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A second QPR chance for Carroll – Signing
Friday, 4th Sep 2020 13:00 by Clive Whittingham

QPR have added their one-time loanee Tom Carroll as a fifth summer signing, on a free transfer following his release from Swansea.

Facts

Little Tom Carroll is a 28-year-old waif from Watford. He enjoys black and white films, doing hair tutorials on YouTube and helping his mum out on her allotment.

He came through the academy at Tottenham (academy education klaxon) but it was at then League One Leyton Orient that he made his first senior appearances, debuting as a late substitute in a 1-1 draw at Bournemouth and going on to make nine starts and five sub appearances for the O’s in 2010/11.

Spurs’ 2011/12 Europa League campaign offered Carroll his first minutes for his parent club, making five starts with a further outing from the beginning of a League Cup tie with Stoke. He came on as s sub in the FA Cup at home to Cheltenham at the beginning of January but quickly went out on loan for a second time, this time to Championship side Derby County. He scored his first senior goal on his debut there in a 3-2 loss at Barnsley and he made eight starts and four sub appearances between January and the end of the season as Derby finished twelfth.

2012/13 brought 14 appearances for Spurs. Three starts in the Europa League, one in the League Cup and the rest off the bench. He came on as a sub for his Premier League debut in a 1-0 home loss to Wigan in November. He first joined QPR on a season long loan deal for 2013/14, manager Harry Redknapp saying his newly relegated would “play through Tom” for the Championship season. The campaign ended at Wembley, with Bobby Zamora winning promotion back to the top flight in the last minute, and Carroll contributed 23 starts and three sub apps to that campaign but wasn’t involved in the play-offs and his last appearance was in a 1-1 draw with Millwall on April 26.

The general consensus was that Carroll had been too lightweight, struggling to affect games, but he got a Premier League loan deal for 2014/15 all the same, joining Swansea and not only making 20 appearances with one goal against Tranmere in the FA Cup, but also doing enough to tempt the Swans into paying £4.5m to take him permanently in January 2017. In between he managed his best season for Tottenham in 2015/16, making 30 appearances (12 from the start) and scoring three times against Norwich in the Prem, Colchester in the cup and Monaco in the Europa League.

He has played the majority of his professional football in Swansea colours. A further 64 starts and 18 sub appearances followed between 2017 and 2019 after the permanent move with two goals scored. Following the Swans’ relegation to the Championship he was loaned to second tier rivals Aston Villa in January to clear some wage but only appeared twice from the bench. He made just seven starts and three sub appearances for Steve Cooper’s Swansea last season, sent off against Blackburn for being a very naughty boy.

His last outing in their colours came in the 5-1 FA Cup defeat against QPR at Loftus Road. He now rejoins the R’s for a second time, on a permanent free transfer and one year contract.

Reaction

"I’ve been training here for the last couple of weeks and things have obviously gone well. I like the way the manager wants to play. Hopefully that suits me and we can push on together. He wants me to enjoy myself. Now it’s about showing what I can do. It’s a really young squad – especially compared to last time I was here. It’s a good squad, a talented one, too, and hopefully I can help them along the way. I feel like my playing style will suit the club – hopefully I can get on the ball and help us play. I was on the end of a drubbing with Swansea last season in the FA Cup and there are some really talented players here – match-winners and players who are capable of playing at a really high level. Hopefully we can build on last season and really push on.” -Tom Carroll

“He brings Premier League experience and Premier League quality, in terms of his technical ability. He’s had a frustrating time over the last couple of months, but I think we have a very experienced and very talented player who is hungry to prove a point. My question to Tom was, ‘How hungry are you?’ Clearly, there is a really strong desire to come and play football. He should be entering his prime and I think he will be a great addition to the squad. He’s added a different level of passing ability – he sees a pass that opens up the opposition. He finds pockets of space that we work hard to create and maximise, and I think we play in a style that suits Tom. I think it’s a natural fit for him and he’s felt very at home here from the first day. He’s shown his quality, ability and desire to do well and move forward in his footballing career. Hopefully everyone benefits from this.” -Warbs Warburton

