Transfer Weekly (#1)

Transfer weekly is a new feature to the blog that will track both the ins and outs of what is set to be another busy transfer window for the club.

Josh Bowler:

18 year old Josh Bowler joined the club in 2013 after being released from Fulham. He signed his first professional contract in February this year. Just a few weeks ago Holloway gave Josh his debut in the 4-0 away defeat to Norwich City on the final day of the season.

An initial bid of £3 million was rejected last week. Whilst it is thought that Rangers are keen to hold onto Josh, it is reported that Everton are preparing a second bid. With parachute payments slowly drying up, it will be interesting to see how the R’s respond.

Shay Given:

It was been reported that Alex Smithies may return to former club Huddersfield Town if they are able to beat Reading in this afternoons play off final at Wembley. QPR are reportedly considering a free transfer for 41 year old Shay Given, recently released by Stoke.

Last season Smithies was phenomenal, we need no reminding that his performances perhaps kept the club in the second tier. His departure would be extremely disappointing if a moves materialised.

Alex Bruce:

After being relegated from the Premier League, the 32 year old shockingly found out that he had been released from Hull’s Twitter account.

Making over 100 appearances for Ipswich and 85 for Hull over a number of years, Bruce could provide the experience that the Rangers defence has been crying out for since Clint Hill departed. In what is a fairly inexperienced and youthful dressingroom, a deal for Bruce on sensible wages would be a wise move.

 

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The 2016/17 season in numbers

This season has been another one of transition. Another seasons of ins and outs, both players and managers. This post looks at the season in stats, with credit to whoscored and squawka.

Position- 18th

Points- 53

Total goals scored- 52

Total goals conceded- 66

Goal difference- -14

Average goals per game- 1

Top goal scorer- Idrissa Sylla (10)

Most assists- Luke Freeman (4)

Most cards- James Perch (11 yellows, 1 red)

Average possession- 49%

Total chances created- 384

Players and fans player of the year: Alex Smithies

 

 

Match Preview: Derby County V QPR

After the international break Queens Park Rangers take on Derby County at Pride Park, live on Sky Sports 1 from 7PM.

The R’s head into tonight’s fixture in the best form of the season so far, the last 7 games have seen Rangers win 5, draw 1 and lose 1. We are undefeated in the last four, winning 3 and drawing 1, meaning we are currently one of the inform teams in the Championship.

(Source: Sky Sports)

However, in Derby County’s last 10 league games they have only won once, this downturn in form led to Steve McLaren being sacked for a second time by Derby. They began 2017 in 7th place, just a point off the playoffs. Their 1-0 away win in the reverse fixture at Loftus Road in December saw them complete a run of 7 straight wins. However, they now sit in 10th place, 9 points adrift of top six.

Gary Rowett has come in and talked the talked. He has challenged his squad, coming out in the media and insisting that Derby, 9 points off the playoffs, are still in the race. He has also defended his squad from the critics, insisting that his squad are a ‘united group’.

Therefore, we should expect a different Derby side tonight, one revitalised by the new gaffer, and I am sure the atmosphere will have been given a big lift by Rowett’s appointment. The international break came at a good time for Rowett, the former Birmingham manager’s first came in charge was a 2-2 draw away to rivals Nottingham Forest, giving him 2 weeks to work with most of his squad in the built up to tonight’s game.

Given QPR’s biggest win last time out, 5-1 against Rotherham, the international break very much came at the wrong time. However, Holloway gave the players 4 days off after the win and he has come out and said the squad are rested but raring to go. Given our recent form Holloway yesterday said in his presser that he has challenged the squad to see if they can win all of the last 8 games of the season!

Tonight’s game kicks off a tough week for the R’s, after tonight we travel to the inform team in the the Championship being Aston Villa, over recent years games at Villa Park have always been tough and full of goals. We then take on promotion hopefuls Brighton next Friday. The use of the squad will obviously be important and to be fair to Holloway the squad does look strong and has good depth now so it shouldn’t be a problem for players to come in and out of the starting XI.

