Robbie Savage claimed he once again had Adel Taarabt in his pocket as npower Championship leaders QPR were held to a goalless draw by Derby.
The veteran midfielder boasted after last season's meeting between the sides that he had kept Rangers' star man quiet. It was not long before Savage had reintroduced himself to the Championship player of the year, lunging into a reckless challenge before kicking the ball against his grounded opponent to earn a booking after 12 only minutes.
"He's a talent, but sometimes when it is not going his way he can have a little strop," Savage told Sky Sports.
Savage, approaching 37 and retirement, continued to follow the 21-year-old Moroccan's every move, chipping at his heels and chirping in his ear until he was finally substituted with 20 minutes to go. Taarabt hurled a water bottle in frustration as he stomped off while Savage mimed taking him back out of his pocket to the delight of the travelling fans afterwards.
He added: "He deserves to be the player of the year because he has got great skill and great ability and he's very good on his day. I would have preferred him to stay on because he was not doing anything."
Rams boss Nigel Clough said: "I think it's a psychological thing. Robbie's done it to him a few times in the past. It's down to experience. The kid has got ability but he knows Robbie will stick to his task. He's probably the only player in the league you would do it for."
The one time Taarabt did escape Savage's shackles he conjured up a superb curler with the outside of his boot which Brad Jones tipped over. Rangers had plenty of other opportunities too, with Heidar Helguson and Wayne Routledge firing wide in the opening 10 minutes and Tommy Smith heading a good chance over.
But the best chance of the match fell to Derby's Stephen Pearson, who was denied by a stunning one-handed save from Paddy Kenny as Rangers edged another point closer to promotion.
"The longer it went on you knew they would get a chance and it was a great save by Paddy," said Rangers boss Neil Warnock.
But Savage was the undoubted star of the show, and Warnock added: "You either love him or loathe him - he's a bit like me. When you look at his ability he's done fantastically to make the living he has. He's long past his sell-by date but he does a job. He's been superb."
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