Les Ferdinand’s back leading the line for QPR and winning
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
Shortly after QPR lost 2-0 at West Ham United in October, former Rs striker Les Ferdinand arrived back at the club as head of football operations.
It was a job title nobody had ever held at the club and it certainly didn’t go down well with Harry Redknapp who described it as ‘silly’. It was hardly surprising that Redknapp ‘walked away’ due to his dodgy knees four months later.
While some sceptics among the QPR fanbase seemed to think their former centre-forward’s return was a move by Tony Fernandes to limit criticism of his ownership, Ferdinand got down to business.
The links between QPR and football in Brent have not been good for a while. Some of the best talent was being snapped up by Reading, Brentford and Norwich. Playing for the local club was no longer a big deal for talented youngsters.
Ferdinand wanted to know why and made a call. What’s been going on? He was told the truth and said he would set about sorting things out.
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Chris Ramsey arrived and immediately told youth academy coaches to stop worrying about results. He wanted to see all the youth teams playing attacking football with youngsters learning to play in different positions.
The impact was immediate, they started losing games – but the players were enjoying the new approach.
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Next up news came through that QPR were in the hunt for Ryan Manning – an Irish youngster who has caught the eye playing for his country and Galway United.
The last time QPR signed a player from an Irish side was goalkeeper Gareth Deane from Linfield, so they faced an uphill challenge to convince Manning Loftus Road was the best move for him – especially given the appalling record of players coming through the academy system and becoming first-team regulars.
Manning had other Premier League teams in the hunt for his signature, including Spurs and Championship side Ipswich Town, with their large Irish contingent of players, were also in the running to snap him up.
To the surprise of many, Manning opted for QPR and, when asked why back in Ireland, Ferdinand was the name that came back from him.
The focus has shifted. Fernandes didn’t want to splash the cash like he had previously so it was no surprise that, when no money was available for Redknapp to spend in January, he bolted for the exit door as soon as the window closed.
Ferdinand grew up in White City. He joined QPR from Hayes in 1987 and went on to score 80 goals in 163 appearances, helping Rangers to a string of top-half finishes before joining Newcastle United in 1995.
The following year QPR were relegated and the club has never recaptured those glory days.
It has in many areas lost touch with what made it a special club, the club Ferdinand played for, the club he made his name with – the club he has set about restoring.
Follow me @RobBrennan82