Warnock hails Stoke blueprint

BY foxsports • November 20, 2011

Rangers were in the lower reaches of the Championship when Warnock was appointed in March 2010, but they subsequently avoided relegation before storming to the title the following season. They have also made an impressive start to life back in the top flight, moving up to ninth in the table with Saturday's 3-2 victory at Stoke, a side now in their fourth consecutive year in the Premier League. The Potters have consistently achieved comfortable finishes since their promotion in 2008 and this season are competing in the Europa League, having reached the FA Cup final last term. And theirs is an example Warnock believes clubs coming up should aim to follow. "QPR fans can't quite believe it, compared to where we were 18 months ago," Warnock said. "Then, we were talking about the next division (League One) at one stage, so it has been a remarkable journey. "I think Stoke show us what the blueprint is. We have got to stay in this league and then build on that, buy better players, build up the squad. "You look at their bench and you look at ours, and there was no comparison really." While Stoke manager Tony Pulis had the likes of Kenwyne Jones, Wilson Palacios and Matthew Upson on the bench, Warnock was not even able to name a full set of substitutes due to various problems. Midfielder Adel Taarabt was missing from the squad as anticipated following his involvement with Morocco during the international break, but striker Jay Bothroyd - scorer of two goals in his last two games - was an unexpected absentee with a hamstring injury. The loss of winger Jason Puncheon (tonsilitis) and goalkeeper Brian Murphy (calf) in the build-up to kick-off then meant Rangers were down to five substitutes by the time the match got under way. "It's just like an accident and emergency unit at the minute," Warnock said. "Near the end of the game Luke Young had to come off and we had Danny Gabbidon and Armand Traore who wanted to come off. I shouted to Traore that he had to stay on! "Bothroyd felt a little bit tight in his hamstring on Friday and looked a bit sorry for himself on the training ground. "I've not seen Taarabt, he is coming in on Monday. "I spoke to him on Friday and he had lost his passport on the Moroccan trip, so I can't comment other than I'll see him on Monday. But he might have to play at centre-half next week!" Despite such issues, QPR left the Britannia Stadium with all three points after a battling performance. Jon Walters put Stoke in front with only eight minutes gone, but Heidar Helguson - who had earlier sustained a facial injury - was left unmarked to nod in an equaliser in the 22nd minute and Young then struck at the end of a flowing move to turn the match on its head just before the interval. Nine minutes into the second half Stoke failed to properly clear a corner and Joey Barton crossed to Helguson, who prodded the ball in from close range. Ryan Shawcross's header 10 minutes later reduced the deficit, but the Potters were unable to find a leveller. Pulis was aggrieved to see two strong penalty claims - tackles in the box from Barton on Jermaine Pennant at the start of the game and Robert Huth at the end - turned down, but admitted it was another poor defensive display which had really condemned Stoke to their fourth straight loss in the league. The rate at which they have been conceding goals - 14 in that four-game sequence - has been a major concern and Pulis dropped goalkeeper Asmir Begovic, who had twice been at fault in the 5-0 defeat at Bolton, for Thomas Sorensen. "I think Asmir is going to be a top goalkeeper, one of the best in the Premier League," Pulis said. "But he has had a run of 40 games and it is a long period for a young lad. "He needed a rest and Thomas is a great back-up for him."

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