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  • Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone

Ex-QPR Ngonge: Me and Holloway didn't see eye to eye

Michel Ngonge and Chelsea star Samuel Eto'o

Exclusive by Alessandro Schiavone

Former QPR striker Michel Ngonge has opened up on his fractious relationship with manager Ian Holloway, saying the pair simply didn’t see eye to eye.

After falling out of favour at Watford, the Belgian-born Congolese international hoped that a move to QPR would resurrect his career.

But far from it and despite showing industry and determination in training, Holloway never took to the then 33-year old marksman as injuries further dented his hopes of first-team action.

Ngonge, who only featured twice for the Hoops in 2001, took no prisoners in his assessment of the former Hoops manager who came up short in his mission to keep QPR in the old First Division.

He said: “I joined QPR in December 2000 and stayed for six months. My contract expired at Watford and I wasn’t playing anymore. So, I asked Watford manager Graham Taylor to release me. But QPR were very weak that year and we didn’t manage to stay up.

“Besides, I didn’t have a good relationship with Holloway. Not at all. When I joined QPR Gerry Francis was their manager. But shortly after he was axed to make way for Holloway who was a typical English manager. I didn’t like his style. He wanted his teams to fight on the pitch. That wasn’t my football and I didn’t get on at all with him.

“I didn’t get much playing time. I was injured and when I returned, he left me out. We had a bad relationship. But it’s life and you can’t be friends with everyone.”

Ngonge lives in Brussels today and guides his son Cyril in his career. The 20-year old has had a flying start to the Eredivisie season with unheralded FC Groningen, having already scored three goals in four league matches with Arjen Robben and Luis Suarez’ former club.

Incidentally during that turbulent season in west London, Ngonge had a first-row seat to Peter Crouch’s ascendancy from budding talent to Premier League poacher.

In his distinguished career, Crouch scored a century of goals in the English top-flight, represented famous clubs like Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, played in a Champions League final and famously broke Trinidad & Tobago’s resistance, scoring a later winner for England at the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Ngonge knew that the lanky East Londoner would bank on his height and one day make his mark at the highest level.

But despite his obvious talent, Ngonge admitted that he could never have predicted such a prolific career.

“I played with Peter Crouch when he exploded”, Ngonge proudly revealed.

“I played with him up-front. He was 19 at the time. He was such an amiable guy. And for a tall guy like him he had an exceptional technique. He was very good technically and had a great eye for goal, he was scoring all the time.

“I can’t say that I expected the career he went on to have even if he was a great talent. He surprised me. But it should not be forgotten that he was English and at the time England didn’t have too many young players of his ilk.

"He was tall, blessed with a good technique, scored goals and was good with his head. He was looked after in his career and in the end he got the best out of it. He deserved what he achieved because he was a grafter and a likeable guy.”

Ngonge may have taken the teenager under his wing but he did not need to offer him any advice on the pitch.

“I didn’t give him any advice because he was ready. His game was already advanced. Peter was a very positive and accessible. I really liked playing with him.”


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