Archive for the ‘QPR’ Category

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It’s sometimes difficult to remember to think before you Tweet. We’ve all been there, me more than others. Even so, while I’m no PR flack, my gut tells me this is not an exchange you want to have on Twitter.

The backstory. Stephane Mbia used to play for Marseille. He now wants to return following the relegation of his current club QPR. So he half jokingly asked Joey Barton this on the Twitter today:

To which Joey replied:

Words that will live long in the memory should Barton ever find himself on the wrong side of a relegation battle. In any case this is at least a step up; Barton was today served a two-game ban for calling PSG’s Thiago Silva a “fat ladyboy.”

Park

At this rate Toronto FC’s roster will resemble a Tony Fernandes wet dream. After the addition of winger Hogan Ephraim, rumors regarding the arrival another QPR castoff have picked up in recent hours. Ji-Sung Park is a shadow of the player that was a key cog for Manchester United, but adding him to a talent depleted lineup like TFC wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world –just not at DP money. While Park has a connection to new TFC boss Ryan Nelsen, Vancouver’s Lee Young-Pyo is also doing a recruiting job according to reports.

Again this is remains a rumor for now, so don’t buy those jerseys just yet.

Some analysts are pointing out that Premier League spending was higher this January window than last season, despite FFP or rumours of a new-found sense of financial responsibility:

It’s worth looking at this in more detail, by club. A brief glance indicates the vast majority of spending (and net loss on transfer deals) came from Newcastle with a net loss of minus £12,056,000, Liverpool FC (Sturridge and Coutinho) at negative £22 million, and QPR, the latter of whom lost an impressive £21,560,000 in transfer exchanges this January window.

The rest posted losses below 10 million (11 clubs) or made good to significant gains (5, with Norwich unchanged). Not great, but not enough of a trend to make claims about renewed financial irresponsibility this transfer window.

The Lead

By most accounts, yesterday’s Transfer Deadline Day was a dud (although I had a lot of fun watching several hours worth of Sky Sports yesterday). The biggest news was a former Blackburn defender signing for a relegation-threatened Queens Park Rangers from a Russian Premier League side. That, and the colossal bungling of Peter Odemwingie’s day tripping to West London in the hope of a Redknapp-engineered miracle.

A few comment pieces today blame the legacy of Chelsea’s infamous signing of Fernando Torres in January 2011 for £50 million and Liverpool paying £30 million of that profit in the same month to Newcastle for the services of Andy Carroll, now on loan to powerhouses West Ham United where he has scored one goal in eleven appearances. Paul Wilson writes:

The more excitable media outlets always seem to think there is going to be a repeat of the dizzying last day of January 2011, when Fernando Torres went south for £50m and Liverpool shoved the proceeds towards Andy Carroll with all the rash optimism of a tourist at the roulette table, though it was clear even at the time that that would be the exception rather than the rule. Two years on it is even clearer that major clubs are going to be more guarded with their money in winter. There are two main reasons for that. One is called Torres and the other Carroll.

David Conn adds a little to that:

In fact, considering this transfer window played out under the billowing prospect of £5bn expected for the Premier League’s three-year TV deals from next season, there has been a notable measure of calm and evidence of more strategic, professional recruitment than some trolley dashes of old.

Newcastle signed five French players, but say they were not knee-jerking at the sudden glimpse of the relegation zone but responding to it responsibly by bringing forward the signing of players they had tracked for some time.

So, in a climate now characterised by more careful, statistics-based assessment of players’ abilities and the financial implications, all of football looked at Queens Park Rangers’ dealings as a club edging towards red on the barometer.

Conn is correct in his view that clubs are more conservative in winter, in part because match data indicates ambitious Winter signings have a net negative effect on team performance.

However, if Prozone’s research is accurate, QPR were actually correct in their attempt to halt their slide down the Premier League table by recruiting three or four players. This makes intuitive sense; four players provides a significant change in overall team make-up, whereas one player—no matter how talented—must do all the work in adapting to an already-set system of play. Despite Conn’s attempt to characterize QPR as an outlier here, they are in effect following a positive trend for clubs facing the drop. If you are going to gamble and spend big in January, it only makes to do so if you are facing certain relegation (Villa fans, take note).

