Taylor Richards returns ‘home’ on loan from Brighton – Signing
Friday, 22nd Jul 2022 16:18 by Clive Whittingham
QPR’s fourth signing of the summer is 21-year-old Shepherd’s Bush local Taylor Richards, on a season-long loan from Brighton.
We have a local boy! Taylor Richards, a 21-year-old central midfielder, was born in Hammersmith. Although he swiftly changed it back, he rather let the cat out of the bag about his move to QPR by changing his social media profile picture to one of him as a boy sitting in the South Africa Road stand in a Rangers shirt – his first ever football match, a 2-1 loss (typical) to Crystal Palace in 2007. A seventh birthday treat - Zesh Rehman, Bob Malcolm, Ben Sahar, and an ensemble cast of stars all involved. One from the Albert Adomah school of PR there.
He hopped around a bit as an academy player. Starting down the road at Fulham, switching to the Man City death star at 14, and then down to Brighton in 2019 for a fee reported in the region of £2.5m. he picked up three caps for England at U17 level en route.
As a 16-year-old he made three appearances for the Man City U21 side in the disgraceful shambles that is the EFL Trophy – featuring in two draws and a defeat with Rotherham, Chesterfield and Bradford. The season after, 2018/19, he played four times in that competition scoring goals against Crewe and Rochdale. In 2019/20 he made four EFL Trophy appearances for the Brighton youth team, and got a senior debut for the firsts with 90 minutes in a 3-1 home loss to Aston Villa in the League Cup.
As ever at these puppy farms, it was time to commence the multiple loan deals. He began in League One at Doncaster Rovers under Darren Moore, a manager and set up QPR liked enough to keep loaning them goalkeepers so they could practice their trendy playing out from the back. Richards forged a nice line in goalscoring midfield play there, bagging 11 goals in 33 starts and 14 sub appearances. That included a run of five goals in nine appearances over Christmas and New Year, and a hot finish of five in seven through April and May.
Last season began with four appearances for Brighton’s first team. He started in 2-0 wins against Cardiff and Swansea in the League Cup and made late sub appearances in home defeats to Everton and Wolves.
The intention was for him to spend the second half of the season on loan in the Championship at Birmingham, but he somehow contrived to injure himself in the jumping tests during the medical exam – an ever upbeat Lee Bowyer said: “"I have never heard anything like this. The players have done it a thousand times – it's just this season, he did it ten times and then he does it. It's crazy. I have never heard of a player getting injured in the medical.” He sounds like an Oakland A already. Debuting in mid March he only managed two starts and four sub appearances, failing to impress in a Blues side that had long since collapsed. They won one of those six games, failed to score in four of them, but he was not involved in the six goal shellacking at Blackpool in April.
He joins QPR on a season long loan deal with what’s described as “an option to buy” – his Brighton contract runs to 2024.
“I haven’t got the words, it feels great to be at QPR. That was my first ever football game. My mum took me. QPR has been part of my life. I am from Shepherd’s Bush and all my family and friends support QPR. Everyone is excited and I just can’t wait to get on the pitch, that’s where it matters. QPR was the only team I wanted to go to because I am at home. The manager’s ideas stood out for me and I just want to be in his plans. He told me that the type of player I am, he feels I can fit into his system and I feel I can fit into his system too. Hopefully we can do some good stuff together and work well. I like to be direct, I’m a technical player, I like to score goals, assists, be creative and just make things happen. That’s the type of player that I am.” -Taylor Richards
“Taylor is a very, very talented boy who I have watched extensively in the past. Given his age and the fact that he’s a Hammersmith boy, I think he’s perfect for us in terms of the identity we have as a team and as a club. He can travel with the ball and is powerful in his play, so we’re delighted to have him. He can play as a number 10, wide left, wide right – but predominately he is an attacking midfielder, a number eight. He gives more competition and our midfield is looking stronger for it. He is a midfielder who can dribble at speed, from one line to another – he can score and he can play. He adds to a very talented group that we’ve got here already and there is a high ceiling in terms of his potential. Ideally when we do loans, we want them to be with a view to being a permanent QPR player – and that’s what we’ve managed to do,” -Michael Beale
Well, there’s certainly a clear profile to QPR’s signings so far this summer. Taylor Richards (21) joins Tyler Roberts (23)(sure that’s not going to get confusing, good luck Nick London), Jake Clarke-Salter (24) and Kenneth Paal (25) through the entrance doors in W12. All of a similar age and stage in their career with, as Michael Beale keeps emphasising as important, “their best days ahead of them”.
