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Step on the Gaz

PUBLISHED: 13:44 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 13:19 24 August 2010

PRE-SEASON S been very tough, but it seems to have flown by and now I can t wait for our first league game. There s a real buzz around Loftus Road and the lads are really going into the new season with optimism. Barnsley are a team we finished above last

PRE-SEASON'S been very tough, but it

seems to have flown by and now I can't

wait for our first league game.

There's a real buzz around Loftus Road

and the lads are really going into the new

season with optimism. Barnsley are a team

we finished above last year and, at home,

this is a great opportunity to kick off with

three points.

Last season this division was incredibly

tight all the way through and I can't see it

being quite as close this time.

As always, you can't write off the three

teams who came down - it makes a big

difference when you've got that parachute

money from the Premier League - so I'd

imagine Reading, Birmingham and Derby

will all be there or thereabouts.

This time last year, not too many people

were tipping Stoke or Hull for promotion,

so there might be a few outsiders again.

Cardiff seem as if they're going for it this

year and Nottingham Forest, even though

they've just come up, are showing their

intentions to recreate the glory days.

Hopefully QPR will be up at the other

end of the table compared with the start of

last season and pushing for promotion.

We've got a number of players capable

of playing in the Premier League - and

quite a few who have - but I think one of

our most welcome additions this summer

is a player who didn't have that great a

time in the top division.

What Lee Cook's done for QPR in the

past is well-documented - he creates goals

out of nothing and I think his assists for us

a couple of seasons ago were unmatched in

the Championship.

Because of his injury problems last

year, Cookie hasn't played a run of games

for quite a while, but I'm pleased to say he

looks very sharp in training.

He always feels at home when he's at

Loftus Road. I'm sure we'll get the best

out of Cookie again and the Rangers fans

must be licking their lips at the prospect of

seeing him back in a blue and white shirt.

Last time he was a star in a team that

survived in the Championship - now we

want him to be a star among stars and the

aim is for the whole team to be shining this

season.

If I'm called on to play, the gaffer knows

what he's going to get from me, but I've

got a massive new challenge anyway in my

role as player-coach and I'm enjoying

every day of it.

I know a lot of the lads and of course I

want to stay involved on the playing side,

but the gaffer's gradually weaning me on

to coaching and it's a pleasure to learn

from him.

He understands the transition can be

difficult - he was a player here himself -

and I must admit I was a bit apprehensive

when I took charge of the reserves for the

first time at Windsor & Eton recently.

But I hope the younger lads can look up

to me as an older pro. Everything seemed

to come naturally in the end and, while the

gaffer wasn't looking over my shoulder as

such, he did give me a few pointers at the

end of the game.

I've also been to do a bit of scouting on

Swindon, our Carling Cup opponents next

Tuesday, and I can see they'll be hard to

beat.

We'll have to be on our mettle, but the

good thing is that our squad's now strong

enough that, if the gaffer makes changes,

it'll still be a QPR first team.

Compare that with last season, when we

had a lot of lads who hadn't been involved

in the first team playing against Leyton

Orient, and you can see how things have

changed in a short space of time.

Get right behind the lads on Saturday

and let's make this a season to remember!

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