Planning for next season – and beyond

QPR will look to spend a lot of money this summer. That’s for certain. What remains to be seen is how they go about spending it.

Rangers’ transfer policy if promoted will go a long way to shaping their fortunes in the next few years. Like their ticket-pricing policy, it will also reveal whether the owners care about the club’s long-term interests or are just out to make a splash and enjoy themselves.

Conventional wisdom is that most clubs need to spend big if they’re to survive in the top division. Maybe that’s right, but unless you’re signing players of genuine top quality – which in the short-term probably won’t be an option for QPR – I don’t think there’s any need to start hurling the sterling simply to have a competitive squad. In fact, that’s the last thing Rangers should do.

For any club outside the top five or six, the potential to waste a vast amount of money is huge. This is because they usually cannot afford and/or attract the best, so get drawn into paying way over the odds for lesser players.

I believe the sensible approach for a promoted side like Rangers is to broadly look to do four things:

1st. Add some solid Premier League experience. The three relegated clubs are the best starting points. Exploit their predicament – others have done it to QPR in the past.

2nd. Plan for the future. Try to pick up the top clubs’ very best youngsters who’ll need to move to get regular football.

3rd. Look for pace. In every position. Pace, pace and more pace. Rangers currently lack it, and won’t stand a chance in the Premier League without it. Lots of it.

4th (and most important). Cherry-pick the best of the Championship. This should be the cornerstone of QPR’s transfer policy. The gulf between the top two divisions is massive – everyone knows that – and so is the list of players who’ll look like world beaters in the second tier but aren’t good enough to step up. Even so, you cannot go wrong by signing the best players from the division below, who have the specific attributes to play in the Premier League. Everton did it with Cahill and Lescott. Birmingham did it with Roger Johnson and Scott Dann. Others have done it. It’s a transfer policy that works.

In the short-term at least, QPR will have limited appeal to the best players – whatever mind-numbing wages they offer. Yes, many footballers are largely interested in money. But the best ones care more about their career. This is something the Briatore-led regime have found while trying to buy success, and probably believe will change as soon as they own a Premier League club. It won’t.

As a respected person in the game said to me after the 2007 takeover, when Rangers were being touted as future Champions Leaguers and linked with all sorts of big signings: “Good players want good clubs, not lesser clubs with money.” Except he didn’t use the word lesser.

Harsh – and based largely on the absolute battering the club’s once-good reputation had taken in the previous couple of years – but I have to say a very accurate comment.

A sensible transfer policy and sensible ticket-pricing will be needed to re-establish QPR as a good, medium-sized club with a certain charm, solid support, good facilities, and a good reputation in the game. A club that’s attractive to players who care about more than their wage packet.

Neil Warnock has taken the club forward in that respect, although there is still a long way to go. But it is achievable and, given the wealth and status of the owners, from there the possibilities for Rangers really are endless.

The issue, perhaps, is that they have a manager and a board who are all about the short-term. In Warnock’s case, his approaching retirement means he wants a good crack at the Premier League. The board, you can be sure, will be like kids in a sweetshop and will lash money around like there’s no tomorrow – something I sense many supporters will be happy about.

Even so, based on the kind of transfer policy I think QPR ought to have, below I’ve listed some players I reckon should be in their thoughts this summer. Most are young players who possibly aren’t yet ready for regular Premier League football but would be worth signing for the future.

It’s not a definitive list.  There’s only one centre-back, and Warnock will definitely need more than that. Neither am I saying all of them should be signed. They’re just ideas.

I’ve also stuck to players whose names are generally out there already. There are other, lesser-known youngsters from the biggest clubs who’ll cause a stampede should they become available in the coming months. But I’ve not gone there.

I’m sure many will disagree with my choices and have suggestions of their own. Feel free to chip in.

Here goes…

Steven Nzonzi

France Under-21 midfielder in the Patrick Vieira mould. Tall, physical player who also has good technical ability. A great prospect, a good age (22) and has top-flight experience with Blackburn. Would cost a lot, not least because he has four years left on his contract, but is worth pursuing – especially if Blackburn go down. Rangers absolutely have to get a strong, dynamic, technically-gifted central midfielder of this type. It’s a must in the modern game. Every Premier League club has one, or wants one.

