Wilkins against false economies

Queen's Park Rangers 3 West Ham United 0
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The Independent Online
The brave but brittle optimism still surviving at Loftus Road will face a stiff test tomorrow, five days earlier than Ray Wilkins might have hoped. A strong late run had stirred hopes that Premiership survival might still be possible on the season's last day at Nottingham Forest.

Instead, Wilkins must now get a result out of his meeting with the club owner, Richard Thompson, where the future of the likes of Trevor Sinclair and Kevin Gallen will doubtless be discussed.

Wilkins said fans who chanted "Thompson out" on Saturday were "unfair" and he was adamant that Rangers will be going into the Endsleigh League with their best. "As long as I'm here, they'll be staying," he said.

His message to the board, he said, would be that "selling quality to buy less is false economy. You can't get out of anywhere without a bit of quality." Wilkins believes persuading players to stay will not be difficult.

"The players we are talking about are only young men and they've got to learn their trade somewhere," he said. "I think the players can obviously see from the crowd today that there could be a future here for them."

Wilkins was not around for Harry Redknapp's grim-faced reaction to the West Ham fans "load of rubbish" chants towards the end of the game. "We've had a magnificent season," he said of a campaign that saw West Ham off to an even worse start than Rangers'. "But that's how people are. It's a fickle old game."

Saturday's fickle old game produced a first half that showed why Rangers were in the cellar and a second which illustrated the spirit that almost got them out. Smooth passing repeatedly stretched the Rangers defence. Keith Rowland's low cross was pounced on by Tony Cottee whose shot was brilliantly saved by Juergen Sommer.

"In the second half we couldn't defend to save our lives," Redknapp said. Karl Ready was given space to lash the first home on the bounce and a miskick from Slaven Bilic allowed Gallen a spectacular volley for the second. But by then Manchester City, Coventry and Southampton had all scored vital goals away. Gallen's second, a simple tap-in, was the kind of soft goal that had left Rangers down in the deep. "We have made a number of bad errors. Everyone must take their fair share of the blame and I take the majority," Wilkins said.

Goals: Ready (59)1-0; Gallen (70) 2-0; Gallen (78) 3-0.

Queen's Park Rangers (4-3-3): Sommer; Ready, McDonald, Yates, Brevett; Barker, Wilkins, Sinclair; Dichio, Hateley (Charle, 47), Gallen. Substitutes not used: Brazier, Roberts (gk).

West Ham United (4-4-2): Miklosko; Breacker, Rieper, Bilic, Dicks; Williamson, Potts, Moncur (Watson, 77), Rowland; Hughes, Cottee. Substitutes not used: Sealey, Martin.

Referee: G S Willard (Worthing).

Bookings: QPR: Barker. West Ham: Breacker.

Man of the match: Dichio.

Attendance: 18,828.

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