QPR step up bid for Carlton Cole
Published 23:00 07/07/11 By Darren Lewis
Neil Warnock will step up his bid to land West Ham striker Carlton Cole in the coming days - to prove reports of his demise as QPR boss have been greatly exaggerated.
Warnock will also continue trying to persuade midfielder Adel Taraabt to give the club another season instead of quitting for pastures new.
The Rangers boss will then set about bringing in the other three players on his shortlist to strengthen last season’s Championship winners.
It has been claimed Warnock is a dead man walking, with suggestions that former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri is set to take over his job.
The rumours have spiralled out of control following the uncontested claim from Peterborough director of football Barry Fry that QPR lost out on Posh striker Craig Mackail-Smith because Warnock couldn’t guarantee he’d be the manager long term .
Add to that the anger among fans, who face a rise of up to 40 per cent for tickets next season, and it is easy to see why gloom has overtaken a summer that should have been filled with optimism for Rangers fans.
Howard Prosser, author of From Buckets to Billionaires Vol III, which charts the Hoops' fall and rise over the last 10 years, said: “QPR fans are not happy. Not at all. The first problem was the rise in ticket prices.
"We are not Chelsea or Arsenal or Tottenham. And even though the club might rationalise things by saying the tickets are more cost effective you are still paying through the nose for a half-decent seat.
“The people who run the club need to do something soon. They will tell you all day long about how they saved the club, and they are right, but since they have come in it has been one PR disaster after another.”
Before Warnock’s arrival, Rangers billionaire owners Fabio Briatore, Bernie Ecclestone and Lakshmi Mittal had been through a staggering EIGHT managers in four years.
It was only Warnock that has given the club direction - his achievement in taking the club up this summer is his seventh promotion with six different clubs.
Fears are already growing behind the scenes that, should QPR dispense with Warnock’s services, the club will go into meltdown as they will have no real football leadership despite the business acumen of the custodians.
Prosser added: “Now that we are in the Premier League, this should be a happy time. We should be excited by the investment in the playing side.
“We should already be looking to the future and talking about exciting new signings - but it hasn’t happened. Instead, we live on rumours without hearing anything concrete.”
Should Warnock land £6million-rated Cole, it will go a long way to appeasing fans unhappy with losing out on Mackail-Smith to Brighton.
Prosser went on: "Having two or three of the richest people in the world at the club, you’d think the finances would be in the best shape ever. But the Barry Fry quotes [suggesting Warnock does not have the backing of the board] are very worrying."
However, a feeling exists at Loftus Road that Fry’s outburst may have come after the former Peterborough boss had told fans Mackail-Smith would only go to a Premier League club - only to end up selling him to Brighton.
Despite 35 goals last season, there are understood to have been doubts as to whether Mackail-Smith could replicate his form in the Premier League with the board preferring an experienced option.
The situation was indeed the same with Watford striker Danny Graham, who hit 24 League goals last season to make himself top scorer in the Championship.
QPR were in for Graham, but he eventually moved to Swansea.
Cole, 27, has hit double figures in goals in each of his last three seasons and has made seven appearances for England.
As for Taraabt, tales of the 22-year-old midfielder moving to Arsenal - despite quips from Warnock - are met with wry smiles behind the scenes.
QPR have had just one, verbal, bid - of around £12m - for the player from French club Paris St Germain, with one Spanish club also interested.
The west Londoners are expecting PSG’s bid to be formalised within the next few days but the bid will be rejected, with Rangers only prepared to sell for around a staggering £18million.
Taarabt has three years left on his contract, so QPR are under no pressure to sell and Warnock - who has done superbly to keep the temperamental Moroccan focused over the last 12 months - will fight to keep him.
While he could not break into the Tottenham team under Juande Ramos and then Harry Redknapp, Taraabt’s improvement under Warnock was such that he was crowned the Football League Player of the Year last season.
If the Italian contingent within the club’s hierarchy still want Warnock out this summer, they will have to force him out as he is understood to have no intention of standing aside - particularly not with two and a half years left to go on his current contract.
Should common sense prevail, however, and Warnock remain, this summer could have a happy ending after all.