Karl Henry

Turned down QPR to join Wolves as the Briatore-led takeover of Rangers was being completed in 2007.  Mikele Leigertwood was later brought in instead. Would have been an excellent signing, as he’s proved with his performances in midfield for Wolves in both the Championship and Premier League. Can also play at right-back. A very good player with top-flight experience. Recently signed a new contract, but well worth trying for if Wolves don’t stay up.

Jamie O’Hara

Would be a good – and highly likely – signing if Wolves go down. Is currently there on loan from Tottenham with a view to a possible permanent move in the summer. Combative midfielder with a great attitude. Can play centrally or on the left.

Kyle Naughton

Like Kyle Walker, was a youngster at Sheffield United during Warnock’s time there, and has since joined Tottenham. Warnock wanted him when he was unable to get Walker back from Spurs, but lost out to Leicester. An obvious target for next season if Rangers go up and Leicester don’t. Arguably a better prospect than Walker, although he is a long way behind him at the moment.

Jeffrey Bruma

Another defender currently on loan at Leicester, in this case from Chelsea. At 19, would be a signing for the future – and he has a big future if some of his performances this season are anything to go by.

Matt Phillips

Exactly the kind of player QPR, with all their might and supposed ambition for the future, should have snapped up when he was down the road at Wycombe. A host of other clubs were keen on him and believed they were close to getting him before a shock promotion enabled Ian Holloway to offer Premier League football. If Blackpool end up back in the Championship, Rangers should make a bid. Even if it means paying 10 times what they could have got him for a year ago, and even though he has mostly been a substitute this season. Far from the finished article, but worth the investment.

Chris Gunter

Potentially the complete right-back: strong, quick, defensively sound and good going forward. The only full-back I’ve seen against QPR this season who was not only comfortable being left one-versus-one, but also consistently looked to break out whenever possible because he rightly fancied his chances going forward. Good enough to play at the top level. Rangers should offer him the chance to do so if they go up and Forest don’t. Still only 21.

Lewis McGugan

A player I thought Rangers should have been trying to organise a swap deal for when Forest were looking to sign Lee Camp and Dexter Blackstock. At the time, McGugan was out of favour with Billy Davies. Still has question marks over his attitude, but the ability is there. Again, would be worth a bid if Forest miss out on promotion.


Definitely not one for those who’ve been convinced QPR need a goalscorer – a view I’ve never shared. Has flaws, will frustrate, and age isn’t on his side. But there are few better players for the role of lone forward, which Rangers have employed for most of the last few years. For that reason alone, would be a decent signing that would also add Premier League experience to the squad.

Jay Bothroyd

Would be worth a go if Cardiff don’t go up. Been around the block but is probably now at his peak or near it.

Nicky Maynard

A club with filthy-rich owners who are happy to regularly take punts on players (it’s only money after all) should definitely consider taking a punt on Maynard. Has pace, ability and is an excellent finisher. I think he could step up.

Ricardo Fuller

A player I’ve always rated. Could be a vital, experienced member of the squad in that all-important first season in the Premier League.

Jason Roberts

Ditto. A great professional and a West Londoner. Could be for QPR in the Premier League what Paul Furlong was in the Championship.

Miles Addison

England Under-21 international who can play in midfield or at centre-back. Great ability, but his progress has been badly hampered by injuries. Missed much of the last couple of seasons for Derby. Even so, as a squad player and possible one for the future, would be worth picking up.

Angel Rangel

Another good right-back. His Swansea contract is due to expire at the end of the season. Unhappy when possible moves to Blackpool and Fulham didn’t happen.

Henri Lansbury

Quality midfielder who’s done well in the Championship while on loan at Watford and Norwich. Probably the right time for him to step up, but won’t find it easy to establish himself at Arsenal. A real prospect with an excellent footballing brain.  

Victor Moses

Played under Warnock at Crystal Palace before joining Wigan, where his performances have suggested the move came too soon for him. Bundles of ability though, and the tough time he’s had in the Premier League might even stand him in good stead in the future.

28 Responses to Planning for next season – and beyond

  1. Camel says:

    Matt Jarvis, Kevin Doyle and Hugo Rodellaga would be top of my list!

    I doubt the foxes will let him go, but Andy King would be nice too.

  2. says:

    What no Danny Graham?

