From Messi to McIntyre in less than 24 hours. How the mighty have fallen.
A day after meeting Barcelona’s players as they trained at Loftus Road, Neil Warnock was back to dealing with the likes of me.
He managed to put a brave face on it, and as usual was having none of my attempts to put words in his mouth. It’s been nearly a year of this now. A change of tactics may be needed.
In an ideal world, he’d have compared Troy Hewitt to Les Ferdinand – the obvious comparison (for a lazy person) to make, given the latter’s rise from another local non-League club.
That one was politely shot down straightaway, and was always going to be. But a comparison with DJ Campbell; now that was a goer, I thought.
‘Neil Warnock reckons he’s unearthed the new DJ Campbell in non-League hotshot Troy Hewitt….’
It was all done in my head, and I knew which papers would take it. Job virtually done. All Warnock had to do was play ball.
He wasn’t having it. I had two or three attempts, but he just wouldn’t take the bait. Some nonsense about comparisons being daft, and not putting pressure on a youngster. Whatever. I zoned out at that point, my superbly-crafted story ruined.
On a serious note, players from the lower divisions and non-League often emerge and attract interest, and it’s almost always misplaced. But I think Hewitt can go a long way. I like him. People whose judgement I trust like him even more, and have been watching him for some time.
There are clubs that have been tracking Hewitt for much longer than QPR and will be bitterly disappointed that he looks set to join them. He’s regarded by a number of good judges as a genuine prospect.
That said, the jump from Ryman League to the Championship and soon, possibly, to the Premier League, would be an absolutely monumental one. Anything he does this season should be seen as a bonus. It could take 18 months or longer for Hewitt to adapt.
Even if it doesn’t – and I have a feeling he might hit the ground running – sooner or later a player making that kind of step up will almost certainly hit a wall.
When that happens, it’s simply part of learning the professional game. And that game can involve going from flavour of the month to a cast-off very quickly.
An option for a club in Rangers’ position is always to take on a player like Hewitt as a no-risk signing, and then loan him to another League club to see how he fares.
I asked Warnock if he’d consider doing this, and he was adamant that he wants Hewitt in his squad. That’s a big compliment.
As of this afternoon, talks were at an advanced enough stage for me to be pretty convinced Hewitt will be a QPR player.
Warnock expects the signing to be completed soon – and is also confident he won’t be losing one striker as another comes in.
He has spoken about Ishmael Miller to West Brom, who have an option to recall the player at 24 hours’ notice.
There’s been speculation that, having taken over as Albion manager, Roy Hodgson might exercise that option.
At the moment though, that seems unlikely to happen, at least until Hodgson or one of his staff has watched him in action for Rangers. Even then, Miller will probably stay put, although Warnock has been looking at other possible loan signings in case he loses him.
As things stand, Miller will be on the team coach to Preston and it is, apparently, on that coach that Warnock will decide whether to make a change to his defence on Saturday.
Matt Connolly and Bradley Orr are the most likely casualties if he alters things, with Pascal Chimbonda and Fitz Hall waiting in the wings. Dan Shittu is another option.
Would he change a successful team? I believe yes, simply because Rangers dropped points at the turn of the year when he decided against making changes during a very hectic period, despite considering it very seriously.
For that reason, with games again coming thick and fast, I expect Warnock to make the odd change, if not this weekend then soon.
Finally, I want to say thanks for the many nice comments I received after my post about Harold Winton, some of which I’ll pass onto his family.
I also want to clarify something about my post on the Amulya loan, which attracted some not-so-nice comments! That’s fine. I’m always hearing from and meeting Rangers fans who tell me what rubbish I talk and that I’m consistently wrong. I’m well used to that.
I should say though that the post, which some saw as negative and even scaremongering, didn’t actually include any personal opinion on the Amulya loan whatsoever.
It was purely a brief factual rundown in light of a letter sent to shareholders that had caused some confusion – as the issue of the loan often does.