Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Famous five allow Adel Taarabt to rediscover some sparkle

Adel Taarabt Queens Park Rangers FC
Queens Park Rangers' summer spending may not have yielded a first home win in the Premier League just yet but manager Neil Warnock will believe it has already helped him secure a crucial victory.
While all the drama at Loftus Road last night centred on the most controversial of his 12 signings in new captain Joey Barton, another individual who boasts a suspect temperament provided the sub-plot.
Adel Taarabt may not have been involved in the kind of high-profile incidents Barton has in his career but he has the potential to be just as difficult to deal with.
Warnock's man-management skills helped polish the rough diamond he signed from Tottenham last year into the player who inspired the club to the Championship title in May.
Yet it seemed his love affair with QPR was heading for a premature end as a desire to move back to his homeland in France grew stronger and the subsequent interest from Paris St Germain in the close-season unsettled him.
Luckily for Warnock talks broke down between the two clubs and QPR issued a statement to say they were committed to keeping the Moroccan international at all costs.
Still, they appeared to be the ones who might pay a heavy price for the 21-year-old began the campaign looking listless and disinterested.
The takeover by Tony Fernandes late last month brought excitement as well as necessary funds for Warnock to add some more crucial additions to the astute signings of DJ Campbell, Jay Bothroyd, Danny Gabbidon and Kieron Dyer he had already made.
But there was still a huge question mark against Taarabt, who was used to being the centre of attention. How would he respond to being put in the shade by the arrival of Barton, not to mention other experienced Premier League characters in Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anton Ferdinand, Luke Young and Armand Traore, all of whom made debuts last night.
The fact Warnock confirmed before the game he had taken the captaincy off Taarabt and given it to Barton increased the danger of provoking a sulky reaction. Instead, it appeared a burden had been lifted off his shoulders.
If Wright-Phillips caught the eye with his pace and threatening dribbles on the flanks, Taarabt provided the flair in the middle of the stage.
Freed from the pressure of leading the team as well as the responsibility of being the side's only real creative spark, the sparkle of old was there for everyone to see.
The employment of veteran enforcers Barton and Shaun Derry in front of the back four gave him the chance to express himself with greater confidence further up the pitch and slide threatening balls through on a regular basis as well as display some customary fancy tricks.
It may not have quite led to the goal that the home side more than merited, yet it was a display that earned significant admirers.
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew said: "They have a player out there in Taarabt who in tight areas is probably as good as anyone in the division. He caused us a lot of problems as he will a lot of other teams in this League."
While Warnock was understandably aggrieved at the injustice of the result, Taarabt's maturity lifted his spirits.
He said: "I thought Taarabt had his best game on and off the ball with Barton behind him. I had a chat with Adel about the captaincy last week and straight away he was bright about it. I think he appreciates how far we've come and the need to drive on. To do that we need someone who is our leader. I thought he [Barton] epitomised what we are about."
For a player who has also tested the patience of some members of the dressing room, Taarabt's new-found enthusiasm did not go unnoticed either. DJ Campbell has only been at the club for a short while himself but feels the arrival of so many high-profile players has made the midfielder raise his game.
"He was brilliant and it is the best I have seen him play since I have been here," he said. "Adel has ability, everyone can see that, but with the players we've got now you have to raise your game. He was brilliant and you can't ask more of him if he plays like that every week."
The League table will make pleasing reading for QPR today as they sit above Arsenal, Tottenham and Fulham. However, the fact they have scored only one goal in four games should also be cause for concern.
Bothroyd and Wright-Phillips both had efforts cleared off the line but there was also some wasteful finishing and they need to become more clinical if they are to avoid a relegation battle.

QPR boss explains Barton decision

Joey Barton Image 3

QPR boss Neil Warnock reckons it was a no-brainer making Joey Barton his new captain.
The former Newcastle United midfielder was handed the armband on his debut as Rangers drew 0-0 with the Magpies at Loftus Road last night.
And Warnock believes it was the right decision for Barton to replace Adel Taarabt as skipper.
He said: "I thought Joey handled himself well. He was pushing us all the time. It was the logical thing really [to make his captain].
“Adel was bright about it and appreciates how far we've come. We need to drive on and to do that we need someone who's our leader.
“I thought he [Barton] epitomised what we're about."

Read More http://www.fulhamchronicle.co.uk/london-sport/london-qpr/2011/09/13/qpr-boss-explains-barton-decision-82029-29410883/#ixzz1XoAvVIBJ