An in-depth look at QPR’s activity in the transfer window.

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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.

PLAYERS IN:

incomings

Low risk-

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.

Josh Scowen-

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.

PLAYERS OUT:

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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.

Shifting deadwood-

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.

You Rs!

 

 

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Transfer Weekly (#12)

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Yeni Ngbakoto-

Over the summer there has been speculation that Ngbakoto, signed from Metz last summer, was struggling to adapt to life in London. Creating some uncertainty over whether the player would remain in W12 this season.
However, French radio station RMC are reporting that Ligue 1 club Nantes approached the players agent, but was told he wants to stay with the Rs, suggesting the 25-year-old has now got to grips with life in London a year after relocating from France.

Nasser El-Khayati-

The club have confirmed that Nasser El-Khayati has left by mutual consent.
The winger was signed by Jimmy Floyd Hasselbank from his old club Burton Albion on a two-and-a-half-year deal last January.
Nasser scored one goal, a memorable last minute winner at home to Charlton, this coming in the 25 appearances he made for the club in his 18 months in W12. The 28-year-old found his game time limited at Loftus Road though and was sent on loan to Dutch side Ado Den Haag for the second half of last season.
With Holloway finalising his squad the winger was surplus to requirements so the decision for him to leave should be beneficial for both parties. On behalf of all the Rs fans we wish you good luck in the future Nasser.

Saman Ghoddos-

It is reported that QPR have seen a bid rejected for Swedish international Saman Ghoddos.
The 23-year-old scored four goals, as well as assisting six in the Swedish top flight, the Allsvenskan.

He also caught the eye with an impressive goal scoring record in the domestic cup, scoring seven goals in seven games. He also recently broke into the Swedish national team, scoring once in his two appearances.
The source HITC believe that a bid of £1.8m was not satisfactory. Ostersund are rumoured to be looking for a fee in the region of three and a half million pounds.
Although unlikely, if Rangers want to offer an improved second bid they would face competition from the likes of Celtic and Ajax who are also rumoured to be interested.

Nouha Dicko-

It has been reported that QPR are thought to be interested in Wolverhampton front man Nouha Dicko.
The 25-year-old made 34 appearances for the Wanderers last season, scoring five goals and assisting four.
This summer Wolves appointed former Porto Boss Nuno Espirito Santo as their head coach. The former Portuguese goalkeeper has made a number of big-name signings since his arrival, pushing Dicko down the pecking order at Molineux.
Dicko has been used sporadically since the beginning of the season, largely being used off the bench in the latter stages of Wolves’ fixtures so far.
It is reported that Holloway, looking to finalise his squad is ready to test the resolve of the promotion chaser. The player may also be keen on the move, considering the possibility of being a regular starter in W12.

Paul Smyth-

A source from Belfast has reported that the Rs appear to be closing in on signing Linfield’s youth star Paul Smyth.
It is believed that Ian Holloway had already made two offers for the 19-year-old winger, believed to be in the region of £90,000.

However, it is thought that Linfield are looking for a six-figure sum and Rangers are prepared to match it.
Other clubs such as Sunderland, Ipswich and Reading are also linked. However, for those who look into player activity on social media, Smyth liked our last edition of transfer weekly on Instagram, in which he featured. Potentially signalling that the player is keen on the potential move to Loftus Road.

Gary Gardner-

It has been reported that Holloway is interested in a move for Aston Villa midfielder Gary Gardner.
Now 25-years-old the player will be looking to get his career back and track and have some stability.
Gardner has spent much of his career out on loan. He spent the last few years on loan at Nottingham Forest. Although, a managerial change saw Mark Warburton brought to the City Ground. It is thought that the Reds are not looking to launch a permanent bid for the player.
With Gardner surplus to requirements at Villa Park and Warburton seemingly not interested in a permanent move, an offer from the Rs could be on the way in due course.

Transfer Weekly (#10/11)

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Kazenga Lua Lua-

Rangers have secured the signing of Kazenga Lua Lua on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion. A player returning to W12 for a second loan spell which will last until January 2018.

Previously, Kazenga was unlucky with injury, however, he did manage to make 11 appearances last season, scoring once. In his time last season he looked strong and sharp, and the player has said he had a “very good pre-season” and is raring to go and hopefully stay injury free this time.

