Queens Park Rangers manager Gareth Ainsworth believes he was “100% right” to join the Championship club but says some of his players are “very fragile” after their dismal run of form continued with a 2-0 defeat by Preston.
Ainsworth watched struggling Rangers lose a sixth game of his seven in charge since joining from Wycombe Wanderers in February as Tom Cannon scored twice in North End’s victory at Loftus Road.
“I want to change a hell of a lot here but we need to get the points on the board if I’m going to do anything,” Ainsworth told BBC Radio London after a fourth successive defeat left Rangers a point outside the relegation zone and sections of the home crowd clearly unimpressed.
“I’ll take the abuse, no problem. It’s the players I want to try to protect because some of them are very fragile.”
Preston boosted their hopes of reaching the play-offs as in-form Cannon continued his excellent run by scoring twice in a deserved win against hosts who offered little resistance and failed to take their rare chances.
Ainsworth ‘wouldn’t have come’ to QPR if he thought club would go down
On-loan Everton forward Cannon stole in front of Jimmy Dunne to expertly glance Robbie Brady’s cross beyond goalkeeper Seny Dieng in the 59th minute of an impressive North End display.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international capitalised on slack defending four minutes later, calmly advancing on goal and slotting past Dieng to ensure he has scored six of Preston’s past 10 league goals.
“I came into this job with open eyes and I know exactly what’s going on,” said Ainsworth, who looked drained as he clapped supporters after the full-time whistle but called his move after 11 years with the Chairboys “100% the right decision.”
“I wouldn’t have come to this club if I didn’t think QPR could stay in the Championship. I knew it was going to be a super-tough job with the injuries, the state of the place and morale at an all-time low.
“Every single game is an absolute monster now. The boys have got nothing to lose at all. I need players to believe they’re good enough to stay in the Championship because they’re taking hammerings every week.”
Lowe hails ‘fantastic’ Preston players
North End, who were without nine-goal top scorer Ched Evans because the striker needs surgery, dominated first-half possession and went closest when Alan Browne bent a shot against a post.
Rangers almost took the lead seconds later when their break from the rebound culminated in Ilias Chair entering the penalty area and curling an effort beyond goalkeeper Freddie Woodman’s dive but wide of the post.
In an opening period characterised by near misses, Jordan Storey threatened to make the breakthrough when his firm close-range header from a corner was pawed away by an alert Dieng.
The Senegalese had to be at full stretch to prevent Andrew Hughes’ early cross from creeping beyond him as his defence faced a busy afternoon.
Troy Parrott also raced clear after Rangers were dispossessed in a dangerous area, only to see his stabbed effort from a tight angle narrowly cleared away.
Preston suffered another injury concern when Browne had to be replaced during first-half stoppage time with a knee issue.
“Browney is on crutches as a precaution,” North End boss Ryan Lowe told BBC Radio Lancashire. “He’s got a whack and it’s opened his knee a little bit. We’ll have to get it scanned but hopefully it’s not too bad – we’ll get it iced on the way home.
“The players were fantastic. We knew we were coming into the lion’s den because they need points. We needed to make sure we were solid, hard to beat and resolute and then we knew we’d get chances to score goals – and that’s what we did.”
The promotion hopefuls had not scored in four of their previous five away games but are now two points behind sixth-placed Blackburn Rovers, who have a game in hand on them.
Rangers have won once in 17 league matches since their victory at Preston on December 17. Rotherham United, Cardiff City and Huddersfield Town all won to leapfrog Ainsworth’s side, who have a six-goal inferiority to third-bottom Reading.
- 27LairdSubstituted forAdomahat 67′minutes
- 6JohansenSubstituted forAmosat 74′minutes
- 22PaalSubstituted forLoweat 67′minutes
- 9DykesSubstituted forMartinat 80′minutes
- 1WoodmanBooked at 78mins
- 8BrowneSubstituted forOnomahat 45+2′minutes
- 10JohnsonSubstituted forLedsonat 88′minutes
- 11BradySubstituted forFernándezat 80′minutes
- 15ParrottSubstituted forWoodburnat 80′minutes
- Geoff Eltringham