“Definition of a meh signing. If it's low cost low risk then don't have a huge problem with it. Would actually allow us to send Bettache on loan somewhere which would surely be better for his development than making him a bit part player here.” -BAWHoops

“I was under the impression Warbs was looking to improve our physicality this season....looks like a step backwards to me. God help us with Amos and Carroll in the middle of the park.” -BurnleyHoop

“If he's on a free and it's sensible wages then I think this is weird a good signing. Experienced player, for an important role that we don't have a lot of experience in. With the previous season only just finishing I can see a lot of niggly injuries this season.” -JamieNaz

Agree fully with this and others saying if Warburton trusts him then so should we. It will be for a very specialised role in a complex system that he does seem to have the skills for and no doubt Warburton has been monitoring very closely over the past few weeks and won’t be proposing a contract unless he feels he can fulfil the remit. Very different to being more blood thrown into ‘Arrys shambles that he probably spent more time preparing for the 3pm @ Kempton than his midfielder requirements for the 3pm at LR. I didn’t rate him last time he was here either but if Warburton trusts that he will improve the squad and offers a contract I think we should give him a clean slate and see how he beds in. We do IMO still need a Shaun Derry type in there to let the artists paint though, but think the role Carroll plays is an incredibly underrated role and of huge importance in Warburton’s system, one Amos struggled to excel in last year. Hoping the signing of Dickie will also help relieve some of the pressure on Amos/Carroll. Just goes to show what an amazing player Ale Faurlin was for us, but guess he always had Adel in front of him causing havoc. Also agree there is a degree of arrogance in saying if he is not good enough for Swansea, he will not be good enough for us and something I think we need to avoid.” -GigiIsOurGod

"For a free transfer it's a good signing, especially given his attributes match up with Warburton's style. He has plenty of experience now."-NeilSI

"Not all signings are meant to be revolutionary, groundbreaking or indeed game changing. some are meant to be functional, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. We're signing a 28 year old, with no real injury record to note, who has played for a much better team than us in both this league and the league above. He fits our system. We've trialled him before taking the plunge. He's free. He'll be well within our wage structure. He offers us depth in the midfield. There's almost no risk involved. Does it excite me? of course not. But equally, it doesn't concern me either. We're still in the market for other players in other positions, this just fills a hole that needs to be filled..." -Jeff

Opinion

Essentially, the opinion section for this one is just me making Marge Simpson’s “hmmmmmmm” noise for a few paragraphs.

How Carroll did in a loan spell seven years ago, playing in ‘Arry’s ‘sling em together and see how they get on’ approach to Championship management, doesn’t mean too much on its own and shouldn’t be held against the lad. He’s been bought and sold for £4.5m since then and played in excess of 70 Premier League games and can bring that experience to us, still only 28, on a free transfer and within our wage structure.

Of more concern is that many of the same things we though about him in 2013/14 are shared now by Swansea fans following his departure from South Wales. Speaking to Steve Carroll (no relation) from the SoS fanzine earlier today he said simply: “Lightweight, plays it safe, doesn’t offer a lot. Confidence was shot as well. He’s lucky to get a club in our league.” Which is essentially word for word what we’d have said when he left here in the first place. His last Swansea appearance came in the 5-1 defeat to QPR at Loftus Road when you’d have been forgiven for not noticing he was playing – which always has been rather the problem.

We keep going back to Warbs Warburton’s comments at the autumn fans forum when he said his ideal Championship signing would be Romaine Sawyers as a presence in front of the defence who can receive possession in tight areas and use it intelligently and dangerously going forwards. Whatever anybody said about Carroll in his first spell here, he never hid. He did always want the ball, dropping out of the midfield to demand possession from the defence. Luke Amos played that role for us last season but was used further forward at Oxford in pre-season last week following the departure of Ebere Eze. Perhaps the idea is for Amos to be more attacking and Carroll to do that fetch and carry job.

