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Ian Holloway: ‘The FA Cup is special’

IAN Holloway is striving for consistency with his QPR side in 2018 – and for that reason alone, he’ll be taking this season’s Emirates FA Cup competition very seriously.

Whilst admitting he will have to make changes for the visit of MK Dons to Loftus Road in the third round on Saturday for ‘fitness and safety’s sake’, Holloway is a big fan of the Cup, and he wants Rangers to progress as far as possible in this season’s competition.

“The FA Cup is a magnificent competition,” he told www.qpr.co.uk.

“It’s been belittled in recent years, because the Premier League is seen as the be-all-and-end-all nowadays. But it’s a fantastic competition, because it involves our whole country.

“Whoever you play; wherever you play – it’s the FA Cup!

“Ronnie Radford scoring for Hereford against Newcastle! Bang! I remember it so well. What memories. The muddy pitch. What a strike! That’s what the FA Cup is all about.

“The day that we stop dreaming that we can reach an FA Cup Final is the day that football isn’t what it is any more.

“That’s what this beautiful game is all about – and that’s why the FA Cup is so special in my opinion.

“Nothing epitomises this amazing sport more than the FA Cup.

“We need to show our mettle; show our teeth; dig in – and hopefully get ourselves into the next round of this great competition this weekend.”

Rangers kicked off the New Year with a morale-boosting comeback victory against Cardiff City on Monday – and now Holloway is determined to see his charges make it two-from-two in 2018 against their League One opponents on Saturday.

 “There’s a good feeling around the place after that win,” he said.

“The spirit we showed was great against Cardiff. We did the right things, even at 1-0 down, and we got our rewards.

“To see everyone run over to the little fella when he scored the winner shows the spirit in this group of players.

“It’s just one win – but that win made it an acceptable festive period for us.

“Two wins, two draws and one defeat isn’t a bad return for us – and the stats show we did a lot of things right in that period of games.

“The fans deserve a huge pat on the back for the support they showed us over Christmas. They were superb and they stuck with us throughout. That’s what QPR fans do.”

With one eye on a crucial Sky Bet Championship fixture against Burton Albion next weekend, Holloway has admitted he will be forced into changes for the visit of Robbie Neilson’s side to W12.

However, he is determined to progress in the competition, commenting: “I need us to find some consistency, so this is a game I want to win. I want a positive performance this weekend.

“I need to find some balance though, because we’ve got a big game coming up against Burton very soon. I’ve got to consider some changes.

“Lynch and Perch both played 60 minutes in a behind-closed-doors game against Watford on Wednesday, so that’s good news.

“Ebere is back – and he’s got goals in his game. He’s an exciting one for us to have back in the squad, because he’s a great young attacking talent who brings goals and assists. He’ll have learned from his first experience here and his loan at Wycombe – and he’ll be a better player for it.

“I’ve got to look at a few others – the likes of Hally, Mass, Freeman, for different reasons. I might have to make some changes for fitness and safety’s sake – but I’ll try not to weaken the team.”

Looking ahead, Holloway is very clear about what he is trying to build in W12.

“It’s a good feeling when you win coming from behind. I want to bottle up that feeling and keep it going,” he said.

“We know where we are as a group – and we know where we want to be as a group.

“There’s no quick fix. It’s about taking this club forward, with young players at the heart of it.

“Football is an unforgiving arena these days. Fans can have their say on social media today more than ever.

“But we’re trying to build here, with an honesty and a connection with our terrific supporters.”