A win tonight could see us go level on points with Derby who currently have 53 to their name. In what is a tough week to come let’s hope we can start positively and only climb the table from here on out. Below is the team I would start with

Come on you R’s!

Queens Park Rangers 3-5-2 football formation

Preview: QPR V Rotherham

This weekend sees the R’s return to Loftus Road.

The visitors Rotherham are all but relegated, sitting rock bottom and 22 points from safety. Since the new year the Millers have only picked up 4 points, a 2-1 home win against Norwich in January and  a 1-1 home draw against Blackburn in February. They have the worst away form in the league, having only picked up 1 point on their travels all season.

Rangers on the other hand are the most inform team in the league. In recent weeks Loftus Road has slowly been becoming the fortress we know it can be, with wins against Wigan, Cardiff and Barnsley. The R’s will also be high on confidence after Saturdays goalless draw against promotion chasing Leeds at Elland Road, a game in which we had the better chances to take all 3 points.

Holloway has said in his pre match thoughts that we have to earn the right to win against Rotherham, in this league there are no easy games. The prime example being the reverse fixture where Isaiah Brown’s goal gave Rotherham a 1-0 win over us in December. Although, with that being said, the match winner Brown is no longer with Rotherham and Rangers look a lot stronger and have made solid progress since December’s fixture at the New York Stadium.

At Loftus Road the R’s have only kept two clean sheets in the league all season. Our last clean sheet in the league came 5 months ago on the 18th of October 2016, a midweek fixture against Bristol City where Sylla’s goal was enough to secure the R’s all 3 points.

This is a record that needs to be improved, Saturday’s fixture provides a good opportunity to keep a clean sheet against a team completely lacking confidence, losing all of their last 6, conceding 17 goals in the process, they are also yet to score a goal in March after fixtures with Villa, Brighton and Wolves.

Considering our recent uplift in form and Rotherham currently struggling to not only score but pick up any points I  hope we can record a much needed clean sheet at Loftus Road and with the team very high on confidence hopefully score a couple of goals as well

My team for this match would be as follows:

 

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Come on you R’s!

QPR’s academy at last showing signs of life

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(Image credit to Associated Press, AP)

Richard Langley made his full debut at Rangers 19 years ago, since then the academy production line has froze, a problem that is widespread across academies all over England, especially in the top flight.

Raheem Sterling was very much the one that got away whilst Ray Jones and Kiyan Prince were unfortunate tragedies.

However, QPR’s academy has recently been showing promising signs of life. When Tony Fernandes took over in W12 in 2011 he said: I want the fans to be proud of what we’re doing…I am keen to create a good academy, so that there’s a constant supply of players.

All good things take time, whilst mistakes have been made along the way, concentration and investment throughout Tony’s 6 years as chairman are finally showing signs of life. I think we have finally turned a corner, at present two youth players in Manning and Furlong have established themselves as first time regulars, with Manning being one of the first names on the team sheet.

Let’s take a look at some of QPRs most exciting prospects:

Ryan Manning:

In January 2015, then manager Harry Redknapp bought in Irish teenager Ryan from Galway United for a reported £60,000.

Holloway gave him his full debut in December, a 1-2 away win to Wolverhampton Wonderers, a debut that Holloway said was the “best he had ever seen”.

Since then memorable moments include Ryan’s fantastic assist for Mackie in the 0-1 away win to Reading and his first goal in the 1-1 West London derby against Fulham.

Ryan has looked comfortable from his first game and I’d say at the moment he is one of the most consistent performers, definitely one of the first names on the team sheet and is quickly growing into a fans favourite.

His mature performances recently earned him a new contract, keeping him at Loftus Road until the summer of 2019.

Darnell Furlong:

Darnell joined Rangers academy at the age of 10. Fast forward 9 years and 19 year old teenager Darnell made his breakthrough, notably playing in the games against Hull City away from home and Arsenal at Loftus Road, finishing the season as winner of the EDS young player of the year award, an award voted on by R’s fans.

