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

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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 (#7/8)

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Ryan Manning-

After his solid breakthrough season last term, Rs youngster Ryan Manning has extended his deal two-year deal at Loftus Road by one year, extending his stay until the summer of 2020.

His performances last year did not go unnoticed. Not long after the season had ended it was rumoured that Crystal Palace and Bournemouth were interested in Manning, although, his extension and comments about wanting to get to the Premier League with QPR suggest that he will be staying loyal to the club.

Elliott Bennett-

It is reported that Blackburn Rovers midfielder Bennett is one of Ian Holloway’s top targets. The 28-year-old was one of the standout performances in last year’s relegation season, making 30 appearances and scoring on 4 occasions.

Bennett is now entering the last year of his contract, given his experience and ability to cover a number of positions Holloway is reportedly ready to put the pressure on Blackburn and test whether they want to keep their man but let him walk for free next year or cash in on him whilst they have the chance.

Benjamin Kololli-

QPR scouts watched the Kosovan international recently as Brentford took on Swiss side Lausanne-Sport. The 25-year-old is a natural right-back but can also play in midfield. Kololli impressively netted 8 goals in 24 league starts last season in a struggling team that finished 9th out of 10 teams.

Whilst it is understood that £750,000 could be enough to secure his signature the Rs would face competition from Swiss giants Basel, who are also reportedly interested.

Alex Smithies-

After Sunderland sold Vito Mannone to Reading there has been increased speculation that Rs number 1 Alex Smithies could be on his way up north to Wearside.

Yeni Ngbakoto-

It is reported that the Rs wide man could be made available for the right price after interest coming from France in the shape of Toulouse. The 25-year-old arrived in W12 last summer from Metz, signing a three-year contract. Although it is thought that Yeni had difficulty in settling in West London following a family bereavement and long-term injury.

Last summer Yeni choose QPR despite interest from Toulouse and a number of other Ligue 1 clubs. Therefore, it is thought that at the right price, Rangers would be willing to let Yeni return to France.

Idrissa Sylla-

After being left out of the #RsinGermany tour, there have been question marks over the future of last season’s top goalscorer. It has been reported that Reading are after the Rangers striker who manage to find the net 10 times last season. Reading’s top goalscorer of last season Yann Kermorgant will be out of action for the first few months after having surgery.

Therefore, Jaap Stam has reportedly identified Sylla as the man capable of temporarily filling the void. However, the Rs remain adamant that Sylla has not travel due to work permit issues. Whilst the jury is still out on Sylla, with some questioning his relaxed work rate and style of play, selling your top goalscorer to a Championship rival I feel would not go down well, even with those who question the player.

Considering the current crop of strikers at the club, if we are looking to do well we cannot sell the only striker we have who has a knack of getting into the right positions and hitting the target.

 

Steven Caulker-

Caulker is reportedly a target for Brendan Rodger’s Celtic, with the Scottish club reportedly ready to give him a chance to reignite his career. In a recent interview Caulker revealed how he has been battling depression, gambling and drinking problems.

Caulker arrived at QPR after playing his best football at Cardiff. Following their relegation he came in and the Rs fans had high hopes and were very excited by the signing. Although, despite making a number of appearances for the Rs in the Premier League, Caulker was loaned first to Southampton and later to Premier League giants Liverpool. He returned to QPR last summer, but picked up a hip injury last October. In January a loan move to Russia looked to be on the table but Steven recently admitted that given what he was going through going to Russia all on his own did not look like the best idea.

Therefore, former Swansea manager Rodgers knows Caulker well and is reportedly helping him battle his demons and although states that Caulker is a QPR player and is only helping him off the field, you cannot help but think Rodgers would be tempted by a cut-price deal for the 25-year-old.