Queens Park Rangers: Paul Smyth hoping to leave lasting impression on new QPR manager Steve McClaren
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Young Rs forward made breakthrough under former boss Ian Holloway, but is keen to show new manager what he can do
Paul Smyth goes unnoticed when he rides the tube to Queens Park Rangers games, but having grabbed Ian Holloway’s attention by kicking his team-mates, he now hopes to catch Steve McClaren’s eye.
Northern Ireland international Smyth made the move across the water and into professional football last summer when he joined the Rs from Irish League side Linfield.
The 20-year-old had to initially bide his time, but followed up a goal on his QPR debut on New Year’s Day with a winner on his senior international bow two months later.
Yet while Smyth has made a habit of making good first impressions, he is still able to remain anonymous on his preferred mode of transport to QPR home games.
“I get the tube,” he explained. “Nobody knows who I am yet so I’m able to travel the three stops in my QPR tracksuit and no-one seems to bother me.
“People probably think I’m a wannabe or a supporter decked out in tracksuit.”
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Going undetected was not Smyth’s objective when he was first given the chance to train with QPR’s first team, though.
“I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first training session,” he explained.
“I was supposed to train with the under-23s and they had a game, but I wasn’t registered to play then, so I had to train with the first team and it was small-sided games.
“I was just running around trying to kick everyone because I wanted the manager to know who I was. I was just being a nuisance. Ever since that he put me in the first team.”
Holloway’s departure this summer means Smyth has a new man to impress — ex-England boss McClaren.
And the opportunity to work with a manager famed for their coaching on the training pitch is a welcome one for a raw talent like Smyth.
“It will be good for me because back home you don’t really get coached tactically,” Smyth explained.
“We were basically told to do the simple things — pass and move.
“When you come to England you have to be technically gifted, technically good. That’s where I struggle, I am just good at getting the ball and running at people, taking people on and scoring.
“It will be good for me because he’s a great coach, where he’s been and what he’s done. I will hopefully learn from him.”
However, there is one thing Smyth will need to check — that McClaren is fine with his back-flip celebration.
A trampoline enthusiast as a kid, Smyth used to get fined by his Linfield boss David Healy if he back-flipped following a goal, but Holloway had no problem with it and it was that celebration he used after netting for Northern Ireland in March.
“It started off I was doing front flips and I was afraid to do a back flip,” Smyth admitted.
“I did one day and landed awkwardly. But I ended up conquering it — I was a master of it.
“I did it outside and landed on my head a few times, gave it up but then I started again, kept going and now it’s become a tradition when I score. I’ll have to see if the new manager is okay with it.”