Annoyingly, and this is no doubt down to the budget and FFP headroom restrictions we’ve got and I keep banging on about, two of them are loans with views to a permanent. A shame, because there’s development and sell-on potential in all four, which if we say Paal is replacing Lee Wallace, Clarke-Salter for Yoann Barbet, Roberts for Charlie Austin or Andre Gray, and now Richards instead of Dom Ball, wasn’t true of any of their predecessors. All have come from that background of allowing themselves to be hoarded into elite academies where they stood zero chance of ever playing first team football, but are now looking to escape and actually play the game. Richards has played less first team football than the others, but is the youngest and was hampered in those efforts by an injury which disrupted his time at Birmingham – again, as we know, chequered injury histories aren’t something QPR shy away from while searching for value in this market.
What he isn’t is the right back or striker that QPR look to be still in desperate need of with ten days left until the season begins. Trying to low-ball Millwall into letting us have Danny McNamara by making multiple offers increasing in increments of 25p a time seems to have pissed the Lions off so much they’d rather get another season out of him and lose him for nothing when his contract expires next summer than play ball at the prices we can stretch to. Rumours of forward signings have died a death, bar the odd vague mention of Troy Parrott. Looking at our options in those positions compared to midfield where we have Stefan Johansen, Sam Field, Andre Dozzell, Luke Amos, George Thomas, Faysal Bettache and king of the running/contract extensions Charlie Owens already, another signing in that area wouldn’t appear to have been a priority.
It’s not unusual for clubs that are looking to get a buy-low-sell-high conveyer belt going to do that though – Brighton buy ball playing centre backs for fun and others haven’t been shy of stocking up on wing backs, because those positions are in vogue and fetch big money fairly quickly for often meagre outlay. And while QPR may have numbers in central midfield, it was an under-performing area last season. When you’re struggling to sign strikers in this market, which we clearly are, spreading the goals around the team can mitigate that problem. Luke Amos did his bit last season with six – best goals-per-minute ratio of anybody in the squad bar Andre Gray – but that was more than the rest put together. Field and Dozzell didn’t score at all between them, Jeff Hendrick was about as likely to score for QPR as I was, and Johansen and Ball managed one each in the same game against a crap Reading side - even one of those initially went down as an own goal and probably should have stayed as that.
Beale has spoken about players playing with their shoulders facing both goals, not “endlessly setting” the ball. One can draw their own conclusions on what he might have made watching some of our games back from the end of last season – particularly Blackburn away. QPR attempted 463 passes in that game and the centre backs and goalkeepers accounted for 215 of those. Barbet, Dickie and Dunne all topped 60 each – Willock (11), Adomah (18), Odubajo (24), Gray (5), McCallum (9) just about got to that collectively. A midfield three of Field, Johansen and Hendrick, on the occasions they did receive it from the back, mostly just turned it straight back and inside to one of them to start the process again. It was a dire, painful watch. Already this pre-season we’ve seen Sam Field playing much more advanced with purposeful forward drives and a headed goal from a corner at Crawley. He’s looked comfortable there, and likewise Johansen as a deep-lying ball-player, but for the additional ‘eight’ in the system nobody has yet excelled. Andre Dozzell hinted at it with a spectacular goal in Germany, but he does a lot of hinting – time to stop waving it around and start fucking. Anonymous again at Wealdstone in the week, he could be vulnerable to this deal. Amos, sadly, has been hampered by injury this summer.
The new manager also told LFW last week it was important not to bring in players who “cut across” the ones we already have here and are trying to develop. Richards certainly does that to a number of them, but we’re not running a New Labour sports day here and giving out medals for taking part. We need more from our central midfielders. We need more goals, more penetration, more forceful running and passing forwards. Only Amos really showed himself capable of that last season, though Field and Johansen were much better at it the year before. If you don’t do it, or can’t, well now there’s competition from somebody else who might.
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