The problem with that is the bravery rather evaporated when Carroll did get the ball. Too often a backwards or sideways pass, not enough incisive, forward passes through the thirds and the lines of the opposition. Not enough affect on the game. That will need to have improved, or start improving pretty quickly. Steve Cooper likes football on the floor, and lads with an “academy education”, nearly as much as Warbs does and couldn’t find a use for him at Swansea. He also doesn’t help with the lack of physical strength in our team, and the weak spine to it – in fact he exacerbates the problem.

We lack cover in midfield, Cameron isn’t getting any younger or better, and maybe he’s been brought in as that. He’s a good age, price and wage, it's only a one year contract and Warburton has had a prolonged look at him over the summer before taking the plunge. It’s a Premier League-experienced player, under 30, for free. But it’s a bit of a teeth-sucker apart from that.

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swisscottage added 13:34 - Sep 4
If Caroll does constantly play it safe, crablike, Warbs will drop him its as simple as that. Nearly everything about Warbs ball is about pulling the opposition out of shape and attacking at pace, and whilst that requires recycling the ball it also requires fast decisive forward passing, and if he doesn't show that he won't play.
3

Patrick added 15:33 - Sep 4
I always remember that while Redknapp said we would "play through Tom" he may have forgotten to tell the grizzled old pros. LTC would dash about, shouting (well, squeaking) and pointing where to pass the ball. Senior player in possession (quite often Barton) would ostentatiously turn his back and pass to another old sweat. Amusing if a bit cruel and indicative of the locker room issues at the time. In a frantic season he could be a useful addition to MF on a cautious contract and maybe has something to prove.
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Phil_i_P_Daddy added 15:58 - Sep 4
Can’t fault the ‘Opinion’ above. A one year deal speaks volumes for both parties, i.e. we’re not convinced, and he couldn’t do any better...🤞🏻
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Gleni1977 added 17:01 - Sep 4
When Warburton asked him how hungry he was I wonder if it was with a view to bulking him up a bit?
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Myke added 17:02 - Sep 4
Cheers Clive. A decent analysis. Impossible to judge him from the Rednapp era, so the Swansea opinion is more disquieting. Very similar to Amos in many ways, so hard to imagine both being on the pitch at the same time. Assuming we go 4 -1-3-1-1, will that mean Caroll sitting deep, taking the ball from Dickie and moving itl left and right to whoever (BOS/Thomas/Shodipo/Smith/Amos) with Ball further forward protecting the centre of the pitch and Chair further forward from him, looking to play off Dykes.? You say it leaves us weak down the spine and to an extent you are right, but Dickie and Dykes, with their physicality and increased mobility have reduced the need for a really stiff centre. Besides, with Ball/Cameron there and Chair remarkably difficult to knock off the ball for his size, we are no shrinking violets there either and add in Thomas's work-rate, we shouldn't be pushovers for anyone.
I think it is a decent 'safe signing. One request Clive; at 5'10'' and the average English man 5'9'', can we PLEASE drop the 'little', I found it quite irksome the first time around and the thoughts of another year... please?
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Burnleyhoop added 23:47 - Sep 4
Amos and Carrol will really need to hit the ground running from the off. They are both decent enough footballers, but the lingering doubts about their ability to influence games in tough, physically demanding games will mean they are likely to take some serious flak if they wimp out of games and become anonymous.

I genuinely hope they both do well, as this season is likely to define their careers for years to come, as well as impact QPR’s success or otherwise this season. Big gamble by Warb’s IMO.
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snanker added 06:52 - Sep 5
Agree with Swiss on Warbs thinkin' & approach here. An injury covering signing. He'd wanna have improved over the journey since last cameo with us tho ?
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