Kane and Pugh make it a summer dozen - Signings
Saturday, 27th Jul 2019 22:37 by Clive Whittingham
Signings, signings, signings - Todd Kane and Marc Pugh the latest pair through the entrance door at Loftus Road, and there's more to come on Monday.
There can be few players that sum up Chelsea’s farcical stockpiling of young players they never have any intention of using themselves than Todd Kane. The full back, now 25-years-old, has been at Stamford Bridge since he was eight years old, signing professional terms as a scholar in 2012, agreeing a three-year senior contract in 2015 and then having his terms improved with another three-year deal in 2016. The Huntingdon-born defender played for Chelsea at every junior level from under 8s upwards, and was part of the FA Youth Cup winning side of 2011/12. He has been out on eight separate loan spells, clocking up 167 senior appearances and ten goals. He has never played a single minute of senior football, in any competition, either from the start or off the bench, for Chelsea.
The first of those, and his senior debut, came at Preston, then in League One, in 2012/13. He spent November and December at Deepdale, appearing five times including twice in the FA Cup. That spell was enough to impress nearby Championship side Blackburn and they subsequently borrowed him for the second half of that season and used him 13 times from the start and once off the bench. He returned to Ewood Park for the entirety of 2013/14, making 24 starts and four sub appearances in all comps and scoring his first two senior career goals, in a 5-2 home win against Barnsley and a 4-2 away success at Birmingham in the final game of his stint.
The 2014/15 campaign started at eventual League One champions Bristol City, with a two month spell comprising seven appearances, four of them off the bench. After Christmas he made seven starts, one sub appearance, and scored one goal, for Championship side Nottingham Forest. He moved abroad in 2015/16, playing a season of Eredivisie football for NEC Nijmegen – 29 starts, two sub apps, one goal.
The pattern of popping his head around the door of Stamford Bridge each summer to sign an improved contract before disappearing out on loan again was interrupted for 2016/17 by an anterior cruciate rupture that kept him out of action for six months. The following year was spent making six starts and five sub appearances for Gorningen in Holland, then 17 starts and three goals for Oxford United in League One. Last season was his best in terms of appearances (38 starts and three subs) and goals (one at home to Derby, and two in a 3-2 loss at West Brom) when he spent the whole of the campaign in the Championship with Hull City.
He has now signed a three year contract at Loftus Road and arrives on a free transfer.
At 32-years-old, Marc Pugh is at the opposite end of his career, though the winger also had a nomadic start to his career having initially come through the ranks at Burnley.
He was loaned to Conference side Kidderminster for his first taste of senior football in 2005/06, with his first senior goal coming in a 3-1 home win against Dagenham and Redbridge. Although he’d scored 15 goals for the Burnley second string in 2004/05, several more senior options ahead of him in the pecking order meant the Clarets were willing to let him leave and join Bury on a free transfer at the back end of 2005/06 and he did enough in the final few games of that season to earn a longer stay into 2006/07.
He was a regular for League Two Bury in 2006/07, scoring four goals in 41 appearances, but repeatedly rejected offers of a contract extension and moved to Shrewsbury on a free at the end of the season. He scored four goals in 38 Shrewsbury appearances in 2007/08 but suffered with tendonitis in his knee and fell out of favour the following year, resulting in loan spells with first Luton and later League One Hereford. The Bulls were relegated at the end of the year, but Pugh joined them permanently for 2009/10 in League Two anyway and bagged a career best 13 goals in 40 league appearances.
That was enough to tempt Bournemouth into a move for his services in summer 2010 – a tribunal later set the fee at £100,000. It was at Dean Court where Pugh really made his name, staying for nine years, making 257 starts, 53 sub appearances and scoring 56 goals. He top scored with 13 in his first season, 2010/11, as Bournemouth were beaten in the League One play-off semi-final by Huddersfield. He was the top scorer in 2011/12 as well, and the club’s player of the year, and later went on to be part of the Cherries team that won promotion from League One as runners up in 2012/13, and from the Championship as title winners in 2014/15. In total, 67 of his Bournemouth appearances and five of his goals have come in the Premier League meaning he has played and scored in the top five divisions of English football. The first hat trick of his career came in 2014 in a remarkable 8-0 Bournemouth win at Birmingham, in which Grant Hall played for the home team.
