Last week the summer transfer window finally slammed shut, for the next four months it is time to hopefully enjoy watching the football until the rumours and the ITKs on social media start up again.
Many QPR fans have vented their frustration that the club has failed to sign another centre-half, full-back and striker. Although the window was not perfect, there were a number of positives, with Holloway building on his decent business from the January window.
Let’s take a look at the ins and outs at Loftus Road this summer.
I would describe this window as low risk, but potentially high reward. The likes of Paul Smyth, David Wheeler and Bright Osayi-Samuel speak to QPRs history of taking players from the lower leagues on the cheap and allowing them to fulfil their potential in W12.
One of the prime examples being Les Ferdinand, a player signed from non-league Hayes and Yeading for £30,000, who made his debut for the Rs at just twenty-year-old. He would go on to score 80 goals in 163 appearances and win 17 caps for England, scoring 5 goals.
The 1994/95 was especially impressive, with Les managing to score 24 times in the Premier League, you cannot help but wonder how much he would have been worth in today’s market.
As fans we will have to be patient. However, I think I speak for most Rs fans when I say I much prefer this approach than signing big name, big money has beens. The likes of Smyth, Wheeler and Osayi-Samuel are all young and see QPR as a step up rather than down. In their interviews they all came across as good characters who genuinely want to work hard and do well.
The days of the QPR hierarchy and players being branded as ‘clowns’ are a far cry from how things are being done at the moment. Tony Fernandes gets a lot of stick on social media from Rs fans but the club is now being run in a sensible manner and in the right way.
Whilst it may take time to get back to the Premier League, I feel that when we eventually get there we will be a lot better equip than the days of spending £12.5 million mid-season, paying £100,000 a week to an unfit centre-half.
QPR going back to its roots is an exciting prospect. Signing young players that we know little about other than they have great potential is something that all Rs fans can be optimistic about.
The average age of the squad is now 25-year-old, suggesting that for most of the players their best years are still yet to come. Much more exciting than watching Premier League and Champions League winners jog around, picking up their final lucrative pay checks.
The signing of Josh Scowen on a free was a real coup. He is a player we have needed for years, one that epitomises the character that Olly, Les and Birch have been talking about since they arrived.
Describing himself as a ‘little rat’, Josh has grit and determination in abundance, coupled with the ability to create. He slotted in straight away and has become one of the first names on the team sheet alongside his two midfield partners Luke Freeman and Massimo Luongo.
He is particularly good at keeping it simple, although, when the chance presents itself he is very capable of skipping past a few players and with him in the side we look far more balanced.With him playing the anchorin the middle more often than not, it allows Freeman and Luongo to be slightly more forward thinking. As yet the midfield trio has been working brilliantly, so long may that continue.
To get Josh on a free transfer, especially when he had more lucrative options to move to the Premier League with Huddersfield for instance, shows how much of a coup this was for the Rs.
Credit must go to those behind the scenes at the club, signings such as Scowen and Freeman, who arrived for just £500,000 in January are perfect for us. These acquisitions have hopefully increased the fans confidence in our scouting network and it will be interesting to see what the likes of Wheeler and Osayi-Samuel will offer.
Out and out wide players-
Out of the six summer signings four were natural wide players. Whilst many Rs fans were criticising the club on social media for not investing in a goal scorer, it appears that Holloway thinks our strike force is good enough, they perhaps just lack good service. Considering that Sylla and Smith both are players that are strong in the air, it was a good move to strengthen our options from out wide.
Considering the price it would have cost to buy a goalscorer similar to Charlie Austin, perhaps Holloway’s decision to keep faith in our front men will pay off. For instance, Britt Assombalonga scored 14 times in all competitions last season, only 2 more goals in Idrissa Sylla. However, to secure his services Middlesbrough had to pay an incredible £14m to Nottingham Forest.
Freeman is currently acting as our main play maker and his service into the box to Matt Smith in particular has been excellent, with the latter scoring a number of headers. Paul Smyth will be starting his Rs career with the club’s U23 side, although, let’s hope Osayi-Samuel, Lua Lua and Wheeler can provide better service to our strikers.
Interestingly though, David Wheeler, signed from Exeter is considered a wide right midfielder. However, last season he managed to score 21 goals and is said to be versatile. With the amount of wingers now at the club perhaps it would not be a surprise to see Wheeler playing in a two up top.
The acquisition of more wingers will also allow Holloway to be more flexible and move from a 3-5-2 with full backs to a more traditional 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 with more attack minded wide players.
