The January transfer window saw twelve players depart Loftus Road. Holloway has managed to trim one of the Championship’s biggest squads and cut the wage bill considerably. Although, with the club attempting to adjust to financial fair play rules as well as a lack of funds in an overpriced transfer market, not one player was brought in. Some may see this as another step in the right direction in terms of balancing the books and getting rid of deadwood. However, with the Rs only seven points above the relegation zone the hierarchy in W12 have potentially taken a big gamble. This article will go through some of the pros and cons of the Rs January transfer dealings.
1) Keeping our best players-
I felt that losing two important players in Tjaronn Chery and Sebastian Polter last January was a blow, temporarily upsetting the chemistry of the team. However, at least this January we managed to keep the likes of Alex Smithies, Luke Freeman, Massimo Luongo and Idrissa Sylla. Whilst there was some speculation linking some of our better performers with moves away from Loftus Road, luckily nothing managed to materialise from the rumours.
2) Continuing to balance the books-
Rangers were able to shift the likes of Steven Caulker, Ariel Borysiuk and Yeni Ngbakoto out of the club, first team players that have played very little this season. Getting some of the highest earners off the wage bill is a positive move which should free up wages to continue rebuilding our squad in the summer, one which I feel has still not fully recovered since the days of overspending whilst in the Premier League.
3) Trimming the squad-
Prior to the January transfer window Rangers had one of the biggest squads in the Championship, however, with respect we were carrying a lot of deadwood. Younger players such as Brandon Comley, Reece Grego-Cox and Michael Petrasso have struggled to get minutes in the first team, spending much time on loan at league two clubs. Also, the likes of Caulker, Borysiuk and Ngbakoto have also struggled to play consistently in the first team, therefore, the decision to release seven players and sell two is best for all parties. We have managed to trim both the squad of deadwood as well as continue to cut the wage bill.
4) More game time for those in the U23s-
Sean Goss was signed from Manchester United last January. Dubbed as the next Michael Carrick this was a signing that created much excitement. Mourinho included a buy back option in the deal and United fans were largely disappointed at Goss’ departure. The midfielder arrived in W12 and took the number 10 shirt, one that comes with big responsibility considering the likes of Bowles, Marsh, Buzsáky and Taarabt that have gone before.
However, one year on and Goss has only managed to make six appearances for the Rs first team, largely playing for the U23 side whilst at QPR. After his first few games Goss has been well received by the Rangers fans so hopefully he can continue playing well. Although, the decision for him to be loaned out I feel is a questionable one, more on that later though.
Shodipo is a player who looked bright when he burst onto the scene last season. However, a long term achilles problem and the signing of Bright Osayi-Samuel has hindered Shodipo’s first team chances. If he can get playing at Colchester United it will hopefully set him up to continue his development as he is a player with potential and it would be good to see him fulfil it with us later in his career.
Joe Lumley is a goalkeeper who is apparently highly rated by the playing and coaching staff at Rangers. With Matt Ingram returning from his loan at Northampton Town it has allowed the less experienced Lumley the chance to go on loan to league one side Blackpool. Again, this should only be good for Lumley’s development. In his first two games he managed to keep two clean sheets, hopefully Lumley can continue to build on the good work so far.
Holloway has insisted on playing five at the back this season, regularly opting for a 5-3-2 formation. However, as seen earlier in the season, if our defenders suffer injuries we have looked very light at the back. For instance, injuries saw Jack Robinson, primarily a left back, have to play centre half. Luckily he has made the position his own and has looked a lot more comfortable in a central position. Although, when James Perch, Nedum Onuoha and Grant Hall have been injured we have had to rely on Alex Baptiste and Joel Lynch staying fit. We have also had to alternate between Jordan Cousins, Pawel Wszolek and Darnell Furlong, none of which have looked too convincing at right full back.
Therefore, you can forgive fans for being aggrieved that we have not strengthened a defence that almost got us relegated last season and has again struggled to keep clean sheets this season. If the Rs manage to stay up then defensive recruitments will be a priority in the summer as defensively we are simply not good enough to be challenging towards the right end of the table.
So far Matt Smith is top goalscorer with six goals with Conor Washington just behind him with five. Last season’s top goalscorer Idrissa Sylla has featured less this season and is joint with Jamie Mackie on only four goals. Youngsters Aramide Oteh and Paul Smyth both have one goal to their name also. At times this season we have really struggled to break teams down, especially on the road. We still have not replaced Charlie Austin’s goals and it is clear that we have needed a goalscorer for a good few years now.
However, Les Ferdinand has said this week that the club do not have the money to spend big anymore, especially in light of financial fair play rules. In January players are also overvalued and to get a decent striker would have costed millions of pounds. Therefore, Les has said that we need to continue our current policy of developing young and hungry talent rather than buying more established attackers.
3) Sean Goss out on loan?
I think most Rs fans would agree that our midfield has at times looked our strongest and most promising area. In the early stages of the season, the combination of Freeman and Luongo’s creativity mixed with Scowen’s ability to break up the play allowed us to attack with fluidity. I even recall some fans on social media stating that we had the best midfield in the Championship. However, more recently the combination has not been working as well and our long ball style to Washington and Oteh has led to criticism that Holloway is tactically inept and has no playing style other than route one football.
Holloway has been stubborn with 5-3-2 to ensure that the midfield trio of Scowen, Luongo and Freeman is untouched. Although, in the games that Goss did play his range of passing looked impressive and he was a player that always tried to get on the ball from deep and get us playing. In my opinion it is a shame that Goss was frozen out. Holloway always talks about creating an attractive style of play at QPR and you cannot help but think that Goss would have been a good player to have around. Although he may not have been the most physical, he tried to get us playing a possession based style of football. Too often we just gift the opposition possession by going long to Washington, who very rarely competes aerially against the brutish defenders in the Championship.
With our current lack of creativity and a seemingly untouchable midfield perhaps the decision to ship Goss out on loan was a poor one. When Goss signed Holloway said that he could offer us something that no one else in the midfield could. However, Holloway’s brand of football is to outwork the opposition, considering Goss is more suited to a team that has more of the ball it has not worked out for him so far. Although, considering our league position perhaps Holloway should rethink his footballing philosophy. Instead of outworking the opposition and showing more passion, heart and desire than our opponents it would be nice to see is regularly dominate possession and get the opposition having to do the majority of the pressing.
The January transfer window was a frustrating one, we needed to strengthen our defence and attack. However, considering the financial fair play dispute and our lack of ambition to spend it was perhaps expected, our hands are somewhat tied in what we can do at present. However, some positives is that none of our better players wanted to leave like last year and we have managed to shift some deadwood and reduce our expenses. As attention turns towards Barnsley tomorrow I would like to write a few words on the situation regarding the manager. On social media Holloway has been getting heavily criticised and from what I have seen, those who think Holloway is doing a good job are somewhat in the minority.
I believe that a good manager is one that can make tough decisions and take risks. Considering that our top goalscorer is Matt Smith and his strength lies in his physical presence and heading ability I think Holloway should switch up the formation and go for a 4-1-2-1-2. Against Barnsley I would like to see Holloway play to our strengths and get service into Smith from out wide. Below is the team that I would go for if I was in Holloway’s shoes.
Thank you for reading and come on your Rs!
By Jack da Silva.