BY YANN TEAR
QPR produced their most satisfying performance of the season – and their highest goals return – but their perfectionist boss wants more.
Nahki Wells, Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel and sub Jordan Hugill were all on target in a 4-2 win against Blackburn, which ended a 20-year wait for victory against the Lancashire outfit.
It was an excellent response to a 3-0 midweek defeat at Cardiff City, but Mark Warburton is demanding better – especially when it comes defending, as Rangers have still not kept a clean sheet.
He said: “We move the ball well, with limited touches and are brave in our positioning, and we look a really good team.
“But we’ve got to be more clinical, be more ruthless, defend our goal with a real passion – both from set pieces and general open play.
“It’s three points, we are at home in front of our supporters, going into an international break, so it’s satisfying.
“But as much as I praise the players, we know as a group we’ve got to be sharper than that and tighter. We gave away a soft goal and dropped the intensity a little bit.
“So it’s great to get three points, don’t get me wrong, but it’s a demanding set of players and they want to set higher standards. We know as a group we can be better.
“We’re looking for that desire. Obviously the clean sheet’s an obvious aim, but winning games and three points is of course the most important stat.”
The challenge to his players to reach greater heights is offset by the Rangers manager’s pleasure at the way his squad has knuckled down since he took over in the summer and totally revolutionised the set up.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the players in terms of how they’ve adapted,” he said.
“Whenever a manager or coach comes in, it’s a time of uncertainty and instability. Suddenly they’ve seen 14-15 players coming in and people who are good friends and mates depart the club.
“They’ve dealt with all of that, the new ideas, new timetables. They’ve dealt with it so well and they’ve worked so hard.
“We know as a group we’ve a lot more work still to do, but I can’t speak highly enough of the way they’ve adapted and the camaraderie, and the way they come in every day intent on getting better, so all credit to them.
“There’s some really good characters in the group. They want to get to the next level and we’ll work hard to do that.”
Rangers go into their weekend off sitting pretty in ninth place, and return to action at Hull City on October 19 before returning to action in west London with back-to-back games against Reading and Brentford.
Meanwhile, West Bromwich Albion’s Matheus Pereira has issued an apology to QPR fans for his cut-throat goal celebration in the recent Championship fixture between the clubs.
The midfielder scored Albion’s second goal in the 84th minute from a free-kick and marked the victory-clinching moment by copying a gesture familiar in South American football.
Rangers and Albion received complaints from supporters.
The gesture was in poor taste, especially given that Loftus Road was renamed the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium after the academy player who lost his life in May 2006 in a knife attack.
Pereira, who is Brazilian, said: “Of course I must apologise if my goal celebrations caused any offence.
“It is most important, supporters at QPR and beyond understand that it was never my intention to do so.
“The gesture was meant only to signify ‘game over’ as my goal had given us 2-0 lead and the opposition had lost a player to a red card. I was very excited for my first goal and happy for our supporters.
“I saw a Brazilian player with Flamengo doing it recently and it was just in my mind.
“I have since been made aware of the story of the Kiyan Prince Foundation and understand why my celebrations might have been misunderstood and caused offence.
It was certainly not my intention to do so and I apologise for that.”