TORONTO – While his immediate focus might be on Toronto FC, Ryan Nelsen still has Queens Park Rangers in the back of his mind these days.
QPR confirmed their relegation from the English Premier League on Sunday with a 0-0 draw at Reading, just months after Nelsen left the club in a surprise move to take TFC's head coaching position.
Nelsen was purposefully vague about when he would be able to start his new position in an effort to protect QPR from being taken advantage of in the transfer window by revealing his earlier-than-expected departure date, and he was also vocal in professing his hope that Harry Redknapp’s side would avoid the drop.
“I’m really sad because there are some lovely people there," Nelsen told MLSsoccer.com. "Everybody always talks about big egos and big money, but I always thought there were some really nice people there. Down-to-earth guys and ladies and the fans were really good to me. It’s a shame. I feel really bad for them.”
When asked what he believes it will take for QPR to secure an immediate return to the Premier League following a year in the Championship, the former Loftus Road central defender stressed his belief that Redknapp will need to get the makeup of his second-division squad just right.
“For me, it is all about character and mentality. I think talent comes on top of that and is like icing on the cake,” Nelsen said. “You need players who are going to throw out seven out of 10s each week instead of players who will deliver a nine out of 10 one week and then a four out of 10 the next week.”
Nelsen has already utilized his ties with QPR to bring midfielder Hogan Ephraim to TFC on loan. With his former side’s roster now likely to be in transition due to the relegation, the Toronto gaffer admitted that he will be watching his previous club with an eye towards possibly improving his current one.
“We’re always looking for players. The only trouble with the QPR – and I’d love to have a few of them – is that they are all on a gazillion dollars,” Nelsen said. “With the salary-cap rules here, it’s really hard. We’ll be trying our hardest to see if we can sneak a few more over here.”