Runners and riders - Column Wednesday, 3rd Apr 2019 18:40 by Clive Whittingham
It's that time again, QPR in the market for a new manager. With every passing year comes a less inspiring list of runners and riders for us to sift through and try to make sense.
Tim Sherwood 4/6
Age – 50 >>> Current Club – Unattached >>> Previously Managed – Tottenham (P28, 50%), Villa (P28, 35.7%)
Pros: - The sort of character – strong minded, brash, confident – that wouldn’t be intimidated by one of football’s most difficult jobs. - Part of the Tottenham academy set up that brought through Harry Kane and others, with an excellent strike rate for graduating youth players to first team – exactly what QPR say they’re looking for. Has a record of giving youth players first team opportunities rather than leaving them parked in the academy set up or out on loan which was one of the big problems with McClaren’s approach in the eyes of his employer. - Has worked successfully with Les Ferdinand, Chris Ramsey and others at QPR before at Spurs and this would at least suggest that the people who run the club day to day are getting to pick the manager as well, rather than having sacking and appointments foisted upon them. - Will hopefully have learnt lessons from chastening experiences at Aston Villa and Swindon. - Said chastening experience only came after his two best players – Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph – were sold and replaced with a disparate collection from all over the world sourced in part by a newly formed transfer committee above him. - Nobody succeeds at Villa, it wasn’t just him who failed there. And he’d initially saved them from relegation and taken them to a cup final. - Plays an attacking style of football with wingers and strikers (plural) which will play well to the bored galleries at Loftus Road. A bit of excitement would go a long way at Rangers at the moment – look how we all lost our shit at McClaren’s good run through the autumn and subsequent couple of FA Cup wins. - Takes cup competitions seriously, reaching the final of the FA Cup with Villa. - Flammable. - In success would offer an obvious new clothing line to a club retail operation that once produced commemorative t-shirts when Emmanuel Ledesma scored a hat trick against Carlisle United in an early round League Cup game. - Not Joey Barton.
Cons: - Bloke comes across as an absolute helmet. - Many of his claims about the young players he brought through into Tottenham’s first team don’t stand up to scrutiny. For instance, he mentions Ryan Mason a lot, who was part of Sherwood’s academy set up, but actually made 0 starts and 0 sub appearances for him as first team manager. - His Harry Redknapp-style “football is about footballers not systems” comments are not only totally outdated but also unhelpful at a club of QPR’s size where our budget is never going to be as big and players never as good as clubs we’ve nevertheless got to find a way to compete with. - Related point, he probably won’t want the job. There’s no money to spend, senior players have to be released, it’s not an attractive proposition. - Initial refusal to drop down and take jobs outside the Premier League, because apparently six months as caretaker at Spurs means you’re a Premier League manager, means he not only has zero Championship experience but also comes across as an arrogant knob. - When he did pitch up at Swindon Town, to help out the owner who he’s friends with, he initially positioned himself as director of football, only to then start turning up in the dugout and touchline on matchdays, and when it all went to shit he tried to pass it off as him just popping in every now and again to help with transfers. - Touchline behaviour and deliberate attempts to look and sound like a North London letting agent will grate. - Friendship with Les Ferdinand will mean he’ll have very little time to get it right before the crowd turns, and they’ll both have to go if he doesn’t. - Took an Aston Villa side that had £51.2m lavished on it, with 11 new players, and won one of the first 11 games before getting the sack. Picked seven different starting 11s in seven different systems in his final seven games. Villa eventually won only one of their first 20 and were relegated with just four wins to their name all season. This after his infamous “winners” comment in pre-season when he’d said you were about to “find out what a Tim Sherwood team looks like”. - Much talked about (by him) 50% win percentage at Spurs came with an inherited team and still included absolute shellackings by Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City. - Refers to himself in the third person. Never a good sign. See Steve Evans.