Now 21, Darnell has benefitted from loan spells at Northampton Town, Cambridge United and Swindon Town. Holloway made it clear early on that he was keen to recall both Furlong and Michael Doughty from their loan spells.

His return to the club saw him thrown straight into the starting XI in the 1 nil win away to promotion hopefuls Reading, his first league appearance for the R’s after almost 2 years away. What impressed a lot of Rs fans was how quickly he slotted in and immediately forged a good partnership with his wide man on the night Pawel Wszolek.

His energy and pace on the right flank has impressed the R’s faithful, also the loan spells have improved the defensive side to his game. After his return, a number of impressive performances, has seen Darnell rewarded with a new contract also keeping him at the club until the summer of 2019.

Mide Shodipo:

19 year old Mide joined QPR’s academy at the age of 15, impressing in his professional debut against Leeds United, this season’s opening fixture at Loftus Road. He went on to make a further 13 appearances before moving to League one outfit Port Vale on loan.

Rangers fans have always loved an exciting winger with pace, trickery and the ability to beat his fullback, and Mide certainly ticks all those boxes.

Offensively Mide is very talented, however it is the defensive and tactical side of his game that Holloway wants to fine tune: “He’s brilliant going forward, but needs to work on the defensive side of his game. He’d probably do better with a little bit of a loan spell.”

Hopefully Mide will do well and gain good experience  in what is a difficult league and then return to QPR in the summer. With a solid pre season under his belt I believe Mide could establish himself as a first team regular at Loftus Road next season, something I am sure the fans would love considering he is one of our own.

After his breakthrough and string of impressive performances Mide also was rewarded with a new contract, keeping him at Rangers until the summer of 2019.

Osman Kakay:

Nicknamed ‘Ozzy’, Kakay has been at QPR since the age of just 8 years old.

The 19 year old made his debut in the EFL cup, on the night he looked bright and energetic, impressing at RB against Rochdale. Notably he played 90 minutes against Premier League opposition in Sunderland in the third round of the EFL cup and I felt he more than held his own, and definitely did not look out of place.

Osman primarily plays as a RB but can also operate in midfield. Darnell currently has a 3 year advantage on Osman and currently has the shirt as the clubs first choice right back.

Consequently, Osman recently went out on loan to League one Chesterfield to gain some experience of playing so called ‘mens football’ as oppose to the more comfortable u23 reserve level.

Hopefully Ozzy can benefit from a loan spell or two in a similar way that Darnell has and come back and fight for his place in the first team.

Reason for optimism:

Whilst the players listed above are currently the ones that have been in and around the first team, I think it shows how far QPR have come when there are also many other players who I could have included that are exciting prospects.

For instance, in this article we have not even spoke about the likes of Michael Doughty, Joe Lumley, Michael Petrasso, Reece Grego Cox, Niko Hamalainen, Axel Prohouly, Ebere Eze, Brandon Comley, Gianni Crichlow and so on.

It has been well documented that Fernandes has made some mistakes and spent a lot of money doing so. He is often the target of at times very harsh abuse on social media.

In 2011 Fernandes wanted to create a supply line and a path for academy players to break into the first team. He also wanted to build something that the R’s fans could be proud of. In more recent times the club has become something that fans are recognising again and can say they are proud to support QPR. I certainly feel a sense of pride when I see passionate blue blooded youngsters fighting for the badge.

The academy has also shown that it can produce first team players elsewhere. The likes of Josh Laurent, Max Ehmer, Michael Harriman have moved on in search of first team football. The recent selling of Cole Kpekawa for £500,000 shows signs of progress. In years gone by a lot of youngsters have been released or sent back early from loans. The academy seems to have grown, not just in providing players for our squad but also producing players who can go on and carve out a decent career for themselves.

