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Les Ferdinand and Co: Restoring Some Normality at QPR?



It has been a real topsy-turvy couple of years at QPR, to say the least. Ever since Tony Fernandes took the helm at Queens Park Rangers four years ago, the Malaysian businessman really has had some horrific lows and unfortunately for him, very few highs. After a diabolical relegation in 2013, the club promised to learn from mistakes upon their instant return the following year. This certainly wasn’t the case, and it almost seemed as if the club was actively trying to repeat them. Now, sitting in the Championship once more, what lessons really have been learned this time around?

Rangers’ miserable end to what was a horrible season ironically came a year to the day that they were promoted at Wembley, thanks to Bobby Zamora. A lacklustre 5-1 thrashing at the King Power stadium ended the season, and just two weeks after the 6-0 embarrassment at the Etihad which confirmed their fate, the team was pounded by the media, and oh my, did they deserve it.

It certainly wasn’t a ludicrous idea that QPR would drop down another division should they continue to make these criminal errors. And in a piece that I wrote for the site shortly before the relegation, Rangers really were a club in freefall. Everything that had made me fall in love with the club so long ago had been ripped out, the soul had vanished completely. The transfer policy stunk, and the club was being totally mismanaged by everyone in any position of authority. Whilst their intentions were only for the good of the club, Tony Fernandes’ complete inexperience of running a football club was becoming so blindingly obvious that it hurt.

However, for all the disappointment and emotion of last season, it has completely shocked me that the club might have actually learnt this time. It’s almost as if Tony Fernandes has taken a backseat in the running of the club, which might be what they needed. Director of football and ex-Rangers legend, Les Ferdinand, seems to be at the forefront of all business being done by the club, he’s the one calling the shots and posing for pictures with new signings, whilst Fernandes concentrates on his Airasia company.

It’s not just the team that the club wants to rebuild, it’s the staff aswell. Ex-QPR winger Andy Sinton is now club ambassador, Les Ferdinand is director of football and potentially Gerry Francis could be added to the coaching staff if reports are true, Rangers have employed people who actually care about the club, know it’s roots, it’s philosophies and what it stands for. Is it just a crowd pleasing search for nostalgic pleasure? I’d prefer to think not, it’s the perfect way to get the soul of Shepherd’s Bush back.

Chris Ramsey was confirmed as permanent manager just a few days before the last day of the season, and it was important that the club sorted this out, to install some much needed stability which it had so lacked for so long. With departures of Neil Warnock, Mark Hughes and Harry Redknapp since the end of the crazy Briatore era, the last thing QPR needed was another managerial change, and at least Ramsey knew the club and the squad.

Many were certainly skeptical regarding his appointment though, due to his quite poor record since taking over in February. However, he now needs to start with a clean slate. He didn’t have his own team, or his own staff, and he had taken over a sinking ship – it was only ever going to end badly when no additions were made to the squad in January, bar a painfully pointless loan in the form of West Ham’s Mauro Zarate.

Given a chance by the R’s faithful, Ramsey certainly has the potential to succeed. He says it as it is, and he isn’t afraid of admitting his mistakes, which is such a breath of fresh air after three years of Harry Redknapp constantly shifting the blame on others, which was so frustrating to see for the fans. Not only this, but Ramsey has such a glowing reputation within the game as one of the best coaches around. Can he turn these coaching abilities into managerial ones? Who knows. With the help of his pal and colleague Les Ferdinand he certainty has built the foundations for the job ahead.

Something that was always so wrong with Rangers under the Fernandes era was the transfer policy. They became renowned for the over 30 players, and the so called has beens of football. It became a trend that Rangers weren’t proud of that the main factor that players were joining them was for the money. In that relegation season in 2013, astronomical wages were paid to Jose Bosingwa, Stephane Mbia, Estaban Granero and many many more, with the results on the pitch so very infamously disappointing.

Even in the playoff winning season, the only real successful signing was Charlie Austin, who carried the team to promotion and then made sure that they weren’t horrifically embarrassed even more than it was last term. Other signings were short term solutions to what was a long term problem, when you look at Richard Dunne, Karl Henry, Gary O’Neil, amongst others. The Hoops would have been better consolidating in the championship before they went for promotion. That way, the club would have stood a lot better chance at stabilising than they did.

Now though, things may have changed. QPR have made five summer signings so far, starting with Swindon duo, Massimo Luongo and Ben Gladwin- two young midfielders who have come from lower league, and have something to prove. They’re not on huge money, and they’re hungry to succeed – they actually want to play for the club and it’s what has been long awaited for.

