McClaren: QPR have more belief and confidence
PUBLISHED: 18:42 26 December 2018 | UPDATED: 18:42 26 December 2018
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QPR manager Steve McClaren admitted his players continue to surprise him after their 3-0 Boxing Day win over Ipswich.
Rangers, beaten in McClaren’s first four league games in charge, have steadily climbed the Championship table, with a third win in a row lifting them to eighth, just two points away from the play-off places.
McClaren said: “We just said ‘don’t throw them two good results away; be professional, do your job and keep a clean sheet and we’ll always have opportunities.’
“That’s what they did. They were very professional. I’m really pleased with the performance.
“They’re getting a bit more belief that they can win games, and they should do because with some of the performances and results we’ve had they should be getting more belief and confidence.”
Rangers face a challenging spell as they will be under a January transfer embargo as part of the club’s Financial Fair Play settlement and have a number of injuries.
Those sidelined include Geoff Cameron and, with Massimo Luongo now set to fly out to play for Australia at the Asian Cup, McClaren is looking to Jordan Cousins to fill the midfield void.
He explained: “We’ve got injuries and Luongo now goes for a month.
“People need to step up and it’s a tough period for us, but this squad keeps surprising me and they’ve done it again today.
“We’re going to miss Mass (Luongo). He quietly goes about his business, does his job very effectively without people really noticing, and we’ll see how much we miss his presence in that midfield.
“It’s up to Jordan. Jordan will have to step in there and we’ll have to cope without him (Luongo).”
Ipswich boss Paul Lambert refused to blame Jon Nolan for a costly mistake against QPR as the 3-0 defeat meant Town remain bottom of the table and means they have lost five of their last six away matches.
The visitors conceded twice in four first-half minutes at Loftus Road, where the opening goal came after Nolan gave the ball away.
After keeper Dean Gerken failed to hold Nahki Wells’ shot, Pawel Wszolek pounced on the rebound to score.
Joel Lynch doubled QPR’s lead, and Wells added a third with 16 minutes remaining.
Lambert said: “For the first goal we’ve got the ball, are on top of the game, and Jon’s tried that pass - which is fine because I’m telling them to play.
“There’s no blame attached to him whatsoever. The great thing about it is that he kept on trying to take the ball. It takes a big player to do that when you’ve made a mistake.
“He’s playing really well and I’ll never criticise somebody for trying to get on the ball.
“I know what it’s like and there’s no player alive that doesn’t make a mistake.
“OK he made a mistake, but he goes again and I was delighted that he kept on going and never stopped trying to do things, which is great.”
Ipswich are seven points from safety but Lambert sees signs of progress and is optimistic they will climb away from trouble.
“A lot can change very quickly and there’s a long way to go,” he said.
“As long as you finish above that line, it doesn’t matter where you are.
“Whether we deserved to win this game or not I don’t know, but performance-wise we were dominating the ball for long spells.
“The difference was at both ends. I don’t think we did enough in the attacking third and didn’t defend as well as we should.”