  3. Nate says:

    Good list, I would also add Steven Davis from Rangers (might fancy another crack at the Prem) out of your picks Bruma for me would be the best signing due to age and potential. Would Ambrose still interest people?

  4. Noah Baker says:

    I’d defiantly have a stab at scott sinclair if swansea dont go up. He’s got great pace and an eye for goal.

  5. daveB says:

    excellent article Dave and agree with all of it, this is an ideal chance to build a very strong side for the next few years although I wouldn’t back penny of my money on the club going down that route. Matt Phillips is an excellent shout and I agree we’ll need a lot more pace to survive next year, our full backs will be ripped apart in that league.

    I quite like the defender at Swansea Ashley Williams, very good on the ball and a decent defender, not sure how he’d be in the Premier League though. I’d love Kyle Walker back but think Naughton is a more realistic target.All depends on how Warnock wants to play and if he is going to allow Taarabt to do what he likes again or try and play differently.

    It will be worth keeping an eye on clubs who will have a clear out this summer, I think clubs will be able to get some bargains from the likes of Villa, Sunderland and Everton as they are going to lose players.

  6. Rich Lloyd says:

    Hi David,

    I don’t have any disagreements with the list and I think its absolutely the right approach, I’m certainly not one of the fans that thinks you should just chuck a wad of cash at the team, we are of medium size as you say and at some point in the probably not too distant future we’ll be back where we ‘belong’ and I’d quite like it if that was not via administration again!

    I would question whether our facilities are of the comparable standard they were when we were last up there but also have no particular interest in changing them.

    As I see it we need an entire back 4, a chunk of midfield and a strike force…without just throwing money at it 🙂 Glad I’m not in charge!!


  7. PeterF says:

    Really good article I am all for more youth I was really impressed with Ben Mee when we played Leicester also could be a target as he must be way down the pecking order at Man City.
    Other possible targets:-
    Patrick Van Aanholt
    Fabio Borini
    Jay Emmanuel-Thomas

  8. Hi all. Thanks for the comments.

    Camel, will be interesting to see how King does in the future. A lot of clubs have been looking at him.

    Danny, not sure about Danny Graham. Very good Championship striker. Am sure he’ll get a chance at a higher level soon enough.

    Noah, I think Sinclair’s got fantastic talent. Holloway tried to sign him for Rangers when SS was a kid at Bristol Rovers and was absolutely sick when he missed out. He was desperate to get him. Have to say though I wasn’t impressed with Sinclair’s attitude when he later ended up at QPR on loan.

    DaveB, I did think of Ashley Williams. Decent player. Now or never for him to step up I would think.

    Rich, agree – an entire back 4 and most of the midfield and strikeforce for as little dosh as possible!

    Nate, not seen much of Davis but I do think Ambrose might be a goer. Had bad injury problems but Warnock does like him. If a couple of other targets don’t come off, you never know.

    PeterF, funny enough Van Aanholt and JET are the 2 players I came closest to adding but didn’t. Van Aanholt’s a good player and Rangers were going to sign him but backed out and signed Borrowdale instead. But I’ve not seen much of him in the last few months so am not sure how he’s progressing. JET I really like. Warnock was linked with him but was never really interested. I think JET could maybe do with another season in the Championship, but if I were in NW’s shoes was offered him, I’d probably take him. Not seen much of Borini though.

  9. Phil C says:

    Good analysis Dave, though I would take issue with your assertion that there is a massive gulf between the two top divisions. This is hyperbole and it’s not borne out by analysis; the churn of teams has been substantial in the last ten years or so, suggesting that it’s not actually that difficult to get promoted. I’d say the difference between the bottom third of the Prem and the best four or five teams in the Championship is not that great.

