One for later – Signing
Tuesday, 29th Aug 2017 16:40 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have taken a modest punt on Northern Ireland youth international Paul Smyth, a 19-year-old wide attacker who has been attracting interest from English clubs while playing for Linfield.
Northern Ireland Under 21 international Paul Smyth is a 19-year-old wide attacker who has joined QPR from Linfield for an undisclosed fee reported somewhere in the region of £150,000. QPR’s youth team striker Brandon Adams, who spent last season on loan on loan in Malaysia with Persatuan Bola Sepak Perlis after an earlier spell with Staines Town, will head the other way on loan for the season.
Smyth has made 76 appearances for Linfield, scoring 17 goals from the wing since making his debut as a substitute in a 1-0 home win against Newington in the County Antrim Shield in September 2015. He was an integral part of the Linfield side that completed a league and cup treble last season. He subsequently featured in both European Cup games with Celtic back in July – Linfield lost 6-0 on aggregate.
After signing a two-year contract with QPR on Monday he immediately went back home to join up with the Northern Ireland U21 team for games at home to Albania and Slovakia. He has four caps at Under 21 level and scored once in a 1-1 draw with Ukraine last year. He trained with the full squad in advance of the 2016 European Championships to gain experience.
“It’s a dream come true – it doesn’t get much better than this. I’ve always had a soft spot for QPR – back in the Austin and Zamora days especially. They’re two strikers I admire greatly. It’s a great club and I’ve been made to feel really welcome. Iknow this is a massive step up for me, but it’s one I’m relishing. I’m hungry to do well here. I’ll get my head down, work hard and hopefully do enough to impress the manager. I’ve always set myself high expectations and that won’t ever change.” - Paul Smyth
“He’s a young talented kid who we really feel can develop at QPR. We’re really pleased to bring him to Rangers, because there was a lot of interest in him from a number of clubs. He’ll initially be with our Elite Development Squad group. But we feel that he’s capable of pushing for a place in and around the first team. Ian has shown already this season that he’s willing to give youngsters a chance, which is what Paul should be striving for.” - Les Ferdinand
“Paul is one of the best talents to come from Linfield and in fact the WHOLE Irish league in many years. He plays with his heart on his sleeve every week, and I for one am devastated that he is leaving Linfield. However, this is a great chance for him and we couldn't stand in his way.
"He's adored at Windsor Park, small in height but has a big heart and a big set of balls. He's not easily bullied and as previously mentioned picks up the odd yellow for not being afraid to stand up for himself. It should also be noted that he travelled to France with the Northern Ireland squad to last seasons European Championships to take part in the training, so he's highly thought of at that level. I'm sad to see him go, but delighted he's got a chance at full time football in England." - SuperJohnny
Up in Birmingham, they’ve signed a striker who would fit perfectly into the current QPR system. Sam Gallagher, 6ft 4ins, 21-years-old, product of a superb Southampton academy, a dozen goals in an awful Blackburn team last season (including two v QPR), great in the air, more mobile than Matt Smith, better back-to-goal game than anybody we’ve got on our books, perfect six-pack… he is, potentially, the perfect Championship point man.
Well, I say signed, I mean borrowed for a bit. Borrowed for a bit at a cost of £1.5m. Borrowed for a bit as long as they up his £10,000-a-week Southampton wage to £18,000. Borrowed for a bit at an overall cost of £43,000 a week. Money which, if Birmingham don’t get promoted, which doesn’t look very likely at the moment, will be entirely dead in a year’s time when Gallagher goes back to Southampton and they’re several million lighter and still short of a striker.
Amongst this lunacy, which is now widespread throughout the top two divisions, QPR aren’t even shopping at Lidl, they’re rummaging through the bins round the back of Kwik Save. The clickbait claim Rangers were about to pay £3m-£3.5m for Nouha Dicko (who went to Hull ‘instead’) presumably cooked up by somebody who hasn’t been paying attention. The suggestion from one of the more wilfully ignorant QPR Twitter accounts that “Lazy Les” had been enjoying his Bank Holiday or, rather more despicably, “too busy talking about Grenfell” and been beaten to the Dicko signing something of a low among many lows in the world of QPR on social media.
I say this a lot, but a quick glance through the LFW Twitter mentions tells you it’s probably worth spelling out an umpteenth time – maybe some finger puppets would help? The current Financial Fair Play rules mean QPR cannot lose more than £37m across the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons. The last set of accounts, covering the 2015/16 season, showed a loss of £11m despite the maximum parachute payment, the Charlie Austin sale and the Raheem Sterling sell on all coming in. With reduced parachute payments, no Austin money and no Sterling money QPR have to find a way to ‘only’ lose £26m across 2016/17 and 2017/18. Otherwise it’s a transfer embargo, and what players we do have will have to be sold off on the cheap – please see Blackburn Rovers and Bolton Wanderers for examples of what happens in those circumstances. That’s without even addressing the previous FFP breach for which a result is due any day. It’s also without considering whether the board want to continue funding QPR’s losses to the tune of even £11m. Saying this to people who believe we’ve got £3m from Josh Bowler shloshing around, and that there are loads of good players out there for that amount in the current market that QPR are choosing not to sign for fear of making it too easy for themselves, makes you “an attention seeker” or “celebrity fan wannabe” or “on the sauce”.
With this level of debate, with the chairman being sent messages to “spend some money you tight cunt”, it would be tempting for QPR, as they’ve done so often, to go overboard on the signing of Paul Smyth. ‘See we are signing players, see we are scouting players, see we are signing strikers’ etc etc. Make out like Mel Johnson’s been watching him since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, stick together a YouTube compilation of his many goals in Northern Irish football. Maybe do the old Robbie Keane trick and dredge up a picture of Smyth opening a QPR shirt on his fifth birthday.
The club have resisted to date – at pains to point out that he will first and foremost be playing for the development team. Wise. Firstly, because you cannot win with the people you’d be targeting with a big song and dance. There are people who have made their minds up about Holloway, Ferdinand, Hoos, Fernandes, or a combination of them, and actually seem to quite relish it going wrong at QPR now so they can be right. Having predicted an August of zero points there has been no let up in the bile now Rangers have stuck seven on the board and Saturday’s narrow defeat at a bang in form Cardiff side has been treated like the worst result in the history of the club.
And secondly because it wouldn’t do the player any favours. Smyth is young and coming from a low level of football. He will find the learning curve steep. He will certainly need time. The odds remain stacked against him making it. The last time QPR were heavily linked with a striker from Northern Irish football it was a 21-year-old at Linfield, postman Peter Thompson. Holloway was in charge then as well and to read the message boards at the time you’d think Thompson was some sort of new messiah in waiting. In the end he went to Stockport County, scored five goals in 45 games, got injured, and went back home again.
Something else we’ve said a lot before on here: people think Grant Hall is better than he actually is because they expected so little of him; Massimo Luongo, meanwhile, who was signed in a hail of Australia clips and “interest from Premier League teams” is judged incredibly harshly.
Whether QPR expect Smyth to be competing for first team places immediately or not, his signing should be treated like the arrival of, for instance, Ilias Chair, who nobody had really noticed was even here until his eye-catching display against Northampton. Expect nothing, give him time, have patience. Maybe we’ve found a gem, maybe we haven’t, but it really is all we can afford to do at the moment. A simple read of the league’s financial rules and our accounts tell you that.
The Twitter @loftforwords
Pictures – Courtesy of the club
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