Sousa ready to deal with QPR's great expectations

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The Independent Online

Paulo Sousa, the former Portugal international, yesterday became Queens Park Rangers' sixth manager in a little over a year when he was confirmed as their new first-team coach. Sousa follows John Gregory, Luigi De Canio and Iain Dowie, as well as caretaker managers Mick Harford and now Gareth Ainsworth, who have been dispensed with since Flavio Briatore became the chairman.

Sousa, 38, capped 51 times by his country and a Champions League-winner with Juventus in 1996 and Borussia Dortmund in 1997, has signed a two-and-a-half year contract at Loftus Road. Dowie was dismissed last month amid claims that Briatore, who is also the co-owner, wanted too much say in team selection. But Sousa, who worked under Luiz Felipe Scolari on the coaching staff of the Portuguese national team, is believed to have insisted on being in sole charge of team affairs.

"Paulo is a very good appointment," Briatore said. "I have been keeping track of his work for the last few months and he is the right man for our project. He has great experience after working with the Portuguese national team and he is part of the new generation of coaches. He has worked with some of the world's best players and we are excited about having him.

"His football career was highly impressive and he has great knowledge of the game. After five years with Portugal, he is ready for a new challenge and I am delighted he has agreed to join us."

Ainsworth's chances of being handed the full-time role disappeared after last Saturday's disappointing 2-1 home defeat by Burnley, which saw Rangers slip to 10th in the Championship, but the popular winger will stay on as a member of Sousa's backroom team.

Sousa will be expected to mount a promotion bid this season, and the former midfielder has no qualms about dealing with the expectation. "It is an honour to be part of this project," he said. "I have always wanted to work for a big club and I am very excited about the opportunity to work for Queens Park Rangers.

"I have great belief in my ideas and my coaching ability and I believe I can achieve the objectives set by the management. I believe in playing positive, attacking football. To achieve positive results you have to maintain a focused outlook and my team will aim to do this. I am looking forward to the challenge that lies ahead." Sousa's first game in charge will be away to Watford on Saturday.

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