QPR boss McClaren faces visit from former club Middlesbrough
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Current Rs manager enjoyed successful five-year stint in charge of Boro earlier in career
Saturday is sure to conjure up plenty of fond memories for Queens Park Rangers manager Steve McClaren as he faces the first side he ever managed — Middlesbrough.
The 57-year-old began his managerial career with Boro in 2001 and oversaw a successful five-year period before leaving to take the England job.
During his time at the Riverside Stadium, McClaren guided Middlesbrough to the Carling Cup in 2004; their highest-ever Premier League finish in 2005; and the UEFA Cup final in 2006.
That Carling Cup success remains the only major domestic honour won by Boro in the club’s 142-year history.
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McClaren’s focus now, though, is on making QPR successful and the west Londoners will hope to return to winning ways this weekend.
The Loftus Road club are without a win in their last four matches in the league since beating fierce rivals Brentford 3-2 on November 10.
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That run of form has seen the Rs slip eight points adrift of the play-off places as the season ticks towards the halfway mark.
McClaren knows the west Londoners must end their winless run soon if they are serious about overachieving and upsetting the odds this term.
But as he has done so often in recent weeks, the QPR boss remained coy about his team’s aims for the campaign.
“Our aim at the beginning of the season after losing the first four games was to get out of the bottom,” said McClaren following a 2-1 loss at Leeds United last Saturday.
“We climbed the table well and got within reach of the top six.
“We’ve had a couple of results which aren’t ideal and at the present moment we still have a lot to do.
“We can’t strengthen in January, so we’re just hoping to keep our players together.
“All I’m concerned about is the players developing. Players like Ebere Eze and Bright Osayi-Samuel, we’ve got to develop them and along with developing them, we’ve got to win football matches.”
McClaren may have to shuffle his pack for the visit from Middlesbrough with injury concerns over both full-back Angel Rangel and midfielder Geoff Cameron.
The pair both picked up knocks at Leeds last week and were unable to complete the match, leaving them in a race against time to be fit for the Rs to face Boro this coming Saturday.