International break review: 8 points from 4

form table (march international break)

The two week international break has come at the wrong time for Rangers who are currently in brilliant form. Five of the R’s first team squad are currently away representing their respective countries. A special mention must go to Paul Smyth who scored the winner against South Korea just four minutes into his debut for Northern Ireland debut. Paul was called upto the senior squad just days before after impressing Michael O’Neill in the U23s 5-3 loss against Spain. He clearly loves a debut goal and knows where the back of the net is. At the moment he is on fire so hopefully he can continue his brilliant form in the last few months of the season.

The rest of the squad are continuing the hard work at Harlington in preparation for next Friday’s away trip to Reading. This week the Royals unveiled their new manager Paul Clement who replaces Jaap Stam. Paul is son of former right back Dave Clement, a player who made 472 appearances for the Rs, scoring 28 goals.

As the form table shows, Rangers have been on a great run of form of late. Since the 5-2 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest we are unbeaten in four, taking us 14 points clear of the relegation zone. Barring a complete disaster this should see us fairly comfortably into the next campaign. The Rs have looked a like a completely different team these past few weeks. Like many I think our uplift in form is because of the long awaited and long called for switch in formation.

Since reverting from a five at the back to a flat four the Rs have taken four points at home against Derby and Sunderland and another four points, in very impressive style, away to automatic promotion chasers Aston Villa and Fulham.

It is a switch that fans have been calling for on social media platforms for some time and credit to Holloway and his team for showing tactical flexibility and switching it up.
Better suited to our players-

Jake Bidwell has played LB his whole career so naturally it is much more comfortable for him. After the Villa game he said that as a LWB he feels uncomfortable because he has no winger in front of him, as a player that’s strength is not pace and dribbling he is much more effective with a partner on the left flank.
The same could be said for the RWB position which had been a problem for a while. Whilst James Perch was injured we alternated between Furlong, Jordan Cousins and Pawel Wszolek. Pav and Jordan are not defenders and Darnell similarly struggled at times having to occupy the whole right flank, often times with very little support.
Jack Robinson is a player that has been in good form and for me one of the first names on the team sheet.

However, even he said that playing as the left most centre back it can be a lonely position at times when Bidwell has to push forward, again Robinson felt that he had too much of a space to occupy.
Playing 5 at the back may be useful for the last five or ten minutes of an away game for instance when we just have to grind out a result. However it is clear that our defenders were not wholly confident in that system and look much more balanced in a back four.
Pawel Wszolek!-

Pav has played well in the last few weeks and it typifies why the Rs are best suited to 4 at the back and the use of out and out wingers. At Fulham Pav was asked to play LW and put in a MOTM performance and got the all important equaliser. I thought he was excellent both offensively and defensively and helped Bidwell keep attacking fullback Ryan Federicks quiet for the most part.

I think Wszolek is very much a confidence player and his spells in and out of the team at RWB did not look wholly comfortable and I think it killed his confidence a bit. He looks much better with a defender behind him allowing him to concentrate on getting at his full back.

However after his last few performances, especially Fulham, let’s hope that he continues to shine like we know he can as he seems to have games every so often when he looks unplayable, one only has to think back to Reading last year and the promising performance he put in at Craven Cottage recently.

Up next for the Rs is Reading away on Good Friday. Last season we beat the Royals 0-1 courtesy of a brilliant goal on the counter attack, finished off by Jamie Mackie. Both Pav and Ryan Manning did brilliant in the build up to that goal and both have recently hit great form so let’s hope for a repeat of last year’s result and impressive team performance. Come on you R’s!

Thank you for reading.

Jack da Silva.

 

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The January transfer window

JAN outgoings

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.

PROS:

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.

CONS:

1) Defenders?

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.

2) Strikers?

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.

Final words:

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.

teamvsbarnsley

Transfer Weekly (#5)

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Josh Scowen:

24-year-old Josh Scowen who featured last week has now reportedly agreed personal terms with the club. It appears that the R’s have beat the likes of Huddersfield Town, Nottingham Forest, Preston and Bristol to the combative midfielders signature.

Ben Gladwin:

25-year-old Ben Gladwin has become Bradley Duck’s fourth signing of the summer for Blackburn, following their relegation to League One last season. The midfielder has signed a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee. In a two year spell at the Rs Gladwin only managed to play 17 games, being loaned out on four occasions. This move should see him kick on and hopefully get more first team football.

