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Queens Park Rangers

Tim Sherwood: The perfect man for QPR?

The Boot Room

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For many avid viewers of Sky Sports on transfer deadline day, the classic shot of Harry Redknapp doing an interview in his Range Rover has become an established part of the day.

This time round however, Harry looked a shade of his normal self when interviewed by the media. Queens Park Rangers had failed to make any deadline day signings, a day where Redknapp usually thrives on signing players quickly and effectively. Redknapp making no signings on deadline day is almost a sacrilegious offence. Something smelt fishy at Loftus Road, but not many outsiders were expecting the 67 year-old to resign the following day.

By now, the rumour mill was in full swing with the usual list of names that the bookies tipped as Redknapp’s replacement. At the time of writing, the overriding favourite to take over at Loftus Road is Tim Sherwood.

Sherwood has been out of work since being sacked by Tottenham Hotspur last summer, and after putting himself out of the running of various jobs including the vacancy at Crystal Palace a few months ago, it’s now expected that he will replace Redknapp.

QPR and Sherwood seems to be a good fit. Sherwood is a London boy, and despite being sacked after only 5 months in the job, he was well liked by Spurs supporters and gained the respect of many neutrals for his passionate persona on the touchline and his abrasive ‘say-it-how-it-is’ style with the media. Old Spurs staff Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey are both now involved in the QPR set up, which should help Sherwood when settling into new surroundings.

His time at White Hart Lane yielded a top-flight win percentage of 59%, which is the best of any Tottenham boss in Premier League history, whilst a sixth place finish meant that Spurs qualified for this season’s Europa League competition. However, there are plenty of things Sherwood needs to work if he aims to establish himself as a respected Premier League manager.

Some critics argued that Sherwood made a rod for his own back and his managerial style ultimately backfired on him. Chairman Daniel Levy grew more and more frustrated as Sherwood began to land himself, and the club, in trouble. Instances such as slating his players in public (after a 4-0 defeat to Chelsea in March 2014) was not something that sat well with Levy.

If Sherwood is to become QPR’s new manager, we should expect to see him tone down his style. He will still be his passionate self, but just less full on. There’s no doubt that QPR’s chairman Tony Fernandes will have a word in Sherwood’s ear about this.

From the outside looking in, it feels as if the whole club needs a boost, and this is exactly what Sherwood’s appointment would provide. Things had turned a bit stale under Redknapp, the spine of QPR’s side was based around players in their thirties.

It felt as though Redknapp was getting rather desperate; he recalled Adel Taarabt from the wilderness merely months after slating him over issues regarding his weight, and throughout January he complained about how “difficult” he was finding it to get reinforcements into the club to help their survival bid.

Redknapp had to dodge questions surrounding his future after Fernandes had given him the dreaded vote of confidence, and possible ‘insiders’ were apparently leaking information to the media about Redknapp and the club.

After frustrations boiled over at Turf Moor when some senior players and R’s fans exchanged words following yet another away defeat, it was probably the right time for Redknapp to call it a day. His health was obviously impacting his work and for QPR to move forward, a young and enthusiastic manager like Sherwood coming in will be best for all parties.

The whole ethos at QPR looks as though it will change with their next managerial appointment. Fernandes has stated his ambition to bring in a young manager with a focus on “nurturing young talent” and Sherwood ticks both of these boxes. At Spurs, Nabil Bentaleb progressed through to the first-team, while Ryan Mason and Harry Kane were both on the cusp of the side before Sherwood’s sacking.

The problem with Redknapp was that we all knew what to expect. The ‘wheeler-dealer’ tag was probably too harsh but he became synonymous with bringing in the same players to the clubs he managed. Fernandes tweeted on deadline day that there would be “no more cheque book”, so ultimately Sherwood will have to use the players currently at the club, which should allow more youngsters to be given a chance in the senior squad.

Fernandes wants to lay the foundations for a long-term plan at QPR, changing the way the club has been operating in recent seasons. The appointment of a young manager developing young talent means things will progress at Loftus Road, but don’t expect everything to improve overnight.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Queens Park Rangers

QPR and Watford must be kicking themselves over Chris Mepham rejection

Both QPR and Watford denied Mepham a chance after he left Chelsea.

Mathew Coull

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It would be fair to say that Brentford defender Chris Mepham has had something of a breakthrough season at Griffin Park. The 20-year-old has emerged as a regular in the Bees side this term and has also made his international debut for Wales back in March.

Such a brilliant season has even seen him catch the eye of Premier League admirers. Bournemouth are clearly big fans. As reported by Wales Online, the Cherries made a £6.5 million approach to sign the defender in the winter after being so impressed with his form at Brentford.

Mepham certainly looks like a future star and one who could someday soon be playing in the Premier League.

Which will certainly not be welcome news as far as Watford and QPR are concerned. Because both clubs had the opportunity to sign the defender.

As reported by The Guardian in an interview with the player, Mepham was turned away by both Watford and the club he supported as a boy QPR after his release from the Chelsea academy. He was battling with the likes of Jake Clarke-Salter and Fikayo Tomori at Chelsea so the release was no surprise.