Despite all the criticism that Tony gets I think he is now starting to deliver on the academy front. Progress was slow and very much done in the background, however I feel we are now starting to see the results of the commitment and investment put in, so credit to the co chairmen and the likes of Steve Gallen, Perry Suckling, Chris Ramsey, Paul Hall, Paul Furlong and Andy Impey, to name a few.

Come on you R’s!

 

5 ways Holloway has revolutionized new look Rs

Image result for ian holloway qpr

Ian Holloway has now been in charge of 18 games back at Rangers. Whilst he has not been in charge for very long, his current win percentage is 37.5%, which is currently better than that achieved by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank, Chris Ramsey and Harry Redknapp. This article looks at five ways in which Holloway has made an impact in his opening three and a half months.

1- Confidence in the youth

To the delight of R’s fans Holloway has shown faith in the youth. The likes of Manning, Furlong, Shodipo, Kakay and Eze have all featured and more than held their own. Like Furlong had to, Shodipo and Kakay have recently gone on loan to gain experience in the English Football League.

However, Ian has unearthed a gem in Ryan Manning. His debut came in the 1-2 away win at Wolverhampton in December and Ryan has not looked back since, consistently putting in fantastic performances.

Ian also recalled Furlong from Swindon, throwing him straight into the away fixture at Reading in a 1 nil win for the R’s last month. Furlong has since been in the team regularly and has played well. Darnell’s pace and energy down the R’s right hand side has been impressive. However, even more impressive was how he instantly clicked with Pawel, and I think the two have built a strong relationship on the flank, so plaudits to Ian for having that trust that youth players can deliver for us in the league.

It has been well documented that before the likes of Manning and Furlong broke through, it has been a very long time since Rangers have had good young talent. Raheem Sterling was very much the one that got away, although, our desire to bring through talented youngsters may potentially serve us well.

This avenue to progress to the first team can only help the academy to attract better players. Players who would perhaps go to the likes of Chelsea or Tottenham may consider Rangers as the club that can realistically offer them a path to first team football.

Lastly, the future looks bright. Shodipo and Kakay have looked impressive and will only return from their loan spells as better players. Ebere Eze is a striker that came from Millwall who is very well regarded by Holloway and is a player who has been training with the first team. He showed some glimpses of quality in the FA Cup before he unfortunately got injured.

If the players are good enough then Holloway, as seen with Manning and Furlong, will not hesitate to give them a chance. With a number of talented youngsters at the club, the future looks promising and hopefully we can become a club that produces a lot of good players rather than having to buy them.

2- The passion is back

Along with Bircham, Holloway has brought an infectious passion back to Loftus Road. The team are fighting for the badge and I think the management have done a good job in getting the players to believe in themselves.

Away to Newcastle was an example of how far I think we have come, when Shelvey scored in the first sixty seconds their fans were probably thinking they could hit us for 6 again. However, the players stuck to the game plan and fought their way back into the game. We dominated the first half and much of the second, and our players did not go hiding, a sign of a confident outfit.

Recent wins against Birmingham and Wigan have propelled us away from the  relegation trapdoor and displayed how QPR look a new side. Even when we have lost games we have been creating chances, a lot of the recent narrow losses have been unlucky. The level of performance has been good and the desire the players show has also been refreshing to see.

A result at Birmingham I feel was one that was coming. With all three strikers scoring as well it shows that they are not afraid to get into scoring positions, at times when strikers are low on confidence do not like doing. However, I feel that Holloway has got our strikers confident that every time they cross the white line that they are going to score.

3- High press

When Hasselbank came in he promised a high tempo pressing game. In pre-season, after the Watford game at home for instance, the pressing game worked very well and many, including myself were optimistic.

However, through the season Hasselbank arguably became more negative, often opting for two defensive midfielders and one up front when at home, we even at times played quite deep and this pressing game that was apparently his style fettered out.

However, Ian has brought in this exciting style of play. Against the likes of Fulham at home and Reading away, we have shown how we can win the ball high up the pitch, especially against teams who like to keep possession and work in around the back line and through the middle of the park.

