'Nut' Taarabt turns to hero as QPR move off bottom
Published 17/12/2012 | 05:00
WIZARD? Fruitcake? Catastrophe? Whatever they say about Adel Taarabt, it is no surprise that the man from Fez can be a magician and undeniable that he made his mark on QPR's chaotic season in the most emphatic way by scoring twice to see off Fulham.
QPR's first win of the season, at the 17th attempt, took them off the bottom of the table, and Taarabt capped an outstanding display with two goals.
If the first – a deflected shot – had a touch of luck, the second had the touch of a genius, as he waltzed from the halfway line and through a crowd of defenders before curling the ball past Mark Schwarzer with the outside of his right boot.
It was like watching Matt Le Tissier at his best.
"The first was lucky, the second was very good," said the Moroccan.
Fulham substitute Mladen Petric scored in the 88th minute to set home nerves jangling again, but QPR held out to give Harry Redknapp his first victory as manager.
And, if Redknapp is to live up to his Harry Houdini reputation, he knows the secret will be making the most of Taarabt.
"Yes, getting Adel in the right position is important," the manager said. "He has played off the left but he's not as effective out there so I freed him to play in the hole.
"We try to get the ball to him at every opportunity because he can do damage to anybody. He's as strong as an ox on the ball, people can't knock him off it. He's not a lightweight with skill, he's a strong, powerful player with the ball. It was a great performance."
Taarabt's talent has been evident since he made his debut as a teenager for Tottenham under Martin Jol, who described him as a "wizard – sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a bad way". But the Moroccan's mentality has been questioned by a succession of managers.
"He's hard work," acknowledged Redknapp. "He can be a bit of a nut but his heart's in the right place, he wants to do well and he thinks about the game.
"I took him off (at Wigan) last week and he wasn't in the best of moods and didn't behave well so I called him into my office on Monday and had a good heart-to-heart chat with him and he's responded to that.
"He's temperamental but he's an amazing talent. He needs to harness that talent and just play. I said, 'Don't throw your arms up when you lose the ball, don't stand with your hands on your hips, just get after the ball if you lose it otherwise everyone sees you made a mistake and it gets highlighted'. He did that and was fantastic."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)