String of statements don't fool anyone, Flavio

By Ben Kosky THEY say a week is a long time in politics, but at QPR it can easily come to represent an eternity. Paulo Sousa barely had time to pack his bags before the club s propaganda machine whirred into action with the aim of blackening their former

By Ben Kosky

THEY say a week is a long time in politics, but at QPR it can easily come to represent an eternity.

Paulo Sousa barely had time to pack his bags before the club's propaganda machine whirred into action with the aim of blackening their former coach's name.

First up was Dexter Blackstock's agent Eric Walters, with a statement to imply that his client had been unhappy at Loftus Road and Sousa made no attempt to keep him.


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Then Rangers suddenly decided it was time to lift the lid on Luigi de Canio's departure - almost a year later - just in case anyone mistakenly assumed that sacking the first-team coach had become something of a habit.

Finally came the bizarre decision to read out the club's statement on Sousa's sacking just before the Sheffield Wednesday game - to a chorus of boos.

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It was fascinating that the statement included the phrase 'who won only seven of his 26 matches in charge'. Until recently, the club website and matchday programme had been keen to stress at every opportunity how few matches Sousa had lost.

In fact, they had even decided that his first match in charge - a 3-0 defeat at Watford - didn't count in retrospect, presumably because that would tarnish the one-time golden boy's record.

Amidst this deluge of spin came the announcement of a five per cent drop in season ticket prices for fans who renew by May 17, to 'reflect the current economic climate'.

Funny, you'd have thought experienced businessmen like Flavio Briatore and Bernie Ecclestone might have noticed the onset of recession some time ago.

What an amazing coincidence that this revelation came just hours after they realised Rangers supporters might have been upset by the departure of yet another coach... and therefore less inclined to buy tickets for next season.

When will the owners of QPR get the message?

Football is not like other businesses. Fans are not impressed by rebranding, better corporate facilities or the appointment of an ambassador to promote their club on the other side of the world.

They want a successful football team. And they know that is unlikely to be developed at a club where the coach/manager - who has little say in team affairs - leaves every six months and players come and go at a similar rate.

Whatever their reasons for sacking Sousa, let's not forget that Briatore and his cohorts appointed the Portuguese and lavished praise on him not so long ago. So surely his swift exit must reflect poorly on their own judgement?

The sudden wave of statements that followed Sousa's dismissal is highly uncharacteristic for people who, up to now, have preferred to adopt an ostrich mentality on important QPR issues.

Suddenly, methinks the club doth protest too much.

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