As the npower Championship season hits the half-way mark with Queens Park Rangers clear leaders and bang on course for promotion to the Premier League, Manager Neil Warnock admits he has surpassed even his own expectations.

After their final game of 2010, a 2-0 win at Coventry City, QPR have opened a seven point gap at the top - a position that easily exceeds Warnock's pre-season prediction. "I told the Directors that with 10 new players in the team at the start of the season," he said, "we'd be between fourth and seventh in the table at Christmas.

"If we were any higher than that, I told them, I'd be delighted - and that's exactly what I am at the moment. I never thought I could get a team with so many new players to gel as quickly as we have done, but now I've raised my own expectations.

"I've not got long left (as a Manager) and I want to get to the Premier League as quickly as possible - and I'm trying to do that this season."

At 62 Warnock has hopefully got quite some time left in his managerial career, and he certainly has time enough to enjoy another stint in the top flight after previously taking his home town club Sheffield United up there.

QPR have unquestionably been the team of the season so far and they are hot favourites to clinch a place in the Premier League after a 15-year absence.

But despite his present delight Warnock is taking nothing for granted and, just as importantly, neither are his players says the Manager. "Look at my team sheet - Clint Hill, Shaun Derry, Kaspars Gorkss, Paddy Kenny, Heidar Helguson - we've got so many good pros and none of them get carried away.

"We all know there are six or seven teams who could get automatic promotion. We showed two weeks ago that we can lose two games on the trot, and we could lose four on the trot - that's the division the Championship is.

"But so far we've been more consistent than anybody else, and that's what we've got to try and be in the second half of the season."

QPR's consistency shows in the Championship table's statistics, Warnock's team having collected 47 points from their 23 games and also having by far the best goal difference - their 28 is 16 ahead of next-best Cardiff City's.

So what's the secret of the Hoops' success? Happiness, reckons Warnock as he reflects on an excellent first five months of the campaign. "When you're happy you do your job better," he said, "and we're very happy as a team.

"It all goes back to pre-season. We had two great weeks, one in Cornwall and one in Italy, and it was the best thing we ever did. We had fantastic training facilities, relaxation, lads going out together - and all coming back together! I knew we were on to a team spirit, and that's shone through from day one."

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