Date: 18th June 2009 at 7:00pm
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Paulo Sousa took over from Iain Dowie in November 2008. What was yours and everyone else’s reaction to his appointment?

Iain Dowie received the sack for, as you`ll know only too well, an absolutely dire display at the Liberty Stadium when pint-size full back Alan Tate did not have a shot to save for the vast majority of the fixture. An evening that was the final nail in the coffin for Mr Briatore who, like the supporters, was promised a certain brand of football and were delivered something very different.

Sousa took the reigns after a decent caretaker period from Gareth Ainsworth, and there was a wave of tempered expectancy from the Loftus Road crowd. A student of the game, Sousa had come highly recommended from several reputable coaches including Luiz Felipe Scolari and José Mourinho – not bad references to stick on a fledgling CV.

He was a name mentioned around the start of the speculation and while others came in and out of the betting frenzy Sousa remained constant and was ultimately appointed. I think there was a great deal of hope regarding his appointment, indeed supporters could see the ‘green shoots of recovery` in the set-up at Loftus Road.

Young aspiring manager – useful contacts – knows and understands football – that`ll do nicely!

And what was the reaction to his departure? Were the fans hopeful he’d stay on for the new season?

Hope is a very key word to use with regards to Queens Park Rangers nowadays, now that expectation has subsided not only from supporters but from the feverish media coverage accompanied by scandalous odds by the bookmakers.

Another buzzword that rings around Loftus Road is stability. I`m sure you`re aware of the poison chalice that is the hot-seat in W12, in recent times it is more like a hot potato being passed on without so much a thought for stability.

His departure was well-documented on several message boards and forums before such time it occurred so there wasn`t a great deal of shock accompanying it, but nevertheless there was that feeling of never-ending disappointment that has become synonymous with the Briatore era.

Sections of support turned on the board as the revolving door at Loftus Road took another timely spin, while others like myself resigned themselves to the fact that the law of averages states eventually he`ll pick a winner.

How did his reign start with the club, and how did the team change in terms of quality and style of play? What improvements did he bring to the squad?

One thing was clear when he took the reigns, there`s no way he could make things any worse than they already were. Officially his first game in charge was at home to a desperate Charlton side, and Rangers won, albeit there was still some convincing to do.

He quickly established for himself that our current crop of wingers weren`t cut out for the job and so played without them – opting for a tight diamond formation. It didn`t offer a great deal of creativity or flair that you`d associate with Sousa`s playing days but it was effective in spells.

There was a lesser emphasis on the science of the game and more the tactical awareness with players becoming interchangeable and adaptable – epitomised by Hogan Ephraim moving inside and discovering a new lease of life following an injury to Martin Rowlands.

The style of play was gritty and consistent but the results were as sporadic as ever – coming from behind to valiantly beat Preston North End 3-2 in the final minute was tempered by a draw away at Charlton Athletic, two fixtures that became a key talking point during Paulo`s tenure.

What were his strengths and weaknesses?

Sousa was methodical in both his preparation and during the fixture analysing the opposition and making decisions he felt appropriate to the course of the fixture. While this is a creditable quality he did stray into over-analysis I feel which was one of the downfalls of Dowie previously.

As you know from seeing Roberto Martinez`s style of play, football is a simple game, pass and move, keeping clean sheets accompanied with plenty of goals – at times we steered away from the basics and were overcomplicated in our approach with regards to style of play and formation.

Sousa was keen to blood the youngsters in Romone Rose, Antonio German and Angelo Balanta which once again is creditable but at times the situation didn`t warrant the exuberance of youth and they and QPR were found wanting.

Without a doubt Swansea have a manager that has something between his ears – looking at QPR`s list of recent managers it was something that others weren`t as blessed with. We at QPR will never know the true potential of a boss like Paulo Sousa, and had he been afforded time like he will be at the Liberty Stadium it could have been very different.

