QPR’s Class of ’18 is exciting a lot of fans at Loftus Road. The likes of Bright Osayi-Samuel, Paul Smyth, Ilias Chair and Ryan Manning are amongst a crop of quality youth players at QPR who all made their first team debuts last season under Ian Holloway last season, and are now looking to become more regular first team players under new manager Steve McClaren.
But the standout player of this bunch is the London-born winger, Ebere Eze, who, to the relief of Twitter’s QPR faithful, put pen to paper in a three contract extension. The tricky winger is complementary of the improved youth system at Queens Park Rangers which is host to a bunch of quality players and coaches, and one of whom who should be widely credited for said work is former first team manager, Chris Ramsey.
Eze joined QPR on a free agent in August 2016 after spells in the youth set-ups of fellow London clubs Arsenal and Fulham, before a uneventful two-year loan at Championship rivals Millwall. His professional debut came in January of last year playing 18 minutes in an FA Cup tie against Blackburn Rovers, but it was last season where he began to turn heads, netting twice in 16 appearances for then-manager Holloway.
His pace as well as tight ball control and ability inside the penalty box quickly made him a fan-favourite at Loftus Road, and after a positive pre-season this time round, there was a lot of talk surrounding his future at the club.
“This is the best place for me”
In recent years, we at QPR have seen their most talented players leave for next-to-nothing. Charlie Austin cost Southampton just £4 million a few seasons back, whilst Alex Smithies was captured by the newly-promoted Cardiff City £3 million this season. So it’s understandable why many were calling for Eze to be offered the extension, given that his previous one were to expire at the end of this one, and he be free to talk to other clubs come January.
Eze told the QPR club website:
It’s a great feeling to know you have the trust of your manager, the fans and your team-mates. Everyone believes in me and it’s a real confidence boost. This is the best place for me at this moment in time. I know that I can be free to play how I like to play. If I keep my head down I have got a good opportunity to play here and that’s the main thing.
The Unsung Hero
The youth academy at QPR has had sudden surge in the amount of, but indeed quality of players in their system. One man they have to thank in big part for this is Chris Ramsey. Former coach, manager and now Technical Director at QPR, Ramsey is renowned throughout English Football for his youth work, with spells in the set-ups at Tottenham Hotspur and the National Team too.
He stepped in as temporary manager following the departure of Harry Redknapp, and was handed the job on a more long-term basis for the following season.
Though he was replaced by Jimmy-Floyd Hasslebaink towards the end of 2016, his calming presence and on-pitch manners impressed fans and the board alike, and he remained at the club as a director. His role at QPR widened in January of this year when Simon Ireand, who was Head of Coaching and Coach Education, departed and his role resumed by Ramsey, who also continued his Director role.
When you’re in the first team, you have to win…But in development, the performance is for the player; the result is for the coach.
At Spurs, Ramsey helped develop the likes of Danny Rose, Harry Winks and the 2018 World Cup Golden Boot winner, Harry Kane. Now with the added title of Head of Coaching at QPR he has become an ever-greater part of the system at Loftus Road, and will be a useful contact of McClaren’s this season.
McClaren and Ramsey share similar traits in their ability to develop talented youth players and with the current bunch of young players at QPR, as well as the additions to the back room made by McClaren in John Eustace and Matt Gardiner, could become a real force in the Championship.