QPR happy to gamble on Sousa
QPR shocked everyone with the announcement that Paulo Manuel Carvalho Sousa, a member of Portugal's "Golden Generation", will be taking over as their new first-team coach on Wednesday and Gareth Ainsworth, who had been caretaker manager at the club, will become part of Sousa's backroom staff.
Sousa will take over in time for Saturday's match at Watford, but there had been a lot of speculation about QPR's next manager ever since Iain Dowie was sacked in late October.
Former Inter Milan coach Roberto Mancini was linked with the club, and given the wealth behind QPR and his friendship with club chairman Flavio Briatore, some thought he might take the opportunity to coach in England. However Mancini's recent comments about his desire to coach at Real Madrid show that the Italian is probably out of reach of a Championship side.
Ainsworth had done well during his time in charge, grabbing seven points from five matches in the Championship - with four of those matches against top six sides - and Briatore was right to keep him at the club, but ultimately wanted someone with more experience and a higher profile to lead the team.
Sousa has the credentials to back this up, having been an assistant manager for Portugal's national team for the last five years. He is expected to employ a similar attacking style and width as his London neighbour, Chelsea boss Phil Scolari, and if Sousa is half as successful as Scolari has been, QPR fans will be in for a treat.
This doesn't mean Rangers will go soft at the back though, as Sousa will draw on his own experience as a defensive midfielder for Benfica and Portugal; while Dowie and Ainsworth have built a strong backbone, meaning the club has conceded only sixteen goals in seventeen matches.
With Sousa signing a two and a half year contract, QPR seem ready to make a push for promotion and are currently only three points off a playoff spot, though Championship leading Wolves have opened up a fifteen point lead.
Briatore has been frugal so far, using free transfers and loans to bolster the squad, but if QPR are to be within striking distance in January, don't be surprised to see Briatore finally tap into the club's wealth. A number of sides have been hurt by the economic downturn, and will be looking to sell players in order to balance their books and Briatore might use this opportunity to buy quality players at discount prices, giving Sousa the tools he needs to fight for promotion.
The club would do well to buy a veteran striker to supplement youngsters Dexter Blackstock and Samuel Di Carmine and they could also use some more creativity in midfield, so don't be surprised if some wingers with Portuguese names become part of the squad.
Sousa might be able to use his own connections, and it would be a major coup if he could lure Pauleta out of retirement; but if the right moves are made, fans could be seeing Sousa coaching against Scolari in the Premier League next year.