QPR bring in Archer as backup goalkeeper – Signing
Wednesday, 7th Jul 2021 14:04 by Clive Whittingham
Former Millwall goalkeeper Jordan Archer has moved to QPR on a free transfer following the departure of Joe Lumley to Middlesbrough and Liam Kelly to Motherwell.
Jordan Archer is a 28-year-old goalkeeper born in Walthamstow who believes nightswimming deserves a quiet night and has a photograph on his dashboard taken years ago.
He came through the ranks at Tottenham at a time when Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey were running the academy there, and as you would expect played much of his initial senior football out on loan. This started with spells in non-league with our local side Harrow Borough and later Bishop’s Stortford before 29 appearances for Wycombe in League Two in 2012/13 (W12 D5 L12 Con41 Clean8) and 16 for Northampton in the same league the season after (W5 D1 L10 Con29 Clean 3).
He joined League One Millwall on loan for the second half of the 2014/15 campaign without playing but moved to The Den permanently that summer regardless and it’s here that he played most of his senior football. Archer made 49 appearances across the league and three cup competitions that season as the Lions finished fourth but they were beaten in the Wembley play-off final by Barnsley. Archer won the club’s Player of the Year award for his efforts and the season after was first choice again as Neil Harris’ men went one better, beating Scunthorpe in the semi-finals and Bradford in the final to win promotion back to the Championship. Archer played 45 times.
Wall made an impressive return to the second tier, finishing eighth thanks to a tremendous run of form after Christmas – had the season gone on another fortnight they probably would have made the six but missed out by three points. Archer was first choice throughout but began to attract criticism and drift out of the team during 2018/19 and was released on a free transfer at the end of the campaign. He remained a free agent for a number of months, returned to his more natural League One level for a brief six game stint at Oxford over Christmas 2019, and then spent most of 2020 as a third choice keeper at Fulham where he never made a senior appearance. He was allowed to leave on a free in October 2020 for a four game spell at Motherwell in the SPL (W0 D1 L3 Con7, Clean1) and was then given a crack at solving Middlesbrough’s ongoing goalkeeping woes with a free transfer there in January but failed to impress in six appearances (W2 D1 L2 Con8 Clean0) which included QPR’s 2-1 win at the Riverside and was then usurped once more by a similarly out of form Marcus Bettinelli.
He has represented Scotland, qualifying through his parents, at U19, U20 and U21 level and has one senior cap in a friendly against Peru in 2018 – although I doubt he particularly enjoys watching the highlights of the 2-0 defeat back.
He has now signed a two-year contract at QPR, joining on a free transfer as understudy to Seny Dieng.
“There’s a great crop of young goalkeepers here and the club feel I can add experience to the group. I am here to get my head down and work hard. As a goalkeeper, you keep tabs on goalkeepers throughout the league and I saw how well Seny did last season. I am excited to come in, work with him and I am sure we can push each other.” - Jordan Archer
“With Joe Lumley and Liam Kelly both leaving the club, we were short in that area so we needed to bring in a replacement who would be ready when called upon, but also could provide stiff competition for Seny – Jordan meets that criteria. He knows the league and he knows what’s required of him. Seny did exceptionally well last season and delivered a level of performance that we all enjoyed. He has to maintain that – and we have to maintain that pressure all over the park.” - Warbs Warburton
A complicated goalkeeping situation has been a running theme of QPR’s most recent Championship stint.
Twice we’ve worked ourselves into a situation where the gloves were held by a chronically out of form first choice, ahead of what we suspected (and were subsequently proved) to be superior understudies – Robert Green spaffing various disasters into his own net through the first half of 2015/16 then running off for a chunky-knit puff piece in the Mail on Sunday when he was, eventually, mercifully replaced by Alex Smithies; then Joe Lumley going through a painfully public crisis in form and confidence while Seny Dieng pottered around on loan and latterly the substitutes bench.
The arrival of Liam Kelly at the start of 2019/20 was obviously a Mark Warburton pick having worked with the goalkeeper previously at Glasgow Rangers, but it placed the manager in the rather awkward spot of having three goalkeepers all of similar ability, experience and age in the squad at the same time. Warbs has already faced more stick or twist dilemmas over who should be keeping goal in two seasons at QPR than some managers face in ten.