Lee Bowyer 3/1
Age – 45 >>> Current Club – Charlton >>> Previously Managed – Charlton (P58, 48%)
Pros: - I’ve got to be honest, I might struggle to write many of these, but here we go. Consistently good results in the league below with Charlton with successive play-off pushes this year and last. - That has been achieved despite the catastrophic ownership situation down at The Valley, and amidst ongoing fan protests and hostile atmosphere. We think managing QPR’s a tough job, it’s a walk in the park compared to managing Charlton with Roland Duchatelet at the helm. - Related point (we’ve got to split them up a bit so we have a list), has been able to recruit and put a team together on no budget at all. - Apparently wants the job, which as previously mentioned makes you a frontrunner for this one by default. - Strong character, to say the least, unlikely to be cowed by the task and situation. - Has worked with some of the best managers in the game over the course of his career, including Bobby Robson and Terry Venables. - Not Joey Barton.
Cons: - Just the idea of it made me do a bit of sick in my mouth. - Majorly inexperienced. Only 58 games as a manager. We’re holding up Gareth Ainsworth’s lack of managerial track record as a con for him and Bowyer is a puppy by comparison. Albeit a very angry one. - The recruitment on a tight budget spoken about in the pros is led at Charlton by their head of recruitment… Steve Gallen, who of course QPR let go. He would, by all accounts, come back as part of the deal, which is a pro, but we can’t mention Bowyer’s transfer market prowess without also pointing out that it’s somebody else leading it. - You cannot hold yourself up as a progressive, inclusive, community football club and then employ somebody with his record. Water under the bridge, changed man, grown up… maybe, though look at his behaviour in the recent Charlton match at Wimbledon which resulted in three match touchline ban. You’d have to think very, very carefully about this one Rangers.
Gareth Ainsworth 6/1
Age – 45 >>> Current Club – Wycombe >>> Previously Managed – Wycombe (P357, 40.1%)
Pros: - Achieved big things at Wycombe on a budget that could kindly be said to be tight and more accurately non-existent. Has experience there of fighting against relegation and then for promotion (both successfully) and building a team on a shoestring. - Worked with QPR recently on the development of a number of our younger players on loan deals, most notably Ebere Eze. - Wants the job and my God when you look down this list doesn’t it really bring it home just how few candidates could be counted even as acceptable and also willing to come? - QPR connection. I’ve deliberately left this a little way down the list because I do think QPR fetishize this idea of bringing former players back in one capacity or another more than most clubs so it shouldn’t by a primary reason for consideration. But it is a fact that he’s a bit of a legend in the eyes of QPR fans from his playing days and that would bring with it a feel good factor, an immediate lift in atmosphere, and buy him more time than many others on this list would get if it doesn’t go right. - Plays attacking football with a high press. - Would probably still be one of our better players, if we got desperate. - Band could do the POTY Dinner, a key cost saving that means we might be able to get that event back one day. - Not Joey Barton.
Cons: - Wycombe’s style of football is rudimentary to say the least. Whether that’s a manager picking a horse for a course or just the way he likes to play remains to be seen when he does eventually get another job, either here or elsewhere, but as we saw with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink patience wears very thin very quick among QPR fans when the football is kick and rush stuff. - Zero Championship managerial experience. He’s dealt with, and achieved, a lot at Wycombe, but its his only club so far and he’s never managed at this level. QPR is a seriously difficult job next season, would it be too much for him? - The QPR connection. Unlike the return of Ian Holloway (which was an appointment no other Championship club would have made) Ainsworth’s achievements over getting on for 400 games at Wycombe (where he’s maintained a 40% win ratio) mean he has been on the radar of other clubs at our level such as Reading over Christmas. But it doesn’t speak well to how we go about scouting for and appointing managers that because somebody who used to play for us and was well liked is doing quite well at a club up the road we just go for him. - Killing another legend. It pains me to see QPR fans talk about Ian Holloway in the manner they do after what he did for us first time around, and he’s not alone in giving great service to the club as player and/or manager only to be run down, criticised and slagged off by keyboard warriors. Do we really want to risk turning Gareth Ainsworth into the latest target of the social media hate mob?
Mark Warburton 8/1
Age – 56 >>> Current Club – Unattached >>> Previously Managed – Brentford (P78, 51%), Rangers (P82, 65%), Forest (P37, 40%)
Pros: - A diligent, modern coach who could, in theory, focus on developing our younger players. - Excellent results record with Brentford and Rangers. Even at Forest, where he’s perceived to have failed, he was achieving a win ratio over 40% and was sacked by a club that often sacks managers who haven’t met their unrealistic expectations of where they should be based on a miracle worked by Brian Clough getting on for 40 years ago. - Knows this division, has succeeded in it before. - The absolute state of Glasgow Rangers while he was up there tells you he’s used to working in a chaotic, disfunctional club. - Doesn’t exactly seem to be swimming in offers so may be on that short, short list of people who would actually want the job. - Not Joey Barton.
