‘Gary, I want you to take charge’ Gareth Ainsworth says Flavio Briatore was always getting his name wrong at QPR during 2008/09's chaos season

 Gareth Ainsworth and Flavio Briatore
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Many football fans questioned Gareth Ainsworth's decision to swap Wycombe Wanderers for QPR in February.

With the Chairboys chasing promotion to the Championship at the time, and the West Londoners at risk of dropping out of it, it appeared a risky move for the English manager. Yet Ainsworth's attachment to QPR ran deep, with the then-49 year old having played for and managed the club (twice on a caretaker basis) previously.

In a recent chat with FourFourTwo, Ainsworth recalls being made player-coach of the club for the first time, during a chaotic 2008/09 campaign under the guidance of eccentric owner Flavio Briatore.

"I was club captain, the squad’s oldest pro, and working as a player-coach with a view to doing my badges," Ainsworth tells FFT, after leading QPR to safety last season. "When Iain Dowie was sacked just 12 games into the [2008-09] season, Flavio said, 'Gary, I want you to take charge'. He was always getting my name wrong."

Briatore, who made a vast fortune in fashion and Formula 1 before buying QPR in 2007, was known as the owner who couldn't stop getting involved in every aspect of the club.

"Working for Flavio wasn’t easy," Ainsworth recalls now. "He was constantly attempting to interfere. That period at the club was absolute chaos and it taught me that I was nowhere near ready for football management yet. That’s how the move to Wycombe, initially as a player, came about."

Ainsworth enjoyed more than a decade at Wycombe, initially as a player-coach before graduating to a full-time management position. He was beloved by the fans, leading the side from League Two to a short-lived stint in the Championship in 2020/21.

Hopefully, his latest stint at Loftus Road is a little smoother without Briatore's meddling presence.

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