BY MAX HALL
With ex-Millwall youngster Ebere Eze flying out of the blocks against his former club on Wednesday night, Queens Park Rangers boss Steve McClaren spoke afterwards of his delight at finding out the forward had been prised from The Den, when he arrived as Rangers manager in May.
“They told me that when I first came,” said the former England manager after Wednesday’s 2-0 victory for the Hoops. “And I’d watched him a lot last season. How anybody could let him go … there’ll be reasons for that, I don’t know, I’m just so happy that we’ve got him.”
But the Rangers manager denied Eze had raised his game to prove a point against his youth football employers.
“No, he was similar last week, he’s a talented player but talent is nothing, you’ve got to work hard. We told him that, you’ve got to be disciplined and put in a job for the team. He’s a talent that can get better. He certainly needs to add discipline to his game, and workrate. He’s showing that and he’s reaping rewards in his performances.
“There’s a long way to go but he’s definitely a talent. He’s got tempo, he’s got to drive and use that tempo – which he did tonight – a lot more than he has done recently.”
McClaren criticised referee Robert Jones’s decision to book the former Millwall man for diving in the area six minutes from time, under a challenge from Jake Cooper.
“I thought we had opportunities to get a third goal,” said McClaren. “I’m positive that was a penalty in the second half, I can’t believe how he [Jones] never spotted that, but there you go. Ridiculous!”
With Neil Harris slamming his side’s lacklustre first-half display – the Lions manager said his team were “not Millwall enough” – McClaren saw things differently.
“We knew with [Steve] Morison coming on they’d play more direct, they did that, we had one scare when they hit the bar,” added the Hoops boss, referring to Cooper’s 51st-minute header from a Shaun Williams corner.
“I think we were so good in the first half I think we just restricted them, smothered them. We were just sharper. The second half was obviously going to change and it would have been interesting if they’d got a goal when they hit the bar.”