Roberto Martinez liked his side to play quick passing football with the emphasis on maintaining possession, with a 5-man midfield dominating the game. How does this compare to the way he got you playing?

As previously mentioned he introduced a tight diamond formation from the start and then experimented with various others where the situation warranted. You almost got the impression that he knew exactly what he was doing but some of the players weren`t on the same page!

We tried 4-4-2 for an extended period with mixed results and then went for the more Martinez model of a 4-5-1 or 4-3-3 depending on whose agenda you`re reading. One striker up front allegedly wasn`t what the owners were looking for, in truth neither was I.

When you look at the striker who played in that lone role, Samuel Di Carmine, you had an inexperienced young Italian forward who got knocked about easily and received heavy treatment from several centre-backs. QPR were producing very little and Sammi`s confidence looked shot to bits.

The key point to make is that he tried to play the formation that best suited the players when he first came. Then introduced his own style on proceedings, neither of which could truly be deemed truly successful but given time it could have been – that is for you to find out and for us to watch behind our hands?

What signings (if any) did he make at QPR?

You have asked the $64million question there! Without getting into the politics of Queens Park Rangers I shall simply outline the players that were brought in during his tenure, probably better for everyone concerned!

Heidar Helguson – A player that had been announced as signed and sealed before Sousa was officially named manager, but owing to our club being the way he is he wasn`t seen or heard from for nearly a month, it seemed we jumped the gun on the deal but eventually he graced us with his presence.

Heidar is a proven goalscorer at this level and in my opinion has been the biggest disappointment in the line-up this season. He has the ability to give so much more than he has and it`s not for the want of trying according to our former caretaker boss – he has just missed the target from all angles. Confidence is the operative word with him.

Gary Borrowdale – Believe it or not I didn`t know he actually existed until he was loaned out to Brighton. A picture of him appeared on the official website and I thought he was a coach, didn`t have a clue it was our invisible left back.

He was signed under the Sousa era following the accumulation of no games in his loan spell – an interesting move by the club, and he is still yet to play for QPR. Some suggest that Gianni Paladini engineered the move as he belongs to one of his familiar agencies – I couldn`t possibly comment!

Wayne Routledge – After the initial fireworks of a barnstorming early spell Routledge`s enthusiasm waned (excuse the pun) and he found himself on the periphery of the line-up. Initially it appeared he would be the man to do the damage for QPR but the bottom dropped out and he suddenly lost his drive.

Lee Cook – The move was made permanent in January following his loan spell from Fulham, I believe this had been on the cards for some time before the arrival of Sousa.

Jordi López – The Spaniard is one of the players which I believe Paulo had a say in signing – a free transfer on a short-term contract, and he proved the touch of class that we required in a difficult patch. Indeed his winning free kick against Bristol City exhumed class and expertise with many fans hoping he`d sign on the new campaign.

Adel Taarabt – The Moroccan loanee from Tottenham Hotspur was the real enigma in the QPR line-up – some supporters loved his flair and eye for goal, where as others were appalled at his diving antics and perceived lack of effort. On his day a formidable player, but should he not be interested goes missing very quickly.

A mixed bag of results when it comes to signings and your guess is as good as mine as to who made the majority of them. Paulo has got the best out of the likes of Routledge, López and Adel but we have also seen the other side of the former two and Routledge`s lack of motivation was something that was evident before and after Sousa`s axing.

Do you think Swansea City have appointed the right man and will he be successful here?

Given time I think he would have made a great success of QPR, and I will not change that opinion merely because he has moved to the Liberty Stadium. A young manager with bags of ambition and tactical awareness working with a good chairman is a recipe for success in my book.

I think Roberto Martinez is mad to move to Wigan in the first place to be frank because Swansea are building for the big time and the Latics seem a slap-dash, unsustainable Premier League outfit. The appointment of Sousa outlines the ambition of both parties and I wish you the best of luck.

Vital Swansea would like to thank Adam Boxer from Vital QPR for providing us with his thoughts.

You can visit Vital QPR here