Upon signing Kazenga told the club’s media department that he “knows the boys and the manager, so this was a very easy decision for me… My pre-season went well, but it’s about playing games…I am happy to be here and hopefully I can help the team”.

Alex Baptiste-

The R’s have completed the signing of experienced defender Alex Baptiste. The 31-year-old has agreed a two-year deal following his release from fellow Championship side Middlesbrough.

After going their separate ways, Baptiste’s move will see him link up again with Ian Holloway, as the pair worked together at Blackpool, winning promotion to the Premier League in the 2009/10 season.

Holloway has praised Alex’s versatility, saying that he can play anywhere across the defence. He has also said that Alex is “one of the biggest characters I’ve worked with in my time in the game.”

Upon arriving, Alex has said that working with Holloway at Blackpool was the “best time of my career, we had an unbelievable team spirit… I am an honest lad who gives 100 per cent, I will give it my all, I will leave it all on the pitch.”

Idrissa Sylla-

It is being reported that QPR striker Idrissa Sylla could be on the move, with Swansea City and Wolverhampton Wonderers rumoured to be interested.

He last appeared in the Carabao Cup clash with Northampton Town, in which a head injury forced the player off and meant he missed the trips to Sheffield and more recently Norwich. However, even when fit Conor Washington, Jamie Mackie and Matt Smith look to be ahead of the Guinean in the pecking order.

QPR’s top goalscorer last year with 10 in 32 league appearances may well be on his way with the Rangers hierarchy looking to increase funds to reinvest into the squad.

John Akinde-

Some outlets are linking Barnet front man John Akinde with a move to Rangers. The Nigerian has been described by Bees fans as a goal machine after netting 26 goals in 46 games in League Two for Barnet last season, bettering his total of 23 goals from the previous season 2015/16.

Akinde last played in the Championship with Bristol City six years ago, after numerous loan spells away and a short period at Portsmouth, he ended up in Alfreton Town, where he netted 18 goals in 43 appearances.

This form led to Barnet taking the player on in 2014. Since then he has scored 80 times in 131 league games for the Bees. Now QPR are reportedly thinking of giving Akinde a chance to test himself in the Championship once again.

A prolific goalscorer at 28 years of age, in the peak of his career, perhaps a gamble on a player with unfinished business in the Championship would be a good move. Akinde is a player that would bring some much needed pace and strength to the attack. Although, the Rs will face competition if they pursue a move for the Nigerian, as league one club Charlton are also rumoured to be interested.

Paul Smyth-

It has been reported that QPR have made a second bid for 19-year-old Linfield winger Paul Smyth.

Smyth has represented Northern Ireland at youth levels, playing for both the U19s and U21s. He was also called up by Michael O’Neill to Northern Ireland’s senior squad for Euro 2016. As well as helping Linfield win the Northern Irish Premiership title, netting 6 times in 25 appearances last season.

Smyth is under contract at Windsor Park until the summer of 2019. If QPR have submitted a second bid as reported, they may face competition with fellow Championship side Reading, who are also rumoured to be interested.

 Nedum Onuoha-

It has been reported that QPR’s club captain Nedum Onouha is attracting attention from Premier League sides, after keeping a clean sheet in both of his opening two games of the season.

Nedum is being linked with moves to newly promoted Brighton, while also being linked with a reunion with Mark Hughes at Stoke City. Nedum was a regular starter with City when Hughes was at the helm, and it was the Welshman who brought Nedum to W12 in 2012.

Although, with the defensive line looking slightly slim and in areas inexperienced, the question is whether Holloway is ready to allow the club captain to leave with just a couple of weeks left in the transfer window.

Gohi Cyriac-

It was reported that QPR and Bristol City were both interested in a move to sign former Fulham loanee Gohi Cyriac.

It was thought that Fulham had expressed also expressed an interest in signing the Ivorian striker permanently. All of Cyriac’s 11 appearances for Fulham came from the substitutes bench for Slavisa Jokanovic’s side.

However, a few days ago the speculation had come to nothing as Rangers missed out on another target. Cyriac signed for Sivasspor in the Süper Lig, for just over half a million pounds.

Omar Bogle-

QPR have again been linked with Bogle recently. Just last week Skybet had the R’s down as  2/1 favourites to land the player. Bogle was recently featured in an earlier edition of transfer weekly.

