Ephraim: QPR system suits everyone

HOGAN Ephraim believes the change of formation introduced by Neil Warnock at the start of the season has been the key to QPR’s success.

Ephraim, who scored the winner in Rangers’ last game at Doncaster, is one of several players who have thrived in a unit of three floating roles behind the central striker.

In previous years, Warnock’s numerous predecessors often struggled to fit the likes of Ephraim, Akos Buzsaky and Adel Taarabt into more orthodox systems.

This year, though, the trio – along with Tommy Smith, Wayne Routledge and, prior to his injury, Jamie Mackie – have been encouraged to switch positions in the course of a game, with spectacular results.

“I’m all for the 4-3-3 system or a similar one like we’re playing – I think that’s the modern way forward,” Ephraim told the Times. “It’s been a massive factor this season.

“Some of the players we have are made for switching – you can drift to the left or the right, or go in the middle. It must be a nightmare for opposition teams because you don’t know how you’re marking anyone.

“Of course different managers have their preferences, but people like myself, Tommy Smith and Jamie Mackie are not wide players in a 4-4-2 system.

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“I think it also helps Ali Faurlin and Shaun Derry having Adel just in front of them, because it takes out another midfielder who has to try and look after him.

“The other key thing was that last summer the manager brought in players he knew and trusted and they’ve added experience and knowhow.”

Rangers, nine points clear at the top of the Championship, are all but certain of Premier League football next season and can move closer to confirming their elevation when they host Sheffield United next Monday (kick-off 7.45pm).

Ephraim was also on target when the Blades were cut down 3-0 on their own Bramall Lane turf back in August and the 23-year-old says that result had a significant impact on himself and the rest of the squad.

Although the Rs had opened their campaign with a 4-0 home success against Barnsley, Ephraim recalled: “I think the Barnsley result was a bit flattering – they hit the woodwork and were certainly in it until late on.

“But to go to Sheffield United and be 3-0 up inside 25 minutes was incredible. Every time I’d been there before then we’d lost – and usually been well beaten.

“That really gave us confidence and it’s been weird this season, going away from home and expecting to win. But it’s been a nice pressure and we’ve responded well.

“I’d never have expected Sheffield United to be down there at the start of the season. Don’t forget, though, Micky Adams was the manager of Port Vale when they came to Loftus Road and beat us in the Carling Cup.

“I’m sure he’s going to get them up for the challenge, as he did with Port Vale, and they’ll scrap for their lives. But hopefully we can produce the sort of performance we’ve been showing of late.

“After two and a half tough years, I’m glad the fans have finally had something to enjoy. They were promised a lot and, until this season, that’s never been delivered.”