The future’s Bright - Signing
Saturday, 2nd Sep 2017 18:08 by Clive Whittingham
QPR have belatedly completed the signing of promising young Blackpool winger Bright Osayi-Samuel on a three-year contract.
Bright Osayi-Samuel is a 20-year-old left-sided attacker who was born in Nigeria, brought up in Spain and moved to the UK with his family when he was ten. Despite his tender years, he’s already clocked up 34 starts and 45 sub appearances for Blackpool across the three divisions of the Football League.
The first of those came as an 18-year-old when he played the last half hour of a 1-0 home defeat by Sheff Wed in the Championship – he made a further six appearances at this level for Pool that season as they were relegated. He made a further 26 appearances, 12 from the start, in League One in 2015/16 then really hit his straps in League Two last season.
With former Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer in charge, Pool were promoted by beating David Wheeler’s Exeter 2-1 at Wembley in May. He scored his first senior goal in a 2-0 league win at Stevenage in December and went on to score five times (including a brace at Newport County) in 18 starts and 23 sub appearances.
He has signed a three-year contract at QPR, following the league’s approval of his last minute deadline day move on Friday. The fee is undisclosed.
“It was a challenging final few hours of the transfer window but we are delighted to reach the conclusion we were working for, which is the signing of Bright. I would like to thank the fans for their patience. I can understand their frustration but unfortunately we have not been able to comment on this until the transfer was concluded, so as not to jeopardise the deal.” -Lee Hoos
“'I’m happy to get the deal done – and the hard work starts now for me. I just want to show my worth to this team and repay the club for bringing me here. Of course this is a step-up for me, but I am confident in my own ability and believe I can improve as a player here. Last season was a positive one for me. But this feels like the natural next step for me. I'm still young but this feel like the right time. I feel I'm ready.” - Bright Osayi-Samuel
“A lot of people saw what he did with Blackpool last year, the potential he has and the ability he has, so it’s a great bit of business for us. It’s exciting to have a wide man who can create and score goals, and it’s brilliant to add him to the mix. He’s got exceptional pace, and he gives me the option to play with three up front, so I’m delighted.” - Ian Holloway
We’ve actually got a couple of bits of insight to offer you on this one, rather than the usual attempt to link the signing to a wider bit of grandstanding.
The first is why this signing, specifically, took so long to announce. Queens Park Rangers felt the deal had been started early enough on deadline day not to trouble the 23.00 cut off point but for one reason or another it ended up going right to the wire. QPR, kindly, described it as "communication problems" with the selling club. Rangers then had to wait into Friday for the Football League to give the go-ahead, but they were working through a huge backlog of paperwork from the night before and it wasn’t until just shy of 15.00 that they emailed the club to say they were happy for the transfer to proceed. An email greeted very enthusiastically by Ian Holloway at the Harlington training ground.
Exactly why a routine transfer with a fee agreed took so long is another matter. Blackpool have a reputation, which we’re all aware of, and judging by a SnapChat (all the kids are doing it) released by the player on his train back north on Thursday evening he clearly believes his former club sat on it to try and delay long enough to keep him for another six months.
The second is how QPR are conducting their transfer business in general these days. The importance of Gary Penrice, who Holloway describes as “having responsibility for the structure of the squad”, I think has been slightly underplayed. As head of recruitment he’s one third of the management team, with Ian Holloway coaching the players and picking the team, and Les Ferdinand negotiating the contracts and transfer fees within the overall budget of the club (overseen by Lee Hoos) and the ethos of the sort of player we want with regards to age, attitude, background etc.
Penrice is working with a scouting team of Mel Johnson who needs no introduction, Kevin Reeves (formerly at Everton with Roberto Martinez) and Dean Austin to get QPR’s recruitment in place for the next several transfer windows, keeping an eye on who is out of contract at QPR over the next 18-24 months and what sort of money that could free up and positions will need filling. One thing consistently ignored by those who believe QPR should be signing more and more players is the current size of the squad and the wage bill that goes with it. The club is no longer able to layer signings on top of signings and carry a squad of 30+ players and the recruitment is based as much on that as who’s available and who they want to bring in.
As Holloway says: “I think a lot of the changes people want us to make, we’re not in a position to do that here because of the contracts that we’re committed to. It’s what people want to see their club do when they see other clubs spending loads of money but look at Derby, for instance - they’ve sold £22m-worth of player this summer, people like Ince and Hughes, so their manager can make changes, because he’s got some money and he’s got some people out so he’s got spaces in his squad. Whereas we only had two out of contract this summer, and I re-signed one of those - Jamie Mackie. So we’re already up to our squad number and, really, we’ve done ever so well to be able to bring anybody else in.”
As for the somewhat bizarre strategy of signing three wingers this week for a team that doesn’t play with wingers... it hasn’t escaped Holloway’s notice that Matt Smith and Idrissa Sylla do better with crosses than they do with long balls turfed straight down the pitch towards them. While Osayi-Samuel and Smyth have been brought in as ones for the future, Wheeler is for now and it’s about improving the supply lines to the main striker as well as trying to spread goals around the team more – something QPR have been very poor at in recent seasons. When not playing with wing backs (which worked well against Reading) Rangers are more often than not going to slide into the 4-3-3 that brought the game back against Hull City, with all three of the players signed this week capable of playing to the side of the middle striker in that three.
And how do we know all this? Well to mark the club’s 100th year at Loftus Road, which will be celebrated this coming Saturday against Ipswich, LFW sat down with Ian Holloway at Harlington yesterday afternoon to discuss the August transfer window, the striker target who’s price went from £1m to £9m over the course of a lunch break, Les Ferdinand, Gary Penrice, the Brentford cup game and his memories of Loftus Road as both a player and manager– and we were conveniently sitting there as the Osayi-Samuel news came through on the e-mail.
We’ll be dropping that on you on Monday morning. Needless to say, it’s a long one.
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