Former QPR and Fulham defender feels derby clash may decide Rangers’ fate
PUBLISHED: 07:34 01 April 2013
Rufus Brevett fears the unpredictable elements in QPR’s team could prove their undoing when his former clubs meet head-on in their Easter Monday derby.
Brevett, who spent almost seven years at Loftus Road before making the short move to Fulham, feels Rangers must beat their local rivals to keep alive their hopes of avoiding relegation.
Defeat in their last outing against rivals Aston Villa – in a game Harry Redknapp’s side should arguably have won – left the Rs seven points shy of Premier League safety, with just eight games remaining.
That result stirred memories of a crucial 1-0 loss at Coventry in 1996, when Rangers were relegated from the top flight – although Brevett, their left-back in that game, believes there is a key difference between those two QPR sides.
“Andy Impey got sent off for kicking Marcus Hall and, although we played well with 10 men, we still lost,” Brevett recalled. “I marked Gordon Strachan and I remember him saying to me at the end ‘I can’t believe the situation you’re in’.
“That was the game where you walked off and thought ‘that’s it’, but at least you could look everyone straight in the eye and know they’d given it their all.
“Maybe we just weren’t good enough, but when I played in that team, I knew what I was going to get from every single player. With this QPR team you don’t always know what you’re going to get.
“Since Harry took over I think the work ethic has improved. They’re a better team on paper, but you don’t win football matches on paper – and I just hope they haven’t left it too late.”
Coventry’s win, courtesy of a late Eoin Jess header, came to be regarded as the match that determined the fates of both clubs that season, with the Sky Blues escaping the drop on goal difference.
The mantle of Jess may now have fallen to Christian Benteke, who netted the decisive goal in Villa’s recent 3-2 win, but Brevett insists QPR can still avoid the fate of their predecessors from 1996.
“With the amount of players coming in, Rangers have been a massive disappointment,” said the 43-year-old. “But of all their results this season, I think Villa was the biggest kick in the teeth.
“They should have been out of sight in the first half. Even when you’ve missed chances, you’ve got to make sure you go in 1-0 up at half-time and the goals they conceded were very avoidable.
“They have to defend better than that against Fulham. Villa’s win has taken them further away and made QPR’s job a lot more difficult, but not impossible.
“At this stage of the season there’s everything to play for and QPR have to win games – draws are no good to them now.”
A glance at the league table might suggest that Fulham could be the ideal opponents at this stage as they have no realistic chance of either European qualification or sinking into the relegation battle.
But local pride – to say nothing of avenging their 2-1 defeat by Rangers in December – suggests that is unlikely to be the case when the sides lock horns at Craven Cottage (kick-off 8pm).
“I saw that game at Loftus Road and, without taking anything away from Rangers’ performance, Fulham just didn’t turn up,” added Brevett, who featured in two promotion-winning sides for the Whites and now coaches some of the club’s junior teams.
“It was probably the worst I’ve ever seen them play. They went through a bad patch but they’ve come through it and Martin Jol will want to win this game and finish the season on a high, no doubt about it.
“Fulham are very organised – they’ve got a good shape and the pattern of play suits people like [Dimitar] Berbatov and [Sascha] Riether at right-back.
“It’s about as local a derby as you can get – almost literally round the corner – and, having played for both clubs, I know what a big game it is for the two sets of fans.”
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