Lastly, the squad now looks extremely fit. Against Wigan yesterday we were unchanged, it is a refreshing and welcome change that we now have a side capable of playing two games in the space of 4 days.

4- Flexibility and two up front!

Holloway has made us more flexible, for instance, we can successfully play a 5-3-2, but also as we saw yesterday a 4-4-2, at times even a 4-3-3. Holloway has implemented a style and system that suits us. The 5-3-2 is a system we have been extensively using and I feel it is one that suits us.

Firstly, defensively we are not the best, so playing a system that allows us to play 3 centre backs makes us more solid and compact. But the system also allows us to play two upfront which is very important. Washington is a useful player who is full of energy, but he was brought in as the number 9 to replace Austin. So he needed to be scoring goals, which he was not.

However, the signing of Smith from Fulham has been crucial for Washington in turning his form around, the two have also quickly develop a good partnership, one that reminds me of the one that Austin and Zamora used to have.

When Conor has played with another striker alongside him he has looked dangerous, and certainly in the last 6 games he has scored 4 goals, which should have been 5 after his goal at the Ewood was wrongly disallowed. Having a target man is so important and the signing of Smith is proving to be a master stroke for getting the best out of Conor.

5- Impressive business

Along with Les and Lee, in my opinion Ian was very successful in the January transfer window. Ian brought in a lot of younger players and it has freshened up the squad and created a good blend of experience and youth. He also spent little and big contracts are definitely a thing of the past anyone, a much more sustainable way of doing things and exactly what a club like ours should be doing.

We were able to get around 6-7 million pounds for Polter and Chery and bring in a number of good young players and still make a profit. The signing of LuaLua, Freeman, Goss and Ravel will give us a boost in creativity and were all very sustainable deals. Although I touched on it in the previous point, the signing of Smith has been very impressive. Many fans on social media doubted this one, however, he has struck up a good partnership with Conor and they are both in rich goal scoring form at the moment, so long may that continue.

With a full pre-season and transfer window, who knows what Holloway might be able to achieve next season. As R’s fans we have become accustomed to every transfer window being almost a rebuilding process. However, the squad next season is largely going to be the players that are currently playing, and perhaps a few new faces and some youngsters returning from loans.

I have been impressed with what Holloway has done so far and I am feeling optimistic that we have finally found the right man. After two great results lets go to Preston and hopefully make it 3 wins out of 3!

Come on you R’s!

 

 

 

Memorable goals scored at Loftus Road

I am now 19 years old and have been a season ticket holder for seven years, during this time I fell in love with QPR and Loftus Road became my second home. Throughout this time I have witnessed a lot of highs and lows, but also some very memorable goals. In this article I will be sharing some of my favourite goals that I have seen scored at Loftus Road.

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Charlie Austin’s brace VS Wigan (2014)

Austin’s double in the playoff semi final second leg saw Rangers reverse a 1-0 deficit, winning in extra-time to ultimately reach the play off finals at Wembley. The atmosphere, scenes at full time and feeling of pure elation will live long in the memory. This result was very important in reinforcing the whole ‘find a way’ campaign that the fans and players alike adopted as our mantra. I believe the style of this win gave us the confidence to go and clinch promotion to the promise land, albeit doing it in typical QPR style, in the most difficult way possible. What I enjoyed most about that season is there was a real feeling of togetherness throughout the season and the playoff period.

 

Djibril Cisse’s winner vs Stoke (2013)

Cisse’s 89th minute winner blew the roof off LR, the celebrations were something to behold. It was ultimately those huge three points that kept us up after we failed to get anything on that incredible final day away to Manchester City. A win for City meant the title was theirs, therefore, we had to get something from the home fixture against Stoke to alleviate some of the pressure. As Bolton only managed to get a draw against Stoke on the final day we managed to survive whilst City won the title with their own unbelievable winner right at the death, courtesy of Sergio Aguero.

