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Fan Focus: Queens Park Rangers (A)

On the eve of the match between QPR and Sunderland at Loftus Road, I held a quick Q&A session with Rangers season ticket holder and lifelong fan Ian O'Farrell about his newly-promoted team and the forthcoming fixture. It's a clash that he looks out for keenly on the calendar having spent four years at university in the area, plus he sees it as a prime opportunity to claim bragging rights over his Sunderland-supporting mates every time such a meeting comes around!

Ben Hoskins

How's it feel to be back in the Premier League?

Ian:  In a word, delighted! It was also essential based upon the financial repercussions of remaining in the Championship. We rode our luck getting back to the Premier League, but we made it!

Do you believe Harry Redknapp can take the club to new heights in the top-flight?

Ian: I think he can be the man to stabilise us in the short-term and keep us up. Were much better prepared this time around from an off-the-pitch perspective. Harrys experienced at this level and we should do okay. Hes not as well-liked at Loftus Road as his public image would suggest; hes considered by many fans to be a bit long in the tooth. The style of football last year was awful, but hopefully the new signings and formation will encourage a more attractive style.

His 3-5-2 formation has been slammed in certain quarters. Do you feel setting out that way will come good given time?

Ian: For me the jurys still out; I dont feel comfortable with the choice of three defenders on the basis that Dunne, Caulker and Ferdinand are not used to it, plus Dunne is very slow and poor on the ball. Going forward we look much better as it enables two strikers to feature up-front. We are still getting used to it and will need to embed our new signings, but should have enough quality for it to work over the season.

You have a lot of ex-Newcastle players in your squad including Barton, Jenas, Simpson (who also played for SAFC, of course) and Remy. How do you rate their impact at your club and is it likely they'll feature this weekend, so that Sunderland fans will have someone to boo?!

Ian: Overall their impact has been mixed. Barton is something of a reformed character, as in my opinion he was by far our best player last season and is still very much a Premier League player. Hes central to us and also subject to a lot of abuse from the opposition, even more so this weekend! Jenas has flattered to deceive and is usually injured. Danny Simpson played every game last season and proved to be a very steady performer, but has become a casualty of the new formation. If we keep Remy we'll have a decent chance of doing better than just survival, but I fear a deadline day departure.

How do you rate your club's transfer business so far and do you require more new faces?

Ian: Cant fault it really; all very good signings which were desperately needed. Ferdinand will add experience as will Caulker, while Mutch and Fer bring Premier League quality. We've been much more astute in the market than two years ago under Mark Hughes! If Remy goes well need a striker and, should Redknapp persist with the new formation, Id like a more mobile left-footed defender to protect Ferdinand and give balance.

Our former loan player Nedum Onouha is on QPR's books these days. He had some scathing words to say about the club's performance at Spurs last weekend. Do you think he's right to criticise everyone in that fashion? Also, do you think we'll see him start on Saturday?

Ian: I think what he said pretty much echoed what everyone saw and I quite like hearing him say exactly what he thinks. He should start in place of Dunne, as he gives us that extra pace at the back. Harry loves Dunne, though, so could be an area for Buckley to target.

What are your expectations for this season in the Premier League?

Ian: Purely safety; most realistic Rangers fans will take 17th now. However, if we keep Remy and add another creative midfielder, then who knows!

Who are the players we most need to look out for in your team this weekend?

Ian: Remy if given service will score - hes that good. Mutch also looks a threat, but we'll need to put in a team performance because Poyet has Sunderland extremely well-organised.

Are there are Sunderland players that you rate heading into the match and, if so, why?

Ian: Connor Wickham looked impressive at the end of last season and carries a goal threat. Also, Buckley looked good against Manchester United, but Im especially impressed with how much more organised and durable Poyet has made you. Sunderland look strong down the middle with Cattermole, Rodwell and Larsson in there and the fear is that they'll control the game.

Do you have a score prediction for us?

Ian: Heart says we get our first win but head says a draw. Its only early in the season, but it already feels like we need to win this one!

Im going to go with 1-1, but Id take a repeat of March 2013 (when QPR triumphed 3-1 at Loftus Road).

Make sure you follow Ian on Twitter @Iano1980


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