  10. joel says:

    Good list that.
    And I definitely agree on the overall strategy.
    However, one striking (pun intended) omission from your list…Danny Graham at Watford. Surely, we’d be able to get him and surely Watford would have to sell for the right price…

  11. I could not agree more with the list of names and would add if possible to get Daniel Sturridge. He is an excellent reader and has pace and can score. I do see and feel that QPR will be strong in who they wish to get and while they may have the money to me they the Mittals are in this for the long run and will invest wisely. I do feel also that Warnock while a great and shrew person will need all the help in getting the players in for the beginning of the Premiership season. If you get like we did 6 new faces and jell as quick as these did in the beginning of 10/11 season will luck strike twice and the new faces jell as quick for the Premiership. It is very necessary that the new faces are in from the opening of the window on July 1st. QPR will need them in before [1st July] training and getting used to the existing players kept on. I am sure that the names required are now been offered via club the chance to play for us. When the 11/12 seasons kick off we need to be off and running and we need all the points to survive and stay in the Premiership. That surly must be the aim get there to the Promised Land and now stay there and push on from there. Oliver Greene come on you R’sss

  12. John McInnes says:

    Echoing most others, the approach is pretty much spot on. As is the shout on a number of those players – after all, we do need to strengthen AND consolidate all over the pitch. We just need to – and I’m sure we will – do our homework on those players currently out on loan. Are they out to get experience or to see if they are good enough. Rarely is it both, and the bigger Prem clubs aren’t silly.

  13. Phil C, I kind of agree. I suppose in a way I contradicted myself, as I said there was a massive gap but also said signing the best Championship players was the way to go. I think it’s the case that players and teams with certain strengths/weaknesses are likely to struggle really badly in the Prem. Others are more cut out for it.

    Joel, am sure Graham would be obtainable if Warnock wanted him. Am also sure a few clubs will be tempted, given his goalscoring this season.

    Oliver, Sturridge is a cracking player. Would be great for Rangers or any team outside the top 4. Is very focused on playing for Chelsea though. Maybe an option on loan?

    What about the on-loan lads that are at Rangers at the moment. Routledge and Miller? Am guessing most would welcome Routledge.

  14. daveB says:

    not sure about Routledge, I’ve been more impressed with him in this spell than I was the first one more due to his work rate and he gets himself in some good positions but just think he lacks that extra trick or bit of guile to crack it in the Prem. He’s still young though so wouldn’t write him off.

  15. jonno says:

    A decent list to which I would also add Danny Graham.

  16. wade says:

    Super blog Dave.Greetings from Cape Town fellow R’s,tis my first post on here.The general concensus is that we are going to need many new players,so who of the existing squad do you think have the quality to step up? Obviously seeing limited TV coverage i have a compromised opinion but can’t imagine there are more than 5: Ali;Kenny;Taarabt;a back to form Buz and Smith.
    Anyone else with suffient quality? When i think of Ian Evans at Blackpool i’m reluctant to completely write anybody off!

  17. John Hardy says:

    Hi Dave,
    agree with most of those sentiments and very sensible/erudite article as ever. Would just like to add that we need a young back-up GK for Paddy Kenny as Radek won’t be there next season. Also like the the look of Luke Chambers at Forest and another squad player for the future would be young Waghorn at The Addicks who looks very tasty and with the right nurture will be excellent in years to come.

    Am also wondering whether we could prize Peter Crouch away from Spurs next season and what others think? Him and Nicky Maynard would be an excellent combo with Danny Graham also in the hunt… Mmmmm gets the juices flowing for next season as we all know we are as good as up.. U R’s….

  18. David T says:

    Hi Dave,

    I’ll add to the general chorus of agreement and also add Peter Crouch,as a possible quality recruit.I was listening to 5 Live when Spurs were playing Real Madrid and the consensus there was that he is on the way out at Tottenham.
    Apparently Hull are set to sign Corey Evans from Man U for only £500k,I think he would be a useful addition to the squad at that kind of money.

  19. Farren S says:

    Agree with the post before mentioning a young back up for Kenny. If we’re serious about becoming a better club then signing Alex Smithies from Huddersfield is a must for me.

    Kyle Walker is gone, but Naughton was always rated more highly. I’m sure i recall reading somewhere that Warnock started trying to set this up a month or so ago.

    And for what it’s worth i’d pick up Ched Evans. Sheff Utd ahve done him no favours but there’s a cracking player in there.

    O’Hara and Faurlin pulling the strings would be great to watch also.

  20. Nate says:

    Re Routledge vs Miller… I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Miller down here. Whether it’s due to him being stuck on the wing or not getting a solid run in the team, I don’t think he’s been afforded the chance to show his best.

    Pace, strength and decent technique, he could be a frightening player to come up against.

    My concern is there could be a bit of the Healey about him. All the assets but not the raw desire that a Rooney or similar has.