 

Loic Remy vs Wigan (2013)

This goal came in a massive relegation six-pointer against Wigan. Remy’s strike was incredible, one of the best finishes I have seen at LR. Remy latched on a through ball from Stephanie Mbia, shooting first time from 20 yards with a side foot perfectly into the top corner. This goal would have been so much sweeter, although it was unfortunately dampened with Maloney’s free kick at the death ensuring Wigan left LR with a point.

 

Jamie Mackie’s winner VS Liverpool (2012)

An incredible game at Loftus Road saw a crazy second half see Rangers reverse a 2-0 deficit against Liverpool, with Mackie finishing expertly in the last minute to complete one of the most remarkable comebacks I’ve seen at Loftus Road. At 2-0 we looked dead and buried, but the fight back was something quite incredible, even Shaun Derry got on the scoresheet! The atmosphere that night was immense, night games at LR when the atmosphere is electric really is special. As the 12th man it felt like we sucked the ball into the net for the winner, and not for the first time either.

 

Adel Taarabt vs Preston (2010)

When Adel was in the mood he really was a joy to watch and at times unplayable. Adel was the first number 10 I fell in love with watching as a youngster. Against Preston it was very much a goal of individual quality, taking the ball down on the halfway line from Cerny’s goal kick, Adel dribbled past 3 or 4 Preston players, even nutmegging one in the process to then curl the ball into the top corner from 25 yards, cracking individual goal that rounded off a 4-0 home win.

 

What can we expect from our new signings?

blg-1-ppicOn Saturday Rangers take on an in-form Huddersfield Town side who have won their last three games. Saturdays game will be the first at home since the January window slammed shut. In this post we will be looking at who we have brought in and what we can expect from them.

Ravel Morrison:

A man who needs no introduction, Ravel returns to W12 on loan from Lazio, with an option to buy in the summer. In his previous spell at Loftus Road Morrison scored 6 goals in 15 appearances and played an important role in helping the club reach the playoff finals.

Best positioned just behind the striker, the signing of Ravel has produced a buzz amongst the R’s faithful and we are very much excited to see more creativity being brought into the side. We have all seen what Ravel is capable of from his exploits in the Premier League with the Hammers and in his previous spell at Rangers in 2015.

Ravel has only appeared 4 times in competitive action for Lazio over a two-year spell. We’ve heard it from the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Rio Ferdinand, just how good a player Ravel is so lets hope that with Ravel back on home soil he can hit the ground running and set the Championship alight.

Pawel Wszolek:

In January QPR exercised the option to make Pawel’s initial season long  loan spell from Hellas Verona a permanent transfer. The 24-year-old Polish international has more than made a name for himself in his short career in W12 as yet. His performances have even established Pawel as one of the fan favourites, and certainly one of mine.

In recent weeks Pawel has been one of our most consistent performers. His winner at the death away to Wolves was crucial as it broke our 6 match losing streak, giving the team a much-needed injection of confidence. Just days later against Ipswich at home Pawel scored another late winner, this time taking the ball down brilliantly, rounding the keeper and slotting away expertly.

He followed this up with a MOTM performance away at Reading, assisting Jamie Mackie’s first goal since returning from injury. His defensive work that night was very impressive, but his attacking display was unplayable at times. Not only can he pick a pass but his pace, level of fitness and desire makes him the exact type of player Rangers should be going for, so credit to Les, Lee and Olly for getting this one over the line early.

Since Pawel joined in the summer he found it difficult to get regular game time under Hasselbank. However, since Olly has come in Pawel has been a mainstay on the right and has been doing excellently, so long may it continue!

Sean Goss:

21-year-old Goss signed on a permanent deal from Manchester United and wasted no time in taking QPRs famous number 10 shirt. An exciting prospect by all accounts from Manchester, this is another signing that has created excitement amongst the R’s fans. Goss made his debut from the bench away at Newcastle in the 2-2 draw and I was impressed with what I saw in his cameo appearance.

Sean  received comparisons to Michael Carrick whilst at United, with his range of passing lauded as one of his key attributes. It was telling that one of the first things Sean did during his debut was ping an inch perfect long ball to the feet of Lua Lua. Something that since we have not seen much since the departure of argentine Ale Faurlin.