In 2018/19 he made only three Bournemouth appearances in the first half of the Premier League season and so took the opportunity of a loan move to Hull City after Christmas, scoring three goals in ten starts and four sub appearances. Released on a free transfer this summer, Pugh has now signed a one-year contract with the option of a further year at Loftus Road.
“Todd joined Chelsea at a young age and I watched his performances for Hull last season, where he showed his qualities as an attack-minded and technically-gifted full-back. He has a real desire to play the game with intensity, so we’re delighted to see him join us. Marc has quality, experience and he’ll add so much to the squad, both on and off the pitch. We’re thrilled to have him with us, and excited to see his contribution during the coming weeks and months. He’s played at the highest level and is a proven competitor. Also, the value that Marc will bring in a mentoring role is really significant.” - Mark Warburton
Well, as if there was any doubt left, we are indeed going to attempt to change our entire team around in one transfer window. Todd Kane and Marc Pugh are new signings 11 and 12 of a frantic summer, with Jordan Hugill set to be 13 early on Monday and an unnamed fourteenth due to follow him in short order as well. Interest remains in Alan Judge at Ipswich, though Town are digging in on that and the bidding is getting a bit rich for QPR’s blood. As it stands only Joe Lumley and Ebere Eze who were regulars for the first team last season will be so again this, with Josh Scowen, Bright Osayi-Samuel and potentially Grant Hall to come in from the fringes. There’s still time for even that to change.
That pace of change is the only concern around these two latest arrivals, because Kane and Pugh look like proper signings to me.
The news that we’d abandoned interest in loaning Chelsea’s young right back Dujon Sterling last week sparked fears that we were, for the second season running, going to make the mistake of relying on 36-year-old Angel Rangel to complete the majority of a 48-game season. Rangel who, regardless of age and fitness, doesn’t particularly fit Mark Warburton’s style with the full backs pushed up miles high. Signing a 25-year-old with oodles of experience at this level and abroad on a free transfer from a Premier League club is a much better idea than either relying on Rangel or loaning Sterling.
It’s a great pick up on paper, achieved ahead of Middlesbrough who were keen on Kane, adding a player with many years in the game stretching out ahead of him who could easily increase in value and be sold on at profit later on in his three-year-deal. Very happy with that one, albeit with the caveat that Kane is occasionally suspect defensively, offset by his contributions going forward which as we know is something Rangers have lacked from full back for years.
Pugh, on the other hand, isn’t going to make us any money in the future, 32 now and winding down. But he is going to provide experience, and no little amount of ability to an attack that doesn’t look to have too much penetration and goal-threat as it stands. He’s universally loved at Bournemouth, a modern day club legend, and comes with glowing references from the South Coast. He’ll play in any one of the three attacking positions behind a main striker and the success or failure of his arrival will depend on keeping the balance between making these sorts of short-term signings of experienced players, and not clogging up an area of the pitch where we have several young players needing to start playing some big minutes so they too can be fattened up for market.
Pugh, Ebere Eze, Ilias Chair, Bright Osayi-Samuel and maybe Mide Shodipo sharing that responsibility between them is fine – we saw last season the problem when you ask a kid learning the game, like Eze, to play every single minute of every single game. However, were we now to go and spend what little money we have left on Alan Judge, and injury-prone 30-year-old who will also occupy one of those three advanced positions, then you’re creating a situation where Chair, Eze, Osayi-Samuel and Shodipo are all left fighting for one spot. That would, in all likelihood, see Chair loaned out again, as Paul Smyth already has been, and would tip the balance too far that way in my opinion.
Edit - Warburton has confirmed this evening that the deal for Pugh in all liklihood ends the Judge interest.
An attack led by Hugill and supported by Pugh, a defence with Kane on the side of it, a spine toughened by the arrival of Geoff Cameron – things are manic, but they’re looking better than they were a week ago. The problem is, like I say, trying to change your entire team in one transfer window is an enormous task. Part of it’s through necessity, with unaffordable contracts up for renewal and a cash shortfall to make up through player sales. In the main, it’s a good thing, because we were biblically poor in the second half of last season and we shoudn’t fear change as much as we should fear more of the same. But with only four friendlies, players still coming through the door at a rate of one a day a week before the season starts, the chances of us being able to gel and hit the ground running, with a more advanced and complicated style of play to cope with as well, is minimal.
We’ve gone balls deep on Warburton’s plan and vision, we’ve built him a team to enact it, what we musn’t now do is panic if it’s going badly after the first half dozen games, or first few months.
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