Cons: - Given his record on paper at all three of his previous clubs – achieved play-offs with Brentford, promoted with Rangers – it is odd and concerning that very few supporters from any of them really have much of a good word to say about him. - Judging a manager on a success at Brentford is like judging one on a failure at QPR. They’re a well run club, they know what they’re doing, they have a very clear ethos and direction of travel – to a certain extent, it doesn’t really matter who the manager is there. Neither Uwe Rosley nor Dean Smith have exactly excelled having been poached from Griffin Park for their achievements there. - Been out of the game for more than two years now. That isn’t necessarily a firm red line, but it’s a bit of a warning sign isn’t it? Why is a manager whose win ratios at his previous clubs were 51%, 65% and 40% not having to fend off offers? - Not exactly a big departure from Steve McClaren in style, mannerisms, how he plays his football.
Michael Appleton 8/1
Age 43 >>> Current Club – Leicester (assistant) >>> Previously Managed – Portsmouth (P51, 25%), Blackpool (P12, 16%), Blackburn (P15, 26%), Oxford (P173, 45%)
Pros: - Has a reputation as one of more progressive, forward thinking, promising young coaches in this country. Poached by Leicester from a League One side to come and coach their Premier League players. That speaks to the player development QPR see as so key to this role. - At 43, already has experience at four different clubs and the thick end of 250 games in charge, as well as assistant/coaching roles at West Brom and Leicester. - If we’re holding up time served in trying circumstances as advantages for others on this list, then Appleton has basically already written the bloody book on that. Portsmouth in the midst of their financial collapse, followed by an Oyston led Blackpool, followed by the Venkys at Blackburn. At the one (relatively) normal club he’s been in charge of, Oxford, he won promotion. - Would want the job. - Not Joey Barton
Cons: - Quite where that reputation has come from, and why, I can't quite fathom. It's such a random name to come up for consideration I can’t help but fear there’s an agent at work somewhere along the line, and we know how it ends when QPR let an agent get in their ear about a client. - Talks like a bit of a meathead. - His record, bar Oxford, and admittedly at three shambolic clubs, is very poor. The football his Blackburn team played was ball out of a cannon, John Beck-style stuff – though I’m told his Oxford team played a much more progressive style. - Would get very little time. Can’t see a lot of supporter patience with this one if it starts to go even slightly wrong. - Not exactly loyal. I mean Christ on a bike let’s not get ahead of ourselves, I long for the day our manager is doing so well other clubs want him, but he’s promiscuous in touting for jobs and jumping ship at the mere hint of a slightly better offer.
Gary Rowett 12/1
Age – 45 >>> Current Club – Unattached >>> Previously Managed – Burton Albion (P142, 44.4%), Birmingham City (P106, 39.6%), Derby (P60, 43.3%), Stoke (P29, 31%)
Pros: - Worked his way up from the lower leagues since retiring from playing, building the Burton Albion side that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink subsequently got promoted with. If you feel Hasselbaink got credit for somebody else’s work to land the QPR job, well here’s the somebody else. - Had success at this level in difficult circumstances at Birmingham, where he took a team that was almost relegated under Lee Clark to just short of the play-off places when he was disgracefully sacked. The ongoing Carson Yeung situation lingered over Birmingham when he arrived and he managed well despite playing budgets being cut, transfer plans being uncertain and permanent takeover talk. - Sparked prolonged turn arounds in form and results at both Burton and Birmingham with the players he inherited, rather than by insisting on adding a load of new ones. QPR have very little to spend. - He’s available. QPR, and Les Ferdinand in particular, have wanted Rowett twice before but he was secure in more attractive jobs than our own at those points. His stock has fallen of late for reasons we’ll come onto in the cons but it could play into our hands that a manager most fans would have been delighted to see here 18 months ago is now readily available, and probably a lot cheaper than he would have been back then. Would also, as with Sherwood, show that it’s not Tony Fernandes et al making the appointment. - Not Joey Barton.
