QPR confirm signing of Palace's Clint Hill
Thursday, 1st Jul 2010 11:26 by Clive Whittingham
As expected, the latest addition to Neil Warnock's QPR squad is experienced Crystal Palace left back Clint Hill who joins on a free transfer at the end of his Selhurst Park contract.
Clint Hill is a 31 year old centre half who was switched to left back at Crystal Palace by Neil Warnock, who has now moved to add him to his QPR squad at the conclusion of his Selhurst Park contract. Hill started his career at Tranmere Rovers, progressing through to their first team by 1997 and playing regularly in the Rovers sides that scored numerous notable giant killings a decade ago. Hill was in the Tranmere starting eleven for the 2000 Wembley League Cup final defeat by Leicester City but was sent off that day – enhancing a reputation as a tough, uncompromising defender.
After five years at Prenton Park Hill moved to Iain Dowie’s Oldham in 2002 at the end of his Tranmere contract. Oldham were splashing the cash a little at that stage and lost to QPR in the play off semi final at the end of the season with the likes of Fitz Hall and Clyde Wjnhard in their side. Sadly the team broke up the following season as the money dried up, and injury restricted Hill to just 25 appearances before moving to Stoke City.
Hill was Stoke’s player of the season in 2004/05 but he missed the majority of the season before, and after, with anterior cruciate knee damage and those recurring injuries haven’t done his already limited pace much good. Another operation followed in 2006/07 before Stoke agreed a swap deal with Crystal Palace that saw defender Leon Cort move the other way. Infamously Neil Warnock claimed not to be over enamoured with Cort’s exemplary disciplinary record as a centre back and turned to Hill to add steel to his line up.
Hill made more appearances for Palace, 126, than he did at Stoke, 84, in half the time and his consistency and commitment to the cause made him a firm favourite with the Palace fans as they made the play offs in 2007/08 and then fought off relegation after a points deduction last season. He has signed a two year contract at Loftus Road.
Clint Hill said: "Neil played a massive role in my decision to move to QPR - he's such an infectious character. I've worked with him for a few years at Palace and to be honest, he was probably the only manager who could tempt me to stay down South. I'm expecting big things next season. The top-six has to be the aim. I'm confident we'll be there or thereabouts. I think it's about time the club pushed on - a club like QPR should be aiming for the Premier League. There's a first class set-up here in terms of the infrastructure and it's up to the players to push on to the next level now." qpr.co.uk
Neil Warnock said: "I just think we're crying out for someone who performs to a consistently high level week in, week out. He's always up there for me with an eight or a nine out of ten performance. As a group, we lack a bit of strength - both physically and mentally - and Clint's temperament and presence will help us out in that respect. I want him primarily as a left back, but I'm sure there will be occasions when we take advantage of his versatility and play him elsewhere." qpr.co.uk
This is a very similar signing to Shaun Derry in many ways. It’s a player at the wrong end of his career age wise, somebody who has not impressed when we have played against him in recent times and a limited footballer even in his prime. He is however very experienced at this level, known and liked by our manager, covering an area of the team that we’re lacking in, and cheap.
Probably more to the point he’s a big, nasty, horrible, leader. So many times last season when the going was tough, particularly away from home, we bemoaned the lack of leadership and grit in our team – the lack of talkers – and in Derry and Hill we’ve gone some considerable way to addressing that problem. With just nine away wins and 22 defeats on the road in the last two seasons it’s been obvious for some time, both on paper and in the flesh, that we’re a bit of a soft touch. With Warnock in charge, Derry and Hill arriving and hopefully Rowlands returning it’s clear that we’re not going to be as easy to play against. We’re also not going to win many friends, or it seems sadly any awards for our style of play.
As with Derry, and Leon Clarke, I cannot help but feel that we could and probably should be doing better than Clint Hill. That feeling is particularly prevalent with this latest signing because we seemed to stumble across a wonderful left back available for nothing at the end of last season when Dusko Tosic arrived from Portsmouth. Warnock said his loan was a trial period and he was only taking on players he could sign for this season so when Tosic played well, superbly well on a couple of occasions, in the final five matches the stage seemed set – especially as he made it clear at the Player of the Year event that he was happy to stay long term.
The problem with that point of view is that even the most die hard and knowledgeable QPR fan only saw Tosic five times last season. Warnock hinted that his performances for the first team were something of a surprise considering how poor he’d been in training, and he had a poor off field reputation in Germany where he rarely played first team football and was viewed as something of a mercenary by fans at Werder Bremen. We have little idea what sort of money or length of contract Tosic would have wanted. So to automatically write Hill off because we’d rather have signed Tosic, which on the face of it I certainly would, is possibly unfair.
And I really don’t think we should underestimate the importance of getting people like Hill in, if not too many more players like him. The Palace fans speak of a player who gave 100 per cent and was totally committed to the cause and lord knows we’ve lacked a few of those in recent times.
Photo: Action Images
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