Lessons learned or the same old story? With the season now over, West London Sport rates the success of QPR’s major signings over the past year.
Matt Ingram: 7
Highly regarded – and showed why, with his performances when given a chance to impress towards the end of the season. At 22, and with significant first-team experience from his time at Wycombe, he’s a hugely exciting prospect.
Alex Smithies: 8
After a shaky start, he grabbed his opportunity when given a run of games in place of Rob Green, underlining the fact that he is a very capable keeper.
Grant Hall: 9
Brought consistency and composure to the heart of the defence. Without it, a difficult spell for Rangers could have turned very sour indeed. An outstanding season for Hall – and an outstanding signing by Chris Ramsey.
Gabriele Angella: 4
Unfortunately for Ramsey, QPR’s other centre-back signing was a flop, bar a handful of improved displays later in the season. Signed because Ramsey wanted a ball-playing central defender, and because Tim Ream chose Fulham, Angella needed to deliver for the then head coach as he was key to how Ramsey wanted to play.
Past QPR managers have found that the absence of a dominant centre-back generally leads to the sack – and Ramsey was no different. Other signings have produced worse performances, but Angella’s experience and importance to how the team was set up, and the extent to which QPR’s season was marred by a failure to deal with routine balls into their box, mean this signing has been particularly disappointing.
Paul Konchesky: 6
Much maligned, and as the season wore on his performances deteriorated, but he did a job as a limited stop-gap while QPR lacked other options – which is what he was brought in for. Not every signing can be a young, swashbuckling player when a club needs to cut its cloth. Rangers needed a left-back and Konchesky is an experienced pro. There was no expectation he’d be anything special.
James Perch: 5
Much more could be expected of Perch given his pedigree and versatility. On that basis, it’s a signing that hasn’t worked out well so far. Redeemed himself somewhat with some decent performances at left-back, but his displays at right-back for much of the campaign were poor and a major factor in Rangers’ early-season problems.
Massimo Luongo: 6
Has ability and seemed very unfortunate to be dropped after an encouraging start to his Rangers career. Showed promise but given his talent, international performances, and the impact he had in League One for Swindon, he might have made more of an impact at a higher level. But time is on his side.
Ben Gladwin: 5
Loaned back to Swindon after struggling to establish himself in the Rangers first team, he was later given chances to impress and only managed to show his ability in patches. Hasn’t been helped by injuries. Needs to gain some momentum next season.
Daniel Tozser: 5
His distribution has been hit-and-miss but created openings, his set-pieces have been an asset, and his off-the-ball shortcomings are arguably no worse than fans favourite Alejandro Faurlin’s. But those fans haven’t taken to Tozser, to put it mildly, and overall his contribution hasn’t been good enough for his signing to be regarded as anything other than a failure so far. Could well be moved on this summer.
Tjaronn Chery: 7
Speaking of off-the-ball shortcomings, Chery’s led to him being axed after a hugely encouraging start to his Rangers career. For a while it seemed like yet another much-hyped flagship QPR signing would fail to deliver, but 10 goals from midfield for a player still finding his feet in English football is a notable achievement. His second half of the season bodes very well for next term.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas: 6
Has incredible talent and was given yet another chance to get his career back on track when QPR took him on a free transfer last summer. The fact he was on a free, and scored goals during a crucial early-season spell when Rangers were without Charlie Austin and needed to stabilise in the Championship, is enough for his signing to have been vindicated to some extent. But his attitude led to him quickly losing favour – and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wrote him off almost immediately after taking over as manager.
Jamie Mackie: 5
A fan-pleasing signing last summer – perhaps comparable to Lee Cook’s in 2008 – and so far the signs are that this return for a second spell won’t work out as hoped either. Mackie’s boundless commitment has made him a popular figure, and deservedly so, but players of his type don’t always age well. He’s 31 this year and has had a season ruined by a hamstring problems, so there has to be a question mark over whether he can recapture his best form – and the decision to bring him back.
Sebastian Polter: 7
Initially failed to impress on and off the pitch. But with an eventual willingness to work himself into the ground up front came some relative success – and the emergence of a new cult hero. Lacks quality and a consistent goal threat, but his work-rate helped Rangers enjoy an upturn rather than the feared slump following Austin’s departure.
Nasser El Khayati: 6
Has had limited chances since his arrival from Burton and aspects of his game will need to improve if he is to establish himself in the Championship. Scored a fine goal against Charlton, though, and clearly has ability.
Conor Washington: 5
Rangers tend to most overhype signings when the club is facing criticism. Following the sale of Austin for just £4m, a striker who was playing non-League football and working as a postman just a few years ago duly arrived to hype of Nick Ward proportions.
At 23, relatively inexperienced, and having initially struggled in League One at Peterborough, it was always likely that Washington would take time to find his feet at QPR. That said, he would not have expected to still be waiting for his first goal. Lively in the box and able to beat defenders on either side, goals ought to arrive before too long.
Faced with enormous challenges, including the realities of Financial Fair Play, the club have done reasonably well. Based on the initial remit laid out by a stream of soundbites about learning lessons and developing players for the future, their transfer dealings can be seen as more than good – excellent, in fact – given the arrivals of players like Ingram, Luongo, Gladwin, Hall and Washington. According to that initial remit, those players needn’t deliver in their first season in order for their signing to be proved a success.
That remit changing in the first part of the season, with Tony Fernandes declaring that “promotion is everything” and a new manager being brought in to try to engineer a push for the play-offs, muddied the waters somewhat. Overall, though, QPR’s transfer dealings over the last 12 months should be seen as a step in the right direction.