QPR name Gareth Ainsworth as new manager in return of Championship club legend

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

QPR have confirmed the appointment of former midfielder Gareth Ainsworth as the club’s new manager, following Neil Critchley’s departure.

Ainsworth, who made more than 150 appearances during a seven-year stint at Loftus Road during his playing career, leaves League One Wycombe Wanderers to take up the post.

The 49-year-old has signed a three-and-a-half year contract and becomes the club’s third permanent manager this season.

“This is all a little bit surreal,” Ainsworth told the club website. “It has been a whirlwind two days and leaving Wycombe Wanderers was very tough because of the connection there.

“But this is QPR and when I spoke about something special forcing me away from Wycombe, this was pretty special.

“It’s the club where I was most known for playing and you get moments in your career that resonate with you forever. I loved my time here as a player and hopefully I can go on and love my time here as a manager as well.”

Ainsworth will be charged with resurrecting a season that has seen the Rs fall from promotion candidates to a potential relegation scrap.

The west London side were top of the Championship after beating Wigan in October, but have since won just once in 17 league games and now sit 17th, only eight points above the drop zone.

That run began under Michael Beale, who quit the club to join Rangers in December, and continued under Critchley, who was sacked after Saturday’s defeat to Middlesbrough made it ten games without a win.

Ainsworth’s appointment signals the end of a decade-long reign in the Wycombe dugout, the Englishman having initially taken the post in 2012 as player-manager.

He retired from playing professionally the following April and went on to manage well over 500 games, leading promotion from League Two in 2018 and then, two years later, into the Championship for the first time in the club’s history, though they were relegated after one season.

“After an encouraging start, this season has provided enormous challenges,” director of football Les Ferdinand said.

“We understand the frustration of the fans and are hugely grateful for their support. I know Gareth is looking forward to seeing them at Loftus Road on Saturday and he can’t wait to get going.”