, it has to be right for the club and experience to my mind is crucial.
SN: Opposition player you dislike?
AB: There have been a few players in recent years to raise the ire of QPR supporters, John Terry being an obvious one, but as a footballer I have an immense dislike for Ashley Young, and not purely for what he did to Queens Park Rangers last season.
I find cheating on the football field disgusting and he not only cost us on that day, but also Shaun Derry for a few games and rather made a case to further dislike Manchester United, for any supporters out there that required any further reasons. I shed no tears when it cut to a shot of Ashley looking forlorn at Sunderland.
SN: Opposition player you would want in your team?
AB: An odd one for you, but one I have maintained for a while would benefit our team. Brede Hangeland of Fulham. The defender has always impressed me with his no-nonsense style, combined with a sensible eye for a pass makes him an excellent prospect for any Premier League team – particularly teams with such defensive ineffeciencies as ours!
SN: Last season you had the unenviable record for achieving the most red cards, nine in total, six were straight reds. Four of them were for violent conduct. QPR had four more red cards than any other team. The reason?
AB: Not being dirty in fairness, it was mainly naivety. Samba Diakite get putting himself in terrible positions because of his desire to get the ball and was narrowly late into tackles where a bit more experience would have taught him to step off. Again Shaun Derry’s misfortune is well documented, but there is no defending Djibril Cisse, Joey Barton and Clint Hill – all of which have cost us at various times in the season.
Stupidity, naivety, call it what you will, but it put us in a bad position this season as well, with the likes of Stephane M’Bia and Diakite again showing why you have to be a bit cleverer and keep your temper in check at this level.
SN: Your opinion of Sir Alex Ferguson?
AB: I have a great respect for the achievements of Sir Alex Ferguson, the man has lead the way for decades in terms of producing winning football and I fear that ruling by respect that he does so well will soon disappear after he’s gone. In a society where all the power lies with the players, it’s wonderful to see he’s still the top dog at Old Trafford.
In the past I have questioned his style, his signings, but you cannot question what he has achieved. I will say that he inherited a stunning set of youngsters that delivered the treble and has continued to build on this success, albeit with a few turkeys along the way. I think you’ll look at the likes of Prunier, Kleberson, Taibi, Djemba Djemba, Bellion as the wrong’uns, but there’s always a Cristiano Ronaldo to balance things up nicely.
SN: Which club have the best support when they visit Loftus Road?
AB: Southampton were brilliant last week. In a very similar position to us and really got behind their boss and team to their great benefit. Reading by comparison were tepid as are a lot of top flight teams that are to my mind spoiled by their status. Visiting Stoke City recently, you wonder where they get a reputation for a famous atmosphere given the flat nature of the crowd.
SN: Your favourite away ground to visit and why?
AB: Coming into the Premier League you always look forward to visiting the bigger grounds. Old Trafford, The Etihad, The Emirates etc. But you cannot beat smaller grounds for genuine atmosphere. We always created a fantastic atmosphere at Luton and Colchester because of the nature of the stadium and it made for an enjoyable spectacle.
In the Premier League this season I guess the one I’m looking forward to is West Ham – always a vociferous atmosphere and a tight game.
SN: With your previous club captain Joey Barton on a season long loan to Olympique Marseille, tell us your opinion on the Mersey-sider and his Twitter activities..
AB: Joey enjoys the sound of his own voice and it’s something you cannot take too seriously. He craves reaction and controversy and it seems that 140 characters is not enough for him as he directs traffic to his new website.
I was never objecting to this while his form was consistent, when it started to dip and he quarrelled with people online it put us back in the spot light for all the wrong reasons. The final straw was his inability to own up to his shortcomings on the final game of the season, something which annoyed sections of support to the point of no return. Had Stoke not got a result at Bolton, it would have costs us a place in the Premier League – a public linching would have ensued.
SN: With Fabio da Silva on a season long loan to the R’s, to date only making less than a handful of appearances your initial impression?
AB: The opening to the season showed Fabio to be good going forward – but defensively is lacking, which presumably is the reason you had decided to send him out on loan. His positional sense in the early going was disastrous, highlighted by Simeon Jackson’s goal against us up at Norwich City.
I expect him to get better as time goes on, but I’ve never seen it beneficial for us to cultivate that talent of others to our detriment. I would sooner see us attempt to blood one of our own and give him some valuable experience. He may well improve, but if he’s not anywhere near the finished article, there’s no benefit for us to play him into form.
SN: United fans favourite , Park Ji-Sung is your new club captain. Your view on the South Korean and what you think he will bring to Queens Park Rangers?
AB: I have been very surprised by what I believe to be a distinct lack of quality. I deemed him to be a very positive signing and the fact that a lot of United fans speak positively of him only sweetened the deal for me. From what I’ve seen so far, he chases around a heck of a lot but there is a breathtaking lack of quality coming from him so far.
I hope that improves, the club seems to have placed a great deal of precedence on his deal, but I hope his reputation doesn’t prevent him from being dropped like any other player out of form. I hope it turns around for him, but thus far just like the other signings, I have been unimpressed by the start he’s made in honesty.
SN: Last season was the R’s first time back in the Premier League in 16 years, surviving by the skin of your teeth. Highs and lows of that roller – coaster season, with a fantastic win against neighbours Chelsea and to counter this a crushing defeat leaking 6 goals to Fulham. Your view on the season overall?
