EXCLUSIVE BY YANN TEAR
Dominic Ball admits QPR need to take a leaf out of Leeds United’s book and show greater desire than they did last weekend if they are to sustain a promotion push this season.
The Hoops lost 2-0 at Elland Road to drop down to ninth in the Championship, and the midfielder says Rangers were taught a lesson in application by the home side, with their willingness to run until they drop.
“I think we were very critical of ourselves after the game,” Ball told the London Weekly News.
“We were nowhere near where we should be. We are not always going to be good in every game, we know that, but if we are going to be a top six side, we realise we have to do better than that.
“The last two or three weeks we haven’t been at our best and we are going to have dips, but we have to learn from them.
“It was a tough game, they were physically stronger than us. They ran more than us and ran back more than we did. We can improve and our attacking players have to defend better as well.
“We are a possession-based team and had more possession than them, so clearly we are doing something right, but the game showed us we have to pressure teams more and play with more intensity. They had more desire than us on the day.”
Ball, 24, one of boss Mark Warburton’s summer recruits, is settling in well at Rangers after a quiet start to the campaign and enjoying playing in his favoured defensive midfield position after playing in Scotland last season for Aberdeen, pictured right.
“I was unlucky that after a good pre-season I learnt that I was suspended for the opening game – which was carried over from last season at Aberdeen,” he said. “I thought it wouldn’t count if you were playing in a different country.
“That was demotivating and with Geoff Cameron coming in and doing well, I didn’t get to play in any of the opening four league games.
“But I kept working hard and got my chance and played in a four-game winning streak and have made nine appearances now, so I’m very happy. Now I want to carry on improving and become undroppable.
“That isn’t so easy in my position because I’m not going to create lots of chances, and playing as a defensive midfield because you don’t always get noticed, but it’s about doing the simple things very well.
“The Scottish league was great and I played there for three seasons but this feels like a step up for me and I feel that I’m doing well. I’ve got two years here with a one-year option after that so there is a chance to really settle in.”
Ebe Eze failed to add to his six goals for the season at Leeds, but Ball has added his name to the growing list of admirers.
The 21-year-old has been in scintillating form in many games this season, and Rangers fans
heading to the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium to see the Hoops take on Middlesbrough on Saturday will be looking forward to seeing the number 10’s silky skills as much as hoping for a win.
“Eze’s the most humble player, so if I say say he’ll go very far, I’m not worried he’ll get carried away, but he really is that good,” Ball said.
“In training, he takes the mick out of some of the players with his nutmegs and ball skills, so we see at close hand what he can do.
“If he keeps applying himself and stays humble, and keeps wanting to improve, he really can go places – but I hope he stays with us and the fans will feel the same because he’s great to watch.”
Having lost their last two games, Rangers could do with a win against struggling Boro, to stay in touch with the leading bunch.
“Every game feels like a must-win and after losing two you start feeling you really need a win,” Ball said.
“There is extra pressure on us, but if we go out and play our football, as we know we can, we should win the game.
“We want that win going into another international break, too.
“We want to head into that with three points so we have a feeling of momentum for the next couple of weeks.”