All of this underlines how indiscriminate spending does not necessarily improve team performance. That puts into doubt some analysts who attempt to closely tie wages and transfer fees (or just wages) to final table position, a correlation they use to criticize break-even requirements like FFP as anti-competitive. Yet if club spending on players in the January transfer window does not guarantee team improvement, then spending per se does not guarantee improvement. While big-spending clubs will always enjoy a position of dominance, it’s by no means absolute, as intelligent clubs turn to other means to carefully manage their squads.

This new approach was perhaps always on the cards, but FFP (or at least the threat of FFP in the Premier League) has likely spurred it on. It may not make for great TV, but it’s a far better use of financial resources.
Read the rest of this entry »

With one more week of the transfer window to go, some clubs are still yet to make their move. Will Arsenal put that dusty cheque-book away following their 5-1 win over West Ham? Will Spurs make a late dash for Lewis Holtby given the injury to Sandro? And are there any players left in France for QPR to try and beat Newcastle to signing? Here are my thoughts on two France internationals who have moved to England this month:

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Montpellier to Newcastle, €8m):

So much for the power of contracts. Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa signed a new deal as recently as last November, taking him through until June 2015. That was because he was in the last year of his deal, and the French champions risked losing him for nothing in the summer. A poor first half of the season, in which Montpellier finished bottom of their debut Champions League group, convinced president Louis Nicollin that now is the time to sell, though the transfer-fee of €8m is a bargain for a French international who captained his side to the Ligue 1 title aged 22.

Montpellier rejected a concrete offer from AC Milan last summer for Yanga-Mbiwa, because they wanted to lose only one player (top scorer Olivier Giroud, to Arsenal) before their European campaign. His reaction was a mature one: “I took it well because I had experienced a similar situation one year earlier, when Lille wanted me,” Yanga-Mbiwa told L’Equipe. “I found it hard to stay then, but with hindsight, I know that if I’m good, clubs will come back for me. There’s no point saying this could have happened or that should have happened.”

Instead of fighting for Champions League places in Italy, Yanga-Mbiwa will be thrust straight into a fight to stave off relegation, much to the disgust of Nicollin. “If he chooses Newcastle, then he’s an idiot,” said the president, not normally known for his diplomacy. “Newcastle, this is really not a good choice. They will transfer him next year. It doesn’t bother me. We’re not going to cry. He is not irreplaceable. The important thing is that we get money.”

His arrival, and the possible one of Moussa Sissoko from Toulouse, added to Yoann Gouffran (from Bordeaux) and Massadio Haidara (from Nancy) seems a direct response to Hatem Ben Arfa’s interview with beINSport last week, when he urged the club to show ambition. “If there’s no ambition then I’d prefer to leave and compete for trophies. But if there’s ambition at Newcastle and they sign players, then why not stay?” he said, dropping in the fact that Arsenal and Chelsea both made inquiries about him last summer.

Yanga-Mbiwa is an excellent signing but Nicollin could be right: Newcastle will do well to hold onto him in the summer. Even if they choose to sell, they are sure to make a healthy profit.

Loic Remy (Marseille to QPR, €8m):

Ask a Newcastle fan about Loic Remy and he will point to the Frenchman’s record of one goal in his 14 Ligue 1 appearances this season, and the six months at the end of last season which he spent on the sidelines with three separate injuries. Ask a QPR fan and he will point to Remy’s 17 France caps, 15 then 12 goals for Marseille in the last two seasons, and his skills at FIFA 2012, in which beat owner Tony Fernandes (he was playing as Bayern, Fernandes as Argentina).

Neither will probably mention that great intangible of football, and indeed of any sport, on which it’s almost impossible to put a value: confidence. Remy himself has admitted that when he has it, he looks a different player and one thing is sure: he lost it at Marseille.