Cons: - If you’re expecting a glorious departure from the 4-2-3-1 approach, and a whole load of attractive attacking football, don’t. His style and approach is overly negative, even at Stoke where he had a litany of very good attacking players for this level to pick from. - Spent big money on far better players than he would have to work with at QPR and made a mess of things at Stoke. Previously did the same at Derby, though I take less notice of that because everybody seems to go the same way at Derby. Either way his stock has fallen and even Birmingham fans were critical of his team selections and tactics. Overly cautious, faith in favourites and so on. - Talks like he’s got a chip on both shoulders. His Stoke team had millions lavished on it and didn’t perform, but there was no humility at all through that spell – interviews were needlessly passive aggressive and loaded with excuses. QPR don’t need excuses, it’s a tough job, we get it, we need somebody that will embrace that not give it the ‘woe is me’ routine. - While he is available, and his stock has fallen, as previously said this isn’t a particularly attractive job now and you wonder whether he might want to wait his unemployment out. He’s an erudite pundit and will probably get bigger and better offers in the summer or early next season if he just spends the next few months in the TV studio watching other managers fall out of work.
Kenny Jackett 18/1
Age – 57 >>> Current Club – Portsmouth >>> Previously Managed – Watford (P57, 38%), Swansea (P156, 44%), Millwall (P307, 42%), Wolves (P150, 46%), Rotherham (P5, 0%), Portsmouth (P106, 50%)
Pros: - Very experienced manager and coach, with successful stints at Swansea, Millwall and Wolves under his belt as a number one and QPR already as a number two on his CV. - Went into a desperate situation at Wolves, rebuilt the club and promoted it after successive relegations. - Plays a style of football that would go well at QPR. Favours two big, athletic strikers fed by two out and out wingers with excellent crossing ability and backed by a hard working central midfield. - Would likely increase the Gallen employment at Rangers by bringing Joe with him. - Prone to good runs deep into cup competitions, including Wembley appearances while with Millwall. - Straight-talking, calm, respectful man not likely to draw unnecessary newspaper headlines or farce to a club already very adept at bringing that sort of stuff upon itself. A steady hand. - Not Joey Barton
Cons: - Already in a job at Portsmouth where he’s doing very well and could very likely win promotion at the end of the season. The fans haven’t really warmed to him there, and he’s been keen on the QPR job before, but it’s hard to imagine why he’d swap the situation he’s in for the one we’re offering here. - Took on a difficult situation at the bottom of the Championship at Rotherham and lasted just five games and no wins.
There’s some names among the betting at reasonably short odds that I think are just there because they’re available and have worked at this level recently, rather than any realistic prospect of them being considered or coming here. What Darren Moore did in his short period at an extremely well financed West Brom make people think he could come into our situation and make a difference I’m not sure, but he’s 12/1 with three bookies. Likewise Carlos Carvalhal, who’s as low as tens with SkyBet.
Chris Powell was at the game on Saturday, which probably influences his appearance on the list at 18/1, but Powell is apparently a QPR fan and is at our games a lot when he’s not in work. Would want the job, has dealt with difficult situations and tiny budgets before, wouldn’t be the worst choice in the world, but isn’t going to be shifting a lot of season tickets is he? Not that many of them are on this list.
Some really random ones coming in between twenties and thirties. Paul Furlong, Steve Cotterill, Clint Hill, Darrell Clarke and Mark Cooper are all available there.
When we put this piece together we call up the template from the last time it was written, which was when Ian Holloway was appointed to succeed Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. The striking thing about that, and the previous piece when Chris Ramsey was sacked, is how many people who were considered red hot favourites or fantastic choices not even that long ago don’t figure at all now. Nigel Pearson, recently sacked from his job in Belgium’s second division, was hot property at 6/4 but is now bobbing around at 33/1 and barely warranting a mention despite being available and with an impressive track record – albeit, not lately. You could say the same of Warburton and Rowett, who many would have loved down here at various points and are now both out of work. Karl Robinson was 3/1 second favourite behind Holloway last time – not currently priced. Paul Clement, once the “dream manager”, also at 33/1 after his recent failure at Reading – again, a club you could say everybody fails at so don’t pay too much attention to that.