However, after being heavily linked to the R’s it looks as though table topping Cardiff City are on the brink of signing Wigan striker Omar Bogle for roughly £1 million. This coming after City boss Neil Warnock alluded to a mystery signing after his side beat Sheffield United 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Bogle adding to the likes of Yiadom and Cyriac as targets that have opted for other clubs.

Transfer Weekly (#9)

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Omar Bogle:

It is understood that the Wigan frontman has been put on the transfer list. He is being linked with a host of clubs, including QPR, Peterborough, Bristol City, Barnsley and Ipswich.

Last season Bogle had been top scorer in the Sky Bet League 2 with 19 goals, whilst playing for Grimsby Town. After much interest the player choose to move from the Mariners to the DW Stadium in the final hours of transfer deadline day in January 2017..

He went on to make 14 appearances in the Championship with the Latics, scoring 3 goals. However, this would not prove to be enough as Wigan were relegated from the Championship.

It is understood that Wigan boss Paul Cook does not think the 24-year-old fits into the style of play he wants going forward. Whilst there were rumours of a bust up between Bogle and Cook the player was quick to deny these rumours on his personal Twitter account.

While he looks for a new club he has been instructed to train with the League one clubs academy players.

Wigan value the striker at £800,000.

 

Steven Caulker:

A couple of weeks back it looked as though Caulker had no future in W12. He was heavily linked with Celtic, with a possible link up with former manager Brendan Rodgers looking likely. This was after it was revealed that he had struggled with mental illness and addictions to alcohol and gambling over the past few years.

However, after making a return to training and playing 70 minutes in the U23s 5-1 win against Billericay Town, it appears that the 25-year-old is now perhaps part of Holloway’s plans for the season.

Holloway has said that Caulker is in a “fantastic place”, adding: “I cannot believe that I am that lucky person who gets to work with him”.

Considering his wages, whether he will actually stay or whether this is just a ploy to get him in the shop window will all be revealed in due course. However, I would love to see Caulker stay. If he can get playing regular football we have seen glimpses that he can be the best defender at the club.

Before getting injured last season Steven started the season brilliantly, even scoring in our first away game, in a 2 nil win away to Cardiff. Unfortunately he got injured in October and has not played competitively since.

R’s fans have been demanding a new centre-half all summer, an area that clearly needs strengthening after finishing one point above the relegation zone. However, if he can stay fit mentally and physically he will be like a new signing considering he was absent for so much of last season. Hopefully this can bring some much needed leadership and confidence to the back-line.

 

Modou Barrow:

It is likely that the Barrow will be moved on by Swansea City as boss Paul Clement does not see the player as part of his long term plans. Last January he was sent to Leeds on loan, but struggled to make an impact. It is now understood that Reading, QPR and Barnsley are weighing up a move for the 24-year-old attacker.

Although there have been question marks over Barrow’s end product and level of consistency, he does have pace and has shown glimpses of flair, which given regular playing time could allow the six-cap Gambia international to fulfil his potential.

Simeon Akinola:

It is reported that Barnet winger Simeon Akinola is attracting attention from the R’s and Charlton Athletic.

Nigerian by birth, the player grew up in Spain before moving to England, joining Borehamwood’s academy. After breaking into the first team there, he has since spent time at Harrow Borough and Braintree Town before moving to the Hive earlier this year.

He joined the Bees during the 2017 January transfer window, playing nineteen games in League Two throughout the second part of the season. In which his performances, two goals and two assists has potentially impressed clubs enough that could allow his rise from non-league to advance to England’s second tier.

Barnet are aiming to receive £100,000 for their promising 24-year-old.

 

Jack Williams:

19-year-old Rangers defender Jack Williams has joined Wycombe Wanders on loan, keeping him at Adams Park until the 1st of January. Williams will be linking up with former R Gareth Ainsworth ahead of the big kick off in the Football League this weekend.

Williams is yet to make an appearance for the first team. With Jack Robinson and Jake Bidwell in front of him, gaining experience in the football league will be invaluable for the R’s young fullback.

 

Alex Finney:

Non-League side Maidstone United have signed 21-year-old centre-back Alex Finney on loan until January 1st 2018. The 21-year-old made his professional debut in 2015 when playing for Bolton in a 4-1 defeat in the Championship against Huddersfield Town.

Yet to make a first team appearance for the R’s first team since his free transfer in November, a chance for Finney to get regular playing time should only be beneficial for the youngster.

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.

 

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

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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.