February 4, 2023

Queens Park Rangers have appointed Neil Critchley as their new head coach. The former Blackpool manager has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract after replacing Michael Beale, who joined Scottish Premiership side Rangers last month.

Critchley had previously succeeded Beale as assistant manager at Aston Villa in the summer, after Beale moved to Loftus Road, but was out of work following Steven Gerrard’s sacking in October.

“I’m really excited and can’t wait to get started,” said Critchley, after being appointed after QPR’s 3-0 home defeat to Burnley on Sunday that saw them finish ninth in the Sky Bet Championship.

“I already know some of the players from previous collaborations with them and I know some of them who have followed their careers from a distance. Some good foundations have been laid here and now it’s my job to work as hard as I can to build on that. We want to take the club forward and make sure we compete at the top of the Championship table.”

Previously, Burnley manager Vincent Kompany described the 3-0 win at QPR as a “fresh start” after his side resumed their season by restoring a three-point lead at the top of the Championship.

The Clarets returned to action after the World Cup break and reacted strongly after Sheffield United drew level with them on Saturday. Goals from Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Ian Maatsen and Nathan Tella gave the visitors a resounding victory at Loftus Road.

“It’s never perfect, but it came close,” Kompany said. “I judge a team by effort first and I think everyone could see how much energy this team has. We saw so many good things in that game and scored three really good goals.

The Watford manager, Slaven Bilic, opted for a diplomatic explanation for Ismaila Sarr’s absence from Watford’s goalless draw at home against Hull.

The Senegal forward had been given time off by Watford following his nation’s World Cup exit against England last Sunday. Bilic had declared on Friday that he had hoped Sarr would return in time to face Hull, but that did not pan out as planned. The club are understood to be in regular contact with the player but are unsure of his exact whereabouts or return date.

\”Of course we are missing Sarr,\” Bilic said. \”If Sarr was here yesterday he would play of course. He didn’t come, he wasn’t at training yesterday so he was out and I was totally concentrating on the game.

\”Is he expected back soon? Yes, of course. Sarr is a great player.\”

Watford moved up to fifth in the Championship, although they would have gone third had they won. Bilic was satisfied with a point from a game in which the substitute Rey Manaj missed the Hornets’ clearest opportunity, late on and from close range.

\”The first half wasn’t good enough but in the second half we created more than enough chances to score but the finishing touch was lacking,\” he said. \”We are disappointed with the result, big time, and frustrated, but I’m very pleased with the way the guys played.\”

Bilic is now hoping to add midfield reinforcements next month after Hamza Choudhury became the latest in that position to sustain an injury.
The on-loan Leicester player left with his right knee in a brace after being hurt early on in a 50-50 challenge with Dimitrios Pelkas, who also sustained a knee injury and had to come off.

Watford are already without Tom Cleverley, Imran Louza and Dan Gosling in that position and Edo Kayambe had to miss out because of a calf problem. That meant the forward Joao Pedro dropping back into the middle, blunting the Hornets’ attacking options.

Hull, who moved ahead of Wigan and two points clear of third-bottom West Brom, also sustained an injury to the midfielder Greg Docherty, who had to come off with a dead leg after replacing Pelkas.

\”I was really pleased with the players after the game because we have come away to Watford and got a clean sheet – and the players are disappointed that they haven’t won the game,\” the manager, Liam Rosenior, said. 

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Sarr misses Watford’s 0-0 draw with Hull City

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The Watford manager, Slaven Bilic, opted for a diplomatic explanation for Ismaila Sarr’s absence from Watford’s goalless home draw against Hull.

The Senegalese attacker was given time off by Watford after his country’s World Cup elimination against England last Sunday. Bilic had stated on Friday that he had hoped Sarr would return in time to face Hull, but it did not go as planned. It is believed the club is in regular contact with the player, but is unsure of his exact whereabouts or return date.

“Of course we miss Sarr,” Bilic said. “If Sarr was here yesterday, he would of course be playing. He didn’t come, he wasn’t in training yesterday, so he was out and I concentrated completely on the game.”

“Is he expected back soon? Yes, of course. Sarr is a great player.”

Watford moved up to fifth in the Championship, although they would have finished third had they won. Bilic was pleased with a point from a game in which substitute Rey Manaj missed the Hornets’ clearest chance late and from close range.

“The first half was not good enough, but in the second half we created more than enough chances to score, but the finishing touch was missing,” he said. “We are disappointed with the result, huge and frustrated, but I am very happy with the way the boys played.”

Bilic is now hoping to add reinforcements in midfield next month after Hamza Choudhury was last injured in that position.
The loaned Leicester player left with his right knee in a brace after being injured early on in a 50-50 challenge with Dimitrios Pelkas, who also suffered a knee injury and had to come off.

Watford already has to do without Tom Cleverley, Imran Louza and Dan Gosling in that position and Edo Kayambe had to miss due to a calf problem. That meant forward Joao Pedro fell back to center, dulling the Hornets’ attacking capabilities.

Hull, ahead of Wigan and two points clear of West Brom in third, also suffered an injury to midfielder Greg Docherty, who was forced to leave with a dead leg after replacing Pelkas.

“I was really happy with the players after the game because we went to Watford and kept a clean sheet – and the players are disappointed they didn’t win the game,” manager Liam Rosenior said.

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Photo: Steven Paston/PA

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“It feels like a new start to me. [It was] a premise, the competition is even in our heads and we need to get better. I do want to treat it that way – like it’s a reboot. We can get better and that should be the message.”

Burnley were by far the better side, but Kompany admitted they may have been lucky not to get a penalty in the first minute, when George Thomas went down after a challenge from goalkeeper Arijanet Muric.

Kompany said: “Honestly, I don’t know. From where I was I can see how you can take a penalty kick in such a situation. It evens out. We had a match where the ball went out for a goal kick, a corner was awarded and we conceded. Things like this can happen and eventually they even out.”

Paul Hall, in charge as QPR’s interim manager, felt the game could have turned out very differently had the early penalty been awarded.

“For me that’s a penalty. We can’t blame the ref, but it does affect us and changes the game a bit,” Hall said. “I think if we get a penalty it raises our tails and we believe in ourselves a little more.

“We can’t blame the ref, but of course I’m not happy with that decision. I have often found myself in that situation and very rarely have I not received a penalty or seen a penalty in such situations.”

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