Neil Critchley certain he can turn the tide at QPR
Neil Critchley insists he has “full belief” that he can turn things around at QPR, despite seeing his side’s winless run in the Championship extended to 10 games as they fell to a 3-1 defeat at Middlesbrough.
Critchley won his first game in charge at Loftus Road but has not tasted victory since and after three defeats on the bounce, Rangers are now just eight points above the drop zone.
His side held in-form Boro for 45 minutes at the Riverside, but Michael Carrick’s side scored three times in an impressive second half, with the Championship’s top scorer Chuba Akpom bagging a double to take his tally to the season to 20.
Despite defeat, Critchley saw enough from his side to be convinced fortunes will soon turn.
He said: “When I see the players playing like they did today in this type of atmosphere away from home, I have full belief. We just need that bit of belief and things to go for us.”
He added: “I was really pleased with the first-half performance, considering the run of form we’re on and the form Middlesbrough are in. We were excellent in the first half. We frustrated them and you could sense the anxiety in the crowd, but we didn’t make the most of our opportunities.”
Akpom set Boro on their way to victory when he headed home a cross from Dan Barlaser. Boro doubled their lead when David Webb pointed to the spot 13 minutes from time for a Tim Iroegbunam challenge on Riley McGree, a decision that angered Critchley.
He said: “I have to say I thought it was a very harsh decision, and at such a decisive moment. At 1-0. I felt the game was just slightly changing.
“There was a break in play, some of the players came over to the side and we’d had a spell of possession. I said at half-time, if we’re brave and keep playing, we can get on top. They played on Wednesday night and there’d be tiredness. I felt that was just starting to happen, then they get a penalty that I didn’t think was.”
Akpom missed the spot-kick but turned home the rebound. Ilias Chair halved the deficit in the last minute before McGree secured the points for Boro in stoppage time.
Boro closed the gap on Sheffield United and automatic promotion to four points, but Carrick insists he is not paying attention to the table.
He said: “Genuinely, we’re concentrating on ourselves. We had a job to do, it’s irrelevant what’s going on elsewhere.”
Carrick made three changes for the game after the midweek win at Bramall Lane and felt that had an impact on the sluggish first-half display.
He said: “I’m really happy with the win. The game was what I expected, I expected a really tough game. I didn’t think we’d come out of the traps as well as we can for a number of reasons.
“The squad is there for a reason and we needed freshness but at the same point it’s about keeping that connection.
“At half-time I told the lads to keep going, keep believing and we’ll get the rewards, and that’s what happened in the second half.
“We went out in the second half and did what we’re good at. I was really pleased.”