These signings were followed by Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, signed on a free from Bristol City, who once more has a lot to prove following his release from the League 1 winners. However, it was the fourth signing that caught my eye the most. Jamie Mackie was resigned from Nottingham Forest, and it was putting a wrong right that needed to be done. It was one of several Harry Redknapp mistakes, and no one loves the club more than Mackie. He gives 110% every game, which is what is needed so desperately in the situation that the club is in.

He was then joined by an unknown German striker Seb Polter from Mainz, which shows that the club might actually have scouts out in Europe looking for talent, rather than just going on agent nudges like they have done in the past. The squad is nowhere near complete, and more players need to be added to Chris Ramsey’s squad.

It was well documented that there was to be a huge clear out at the end of last season, and there was. Brian Murphy, Richard Dunne, Rio Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Bobby Zamora and captain Joey Barton were all ousted, with new contracts offered to Clint Hill, Ale Faurlin and Karl Henry, which the former two accepted, and the latter is still pondering over.

Non-QPR fans may question the decision to offer renewals to 36 year old Clint Hill, and the so unfortunately injury stricken Faurlin. Mr QPR himself Clint Hill will leave an everlasting impression at Loftus Road, and he will no doubt join the coaching staff at QPR when he inevitably hangs up his boots in the next year or two.

The fans have suffered with Faurlin, after three ACL injuries in as many years. On his day he is a superb asset to the team, and one of the best Championship players out there. He also bleeds blue and white, so to see him fit again and playing would satisfy so much of the fan-base. To have three of the 2010/11 championship winning season in the squad this season, Mackie, Hill & Faurlin, is so fantastic to see, and again shows that the club is digging deep into it’s roots to solve this problem.

So what is next for Rangers? With the signings made and some stability being made, mid-table now looks the least we can hope for. If more signings alike are made, and Ravel Morrison possibly signing, then the play-offs might be a realistic goal. The one thing certain is that Rangers will be playing exciting football once more, the squad does resemble the Warnock 2010/11 side rather than the Redknapp 14/15 one- and it’s exciting times. With Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey in charge, QPR could finally be returning to the club it was back when they were the underdog like, soul filled club that I fantasised over as a kid.

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Jaap Stam dismissal could be too little too late for Reading

Jaap Stam was dismissed by the Royals earlier this week.

Jake Jackman



Photo: Getty Images

Reading were one penalty shootout away from the Premier League at the end of last season and it was hoped that they would go one step better to clinch promotion during this campaign.

However, it has been a disastrous season for the Royals and they currently find themselves three points above the relegation zone with eight matches to go.

Jaap Stam had retained faith from the board for his overachievement during his first year as manager, but with their position looking more and more precarious, it became untenable.

The club announced his dismissal on Wednesday in an online statement that featured the following:

“Jaap has not wavered in the time, effort and sheer determination he has put in to try to steer the team away from the position we find ourselves in. However, after careful consideration, the decision has been made that a change is now necessary.”

The Dutchman can’t complain that he wasn’t given a fair chance.

There are only eight matches remaining in the season and it has become obvious that he was no longer the right man for the job.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

It was inconceivable at the start of the campaign that Reading would be battling relegation. They were a team with promotion ambitions, but 2018 has been terrible for them.

The Royals have won only one Championship match during this calendar year.

A number of draws have kept the club stuttering along, but now they are only three points above the bottom three, a decision had to be made.

Stam will look back at his time with Reading as a positive one.

He managed to surprise a lot of pundits by taking them to third position in his first season and was unlucky not to be promoted, but there are a lot of people still scratching their head at how the Royals managed to finish as high as they did.

The likes of Fulham, Leeds United and Sheffield Wednesday were all seen as better teams, but something clicked for Reading and it is difficult to explain what.

Mark Taylor made an observation on Twitter using expected goals. Stam’s team massively overachieved based on that metric, which projected them as finishing 19th.

This season, the model projects them in 17th. In short, this decline in league position was predictable.

Although there are problems with expected goals, it does provide a good explanation for Reading’s decline this season.

Their results have simply returned to the mean and they are now getting the points to match their performance level.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It isn’t that they have got worse under Stam’s management, but rather that last season was the outlier.

If Reading, as a club, want to be competing for promotion, Stam wasn’t the right manager to deliver that. The underlying numbers throughout his tenure highlight that.

His side scored 112 goals and conceded 121 in the Championship during the Dutchman’s time as manager.

That isn’t a record that suggests he is good enough to lead the club back to the Premier League.

The time for dissecting Stam’s tenure and his failures isn’t now. Reading must concentrate on making the right appointment to secure their place in the Championship.

