|Hill extends stay, Swansea up first, QPR plane set for launch â diary|
Wed 20th Jun 2012 20:04 by Clive Whittingham
Clint Hill has signed a one year extension to his QPR contract with an option for another year besides. Meanwhile the 2012/13 fixtures see Rangers hosting Swansea first, and travelling to Liverpool last.
A late start due to the Olympics in London means Rangers have just two games in August, at home to Swansea and away to Norwich, before tough assignments at Man City and at home to Chelsea. The West London rivalry with the Blues will be renewed at Stamford Bridge on New Year’s Day and the R’s finish the season with a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool.
That should serve as great encouragement to Brendan Rodgers’ men. The final game last season at Manchester City was the fourth time five years QPR have been involved in a game with the league champions on the last day – QPR themselves in 2011/12, Newcastle the season before and West Brom in 2007/08. Wolves sealed their 2008/09 Championship title with a win against QPR three games before the end of the season and Reading were champions when the R’s played them in the final match of the 2005/06 campaign. Crewe won promotion at Loftus Road in 2002/03.
The ridiculous rules imposed on sites like this one by Dataco prevent us from publishing a full list of fixtures – although hopefully the European Court is about to quash this nonsense copyrighting of a list of dates – so for a full run down please visit the club’s official website.
Clint Hill was Man of the Match in that City game and the veteran defender has this week extended his stay at Loftus Road by a further 12 months, with an option for another year besides.
He told qpr.co.uk: “I'm absolutely buzzing. As soon as I found out that Mark Hughes wanted to keep me for at least another year, staying here was the only thing on my mind. It was a straightforward decision to stay. I love playing here and I love playing at Loftus Road. It's a great ground. I've seen the plans for the future and the new training ground it's an exciting time to be here. I'm really looking forward to the challenge.
“Hopefully I can now try and get a few more games under my belt and next season will see us progress even further as a club. New players are coming in and it's an exciting time for everyone connected to the club. I just want to try and give the gaffer a headache. I don't know what the starting eleven's going to be, but I'm willing to rise to the challenge again and make it hard for people to take that place off me.”
He has been joined at Loftus Road this week by Fulham striker Andy Johnson and Tottenham veteran Ryan Nelsen who are both making free transfer moves to W12 this summer. Manager Mark Hughes, who has worked with both players before, was particularly pleased about the acquisition of Johnson.
He said: "His attitude to his work is first class and his ability to score goals at Premier League level speaks for itself. He's a very industrious striker, who gives everything for the team. AJ is a great character and has vast Premier League experience. That was perhaps something that was lacking in certain games, especially away from home last season, so it's something we needed to address. He ticks all the boxes for me. Andy likes to get in behind defences and he's got good pace which is important. There are a lot of reasons why I've bought him in and they'll be there for everyone to see this season."
The move for Johnson means DJ Campbell may sadly never get a chance to make an impact for the club he supported as a boy. Campbell was plagued by injuries last season and is dropping further down the pecking order with each new arrival at the moment. He told London24 he accepts his future now lies elsewhere and he is talking to other clubs.
For others, optimism abounds at the moment, with Jamie Mackie telling Sky Sports News: "With the backing that the chairman and owners are willing to put in, and have put in already, I feel that the club is going to go on from strength to strength from here. It's exciting times; we've already made a few signings which is quite early, and good for the lads who are coming in."
In other news youth team keeper Aaron Lennox has been selected by Australia Under 20s for the forthcoming Asian Football Conferderation qualifying tournament in Indonesia. Australia will play five matches between July 2 and 15.
While the signings of ageing Nelsen and Johnson may be considered short term, the focus is very much on the medium and long term at QPR at the moment. New technical director Mike Rigg gave an encouraging interview to West London Sport this week outlining his vision for the future of the club.
Rigg said: “At the moment I’d say QPR is very similar to Manchester City when I started there. There are some great people and a real willingness to build the club.There are some differences, obviously. We won’t be paying someone like Yaya Toure a couple of hundred grand a week. In that sense, like at every club, we’ll cut our cloth accordingly. But the will is there to build a successful club for the long term. The likes of Tony Fernandes and Amit Bhatia have been incredibly supportive. I haven’t once come up against a brick wall. Everything we’re trying to do they’re receptive to and you can’t really wish for more than that.”
West London Sport also reports today that the R’s have brought in former Sheffield United player Glynn Hodges in to head up a revamped youth set up at QPR. Hodges has previously worked with Mark Hughes, a former Welsh team mate, at Blackburn, Man City and Fulham.
Off the field chairman Tony Fernandes has revealed the QPR-themed designs for a new Air Asia passenger jet that will carry the R’s players to the Far East on tour this summer. Considering just eight years ago we were losing to Chesterfield and signing miniscule kit sponsorship deals with Sellotape, this really is quite something. Fernandes is now seeking suggestions from QPR fans for what to call the aircraft.
Finally Jacob Mellis, the England youth midfielder released by Chelsea for letting off a smoke bomb at their training ground, has signed for Barnsley on a two year deal. Mellis had an extended trial with QPR at the end of last season but was arrested for domestic assault during his time with the club and not kept on.
- Wigan midfielder Mohamed Diame has signed a three year contract at newly promoted West Ham on a free transfer. The Latics are resisting offers from Chelsea for winger Victor Moses however with chairman Dave Whelen describing an initial £3.5m offer as “derisory”. Moses is out of contract next summer and Wigan have offered a double-your-money extension. The Hammers meanwhile have also signed veteran Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jääskeläinen on a free transfer and made a £5.5m bid for Norwich’s wantaway striker Grant Holt.
- Swansea have confirmed former Getafe and Mallorca boss Michael Laudrup as their new manager but warned him not to expect a bottomless pit of transfer cash to be available to him. With top summer transfer target Gylfi Sigurdsson now apparently set to follow Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool Swans chairman Huw Jenkins said: “There will be no money handed to Michael Laudrup or any other manager. Every player we bring into this club will be discussed and agreed between ourselves. "If we feel it's right for us then we'll make every attempt as always to make sure that we bring in and spend whatever the manager sees fit. We made the bid for Gylfi in good faith at the time when Brendan was with us. Things have changed since. There's no focus on any one player that's going to dramatically change our fortunes, up or down.”
- Tottenham’s managerial position remains open following the departure of Harry Redknapp last week. Former Chelsea boss Andre Villas Boas has been linked along with French coach Laurent Blanc. Everton boss David Moyes, another early favourite, said he’d had no contact from Spurs. Moyes said: “I hope to meet all my ambitions at Everton but you never know in this game. I've had no contact."
- New West Brom manager Steve Clarke is in talks with Birmingham goalkeeper Ben Foster about making his season long loan deal at The Hawthorns a permanent one this summer. Of his first number one job former West Ham and Liverpool assistant Clarke said: “I will need to be a bit more selfish now I'm a head coach. I'll have to be very clear with my ideas. I'll also have to be a bit more ruthless. I'm looking to break the 50-point barrier."
- Newcastle manager Alan Pardew says he hopes Senegalese forward Demba Ba stays with the club this summer, amid rumours of moves to Spurs and Galatasaray. Ba top scored for the Toon last season with 17 but has a £7.5m release clause in his contract and was moved out into a wider role following the emergence of Papiss Cisse towards the end of last term. Pardew said: “"Ever since he signed with us we've had it, I don't think it's going to go away. We want him to stay, the fans do too, and we hope that will be the case."
Picture – Tony Fernandes