Seny Dieng has, rightly, emerged from that three-way battle as the clear winner which was always going to leave the other two looking elsewhere, particularly in Kelly’s case with a very successful loan at Motherwell last year alerting several Scottish clubs to his potential and availability. He’s right not to follow that career kickstart up with a prolonged bench sit, and QPR are right to let him pursue a number one role elsewhere – albeit rather inconvenient for us with Joe Lumley also choosing to turn down a deal as Seny’s understudy and try his hand at Middlesbrough after a near decade association with QPR. Kelly never really got going at Loftus Road, bar one memorable afternoon against Leeds when he saved a penalty in a 1-0 win, but he was an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of the team from the sidelines, and a huge and noisy presence in training. He comes across well, talks thoughtfully about his game, and I wish him all the best at Motherwell.
Throw into all of that the signing of Dillon Barnes (also aged 25) who didn’t impress greatly at Colchester and seems to have been brought to Loftus Road not to play for the first team, or sit on its bench, or the U23s, or sit on their bench, or really to even play that often when he goes out on loan. His is perhaps the oddest case of all. I said at the time, and stand by it, that for a club that regularly bangs the financial restraints drum - and is in a constant battle with the #AnnounceRavel wing of its support base to explain maths, profit and sustainability rules and how to read a set of accounts - to add a fourth 25ish-year-old goalkeeper to a squad with three of those already felt a bit gratuitous. As we said in our End of Term Report, the sheer number of goalkeepers carried on staff by QPR at the end of 2020/21 was rather eye-opening. It’s no surprise to see several of those being released/departing this summer, but the eyebrows are back on the way up with the news of Jordan Archer’s arrival.
With Lumley and Kelly gone/going, and promising youngster Joe Walsh now in from Gillingham and looking like a natural third choice to be loaned out for experience, the signing of Barnes might have made more sense were he to be the bench dweller for 2021/22, particularly as he’s been treated to a contract extension. But now it seems Archer is coming to do that job as Dieng’s understudy, with Walsh going out on loan to build his experience, and Barnes set for another season of many varied adventures. It’s a tough one to understand, I’ve asked Mark Warburton about it previously, I will endeavour to do so again given the opportunity, but I can’t get my head around the need for a fourth senior goalkeeper who never plays for us, nor anybody else.
Nor, really, the Archer signing. When the club were linked with Andy Lonergan I could see the sense in that. Not a particularly good goalkeeper, certainly not one that has ever played well against us at Loftus Road, but at 37 somebody who is not only very experienced and with an excellent reference from a recent spell at Liverpool but also somebody who knows where he is on his career timeline and will happily sit there not playing, working with Seny and Walsh, and can be trusted to fill in here and there if needed. The only thing Jordan Archer, at 28, really has in common is he’s always looked ropey when playing against us.
Look, I’m wrong, all the time. Leave it to Mark Warburton, Gavin Ward, and the professionals who do know what they’re doing, what they’re looking for and what they want. Recognise also that aforementioned financial restraints mean that while it might be nice to have a golden glove nominee in waiting on your bench, we can’t afford that, particularly in a summer when we’re stretching ourselves to bring in Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen which I never thought would be possible. Archer, presumably, is very affordable and happy to play the second fiddle role. I previously said Clint Hill and Shaun Derry were dodgy signings, Steven Caulker and Jordon Mutch were not, Conor Washington was ‘everything we should be doing as a football club’ and so on. I’ve been positive about every other deal done this summer and like very much the idea of Johansen and hopefully left back George Cox being added to that. I don’t like the running down of signings before they’ve even begun, because we’ve seen many times before a player that didn’t fit well at one club going and doing well at another and (usually in our case) vice versa. And I’m realistic about our place on the Championship’s financial ladder.
But I can’t in all honesty sit here and pretend to be overly enamoured with the arrival of a keeper who I’ve often criticised before and who has struggled at this level consistently for several years, particularly when our first choice is likely to have African Cup of Nations commitments this season which mean this also can’t simply be dismissed as “well he’s only here to sit on the bench”. Archer, in all likelihood, will be playing for us through the busy January period at least, and we want to hope he does that a good deal better than he did for Millwall and Boro in this division previously.
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