It would be a huge blow if they were to fall to the third tier for the first time since the 2001/2 season.

With only eight matches left, there is little room for error for any incoming manager. The club must hope that this decision wasn’t too little too late.

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One-time Leeds United talent Chris Dawson joins Scarborough Athletic

The midfielder has struggled with injuries since leaving Leeds United.



Photo: Getty Images

Leeds United fans probably don’t bother themselves with the news at non-league Scarborough Athletic, but one development at the club from yesterday might have caught the eye.

Chris Dawson signed for the club earlier this week, along with former Sheffield United youngster Jorome Slew.

Speaking to the Scarborough News about the move, Dawson explained he was just happy to be playing football again:

“There were quite a few clubs (interested). But I know the manager here and I know one of the lads here and I am not really bothered about what level I play at.

“I just want to be playing football again and want consistent game time.”

(Photo by Lynne Cameron/Getty Images)

Leeds United fans will, of course, remember Dawson well.

The Welsh under-21 international was a highly rated youngster at Thorp Arch when he signed his professional contract in 2012.

He made his original Leeds breakthrough to the first team in 2013, starting in a 2-1 loss against Derby County in April of the same year.

Nonetheless, he struggled with a shoulder injury and other ailments after that period.

He next played for Leeds in November 2014 and after featuring just two more times for the club, he was released in January 2016.

Two days later Dawson headed to Rotherham United, then managed by his former Leeds academy boss Neil Redfearn.

Dawson, however, has had an unlucky career. By the time he had returned to full fitness, Redfearn had been sacked and he never went on to feature for the Millers.

After joining former Leeds coach Ian Burchnall for a loan spell at Norwegian side Viking FK he was released by Rotherham in May of last year.

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

Since then it has been a tough ride for Dawson.

A behind-closed-doors friendly for Oldham Athletic has been his only 90 minutes in the last year, after suffering a torn ACL.

The knee injury has kept him out of action but now, fully fit, he is hoping to help the Seadogs in their bid for promotion from the Northern Premier League Division One North.

Leeds United fans were always excited about Dawson’s ability. Often praised by his coaches and fans for his performances with the under-23s he looked a first-team prospect.

Technically gifted and dangerous around the box the Welsh talent has all the necessary skills to be a star. The one thing Dawson has not been gifted with is luck.

Hopefully, he can find success with Scarborough. Five years after making his Leeds debut, Dawson is embarking on the latest stage of his career.

No Leeds United fan would begrudge him any future success.

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Leo Bonatini wants to stay and Wolves should keep him

The Brazilian has not scored in 18 games, but has earned a permanent Wolves switch.



Photo: Getty Images

Wolverhampton Wanderers have a decision to make in the summer regarding striker Leo Bonatini.

The Brazilian is on loan at Molineux from Saudi Arabian side Al Hilal until the end of the season.

According to Birmingham Live, that deal can be made permanent in the summer for a fee of around €5 million (£4.4 million).

Bonatini has made himself clear about his own future. The 23-year-old told ESPN Brasil, as quoted by the Birmingham Mail, that he wants to stay with Wolves:

“It’s something I still don’t know. I’m on loan here, really, until the end of this season from Al-Hilal. I don’t know what will happen.

“But I know what I want, I want to stay. Here’s a place that I was able to adapt very well to the game style, it’s a game style that I like a lot, the country is a very good country, where I adapted to be able to live.”

(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

In December, this would have been an easy decision to make. The Brazilian had scored 12 goals in 22 games for the club as they romped to a Championship lead.

It was a level of form that had him in contention for the national team.

Since then, things have dropped off. Bonatini has not scored in 2018 and is now 18 games without a goal.

The January loan signing of Benik Afobe has seen him lose his place and the Molineux outfit will no longer be sure that the 23-year-old should be snapped up in the summer.

But, surely Wolves should still push forward with signing the Brazilian striker?

His form recently has been a concern. However, Wolves know what he is capable of when he is firing.

Those 12 goals in 22 games at the start of the season were no fluke and the bullish frontman has plenty of talent.

Furthermore, Wolves can not argue with the price-tag.

For a player of Bonatini’s age and talent, £4.4 million is an absolute bargain when compared to some of the prices in the Championship in recent seasons.

(Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Wolves will need different options up front if they are promoted and new faces will be expected at Molineux.

But Bonatini will have played a pivotal role in taking the club to the top-flight. Having him on the books will be a major plus in the Premier League.

Whilst his form has dipped in recent times, £4.4 million for a 12-goal striker, at just 23 years of age, is a deal that Wolves must snap up.

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