QPR travel down to the South Coast as a very different side to the one that ended the 2019/20 campaign against West Brom. Much has been said about the club’s transfer business so far, but only in the last few minutes of the transfer window did the potential starting XI (and the final frenzied edit of this article) start to really become clear.
The latest shipment of loanees have been sent out, and can broadly be divided into two categories. The first lot are like a chilli con carne in the freezer, labelled “needs eating at some point,” – the likes of Joe Gubbins and the magnificently named Odysseus Alfa, promising youth prospects sent to non-league clubs to hone their craft with no real urgency as to when they might break through into an Rs side.
The second set, then, are more like a pack of mince in the fridge that’s starting to smell a bit funny – players like Paul Smyth, Remi Oteh and Mide Shodipo, all loaned out within the Football League on deadline day as a final chance to prove they’re still good before they start stinking up the fridge. Each of them has demonstrated genuine quality at some point or another, with Smyth’s name in the Tweets of many Rs fans disappointed in the loan move. Oteh and Shodipo, whilst having lacked consistency in the blue and white hoops, have been loaned out to Stevenage and Oxford United respectively – two clubs with a strong reputation for developing players, and the former having nurtured a certain Moroccan wonderkid (no, not that one). This trio are all nearing the end of their contracts, and have a large amount to prove if they plan to stick around at the Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium.
Laboured culinary metaphors aside, Mark Warburton’s plans for the season have started to become clear as the club’s transfer business has wound to a close. Whilst Rangers travelled to Stoke in August 2019 with a squad of stop-gap signings and temporary fixes, praying to be brought together by the prophetic talent of Ebere Eze, the current squad will be hoping for something quite different. Money has been invested this time – real, actual money. In the current circumstances, it seems not far short of a miracle that the club has bought three strikers, all on the way up in their careers. One of them, Scotland’s new number 9 Lyndon Dykes, could probably already be sold for a profit after netting two international goals in his first four appearances. Rangers have the potential to develop a number of saleable assets in the coming months including Osman Kakay, who serves as a living reminder of why we go through the motions of repeatedly loaning our youngsters out. Others among the ranks of potential starlets include new signings Bonne, Willock and Dickie. It’s reasonable to expect that Warburton will begin this effort to get the club into this buy-to-sell frame of mind, and tomorrow’s squad will likely include a number of new faces (with the presence of experienced heads like Adomah and Wallace to guide them).
With the Rangers side of things relatively up in the air, it’s worth turning to the opposition for a chance at predicting the outcome of tomorrow’s game. The main talking point over recent days has been Joshua King, the Bournemouth forward who has attracted interest from a number of Premier League clubs. However, at the time of writing, a last-ditch potential move to Aston Villa appears to have crumbled before the domestic transfer window slammed shut. The Cherries will be undeterred, however – since the departure of Nathan Aké, Calum Wilson and Aaron Ramsdale to their new Premier League homes, Bournemouth’s squad has been relatively stable. New boss Jason Tindall has guided the side to 10 points in 4 games so far, including two wins against in-form Blackburn and Norwich. Dominic Solanke looks more comfortable at this level than in the Premier League, and the Cherries boast new signing Rodrigo Riquelme, whose debut will likely come tomorrow.
Mark Warburton’s side will face a stern test, and ultimately one which might serve as a predictor for whether QPR will be any more defensively solid this season than the last as well as offering a glimpse of our potential attacking talent. Either way, the Championship is a funny league and anything could happen.
Marco Ramkilde hat-trick inbound.