QPR opinion: Rs' comeback king Clint can help Ramsey start climbing the Hill
PUBLISHED: 18:45 02 October 2015 | UPDATED: 13:52 27 October 2015
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QPR are stuck in a rut. With no win in four games, as well as Charlie Austin and Jamie Mackie being sidelined through injury for up to four months combined, these are worrying times at Loftus Road.
Perhaps even more concerning for Chris Ramsey, though, will be Rangers’ defensive record in the Championship this season – the joint second worst in the division behind Bristol City, with 17 goals conceded in nine games.
Ramsey has cited individual errors and a lack of concentration as the reason for lost games or dropped points from promising positions, but many will disagree with his analysis.
The fact is that any team which leaks goals at such a rate will be struggling in mid-table and will have little hope of mounting a promotion bid.
Last Friday’s 4-0 defeat at Fulham highlighted that changes must be made in the Rangers back line, and the first of those should be Clint Hill being reinstated in the starting line-up.
Ramsey has already stated that Hill’s role will be mainly off the pitch this season – coaching and aiding the younger players’ development – but he has to seriously rethink that stance and make the most of Hill’s availability while he can.
The current defence lacks any kind of organisation or positional sense, something which Hill would provide in abundance. Nedum Onuoha has had an up and down campaign to date, looking nervous on a host of occasions, which cannot help his team-mates – especially as he is the captain.
Someone of Hill’s experience and pedigree is needed next to Onuoha at the heart of the defence to get the best out of the latter. Together they are a very solid partnership at Championship level. When Rangers were promoted via the play-offs in May 2014, Richard Dunne played a huge role in the club’s success, bringing a sense of stability and sturdiness to the defence – something the current rearguard so desperately lacks, and which Hill can provide.
Gabriele Angella has largely flattered to deceive, and Grant Hall was brought in primarily as a back-up player, so Hill is hardly facing strong competition.
The full-back slots are not as concerning. James Perch and Paul Konchesky have both endured tough starts to life in west London but have more than enough about them to turn around their form. Yun Suk-Young, Jack Robinson, Armand Traore and Cole Kpekawa are also viable options on the left-hand side, when fit and available.
Hill has been written off time and time again in his career. ‘He’s too slow, he’s too old’ – we’ve heard them all, and it is nonsense. He is a good defender, particularly at this level.
The way he has performed and conducted himself over the last five years at QPR has been nothing short of outstanding. If you are good enough why should age come into it?
It is fair to say Hill is not a full-back but, at the same time, when he was recalled from a loan spell at Nottingham Forest back in 2011 and thrown into the starting XI against Chelsea, he was the man of the match as Rangers got one over on their arch-rivals. That is just one example of when he has come back and silenced his critics.
Like Alejandro Faurlin and Mackie, Hill truly knows what it means to represent QPR and, every time he steps across the white line, he feels a sense of pride and a responsibility to not only do well for himself but for the fans.
What Ramsey desperately needs now is honest and resolute characters in his team, and recalling Hill against Bolton is one of the first things he should do.
Hill’s former QPR team-mate Shaun Derry perfectly summed up the defender in his recent column for the Times: “I know that Clint gets frustrated when he doesn’t play on a regular basis.
“What that doesn’t stop him doing is being the best professional I’ve ever played with.
“He’s such a wonderful example to the younger players – those type of footballers are very few and far between in the modern game. He still has a huge role to play at QPR – he’s more than good enough at this level.”
‘We just like watching Clint Hill,’ goes the song. Hopefully it will be heard on the terraces again sooner rather than later.