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Bircham’s return to Loftus Road is as vital as Holloway’s, insists former QPR striker

PUBLISHED: 13:15 18 November 2016 | UPDATED: 13:24 18 November 2016

Former QPR striker Tony Thorpe has hailed Ian Holloway and Marc Bircham's return to Loftus Road. (Pic: PA)

Former QPR striker Tony Thorpe has hailed Ian Holloway and Marc Bircham's return to Loftus Road. (Pic: PA)

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Former QPR striker Tony Thorpe believes Marc Bircham’s return to Loftus Road is just as big a boost to Rangers’ prospects as Ian Holloway’s.

Holloway, who previously managed QPR for a five-year spell between 2001 and 2006, celebrates his side reaching the then Division Two play-off final back in May 2003. (Pic: PA)Holloway, who previously managed QPR for a five-year spell between 2001 and 2006, celebrates his side reaching the then Division Two play-off final back in May 2003. (Pic: PA)

Thorpe, who played under Holloway and was also a team-mate of Bircham’s during his time in W12, believes the qualities the latter can bring to the table as first-team coach will be hugely beneficial as the Rs go through another transitional phase.

He told the Times: “Marc will play a big part in this. Ian’s been in football a very long time, but sometimes to have that youth beside you can be invaluable.

“Marc’s worked incredibly hard over the last few years to get from youth team to first team set-ups. He’ll bring new ideas, bundles of enthuasiam and will not stop working. They’ll bounce off each other so people can’t undervalue the potential impact Marc can have – he’s an excellent coach. He’ll be a valuable asset, especially with helping the young players around the first-team squad now.

“He’s also a great lad and I have no doubt he’ll have learnt a hell of a lot over the last couple of years from coaching abroad, and will come back to QPR raring to go.”

While Thorpe was surprised to see Holloway return for a second spell as manager, he believes he can be a success again, as long as he is given the time to build a side capable of promotion.

Holloway (left) has brought in Marc Bircham as his first-team coach at Loftus Road. The pair previously worked together at Millwall, with the latter playing under Holloway during a playing spell at QPR. (Pic: PA)Holloway (left) has brought in Marc Bircham as his first-team coach at Loftus Road. The pair previously worked together at Millwall, with the latter playing under Holloway during a playing spell at QPR. (Pic: PA)

Thorpe added: “He had a good stint at QPR before and I don’t think anyone knows the club as well as Ian, so in that respect there’s no-one better for the job.

“The club has been on the decline for a while and needs a boost, and I’m confident Ian will provide that.

“The fact he’s been given a two and a half-year contract indicates to me that he’ll hopefully be given the time to build a side which will hopefully get back into the Premier League during that time.”

Thorpe has called on supporters to show patience with Holloway, who takes over a side that is currently lying 17th in the Championship table and has struggled to show any kind of consistency this season.

“I think this season Ian needs to concentrate on a top-half finish and get the feel-good factor back at the club,” said Thorpe.

The 53-year-old was at his enigmatic best as the QPR boss was unveiled to the press at Loftus Road on Wednesday afternoon. (Pic: PA)The 53-year-old was at his enigmatic best as the QPR boss was unveiled to the press at Loftus Road on Wednesday afternoon. (Pic: PA)

“I’m sure the supporters will be 100 per cent behind Ian and understand there is a huge rebuilding job ahead and that success won’t come overnight.”

Thorpe, who enjoyed promotion with the Rs during a two-year spell from 2003 to 2005, believes Holloway will come into the job refreshed and ready to go, rejecting suggestions that being out of management for a long period will affect him.

He continued: “He’s done a lot of punditry work on Sky so he’s been in and around football still – he hasn’t come away from it.

“He’s covered a lot of Championship games so knows what it is about, and he’s going back into a job in that division.

“It’s a perfect job for him, there’s nothing he wouldn’t have seen over the last 18 months.

Holloway had been working as a pundit for Sky Sports before sealing an emotional return to Loftus Road. (Pic: PA)Holloway had been working as a pundit for Sky Sports before sealing an emotional return to Loftus Road. (Pic: PA)

“It’s a fresh start for him and new players that he hasn’t been with before. The calibre of players will probably be better than the ones we had during my spell there.

“Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of heart and desire, and had a good team, but football has evolved since those days.

“It’s just about Ian getting this group of players playing for each other and getting the maximum out of every one of them.”

He continued: “From my experience of working with him he was brilliant. He gets the best out of every single individual and that’s the difference between him and the other 25 managers I’ve worked with!

“He gets that extra 10 to 15 per cent out of you and that’s vital in football as it’s changed massively over the years, so having someone like Ian who is so infectious and passionate around the place can only be a good thing.

“Ian and Kenny Jackett were a brilliant pair – there was such a great balance between them and a real close bond. You want to roll your sleeves up as players for characters like Ian.”

Referring to Holloway’s ill-fated spell at Milwall, where he was sacked in March 2015, Thorpe remarked: “What manager out there hasn’t had a bad time at a club? It happens.

“What Ian needs to do is build a real spirit throughout the whole club and get these players going – if he can do that he’ll be a real success.”


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