Michael Doughty:

After a decade at the Rs Michael Doughty has joined Peterborough United for an undisclosed fee on a three-year deal. The 24-year-old rose through QPR’s youth system but found regular playing time hard to come by, featuring just 16 times, having spent most of his professional career elsewhere on loan. From what I have seen Doughty is a decent player. This move will hopefully bring more first team football at Peterborough and the chance to establish himself in a starting XI.

Andy Yiadom:

QPR have been linked to 25-year-old right back Andy Yiadom of Barnsley. The Ghanaian international has one more year left on his contract. Although, it is understood that he has rejected the chance to extend his contract after a great season personally and the interest from a number of clubs. The Rs are battling with Reading as well as Swansea, who are thought to be leading the race to secure Yiadom’s signature.

Dylan Saint-Louis:

It is reported that the Rs are keen on signing 22-year-old Saint-Etienne front man Dylan Saint-Louis. He scored six goals in 28 appearances during a loan spell with Ligue 2 club Stade Laval last season. The young forward is reportedly attracting interest from Birmingham City and Norwich City. Although, it was reported that Rangers were leading the race to sign him.

It is thought that around half a million pounds would be enough to secure the striker. The lack of goals in a league considered weaker than the Championship may have some questioning Saint-Louis. Although, considering youth is on his side his best days are ahead of him and spending roughly £500,000 is relatively cheap.

Jake Bidwell & Massimo Luongo:

It was reported that Nottingham Forest were keen to sign Rangers pair Massimo Luongo and Jake Bidwell following Evangelos Marinakis’s £50 million takeover at the City Ground. Although, over the past week this rumour has gone much quieter, suggesting the two players will still be in the blue and white hoops come the start of the season.

 

Transfer Weekly (#2)

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Alex Smithies:

We will soon discover whether we will have to pay £57.9 million for breaching financial fair play regulations. If we do it is looking increasingly likely that outgoings will have to fund incoming players. Unfortunately the Rangers no.1 and player of the season Alex Smithies could be set for a return to hometown club Huddersfield Town. Shay Given has said that he would be open to playing for one more year whether in the Premiership or Championship. We may very well see a battle between Given and Ingram for the no.1 spot next season.

 

Josh Bowler:

It is understood that 18 year old Bowler has rejected a new contract from QPR. After Everton had an initial bid of £1.5 million rising to £3 million rejected, this is likely to give them fresh impetus and bolster Ronald Koeman’s pursuit of the youngerster.

 

Jake Bidwell:

The 24 year old joined Rangers from local rivals Brentford last summer on a three year deal. He went on to be a mainstay at left back, making 36 appearances for the Hoops. Mark Warburton, having recently made the switch to from the Bees to Nottingham Forrest, is reportedly keen to reunite with Bidwell. A player who was part of Warburton’s Brentford side who reached the play-off semi-finals in 2015, although falling short to Middlesbrough.

 

Conor Washington:

The R’s number 9 was brought in last summer for £2.5 million as a replacement for Charlie Austin. The 25-year-old scored nine goals in 45 appearances for the R’s last season. Although it has been reported that Conor is a target of new Birmingham boss Harry Redknapp, who is looking to inject some pace into the Blue’s front line.

 

Yeni N’Gbakoto:

The Democratic Republic of Congo international signed a 3 year deal from Metz last summer. This season he made 26 appearances, scoring 4 goals, notably our goal of the season in the 4-1 win away to Birmingham. After a bright start the 25 year old had to deal with a family bereavement, a long term injury and a lack of playing time. Subsequently, Yeni is rumoured to be unsettled in the capital.

Last summer Yeni choose Rangers over Toulouse and a number of other top flight clubs in France. Although it is thought that Toulouse are interested in giving the wide man a return to France this summer. A move that Yeni’s agent this week has refused to rule out.

 

Benjamin Kololli:

Kololli is 25-years-old and a Kosovan international defender. He currently plays in Switzerland’s top flight for FC Lausanne. This season he scored 8 goals and is apparently comfortable anywhere on the right hand flank. Whilst it is thought that this signing would cost the R’s under a million, we would face much competition on this one. Benjamin is attracting interest from top flights clubs in Switzerland such as FC Basel, as well as from clubs in the Championship, Bundesliga and Ligue 1.

 

Tommie Hoban:

Rangers have been linked with 23 year old Watford defender who made 16 appearances on loan to relegated Blackburn Rovers last season. Hoban spent a long period of his loan out with injury. Whilst Hoban has ambitions to make it at Watford, another loan spell and further experience in the Championship is perhaps ideal as competition is at Watford is rife.