QPR have their Field day – Signing
Thursday, 20th May 2021 16:02 by Clive Whittingham
Sam Field and Queens Park Rangers liked each other enough during a half-season loan in 2020/21 to make the move permanent today for an undisclosed fee.
Sam Field is a 23-year-old, 6ft 3ins central midfielder from Stourbridge. He likes Def Leppard, painting in watercolour and growing his own fruit and veg.
The lifelong West Bromwich Albion fan progressed through the ranks at The Hawthorns, named the club’s Academy Player of the Season in 2015/16. He was capped by England at U18, U19 and U20 level and made his Baggies debut in the final game of 15/16 in a 1-1 home draw against Liverpool. He made five starts and four sub appearances in the top flight and League Cup the following season and then opened his professional goalscoring account in a 2-2 home draw with Newcastle in November 2017 – one of seven starts and five sub apps he made that campaign.
2018/19 was his best season in Baggies’ colours appearance wise, with ten starts and eight sub apps as Darren Moore’s side tried and failed to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking. He scored his second goal for the club in a 2-0 away win at Bolton, but six of his starts were in the cup competitions and when Slaven Bilic replaced Moore for the 2019/20 season it was becoming apparent that Field would require a loan spell for more regular action. He and Jonathan Leko subsequently completed season-long moves to newly promoted Charlton.
Field made ten starts and seven sub appearances for the Addicks in their relegation year, and another start in the League Cup. He suffered a knee injury in October that would have prematurely ended his season at The Valley but the Covid-19 lockdown allowed him to return for another eight outings in the June and July games, including a brief substitute appearance in a 1-0 home win against QPR.
Having initially impressed Bilic at the start of 2020/21, playing against Harrogate and Brentford in the cup, Chelsea, Everton and Southampton in the league, he then suffered another knee injury keeping him out long enough for Sam Allardyce to replace Bilic as manager and having skipped ahead of Rakeen Harper early in the campaign he now found himself back down the pecking order. He subsequently spent the second half of the season on loan at QPR where he made eight starts, 11 sub appearances, and scored one goal against Brentford in a 2-1 win at Loftus Road.
A dozen starts would have triggered an option for QPR to make the deal permanent. Field came up four starts short of that but the deal has been completed regardless today, with Field signing a three year contract, with a fourth year on the club's side, for an undisclosed fee.
"I know I’m a permanent QPR player now and I’m hoping to kick on. Sometimes you feel that chapters are up in your life and West Brom has been absolutely brilliant for me. But I felt it was the right time to move on for good now. I had a feeling in January that if I could get this move right, I could stay here. I’ve settled in really quickly and really enjoyed it, too. So I was desperate to get this move completed as a result. Ive been really happy with how the whole move has gone. I’d had a terrible, stop-start year with injuries and I was really happy to get games here. Since I’ve been available, I’ve been involved in every game here and that’s a massive plus for me. Credit to the medical team and also the gaffer for picking me. Just being able to play football meant the world to me and I feel I’ve still got a lot more to offer now that I have that confidence from playing a run of games. It’s been brilliant and I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time here so far. We have a great group of lads here and the way the end of the season went means we all can’t wait to get going again." - Sam Field
"He is a young player who showed his evident quality in the games he played for us during the second half of last season. He adds both physicality and versatility to our play. And he undoubtedly has huge development potential. We’re all really excited to continue working with him, seeing his continued progress and the impact he’ll have on the team. It’s no secret that he had a frustrating time with injury previously, so therefore he has a lot of development left in him. He has been well looked after by our medical team and he has a great attitude. He is well liked by the players and, as I said, we’re delighted to have him on board on a permanent basis. He is a talented footballer who will only continue to benefit from the presence of the senior players here." - Warbs Warburton
Big fan of Field, and of this signing.
