Former QPR duo back Bircham for manager’s job

QPR: Marc Bircham

Former QPR stars Lee Cook and Martin Rowlands say Marc Bircham should be considered for the manager’s job at Loftus Road.

Rangers, beaten 7-1 at West Brom at the weekend and 3-0 at home by Bristol City on Tuesday, have lost all four league games since Steve McClaren replaced the sacked Ian Holloway as boss.

Ex-Rangers midfielder Bircham, a former team-mate of Cook and Rowlands, left the club in June, having been Holloway’s assistant.

McClaren, jeered by some of the home crowd during this week’s defeat, is already under fire and faces a crucial home game against Wigan on Saturday.

And Cook and Rowlands believe newly-installed chairman Amit Bhatia should consider turning to Bircham if the slide continues.

“I think he’s ready to step and take the manager’s job now, I really do,” said the Hammersmith-born Cook, who made almost 200 appearances for the R’s and now works as a players’ agent.

“He knows the club, is tactically aware and he definitely has a great relationship with the players – I know that for a fact.

“With the situation at QPR at the moment, if this carries on much longer then the board are going to have to make a decision.

“They’ve sacked Ian Holloway and brought in Steve McClaren, giving him the same players and budget to work with. It just seems strange to me.

It has been a dismal start to McClaren’s QPR reign © John Walton/PA Wire

“Then you’ve got a situation where you’re supposed to be developing young players and they bring in a 35-year-old right-back in Angel Rangel in place of young Osman Kakay, who I thought was doing really well and deserves to be in the team.

“The good news is Amit Bhatia coming in as chairman. I don’t think he’ll let things like this happen. I know him well and he’ll want to sort the club out.”

Rowlands, who spent nine years as a player at QPR, believes the club’s current plight, largely caused by Financial Fair Pay restrictions, made it the wrong time to make a radical change.

The former Republic of Ireland international, also from Hammersmith, believes appointing Bircham would give the club a better chance of staying in the Championship.

“I think it would be the right thing to do,” Rowlands said.

“Managerial experience can be useful, but sometimes you need someone fresh as well. You don’t get experience until someone gives you a chance.

Tough transition

“Should they have got rid of Ollie and Birch? I’m really not sure it was a good move.

“The club’s going through a big transition and is having to be totally rebuilt. To do that you have to have a sense of identity and togetherness and that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.

“Birch would bring that. He knows and cares about the club and would have the respect of the players.

“It’s not a time to be playing expansive football. It’s a time to keep fighting and playing for the shirt while the club’s being rebuilt.

“There needs to be a sense of identity and working for each other. Birch would bring that and would be a good choice in my opinion.”

Like Cook, Rowlands believes Bhatia is likely to take action sooner rather than later if Rangers continue to struggle.

Amit Bhatia has replaced Tony Fernandes as the front man at QPR

“Knowing Amit as I do, as a friend and a former QPR player, I know he cares a lot about the club,” said Rowlands.

“He’s going in there because he wants to improve things. He’s a smart guy, wants what’s best for QPR, and him being chairman now can only be a good thing.”

McClaren insisted after the Bristol City game that he is the right man for the job.

“Yes. Absolutely. I knew the situation when I came in,” he said.

“I knew this was a tough job and it wouldn’t happen overnight. The message to the supporters, and it’s a difficult one, is patience.”

McClaren is hoping to bolster his squad with the loan signings of strikers Tomer Hemed and Nahki Wells from Brighton and Burnley respectively.