Sunday 8 December 2019

Fernandes taking new approach

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, top, is taking a new approach
QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, top, is taking a new approach

QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has played down the likelihood of a move for Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott and signalled a change of approach from previous high-profile recruitment.

Rangers have been linked with the 31-year-old England international as they rebuild for Premier League football, having achieved promotion by beating Derby 1-0 in the Championship play-off final.

The club's previous dalliance with the top flight proved ill-fated, ending in relegation in the summer of 2013 despite infamously carrying a higher wage bill than that season's Champions League finalists Borussia Dortmund.

Fernandes is determined things will be different this time around, with the focus on players' hunger rather than their reputation - though Lescott was offended by the insinuation he does not fit within that plan.

The Hoops have also been linked with another experienced England defender in Rio Ferdinand, a free agent at the end of his Manchester United contract as Lescott is at City.

But Fernandes told Sky Sports: "I think these are all fantastic players being mentioned but we have brought in players who've been at big clubs before and we got our fingers burned.

"We have a different philosophy from this time two years ago. We know what we want, we have a list of targets that we think are the right sort and will add tremendous value to the club.

"You need a balance of youth and experience but you need to get the right experience - people who are ready to come down and battle. People who have come from places like Manchester City, having won titles and been in the Champions League, might not have the right energy you want."

Lescott responded on Twitter: "Still undecided about my future but questions over my hunger 4 next season disappoint me I will never represent a team & give less than 100%"

To shy away from big-name signings would be at odds with QPR manager Harry Redknapp's track record in recent years but Fernandes was positive after he and chief executive Philip Beard met with the former Spurs boss on Friday.

"We had a fantastic day talking about our targets and what we want to do," he said. "We need maybe four or five new players and we are a much better prepared club than we were two years ago.

"We saw at Wembley a new type of QPR culture and it made me proud. We want to keep the spirit together and get the right dressing room. It's amazing what you can do with that.

"We said we'd learn and come back stronger and next season we will see. No-one can guarantee anything. It's so unpredictable. But we will give it a bloody good fight to stay up."

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