(Photo by James Chance/Getty Images)

Watford was a harsher moment. He spent six weeks on trial with the Hornets before they decided he was not good enough and QPR were brutal in the way they turned him away. Now, Mepham has become one of the Championships most wanted defenders.

Watford will be disappointed they missed out on such a talent, but it will hurt more for QPR. Struggling to find their ground in the Championship bringing through young players has to be a key target for them to continue thriving. Watford are in a place of privilege where they could easily go and buy Mepham now, should they wish to rectify their previous mistake.

Losing out on a player like Mepham because of poor decision making must hurt now, especially as he is now making waves with a West London rival.

Mepham must continue to grow at Brentford and hope he can eventually find his way into the Premier League.

If he does, Watford and QPR will be left to wonder what he might have done had they given him the chance to succeed.

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Massimo Luongo – Ballon d’Or recognition and QPR ambitions

Jake Jackman

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Photo: Reuters

Massimo Luongo has had an interesting career to date and, at the age of 25, he will be looking to build on his experiences and continue to progress as a footballer. The midfielder is currently on the books of Queens Park Rangers and has emerged as one of the club’s key players under Ian Holloway.

Although the Rs are not currently in a position to challenge for promotion, they are a developing a promising team and the Australian international has impressed this season. In an exclusive interview with The Boot Room, he admitted that the squad feel they should have more points to their name this term. However, he suggested that now they are getting back to the level at which they should be.

“It’s been very up and down. We are probably a few points off where we should be, but there have been a lot of good performances and we picked up a lot of draws early on that could have been wins, which would have put us in a better position. We’ve had a lot of injuries and we are getting back to where we should be, I think.”

QPR are currently in 17th position, 13 points off the pace when it comes to the Sky Bet Championship play-offs. It seems unlikely that they will be able to make that gap up and another mid-table finish looks likely for the club this term. Nonetheless, Luongo is an ambitious player and he will be looking to return to the Premier League in the long-term.

He was given a taste of the English top flight after starting his career with Tottenham. The North London side are now renowned for giving young players a chance, but the 25-year-old was there before that became the norm. Although he failed to make an appearance for the club, he remains grateful for the education that he received.

“It was difficult for me at first, because the direction of the club was different to what it is now. They were always pushing for a Champions League spot at the time. When I came, Harry Redknapp just took over after getting them up from the bottom of the table. The direction they were going was to find a bit of security so it was difficult to break through, but development wise, it was the best place I could have been.

“The coaches I had, Tim Sherwood, Les Ferdinand and Alex Inglethorpe who is at Liverpool now, prepared me for English football in general. I think from then, it has gone pretty well. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve been on loan to Ipswich, which was a good education for me.”

There is often a lot of criticism directed at Premier League clubs for not giving young players a chance in the first team. Tottenham are now famous for getting the most from their academy, but that wasn’t the case when Luongo was at the club. He had to go out on loans to Ipswich Town and Swindon Town to get experience.

Despite not making his Premier League debut at White Hart Lane, the midfielder clearly made an impact, as Les Ferdinand was influential in bringing the player to QPR after taking the post of director of football. Although he didn’t make it in North London, there is no ill feeling from the midfielder and he suggests that they are now the example to follow for other clubs.

“It didn’t work out, but they’ve hit the nail on the head now. They probably realise that they trust in their youth academy and their development now more than they did when I was there. The likes of Harry Winks are doing so well and obviously Harry Kane.

There are a few boys in the Championship from Tottenham that are full of quality. Josh Onomah from Villa. He was there when I was there. I think they are doing it right. If any a club wants an example to follow, they should follow Tottenham.”

There are lots of young players let go by Premier League clubs every year and it can be easy for them to lose faith, but Luongo didn’t take the failure to heart and joined Swindon Town on a permanent deal after a loan spell at the County Ground.

The Robins were clearly impressed by his talent and opted to pay £400,000 for his services, which was too much for Tottenham to turn down considering he was far down the pecking order at the club.

During the following two years, he became an influential midfielder in League One and his reputation grew on a weekly basis. During the 2014-15 season, he helped the Robins to a play-off final, where they were ultimately beaten by Preston North End. This denied them a return to the second tier, but it was Luongo’s performances on the international stage that allowed his name to enter the mainstream.

He had found himself in and around the Australia squad prior to the 2015 Asia Cup, but it was during the tournament itself that he made his breakthrough for the Socceroos. Scoring two goals and contributing four assists throughout the competition, he steered his country to glory, before later being handed the competition’s Most Valuable Player accolade.

“It was good, as I hadn’t really established myself in the Socceroos yet, so it was my first time being called up. The people didn’t really know much about me and it was in Australia. The final was in Sydney where I’m from, so that was pretty cool. It was amazing and scoring in the final of any tournament is big, but the fact it was at home meant a little bit more.”

Incredibly, his performances during the tournament earned him worldwide recognition and, still a Swindon Town player at the time, he found himself included on the Ballon D’Or long-list for 2015. The voting system means that those who impress at international level receive credit for their performances and Luongo was an example to everyone that no matter which club you play for, you can aspire to reach individual goals.