As manager’s stock rises and falls, and flavours of the month come and go, one thing remains the same – QPR are essentially in exactly the same position they’ve been in the last three times they’ve been looking for a manager. Bottom end of the Championship midtable, run of bad results, bit chaotic. That either tells you they’re not very good at appointing managers, or that the manager isn’t the main problem here. We usually finish with a conclusion where I plump for one from the list, but it’s a deeply uninspiring collection. You dream of us making that sort of left field, transformative appointment from abroad like Huddersfield, Norwich and even bloody Barnsley have been able to. But I can’t see it can you?
All I would say is this situation where the people charged with running the club day to day have little to no say in managerial hiring’s and firings isn’t getting us anywhere. Les Ferdinand, Lee Hoos and others are taking flak for decisions made by other people. Let them make this call, and stand or fall by it. I don’t envy them their choice.
Paul Warne has been 'linked' by some sites - and is 3rd favourite for the job on skybet. I would be surprised if he leaves Rotherham before the end of the season, but if the job is still going, IMO would be a reasonable choice for us.
Talks like he’s got a chip on both shoulders. His Stoke team had millions lavished on it and didn’t perform, but there was no humility at all through that spell – interviews were needlessly passive aggressive and loaded with excuses. QPR don’t need excuses, it’s a tough job, we get it, we need somebody that will embrace that not give it the ‘woe is me’ routine.
Some of those on the list are employed, but I think it speaks to where we are and how unattractive the job is. You're going to be given a squad that's already struggling and you're going to have to release maybe half a dozen out of contract senior players from it. One of your best players, probably Freeman, is going to have to be sold. You're going to be reliant on a bunch of kids who may or may not be good enough, but have mostly been completely ignored by your predecessor. It's not an attractive job. Not one you'd leave another half decent job for.
One thing you forgot to mention about Gaz "Wild Thing" Ainsworth, is that he handled himself with real dignity and authority when he was caretaker at Loftus Road and had Gianni"Make sure you've still got all your fingers after I shake your hand" Paladini barking team selections at him down the mobile phone line at half-time. I seem to remember his results were decent during that run as well. That coupled with some of the sh*t he's had to deal with at Wycombe shows he's definitely got the balls for it. (We all knew that already of course, from when he tried to run on a broken leg!). As part of the "Class of 2004", I'd have him all day long.
The media promoting Sherwood as the manager of QPR is ridiculous. He was only the caretaker manager at Spurs saying he wanted job, so he didn't get it. Most unsuitable for QPR, he's arrogant & ready to blame everyone but himself. The last time he applied for the QPR manager's job, he made so many conditions, he didn't get it. Lee Bowyer for me, he is suffering under the same conditions at Charlton so he knows what to expect. Also as a bonus he brings with him Steve Gallen, one of our own
I'm not sure whether I'm more terrified about Les's mobile or Tony's. Les only has one number on his favourites, the big kid in the playground who wanted to know him. Tony riffs through the numbers with his thumb "hmm Pards, Sven, Wee David, I know! Bon soir Arsene! Err q'est que c'est, va t'en con?" In desperation "hello? Mark?" For the record, it's Wild Thing for me.
I don't think Holloway is in any position to be 'spitting blood' to be honest. He presided over 3 (bar Brentford last-gasp draw) 6 match losing streaks. He failed miserably to arrest our away form and he behaviour post-match made Sherwood normal. What he did a little bit was bring on the kids, although extremely erratically, and certainly not enough to justify his rant against McClaren that he 'stole his kids'. I have huge time for what he achieved the first time around and 2nd time he kept us up while trimming the wage bill significantly. I believe McClaren would have achieved the same. goal but I accept the performances v Rotherham and Bolton were unacceptable. I agree ( and have said many times) that he abandoned his remit after four games, but firmly believe we were at least partly responsible for that by our hysterical response to the opening four games of the season. Whoever comes in must be allowed to garner 50 points per season for at least 2 consecutive years and then take stock
I agree with some of what you say Myke. However, were you at LR for the last home game of last season where we comfortably beat an, I admit, fairly abject Birmingham side comfortably 3-1 with Lumley, Kakay, Manning, Osayi-Samuel AND Chair all in the team? We looked pretty good, I have to say, and I chatted for a good few minutes with Ollie afterwards who was smiling broadly and very excited about what might happen this season. If I was him, I'd definitely be spitting blood as well, whilst wanting to take the piss out of Uncle Tony at same time!