Holloway’s ‘new-look’ Queens Park Rangers must find experience in the summer

Laughable and long gone are the days of high-wage signings like Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jose Bosingwa at Queens Park Rangers.

Instead, Ian Holloway along with Chairman Tony Fernandes has opted for a completely different approach to business at Loftus Road.

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This season QPR has seen its very own Class of ’17 come through the ranks and into the first team. An attacking bunch of players, they are Paul Smyth, Ryan Manning, Eberechi Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair.

These five Under-21 players have emerged almost out of nowhere at QPR, and all five have been on the score sheet this season.

Manning and Eze have popped up with crucial goals in the second half of the season, Osayi-Samuel and Chair got off the mark in Saturday’s 3-1 home win against Birmingham, and Smyth has even gone on to score on his Northern Ireland debut since making it into the first team this season.

Holloway has been faithful in his youth players this season, and they seem to have repaid that faith.

But this emergence of youth at QPR comes at a time when the club has been spending very little on transfers and wages for the past few seasons, and after the likes of high-earning players like Nedum Onuoha, Jamie Mackie and James Perch announce their summer departure from the club.

Though the three departees have made a minor impact on the first team this season, with the exemption of club captain Onuoha who has himself  had a mixed in and out of the first team.

But their experience at Championship level football, their presence and wisdom in the changing rooms, will that not be missed?

Onuoha holds the record for second most QPR appearances this millennium, with 226 appearances and second to only Kevin Gallen.

Jamie Mackie is also a QPR record holder, being tenth on that list and with a cult-hero status which he’s held at the club since he first joined back in 2010.

The key then for Ian Holloway, is to perfect the balance of good-quality youth players and experienced Championship footballers in his first-team, as to ease the ‘transition’ phase that the club is currently undergoing.

Too much of either could prove costly, and whilst fans remain relatively optimistic of a better, if not play-off season come next, it’s important to remember that this season has been a write-off for a couple of months already.

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This pre-season is pivotal whichever way you look at it as a QPR fan, and another season of underperforming, transfer inactivity and half-empty stands.

What’s more is that the experienced and talented players in the squad could be leaving in the summer.

Player of the year Massimo Luongo has already been linked with a move to Aston Villa, with several Premier League clubs including Everton rumoured to be interested in the Australian midfielder.

Goalkeeper Alex Smithies could also head for the door, having achieved very little for all his ability in his three seasons at he club.

This summer it is crucial that Holloway is allowed the money to spend, and does so on experienced players that can perform all season round.

Also important is that he can manage to get the likes of Luongo and Smithies on board with what he and the club is aiming for, and retain their services for at least another season.

The break will allow the younger players to rest and recover, and look back on the season and think where they can improve.

Hopefully they all come back fitter and stronger and remain a part of Holloway’s matchday line-up and this ‘new-look’ QPR can kick-start their journey back to the top flight.

The Author

Luke Phelps

MA Sports Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University and QPR supporter. Swedish Allsvenskan writer for BPF.

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