QPR opinion: Jay Emmanuel-Thomas can lead the Rs to a top-flight landing
PUBLISHED: 10:00 30 October 2015 | UPDATED: 11:25 30 October 2015
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In the face of adversity, you really find out as a manager which players you can count on to deliver under pressure and which ones will wilt under it. Step forward Jay Emmanuel-Thomas.
It’s been a tough couple of weeks for Chris Ramsey, with the Rs’ head coach coming under increased scrutiny from supporters following a run of just one win in seven league games prior to their 3-0 victory over MK Dons on Saturday.
Coupled with injuries to Charlie Austin and Jamie Mackie and things were looking bleak for Ramsey prior, with many suggesting that the Rs no longer had a goal threat without the former, who had scored seven goals in nine games before picking up a hamstring injury in the 4-0 thrashing at Fulham at the end of September.
Many supporters still believe Ramsey isn’t the right man for the rebuilding job at Loftus Road, but one thing they can’t still insist on is that there’s only one man who is capable of leading the line and produce the goods for the club.
Emmanuel-Thomas, who was signed on a free transfer following his release from Bristol City in the summer, was primarily brought in as a squad player.
Director of football Les Ferdinand had highlighted the 24-year-old as one of his main targets in the close season, with Ramsey also a huge admirer of the former Arsenal man.
QPR have rightly been criticised for some of their transfer business in the past but in this instance they got this one spot on. Many will argue why a promoted League One side would let a player of Emmanuel-Thomas’s potential go? With 12 goals in 48 games for the Robins last term, it is worth noting his record was far from spectacular.
But when a player of his ilk becomes available, especially on a free, there should be no questions about taking him, especially at this level.
There were a few other Championship clubs interested in signing him after his contract expired at Bristol City and you have to wonder if the Robins are now ruing their decision to let him go in the summer.
His silky footwork and keen eye for goal belies his bulky frame, with his hold-up play and first touch as good as anyone in this division.
Emmanuel-Thomas’s work rate and attitude were called into question on occasions during his spell at Ashton Gate, however those two factors have been there in abundance during his spell with QPR so far.
It was a frustrating start to the season for the former England Under-17 and Under-19 man, with his first league start for the Rs not coming until the start of this month against Bolton, owing to Austin’s absence, and he didn’t let that opportunity pass him by. He was a constant thorn in the Rangers attack that day, coming short for his team-mates but at the same time able to go long, with his power and strength causing the Trotters defence no end of problems.
Fittingly, he capped off an enthralling seven-goal contest, grabbing the winner with a goal good enough to fit any occasion. Deep into stoppage time he picked the ball up on his left foot before running with intent towards goal, fooling his marker by switching back onto his unfavoured right foot and curling an unstoppable drive into the corner of the net beyond Ben Amos.
Emmanuel-Thomas has since gone on to find the net against MK Dons, making that five goals in eight games so far for the striker – not bad for a player brought in as a squad member.
It’s worth nothing that QPR fans love a maverick type of player, something which Emmanuel-Thomas certainly is. Former Rs’ playmakers Adel Taarabt and Ravel Morrison fit into this category and were both huge successes for the club in previous Championship campaigns. There’s no reason why Jay can’t have a similar impact on this current QPR side.
As the Bristol City faithful used to sing ‘JET will tear you apart’. If he continues at the rate he’s currently going, and he and Austin can potentially form a partnership to be reckoned with, there’s only one way you can see the Rs landing and that’s back in the Premier League.