    I’d like to see home given a run of games, but HH has been in good form and should start. If we wrap this up ASAP be good to see him more & PVM and the likes.

  21. Nate says:

    For Healy read Heskey. Damn phone and predictive text!

  22. DanT says:

    I have to disagree with a lot of the comments here and with some of Dave’s article. People agree with it because it covers pretty much every base: buy Prem experience, buy the best Championship players and buy good young players at top clubs. Well, yes, 10/10 for that.

    As for some of the choices, I have to say I am surprised at some:
    Jamie O’Hara – absolutely appalling bertie big-b******s attitude and he cannot run. Looks good on a highlight reel, but would not fit into our side and will end up as a Championship player very soon. Total waste of time.
    Benjani: We can’t afford to waste huge wages on a player who has only started 26 games in over three years! Good player, but injury prone.
    Jay Bothroyd – I assume he is in the list as a joke? Another appalling attitude – he hasn’t made it further than this level for a reason.
    Henri Lansbury – Can’t even get in Norwich’s starting XI.

    Interesting article as always Dave and as you say, people will always disagree! I do agree with plenty of the others though: Nicky Maynard would be a superb signing as would Rangel or Naughton.

    I’m a little surprised about some of the negative Routledge comments. He was our best player before he left and has been vital since he came back. Newcastle fans seem to miss him too. I think we need to keep him, because, as Dave says, he has great pace.

  23. Richard Szulc-Krzyzanowski says:

    Danny Graham from Watford, wanted him at the beginning of the season, must be worth a shot.

  24. Irish R says:

    Shane Long always rated him has a long term career with Ireland, Nicky Maynard if he comes back from injury as good as he was before, Craig Mackail Smith always scores goals, Marvin Emnes something about this guy that i like as a player and feel there’s more to come from him, Kyle Walker did very well for us earlier get him back, aswell as an additional experienced Barclays League defender.

  25. […] David McIntyre « Planning for next season – and beyond […]

  26. DaveB, am not Routledge’s biggest fan but do think he’s much more effective in that right-of-centre role. And I agree with Nate about Miller. If he can get his sharpness back after his injury I think Miller will be a handful.

    Jonno & Richard, Graham wouldn’t be my choice but there are loads out there who’d agree with you. It’ll be interesting to see how he does when/if he gets a move.

    Hi Farren S, I agree Evans is a better player than he’s looked in the last year or so. Injuries haven’t helped him. Agree too about a keeper and to be honest was quite surprised when Warnock told me he was definitely offering Cerny a contract and was happy to have him as main back-up. I wonder whether that’ll change.

    Hey Wade. I think you used to post on 606 and other sites? Hope you’re well!

    Hi Irish R. I think Craig M-S will sign for Norwich. Good player and works his backside off too.

    DanT, I can see why you think that about O’Hara and wasn’t sure about him myself for a long time. I’d take him though. As for Bothroyd, I think it’s fair to say my summing-up was the least flattering compared to some of the other players! Been around the block and would take if the price is right isn’t exactly a massive endorsement, but I would be interested if he was available and think he might surprise a few if given another chance. Overall, I’d be looking to take a few of the players I mentioned, not all or even most of them. They’re just players I’d consider as part of building a squad. Obviously if Rangers signed only players from that list they’d have a problem.

    John and David T, lots of people have mentioned Crouch to me actually. I’ve always thought Paladini would look to sign him if at all possible.

  27. Hayden says:

    Cherry picking players from the teams relegated from the prem is a must but I also think you should look to teams relegated from the Champ…Mackie was a bargain in hindsight.

    So if Palace or Sheffield Utd go down then I’d like to see Warnock should go in for Ambrose, Speroni, Danns (Palace) Montgomery (Sheff).

    Doyle & Miller would be good additions too, not convinced Graham could make the step up.

  28. bakes8 says:

    Good blog Dave.

    Would love to see Bruma and Naughton sign, they look the nuts. Young with huge potential.

    Love Maynard but dont see how a small striker fits into our system and we need to play with a hold up guy if we intend to keep taarbs (fingers crossed).

    Not entirely convinced about Graham, would probably prefer Morison from ‘Wall who has impressed me this season. Can really see Bothroyd signing if Cardiff dont go up tho, probably has got a stinking attitude, but definatley looks a Prem quality forward.

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