The southern French club is a tricky place to be at the best of times, but even more so when you are out of favour. Once Remy was fully fit, he was still overlooked and that knocked his confidence further. Marseille recognised that he had value and, needing funds, put him up for sale.

“My profile as a player is that when I’ve got a small problem, things become difficult,” he admitted to RMC Radio in October. “When I’m 100% I can do very good things. But when there’s something not right in my head, something bothering me, then it becomes a bit difficult. We know there are players who are strong mentally…[but] that’s not my case.”

A goal on debut against West Ham will help that confidence. He also claimed the fact Harry Redknapp tried to sign him last season when he was at Spurs (Marseille rejected a €20m offer 12 months ago), and not a bigger salary deal, convinced him to join QPR. Redknapp can at times be a master-motivator but Remy’s goal reminded me of one striker who only last season was expert at breaking offside traps and scoring: Djibril Cisse (now out on loan at Al-Gharafa in Qatar).

Redknapp missed out on signing Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila, who joined Rubin Kazan, and looks set to miss out on Etienne Capoue and Moussa Sissoko (who could be off to, respectively, Everton and Newcastle, who seem to be doing QPR’s scouting for them). All play in the same holding midfield position, where QPR already have Alejandro Faurlin, Stephane M’Bia, Samba Diakite, Shaun Derry, Esteban Granero and Park Ji-Sung. We know Redknapp does not like to be called a wheeler and dealer, but it would be nice to see him work with what he has. That might give those players some confidence too.

The Fondre's equalizer.

Newcastle 1 – 2 Reading

Yohan Cabaye’s long awaited return was spoiled by the heroics of super-sub Adam Le Fondre. The new comeback kings of the prem did it again, scoring twice in six minutes to steal a crucial away victory at St.James Park. On the pitch for 55 seconds, Le Fondre connected on Jimmy Kebe’s cross to level the score. Replays  indicated the Frenchman Englishman may have scored with his forearm.

There were was no such controversy surrounding his second, as he smashed the ball past the outstretched arm of Tim Krul. Alan Pardew’s eight year deal looks more ridiculous by the week. Toon supporters were not happy when Cabaye was replaced by Gael Bigirimana in the 74th minute and Michael Williamson was a defensive liability once again. The Magpies travel to Villa Park next Tuesday. Read the rest of this entry »

Pictured: Adel Taarabt not passing the ball.

Toronto FC could use a defender like Ryan Nelsen.

The Rangers central defence, led by Nelsen, Clint Hill and Shaun Derry performed admirably. Nelsen in particular stood out — boosted by the fact that every TFC supporter on twitter was watching him like a hawk. Aside from a strange series of events that saw the Kiwi defender stop playing after he thought Jermain Defoe had scored, Nelsen was terrific — winning man of the match honours in the process.

Gareth Bale and Emmanuel Adebayor were thwarted on multiple occasions as Nelsen and company frustrated them for most of the match. Adebayor’s refusal to take a shot with his left foot in the 67th minute was his biggest  impact on this game.

Spurs failed to utilize their pace on the wings, choosing to attack QPR down the middle. Hill, Derry and Nelsen were up to the task. Both sides had terrible records in the final ten minutes — QPR’s awful minus six goal differential was beaten only by Tottenham’s minus eight — but there were no goals to be had at Loftus road.

Plaudits to those of you who woke up early enough (depending where you are in the world right now) to watch the future TFC manager in action. Yes, that still sounds incredibly strange. Sadly, for TFC supporters, performances like these from Nelsen only ensure he’s not crossing the Atlantic anytime soon. QPR’s severe lack of quality up front — frustrating isn’t a strong enough word to describe the Tarrabt-SWP combination — will require more heroic defensive displays like this if Harry Redknapp’s side want to return to the Premiership next season.

Ryan Nelsen is a professional, for lack of a better term. Though he had every reason to be distracted after bizarre week, Nelsen wasn’t. For that he deserves credit, just don’t expect to see him in Toronto anytime soon.