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Hill, Faurlin and looking ahead – Ferdinand interview
Monday, 23rd May 2016 11:02 by Clive Whittingham

In the third and final part of our interview with director of football Les Ferdinand we look ahead to this summer, 2016/17 and the long term future of the club.

This summer

It’s looking like another big turnover of players this summer, that’s not ideal is it?

LF: We’ve got nine players going out at the end of contracts. It’s about replenishing again. We’ve got our targets and hopefully we can get them over the line. Hull and Burnley have bounced back from relegation, but they didn’t get rid of anybody. Burnley lost Danny Ings and spent money on Andre Gray, they were sensible with their money in the Premier League so could do that. We’re trying to put foundations in place now to move forward but that takes time.

How are those targets identified and signed? I ask with specific reference to Conor Washington, who came in last window but doesn’t seem to fit with the 4-2-3-1 set up Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink wants to play.

LF: Firstly, Jimmy wants us to have more than one way of playing, more than one system we can use next season.

When we knew Charlie was going Jimmy mentioned Conor Washington at Peterborough. He liked him, he’d scored against Burton. We believe he needs to be developed, and that’s the type of player we’re focusing on now. Conor is only 23, there’s loads of development to come there. Jimmy is looking forward to working with him and making him the player we believe he can be. It didn’t quite work out for him at the end of last season but Jimmy has a plan for him. It’s far too early to be saying that was a waste of money.

Releasing Clint Hill and Ale Faurlin is like shooting Bambi’s mum twice on the same day. What’s the thinking there?

LF: A lot of people have asked why didn’t we announce it before the last game so they could get a proper send off. The truth is the manager said to every single player he’d have a chat after the last game and tell them his plans going forward and where he saw them fitting into it. That’s what he did with Clint and Ale. His way of going forward didn’t fall in line with how they saw themselves in terms of the number of games they wanted to play. Unfortunately, that happens in football.

Setting the sentimentality aside, is Clint Hill not still one of the better centre halves we have here?

LF: He’s one of the most competitive centre halves we had at the club. The manager wants to play high tempo, with a high line. We know what Clint’s abilities are, he wanted to play a certain amount of games next season and the manager couldn’t guarantee him that.

Having tried to find somebody to do the Ale Faurlin role last summer and not had success with Daniel Tozser, is it not tempting to just keep him on?

LF: Let’s be clear, it certainly wasn’t just a shake of the hand and thanks for everything you’ve done for the club. It was a conversation between the manager, his staff, and the player about how he would use Ale next season and what he said wasn’t enough for Ale to stay. It was a discussion about how the manager wants to go, the style of play, and how he saw Ale fitting with that.

The size of the three clubs coming down, Villa have been taken over, Norwich are bringing their Championship promotion side straight back, it looks tough. Are you worried? Optimistic?

LF: This season was about consolidation. We could do without getting rid of nine more players, but it is what it is. We’re trying to be as competitive as we truly can be, we’re trying to put a competitive side together. We started off last season ok, in between we had a lot of draws that came from winning positions. You look at that and think we’re not a million miles away. It’s about who we can replenish with - everybody is looking for a goalscorer but that comes at a price. We’ve still got a few of the big earners on the books as well.

Are you confident of shifting them this time?

LF: No (laughs). We’re not confident we can get rid of all of them. One thing in our favour is some of them have gone out and played which is good. We’ll do our best.

We’ve lumbered ourselves with two fantastic goalkeepers, who’s the number one there?

LF: That’s what we wanted isn’t it? We want competition for places and people pushing each other. Alex didn’t come in as number one or two, he came in as a goalkeeper at the club and it was up to him to make the position his own. I told Matt Ingram the same thing. We’ve got two very good goalkeepers fighting for the position, and we’ve a very good young keeper in Joe Lumley who I’d like to push those two even further. We want to be in a position where we’re not waiting for people’s contracts to run down, where people are going out and we’re getting good money for them that comes back into the squad.

Long term

Do you think expectation levels are unrealistic for where we are as a club at the moment?

LF: Very much so.

Everyone’s expectation was we would be like Burnley and Hull last season without acknowledging that we’re trying to get rid of the core of our squad. And this isn’t because we want to, it’s because we have to. Not everybody understands and realises that. People say we did it before, just do it again. People think I’ve come into the club and said ‘we’re not spending money any more, this is what we’re going to do’ like it’s my plan. The actual situation is we don’t have the money to spend any more, this is where we are as a club. This is what we have to do, not what we want to do. I’d prefer to have £6m and £8m to go out and spend on players.

The one thing I want to do is get QPR to a point where everybody who comes through the door to watch them is proud of the team and the way it’s performing and the team is giving its all – Championship or Premier League.

We can compete at Loftus Road can’t we? Burnley have an average gate of 16,000 and lower ticket prices.

LF: If we do it right, we can more than compete. We held our own in the top division for many years doing the right things. If we get there we get the television money, we can more than hold our own. You have to get the foundations right, which hasn’t been the case here for many years, and then you build from there. Our house was built on sand for many years.

On that theme, training ground…

LF: Still a couple of hoops to jump through. The pathway some people have decided runs right through the middle of the training ground is ongoing.

We'd like to thank Les for spending so much time with LFW last week while feeling under the weather, and to the club's media team for setting the interview up.

Links >>> QPR return, early hostility, culture of excess – part one >>> Ramsey, Warnock and a difficult autumn – part two >>> Hill, Faurlin and looking ahead – part three

The Twitter @loftforwords

Pictures – Action Images

Photo: Action Images

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bosh67 added 12:17 - May 23
The important thing for fans to realise is that Clint and Ale weren't just booted out. The plan didn't fit what they wanted to do here so it was time to move on. Shame, I love both players, both very much what QPR is about but we do have to give JFH and Les time (quite a bit of time) to get the team and playing style the way they want it and the players who can play that way in or up to speed.

HastingsRanger added 13:14 - May 26
Thanks Clive. Sir Les was very open and frank in response to your questions. He certainly cares about the club and is doing his best in difficult circumstances. Ever hopeful!

snanker added 05:33 - May 27
Decent interview there Clive the basic premise being this is now JFH's show and his squad, playing system, back room staff and future "culture" will apply.. Good this was he was brought into do now we need to turn half those draws into at least half wins next season and the play offs are in reach. How about we see if CA will come back on loan at least given his Saints scenario ? Very interesting to see further player transition but gotta prioritise at the back first. Wonder if you can do a similar sit down with JFH as well ?

jj77 added 17:44 - May 27
A great interview, I though Les was thoughtful and honest throughout (particularly enjoyed his honesty on the challenge of shifting some of our players!)

He's a club legend with a good plan who's putting something back into the club which made him - let's get behind him!


QPRski added 10:23 - Jun 6
Clive - thanks for the great interview with Sir Les, and for asking the questions that matter.

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