TORONTO -- Harry Redknapp got a rude shock after taking over Queens Park Rangers in November 2012. The team was in last place in the English Premier League, its roster filled with bloated contracts and egos. "The attitude stank. Attitude towards the game, attitude towards training," he wrote in his autobiography "Always Managing." "I cant remember a worse one -- and behaviour like that cannot be altered overnight." Redknapp, however, found one kindred spirit. "Within weeks I had worked out that my best player was Ryan Nelsen, a 35-year-old New Zealand international -- and he couldnt wait to get out," Redknapp wrote. "`Youve got no chance, he told me. Not a prayer. This is the worst dressing room Ive ever been in in my life. You havent got a hope with this lot. I dont know how you solve it." Today, Nelsen is in his second season as manager of Toronto FC. He recalls his season with QPR -- his finale as a player -- as a ringside seat on what happens when a dressing room goes wrong. "It was an amazing learning experience for me," he said in an interview this week. Redknapp, whose team was relegated at the end of the 2012-13 season, is on the verge of taking QPR back to the Premier League after one season in the Championship. QPR faces Derby Country on Saturday at Wembley in a promotion playoff worth up to 120 million pounds (C$220.5 million), mostly from broadcast rights, according to a 2013 report by the Sports Business Group at Deloitte. With reported debts of 177 million pounds (C$325 million), Queens Park Rangers could do with hitting the promotion jackpot despite the deep pockets of millionaire owner Tony Fernandes. Among the things Nelsen learned at QPR was the need to get recruitment right, to watch wages and that a good football team needs chemistry off the field as well as organization in it. "It was an environment that probably players were getting paid too much for potentially their mentality to win," he said of QPR. "Young guys probably on too much before they had earned it." There were also older players who might have lost their fire. And second-tier Championship players who had the character desire but perhaps not the talent needed. "Everybody tried their best to get the mixture right, but it just didnt jell," said Nelsen. "It was just wrong." The ill-fated QPR spending spree was funded by Fernandes, a British-Malaysian businessman whose net worth as of February was valued at US$650 million according to Forbes magazine. He took over in August 2011, almost a year before Nelsen came on board. The New Zealand international didnt expect to play much at QPR, thinking his job would be to help then-manager Mark Hughes and successor Redknapp off the pitch. He ended up playing 21 league matches, becoming captain and turning into a fan favourite before leaving in January 2103 to take over Toronto FC. Nelsen points no fingers today, saying the intentions of Hughes and Fernandes "were so right for the club to do really well." The rot had set in too much by the time Redknapp took over. "There had to be a clearout before you could get it back again," he said. There are more fashionable soccer teams in London but Loftus Road, QPRs home in Shepherds Bush, has seen its share of players with flair in Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles and Gerry Francis in the 1960s and 70s. A blue-collar club, QPR won the League Cup in 1966-67 and was runner-up in 1985-86. It was also runner-up in the FA Cup in 1981-82 and was runner-up in the First Division, precursor to the Premier League, in 1975-76. Celebrity QPR fans included musicians Phil Collins, Pete Doherty and composer Michael Nyman. A no-nonsense defender at the end of his playing career, Nelsens work ethic appealed to the QPR fans tired of rental players on big salaries. "I think they just liked that I worked hard and tried to win games," said Nelsen. "People respected that." Nelsen loved the QPR supporters right back. "But it wasnt right off the field," he said of the team. "And that weighed heavily on me because I was kind of brought in to help that out." QPR was relegated several months after Nelsens departure to Canada. According to the Daily Mail, the clubs wage bill was higher than that of Spanish champion and Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid. Toronto benefited from the subsequent clearout, with Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar coming to MLS on a loan agreement. Loic Remy (Newcastle) and Adel Taarabt (AC Milan) were also sent out on loan. Cesar, whose attitude has earned nothing but praise from Toronto coaches and players, says QPR wants him back in August. The team will have to reload if it returns to the Premier League. Redknapp, a master wheeler and dealer, brought in hardened veterans of the Championship to help climb back up the mountain. "He invested really wisely," said Nelsen. "He moved guys that probably had big value. And in saying that, their value has probably increased." Nelsen will be watching closely this weekend. "Ive got a lot of friends on that QPR team," he said. In addition to the big-time Charlies, he remembers of group of honest players desperate to succeed. "And QPR had them. They probably got outnumbered bit a little at the end but those guys, you wish them the best so badly. and for Harry as well, because at his age (now 67) he probably could have gone off and retired somewhere. But he knuckled down in the Championship and you wish them all the success. "All of his coaching staff were fantastic when I was there. And theyve helped me since Ive been here, to tell you the truth." Nike Air Max Tn Sverige