Where are the defenders?-
Rs fans again questioned why we did not strengthen our most vulnerable position which is our defence. The signing of Baptiste may be good for the dressing room but after that Brentford game many are already writing him off, early days yet though.
I can only think that with Steven Caulker returning and Joel Lynch and Grant Hall nearing a return from injury that Holloway thinks we can make do with what we have. The long term injury that James Perch sustained had many calling for the Rs to sign a right back.
However, it seems that Holloway may be ready to instil his trust in Darnell Furlong, or alternatively perhaps use club captain Nedum Onouha in the position, one that he has filled in numerous times throughout his Rangers career.
However, the concern for Rs fans is that if we get hit with an injury crisis we could be in trouble. It happened last season when Grant Hall got injured towards the back end of the season. Resulting in a long losing streak that brought us one point away from relegation into League One.
Let’s hope that this season we will better luck with injuries. Two games a week when lacking depth is very difficult to sustain in this league.
Although, on the positive, Hall should be nearing a return soon and he has been our most consistent defender when fit. If he can stay injury free his return will be like a new signing coming into the heart of the Rs defence, be it a back four or five.
Keeping Alex Smithies!-
For many fans keeping our star man Alex Smithies was the best aspect of the window. He has regularly linked with what some may call a dream reunion with an impressive Huddersfield side promoted to the Premier League last season. With the start they have made it would have been difficult for any Championship player linked to Wagner’s side not to consider it.
From a selfish point of view the move never materialised and keeping Smithies is huge if we are going to do anything serious this season.
No mass exodus-
Compared to the years gone by this window has been very quiet. As QPR fans we slowly became accustomed to transfer windows bringing almost a new squad of players in each time.
Whilst last season was not the best, the players that left the club this window were not even making the match day squad regularly. Therefore, it has been a while since QPR have been able to keep all the regular members of the squad together at the club.
The performances so far this season have looked good and the players look comfortable and used to each other. As many are young perhaps they needed last season to get used to the Championship.
For the Rs it was also another season of transition, not just with the change of manager but also with Tjaronn Cherry and Sebastian Polter, two starters who suddenly departed last January.
With more stability and team chemistry this season it looks as though it has paid off and hopefully our position come the end May will reflect an improvement on recent seasons.
Opportunity for playing time-
Eze Ebere and Brandon Comley are two young players that have looked promising when called upon. However, realistically the chance of regular first team football will be greater at Wycombe Town and Colchester United respectively.
Brandon Adams is an attacker that has been doing well with the U23s. As part of the Smyth deal, he goes the other way to Linfield on loan, let’s hope that it is also a chance for another Rs youngster to get experience and playing time.
Interestingly, Matt Ingram is another player that has gone on loan in search of playing time. The 23-year-old made 140 appearances for Wycombe before joining the Rs in January 2016. However, the form of Alex Smithies has limited Ingram to only 10 appearances.
The news of Ingram signing on loan with Northampton Town is good news for both parties. For Ingram it must be difficult to train day in day out with no match to play come Tuesday or Saturday. He was a mainstay in the Wycombe side so the chance to go to the Sixfields and play games will be good for Matt.
With respect, players such as Michael Doughty, Nasser El Khayati and Ben Gladwin could be considered deadwood. They were players who were largely used from the bench, although often times not even making the match day squad.
Moving them on was best for all parties as the Rs could cut the wage bill down and the players now have a chance to reignite their careers elsewhere. Doughty has moved onto a new challenge at Peterborough United, Nasser at ADO Den Hag and Ben at Blackburn Rovers.
On behalf of all QPR fans we wish them every success and good luck.
A good window?
Overall, I think Rs fans can be happy with the work that has gone on over the summer in W12.
We have opted to sign young, ambitious players on low fees and wages who have character and a desire to succeed. Players who also see QPR as a step up in their careers rather than a step down.
We have also signed Baptiste, who brings a wealth of experience, a player that Holloway has described as one of the biggest characters in the game, who for sure will do no harm in a youthful, perhaps slightly inexperienced dressing room.
Considering the market, signing a goalscorer was always going to be difficult. It will be interesting to see whether Holloway will try Wheeler up front, considering he scored 21 goals last season and Pawel Wszolek has made the right midfield position his own.
Osayi-Samuel is a player that I am excited to watch, one that resembles Matt Phillips in terms of physique and speed. The player is 19, one year younger than Mide Shodipo, although Osayi-Samuel has more experience on his side, playing 42 times last season for Blackpool. However, when Mide returns from injury I think he will be a useful player to have in and around the squad so let’s hope the young players can really push each other on.
Thank you for reading.
Let me know your thoughts.