Sean’s technical ability will give our midfield a different dimension and think he will only add to our strong squad of players. At just 21 years old, he will also have the energy to get about the pitch, something that will be a minimum requirement under the management of Holloway.

This will be Sean’s first taste of first team football, which is undoubtedly very different to the U23 set up he has been playing in. Although Sean comes highly rated from Manchester we will have to be patient and allow him time to get used to the physicality and pace of the Championship.

However, like a lot of R’s fans, this is another signing I am excited about and I am very much looking forward to watching Sean perform in the famous blue and white hoops.

Kazenga Lua Lua:

Kazenga was brought in on loan signing from promotion chasing Brighton. He has already played a couple of games for Rangers and has looked bright. Last time out at Loftus Road he started against Burton and I thought he done well. He has pace to burn and is very strong on the ball, he also has a great ability to ride challenges. He made a good impact off the bench  recently away at Newcastle, his pace was causing problems down the magpies right hand side. He showed that he has an eye for a cross also, as his ball into the danger area led to Ciaran Clark turning in a last-minute own goal to give Rangers a share of the spoils at St. James Park.

At just 26 years old, Rangers have continued to freshen up the squad and blend experience with youth and enthusiasm. Kazenga has made a good start to life in W12 and lets hope we do not have to wait long to see his first goal and his incredible celebration to match.

R’s fans love a pacy winger who attacks his fullback and Kazenga fits that mould. With Kazenga and Pawel operating out wide, should we play Smith or Sylla as a target man, there will be no shortage of good service into the box. This is another signing that the fans are very excited about and I think Kazenga could quickly become another fans favourite in W12.

Matt Smith:

27-year-old Smith signed from Championship neighbours Fulham on a permanent deal. Whilst his recent goal record might not be the most exciting, this is a signing that I think could work. We have seen multiple times that Conor struggles on his own up front. Taking the wrongly disallowed goal into account, for me, Conor has essentially scored three goals in his last three appearances and has been playing very well.

The signing of 6 ft 6 Smith as a target man can do Conor no harm. With Sylla’s dip in form and injury issues it will be interesting to see if Smith is thrown straight into the line up for Saturdays fixture. I hope that with Conor now finding his feet at Rangers that the two could strike up a partnership similar to the kind Austin and Zamora were able to establish. Smith’s physical presence can bring others into play and provide a distraction for the opposition, enabling players like Conor to have more space.

At Rangers we want to see the ball on the floor, however, his size allows us to play differently and the option of the long is there. At the moment, when Conor and even Sylla is up top, we can become a predictable outfit to play against. So the ability to play football or go from back to front quickly will help us I feel.

This is a signing that could potentially work and I think Olly is the right man to get the best of Smith, so let’s hope he is able to have a positive impact on the team and on Conor especially.

Luke Freeman:

24-year-old Luke arrived on a permanent basis from Bristol City. Holloway first approach was rejected by City but Olly’s persistence is a good indication that this is a signing that he was keen to get over the line. Which is especially encouraging considering Holloway has spent the last couple of years extensively watching the Championship with his punditry work with Sky.

However, the first thing that stands out to me about Freeman is his versatility, able to play in central midfield or as a wing-back. This can only add to the squad’s strength in-depth so is a welcome acquisition. Whilst Freeman may not be the quickest, his technical ability more than makes up for it as he is able to play with both feet, something of a rarity in the modern game. This is another good signing by the R’s and at the reported £500,000 fee paid is definitely one that is sustainable.

Overall, we had a successful window, we were able to secure the services of some very talented players. Whilst shifting out the last couple of the high earners. All in all I am very excited for Saturday and the season ahead now that the squad is fresh, has good strength in-depth and a nice blend between youth and experience. With Olly leading the charge Rangers are starting to give us that feel good factor again, and becoming a club we can finally be proud of.

Come on you R’s!