AB: It was a heart attack over 38 games. A good start, a terrifying middle and a breathtaking end. We recovered well at the end and Mark Hughes got the necessary home wins but I’d have rather steered clear of the whole show this time around. The win against Chelsea and that memorable final day will stand out as distinct highlights in a season fraught with inconsistency and frankly disaster at times.
The lows definitely the Fulham and Chelsea fixtures away from home as mentioned, but also losing home games such as Bolton and Norwich really did not do us any favours in the final reckoning.
SN: Last season you finished 17th in the league, went out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Round, exited the League – Capital One – Carling – Worthington – Coca Cola – Rumbelows – Littlewoods – Milk ……Cup in the second round.Your expectations this term?
AB: My expectations was to do better in the Premier League, and I hope that’s still a possibility. We ducked out the cup without so much of a whimper against Reading and I expect we’ll make light of the FA Cup like we normally do. I would take a swift exit if it assured our safety for another year. Something that looks distant right now but certainly not unachievable.
SN: Your view on the Anton Ferdinand – John Terry race row?
AB: Ah, handshakes at dawn. It is something I have steered clear of considering it has very little to do with us as a club. John Terry has said whatever it is he said and a member of the public complained. The fall-out evidently focused on Anton’s reactions to a varying set of events, but I maintain that he has conducted himself well, and if you don’t respect someone then you make a mockery of the handshake in general.
In a wider sense it has highlighted some problems in our game with dealing with top players. Evidnently having been brought to task by the FA you’d expect Chelsea to act, but evidently doing what he did and saying what he said in whatever context is fine for Chelsea chiefs. A sad commentary on modern day football to my mind.
SN: Would you agree players shaking hands prior to a match should be scrapped?
AB: I think players should shake hands after the game much like the managers do. Just to show they left their vengeance out on the pitch, had a good game in the spirit of competition and move on. It shouldn’t be something that organised, orchestrated or encouraged, but done of one’s own volition – that would trult be a mark of fair play.
SN: Your view on the plans for a new 45,000 capacity stadium for QPR, taking into account the average attendances at present are slightly over 17,000.
AB: We are filling the ground, which is positive and proportionately I think we’d get more supporters through the door and ultimately start the long road to be self-sustaining, which is not a reality at the present time. 45k is an over-exaggeration in the media I feel – 30k with potential to increase I think is a realistic prospect and would benefit us greatly.
I would worry about the caliber of support we would attract with so many extra seats and whether it would detract from the fine atmosphere at Loftus Road.
SN: Any players who may not yet be high profile, but are under the radar at the R’s that we will hear more of in the future?
AB: Generally we have not created anything of note in recent years that could come through to the first team. Our finest prospect we had to sell when times were tough – Raheem Sterling. I would have loved to see his talent come to fruition in W12, but it was not to be unfortunately.
Max Ehmer and Michael Doughty – son of the late Nottingham Forest director – are decent prospects, but I suppose present first-teams that are under the radar of the top level would be Alejandro Faurlín, a fine central midfielder, and Jamie Mackie, a never-say-die supporting striker.
SN: Fantasy time, you have a choice of three of Manchester United’s players. Who would you choose and why?
AB: Robin van Persie for one – a stunning Premier League talent, that through Arsenal’s lack of ambition has proven to be Manchester United’s game. An unbelievable left foot that has proven deadly on every level.
Secondly Wayne Rooney – I saw him live for the first time last season and found his off the ball ability outstanding. His range of passing and ruthlessness impressed me immensely and I’d love to have a player of his calibre.
Thirdly, Nemanja Vidic – a tough, uncompromising central defender that can single-handedly hold together a failing back four. If he wasn’t so injury prone I’m sure you’d have been champions last season.
SN: Where do you think Manchester United will finish in the Premier League?
AB: Never write off Manchester United – a lesson that many challengers have learned to their detriment. I think despite being weaker, they will be there and there abouts once more. If City fail to perform consistently then despite being a tad weaker I think United still have enough about them and experience of run ins, good and bad, to see the job through.
It will run right to the wire once again to my mind.
SN: Who do you believe are Queens Park Rangers key players this season and the one’s most likely to cause United problems on Saturday?
AB: The enigmatic Adel Taarabt – can turn a game with one piece of skill or goal. Irrespective of who is defending against him, he has the ability to make a fool of the most experienced counterpart and it is my hope that he can produce that moment of magic to cause an upset on Saturday.
Further from that, I would look to the aforementioned Alejandro Faurlín for a scything pass, Djibril Cissé for a goal from nothing and Jamie Mackie for no-nonsense effort. These will be our keys to any success in this game and the several others coming up.
SN: Predictions for the game on Saturday?
AB: We’ll throw in a lot more effort than against Southampton but ultimately I expect us to come up short. I anticipate it won’t be a game for the neutral, as we’ll throw up the defences but ultimately get unpicked. 2-0 to United is my prediction.
Thanks Adam for your involvement.
Manchester United have won 33 of their last 38 home matches in the Premier League.
Queens Park Rangers have lost 12 of their last 13 away ties in the Premier League.
Manchester United have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches in all competitions against QPR.