Firstly because he’s exactly the sort of understated, fetcher and carrier midfielder who makes others around him look better by doing a lot of their dirty work. Every good team has one and although Josh Scowen did a reasonable job of it for Mass Luongo and Luke Freeman in Ian Holloway’s team, QPR haven’t really had one since Shaun Derry was ruling the Loftus Road roost in W12. They’re particularly important in the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 set up that Rangers used when Derry was around, and is preferred by Mark Warburton. If you’re going to play three at the back it becomes more vital still because once you’ve got your goalkeeper, three centre backs, two wing backs and forwards that doesn’t leave a lot of numbers for the midfield, particularly if we’re going with Dykes and a partner up front, with Willock and Chair on top of that as we did for the away game at Stoke last season. When QPR are poor, and losing, it’s usually because they’re beaten by more numbers and an enthusiastic press in midfield, and we saw in several matches last year teams take games over as they added players to the middle as we removed them trying to chase things with more attackers. Field is not only a steady, physical presence to prevent that, but he rarely wastes a pass either. When QPR are at their best it’s usually when they’re playing with pace, purpose and tempo and Field is excellent at moving the ball on quickly, intelligently, and with real accuracy. We love Dom Ball for all the obvious reasons, but Field is a significant upgrade.
Secondly, he’s a great defensive asset. While his brief stint as the third centre back for the 3-1 loss at Nottingham Forest wasn’t a conspicuous success, that defeat had more to do with him being moved out of the midfield allowing Forest to take it over, rather than anything he did particularly wrong at the back. It was still only 1-0, off a Yoann Barbet mistake, when substitutions were made adding Lyndon Dykes to the attack and taking another body out of the middle to do it, sparking two quickfire Forest goals including one from the game’s best player, and Forest’s central midfielder, James Garner. In other games, in his more favoured position, Field’s 6ft 3in frame proved a very useful tool in defending our own box, and he won important headed clearances in his own area in wins at home to Coventry and Millwall, and most notably at the back post in injury time at Swansea to protect a single goal lead that Rangers had taken just a minute before. QPR have come a long way from a year ago when they’d conceded 76 goals, the third most in the Championship, and led the way in concessions from set pieces. They’ve reduced the goals conceded to 55, and upped the clean sheets from six to 14, but there’s still work to do – all eight teams above is in the table conceded fewer than us, as did six of the teams that finished below us. The addition of Field to the team will continue the progress we’ve made in becoming a more difficult team to play and score against.
Thirdly because it’s great value. A 23-year-old with excellent pedigree in the West Brom and England youth set ups, proven already at this level, well liked by the Baggies’ fans who seem disappointed he’s leaving, and all on our stringent budget. It’s the sort of signing you used to see other clubs making and wondering where exactly we were while all of this is going on. Like Jordy De Wijs, there are fitness concerns. He has suffered, repeatedly, with knee injuries, that disrupted his loan at Charlton, and robbed him of a final chance of making it at West Brom under Slaven Bilic. As I said in the De Wijs piece it does look and feel like a deliberate ploy of QPR to take a chance on players other clubs may pass on because of concerns over fitness, and then trust our medical and sports science departments to get them right for us, in order to find value in the market.
That may seem counter intuitive when Warburton has gone out of his way in the past to praise Ryan Manning, Luke Amos (pre-knee explosion) and Yoann Barbet for their durability, and availability. Warbs is quite open about wanting a small, tight squad without a whole load of extra players who know they’ve got no chance of playing on a Saturday so if Field, George Thomas and De Wijs continue to be unavailable next season and beyond as often as their past record suggests they will be that’s going to be a problem. The recruitment will be left open to criticism because they showed us there was some fragility there, we signed them anyway, and now we’re short. But, again, as I said with De Wijs, if Sam Field looked like Sam Field, sounded like Sam Field, played like Sam Field, and had zero fitness concerns then at 23 years of age I very much doubt he’d be available to QPR within our wage structure. The recruitment so far since Warburton came through the door is worthy of our faith and trust.
I’d like to see him assert himself and influence games a little bit more than he does. He showed against Brentford he does have that ability to arrive late in the box and finish chances, rather than just hanging back being a water carrier for others, but I wonder whether his role last season was rather dictated to by the signing and subsequent form of Stefan Johansen. Like Derry with Ale Faurlin, Ian Holloway with Ray Wilkins, when you’ve got a player of the quality of Johansen in the team then all you really want and need the guy next to him to be doing is what Holloway would subsequently describe as “carrying the piano to the stage for him to play”. It’ll be interesting, if Johansen or his non-union Mexican equivalent isn’t secured for 2020/21, whether Field will become more of an influential playmaker back there.
These reservations not withstanding, a very tidy signing of a good player and, by all accounts, genuinely good character and lovely lad.
The Twitter @loftforwords
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