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PUBLISHED: 13:52 03 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:52 24 August 2010
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By Ben Kosky FANS favourite Gareth Ainsworth backed QPR to arrest their current slump after saying his farewells at Loftus Road on Saturday. Ainsworth, who left Rangers after six and a half years to join Wycombe Wanderers on a permanent basis, is confide
By Ben Kosky
FANS' favourite Gareth Ainsworth backed QPR to arrest their current slump after saying his farewells at Loftus Road on Saturday.
Ainsworth, who left Rangers after six and a half years to join Wycombe Wanderers on a permanent basis, is confident his old club can prosper under the guidance of new boss Mick Harford.
"I wish Mick all the best, he's a great guy and they're having a bad time on the pitch at the moment, but it's players who are ultimately responsible and I'm sure they'll turn it around," said Ainsworth.
"The fans do deserve success and I'm sure one day they'll get it. I mean it when I say that every fellow who's ever shook my hand and every fan that's ever cheered for me, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
"The club's been good to me and this is a sad day, really. I had a great reception off the fans, but I believe this was the right decision and I've no regrets.
"When I was fit I wasn't starting games, I was on the bench a lot or not even starting and I'm sure a 36-year-old winger's days were numbered at QPR - so this is a decision to extend my playing career.
"I had the loan spell at Wycombe which really emphasised to me and proved that I can still do it. The coaching books have been put away for the moment - hopefully that'll come one day, but for now it's about playing."
Ainsworth had been QPR's longest-serving player, having joined the club on a free transfer from Cardiff in the summer of 2003 and scored twice on his debut in a 5-0 thrashing of Blackpool.
He was a key member of the team that won promotion to the Championship that season under Ian Holloway and then re-established themselves in the second tier the following year.
Appointed QPR captain by Gary Waddock and later Luigi de Canio, Ainsworth gradually gravitated towards a coaching role and became reserve team boss before taking charge when Iain Dowie was sacked in October 2008.
He led Rangers in six matches and stepped into the role again for a spell of five more games when Dowie's successor Paulo Sousa was also dimissed later in the season.
But Jim Magilton declined to offer Ainsworth a coaching role when he took over last summer and the winger made just two more appearances before reuniting with Waddock at Wycombe, initially on loan.
Looking back on his Loftus Road career, Ainsworth selected two stand-out moments - the 3-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday that sealed promotion in 2004 and his first home game in the dugout, against Birmingham.
"The promotion at Hillsborough was definitely one of the highlights," Ainsworth reflected. "It's something really special to me and I've still got the shirt I wore framed on the wall at home and the medal in the frame.
"Also the first stint as caretaker manager was something different for me and that itself wasn't a highlight, but the reaction I got from the players and the fans was out of this world.
"I'll never forget that night against Birmingham when we beat them with 10 men in the snow and I know that they'll now expect me to go and give 100 per cent for someone else."
Ainsworth has signed an 18-month contract with the League One strugglers, who have also brought in another ex-Rs winger, Kevin McLeod.
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