QPR want ex-Chelsea man to replace Warnock

QPR will ditch promotion-winning boss Neil Warnock and replace him with a foreign manager in time for their Premier League return.

Warnock became only the fourth manager in Rangers history to guide them into the top flight after Monday’s 1-1 draw with Hull all but mathematically clinched promotion from the Championship.

Barring a hugely implausible combination of results in the next 10 days – or a possible points deduction from the FA – the Rs will be playing top-flight football again next season.

But the club’s owners – notorious for their interference in team affairs and tendency to change managers – have made it clear they want a higher-profile European name in the dugout before the Premier League season kicks off in August.

However, despite rumours of an approach for former Italy coach Marcello Lippi, the board are understood to prefer a manager with previous Premier League experience.

Ironically, Warnock’s achievements in fashioning a promotion-winning side this season have given them the confidence to recommence plans to market QPR as a ‘global brand’ with less fear of alienating supporters, now buoyant at the end of a successful year.

And the board feel the abrasive style of the 62-year-old Yorkshireman may not suit the image they want to present to potential business partners in India and other overseas markets.

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Former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is desperate to begin his managerial career in England and has made his interest known, but Rangers are reluctant to hand the job to a complete novice.

However, there is a very real possibility that Loftus Road fans will have to swallow the arrival of a manager with Chelsea connections – Gianfranco Zola, sacked by West Ham a year ago, is a strong candidate.

His former Blues team-mate Roberto Di Matteo is also available after his surprise departure from West Brom in December – as is one-time Stamford Bridge boss Claudio Ranieri, who recently left Roma.

Warnock, who was lured from Crystal Palace 14 months ago and is under contract at Loftus Road until 2013, has publicly denied rumours about his exit.

But he is also aware that relegation-threatened West Ham, who expressed an interest earlier in the season, are still keen to acquire his services should they decide to part company with Avram Grant in the summer.