“The Ballon D’Or thing was pretty cool as well. I was happy about that. It was nice to get the recognition from the Asia Cup. Over here, you don’t see much of what happens in comparison to other continents. Being at Swindon at the time, it’s nice that they recognise wherever you are. At any club, you can still get on the Ballon D’Or list.”

After returning from the Asia Cup, it was obvious that Luongo should be playing at a higher level than League One. It would have been special to have achieved promotion with Swindon Town, but their play-off failure left the midfielder with a decision to make. QPR were quick to act, as they paid £3.5 million for the Australian and his club team-mate Ben Gladwin.

As the Rs had recently experienced relegation from the Premier League, Luongo would have seen it as a stepping stone to the top flight. Unfortunately, the club have been through a difficult period of transition ever since, forcing them to re-build and re-stratergise in the Championship.

Despite this, Luongo has successfully continued his development and he is now performing to a very high level in the division. When asked about the influence of the managers he has worked alongisde, he describes Ian Holloway as the one who has been able to get the best form out of him.

“All the managers are different, but at the moment, I’d say Ollie. He’s given me the role that I’m suited to best, the box-to-box role. I’m behind Luke Freeman and ahead of Josh Scowen, so I’ve got the creativity of Luke to combine with and the security of Scowen behind me.

“I’d say he’s brought out the best in me, but I learned a lot from [Jimmy-Floyd] Hasselbaink when he was here. The security that he wanted to play with and the discipline needed to play for him. It took me a while to get into his squad and I learned a lot of the game from Hasselbaink.”

This season, Luongo has been a consistent performer for QPR in the midfield and has regularly contributed in the final third. His current haul of a goal and two assists shows that he can offer something in attack, but he will be looking to improve on these during the second half of the season.

It has been his defensive work rate that has stood out most, averaging 3.9 tackles and 1.6 interceptions per game. As he alludes to, he is a box-to-box midfielder and, at the age of 25, there is potential to grow further. The Premier League remains his ultimate goal in England and he is now closer than ever to achieving this dream:

Getting to the Premier League has always been the goal and I’m working hard to achieve it.”

The short term aim will be to get there with QPR and there is no reason why that cannot happen. Paddy Power latest football offers suggest it doesn’t look likely this season, but fortunes in the Championship change on a yearly basis and if they can find some consistency under Ian Holloway, promotion is a realistic aim for the club.

Luongo has stepped up to every new level with ease and has already been nominated for the Ballon d’Or by his peers. He has quite some pedigree, despite never playing in the Premier League.

If unsuccessful in achieving this objective with the London outfit, he might just be worth his weight in gold to any onlooking current Premier League sides.

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Blackpool

What will Bright Osayi-Samuel bring to Queens Park Rangers?

The Boot Room

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Bright Osayi-Samuel

Queens Park Rangers finally announced the arrival Bright Osayi-Samuel from Blackpool, almost 24-hours after the transfer window closed.

Hoops’ manager Ian Holloway had tracked the talented winger’s progress at his former club and was impressed enough to make a bid. However, as reported by West London Sport, it was believed that the move had failed.

On ‘deadline day’ both clubs were curiously quiet on the subject, whilst the player himself took to Snapchat to vent frustration at the proposed deal falling through.

What happened in between remains unclear, but the young Nigerian is now a QPR player – despite interest from Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur, and, as reported by the Birmingham Mail, Aston Villa.

Osayi-Samuel certainly has potential, but QPR fans should not expect him to make an instant impact in the Championship. Last campaign, in League Two, he made 31 appearances, scoring four, assisting three and picked up one ‘EFL young player of the month award’.

His most impressive moment was a goal in which he effectively assisted himself. The clip received national attention at the time and can be seen below.

The above video highlights the winger’s pace, undoubtedly his most impressive attribute, and something he regularly combines with skill and control to leave defenders on their knees. Of course, Championship defenders will show greater resistance, but Osayi-Samuel’s confidence in taking people on will see supporters rise to their feet at Loftus Road.

Only three years ago, the attacker had never played within a professional setup and was scouted whilst playing in a London park. His remarkable story has been covered by BBC Sport.

Understandably for a young player still new to the game, his talents remain raw. Blackpool fans have seen him frequently squander excellent scoring opportunities and suffer from questionable decision-making.

However, both of those aspects can be improved upon in training. In Ian Holloway, QPR arguably have the ideal attack-minded coach to get the best out of Bright. The Bristolian manager favors a famously gung-ho approach, which will suit a player who offers little in the way of defensive support.

Osayi-Samuel was yet to score on Blackpool’s return to League One, but only four games had been played. Of those, the Tangerines won both which the Winger started. Although his profligacy in front of goal appears to have continued, he has looked stronger on the ball with increased physicality.

QPR fans should be excited by Bright’s arrival, but patience will be key for all parties. The 19-year-old has plenty of time to fulfill his considerable potential and is likely to prove frustrating in the meantime.

His capture, ahead of interest from other big clubs, is a good sign of positive changes at Loftus Road. Those in charge have promised long-term planning and ambition without reckless spending, Osayi-Samuel fits the bill perfectly.

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