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. Funny, they looked like longtime friends during Pittsburghs 5-1 demolition of Dallas on Tuesday night. Quick to the puck and even quicker to the net, the Penguins top line overwhelmed the suddenly struggling Stars as Pittsburgh bounced back from a dismal weekend sweep at the hands of Philadelphia by jumping on Dallas early. NEW YORK -- J.R. Smith left Anthony Bennett standing still and Tristan Thompson on his backside. The New York Knicks didnt just beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, they embarrassed them. Carmelo Anthony and rookie Tim Hardaway Jr. each scored 29 points, Smith had 19, and the Knicks won 117-86 Thursday night for their fourth straight victory. The Knicks wrapped up a 10-6 January after going just 9-21 through the end of December. They have rebounded from losing the first three games on their franchise record-tying, eight-game homestand and can finish it with a winning record if they beat Miami on Saturday night. "It is starting to feel a lot better here on our home court to win basketball games," Anthony said. "Were just trying to keep it going." Anthony scored 18 in the first quarter, only two off his total from his franchise-record, 62-point game Friday night. But he sat nearly half of the second quarter to fall well off the pace, as he had 37 points at halftime that night. He still scored enough to become the 50th player in NBA history to surpass 19,000 points. Hardaway had a career high in points and tied the Knicks rookie record with six 3-pointers. "I knew that if I could shoot the ball very, very well at the next level, then I should be able to help the team out," he said. But the dazzling plays were provided by Smith, who had to keep himself from laughing when he crossed over Thompson so bad that the forward fell down as Smith was making a jumper. Smith was starting for Iman Shumpert, who was out with a sprained right shoulder. The Knicks were also missing Andrea Bargnani (left elbow ligament), Kenyon Martin (sprained left ankle) and Amare Stoudemire (sprained left ankle), who are all starters or key reserves. Even without them, they cruised to their third easy victory during their winning streak. "These are the bright spots you want to have, especially playing at home," Smith said. "Youve got your teammates on the bench going crazy, guys on the court are excited and love to play the game and theres nothing better than that." Kyrie Irving scored 24 points for the Cavs on a day in which his long-term commitment to Cleveland was again questioneed.dddddddddddd "Theres just so much negative attention. I mean I know were struggling, but I mean its just not about me. Its about our team," Irving said. Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick, was coming off a season-best 15 points in his last outing. But this one was another of the forgettable performances that have made up his season: four points on 1-of-6 shooting. He came in a little more than 4 minutes into the game, and the Knicks immediately began attacking him. Smith had the ball in the corner and blew by him along the baseline before pulling the ball down while in the air and then pulling it back up before slamming it in. Anthony had the ball near the free throw line on the next possession, easily went by the rookie and laid it in to make it 26-9. The Knicks doubled the Cavs up at 58-29 when Anthony made two free throws with 4:23 remaining in the half, and New York led 60-36 at halftime. The Cavaliers have lost three straight and five of six. General manager Chris Grant said Wednesday that the Cavs "lack of effort is just not acceptable," but they were so bad so fast in this one that it was hard to tell if the effort was any better. But the bigger concern for Cavs fans may have come earlier in the day, when an ESPN.com writer wrote that Irving, the 2011 No. 1 pick, was already telling people privately that he wanted out of Cleveland. He said it was too early to say if he would sign an extension this summer, but said he enjoyed playing for the Cavaliers. "Im still in my rookie contract and Im happy to be here and Im pretty sure that Im going to be here for a long time," Irving said. "Im not saying anything to foretell the future, but Im pretty sure the relationship I have with (owner) Dan Gilbert and management extends off the court and I enjoy being here." Dion Waiters had 21 points for the Cavs, who played without Anderson Varejao (bruised left knee) and allowed the Knicks to shoot 57 per cent from the field. NOTES: The crowd included Denver Broncos defensive back Champ Bailey and NBA Commissioner David Stern, who is retiring Saturday. The Knicks honoured Stern with a video narrated by former Knicks star Bill Bradley, a member of both of New Yorks championship teams. ' ' '