QPR 1 Watford 1: Gregory feels the pressure

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A first home point of the season may not be enough to keep John Gregory in the job of Queen's Park Rangers manager. Rumours persist that the Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and his partner at Loftus Road, the Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, are considering a new face. Four prospective candidates, including Gianluca Vialli and Martin Allen, were in the directors' box on Saturday.

No one would deny that Gregory's players did their best, fully deserving to hold the Championship leaders. The man himself says he is unfazed by the speculation but it is clear he is getting rattled. "It doesn't bother me one bit," he said. "I worry more for my players because they're the ones who have to go out there and perform. It has maybe been a little bit unsettling for some of them.

"I just get on with the job. I don't care what the media say about me ... just leave my players alone. You lot killed [Jose] Mourinho, you loved and welcomed him for the first 18 months, then people turned on him when he started winning everything. You were always looking for blood."

Gregory stressed how the recent death of the 18-year-old England youth international Ray Jones in a car accident had "hit the dressing room really badly".

The veteran Gareth Ainsworth inspired his team-mates and when he went off at half-time Rangers missed his drive and motivation. Still, it was his replacement, Stefan Moore, who earned a point, drilling home a rebound after Dexter Blackstock's looping header came back off the bar.

That cancelled out Adam Johnson's close-range effort and, although Rangers played the last nine minutes with 10 men after Mikele Leigertwood was sent off for a second yellow card, Watford could not capitalise.

Watford's manager, Adrian Boothroyd, said: "We've learnt lessons and the players have got themselves off the floor [after relegation] but many teams have set a pace and not gone up."

Rangers' players have met their new owners. "They will obviously bring funds to the club, which will help everyone," Moore said. "They want us to have a winning mentality and we all want to be part of it." Whether that will include Gregory remains to be seen.

Goals: Johnson (49) 0-1; Moore (59) 1-1.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-4-2): Camp; Timoska, Stewart, Cullip, Barker; Ainsworth (Moore, 46), Leigertwood, Bolder, Rowlands; Blackstock, Nardiello (Ephraim, 41). Substitutes no used: Cole (gk), Bignot, Curtis.

Watford (4-4-2) Poom; Doyley, Shittu, DeMerit (Mariappa 46), Stewart; Smith (McAnuff 73), Williamson, Mahon, Johnson; King, Henderson (Ellington 73). Substitutes not used: Lee (gk), Priskin.

Referee: K Hill (Hertfordshire).

Booked: QPR Bolder, Leigertwood, Cullip; Watford Mahon, McAnuff.

Sent off: Leigertwood (81).

Man of the match: Camp.

Attendance: 14,240.