The three QPR players with a make-or-break season ahead of them

Michael Beale’s arrival at QPR could create a shake-up in the squad, and these three players face an uphill battle this season

Is everyone enjoying the Nations League? I’m going to assume you’ve said no because, let’s face it the games have been of a low quality – even those with big name players involved. And who can blame them? After a long season, these games seem completely redundant.

How nice it would be if right now the World Cup was being played in its natural position. But no, we have to wait until November for any meaningful and possibly enjoyable international football.  

Perhaps understandably, most fans are turning their attention back to their club side. What does this mean if you’re a QPR fan? Well, the focus is mainly on our new head coach Michael Beale, and what exactly we can expect in the Beale era.

‘R’ Generation has got you covered on this point, by the way. Firstly with a fantastically detailed article on his tactics written by Dan Lambert and Micah Chudleigh. The ‘R’ Generation on Air podcast is also back with a new head coach special and an interview with Cole Pettem from the Holtecast for the Aston Villa view on Beale, both of which are available to listen on all good podcast providers.

But enough shameless plugs for other ‘R’ Generation content. We’re reaching the point in the season where Andy Watkins is bombarded on Twitter with questions about the new kit. Fans will be getting excited about any vague link or rumour about potential transfers, with the typical memes (HMS Pisstheleague and we’re going up juice usually) ready and waiting to be posted into the replies of any transfer announcement.

This is also a time to look at the squad we currently have, some players are still negotiating new deals with the club, whilst others face their most important season yet as they possibly fight for their future at the club. With that in mind here’s three players with a make or break season ahead of them.

Osman Kakay

(Image: QPR FC)

With just over 60 appearances for QPR it feels that most fans have made their mind up about Ozzy, and sadly for him the general opinion appears to be negative.

But with a new manager comes a new opportunity and possibly a new formation.

Warburton leaned heavily on having 5 at the back, with wingbacks providing our width and providing our crosses into the box instead of the more conventional winger. With Michael Beale at the helm we’re expecting something different, a return to a back four. Again go read Dan and Micah’s article on Beale’s tactics for a more in depth look.

Now on paper the return to a back 4 seems like it fits Kakay well. However the full backs are still expected to bomb forward and are very much in the mould of an attacking modern full back. We’re expecting to see two inverted 10s under Beale and in most formations the full backs will therefore be required to provide width. So whilst it looks like there will be a chance for Ozzy of playing as a conventional right back again, the position that suits him the most, the chances of it happening are relatively slim.

(Image: QPR FC)

So with that in mind, you would think now is the best time to sell. Kakay’s deal ends in two years, so this is the prime time to sell him. However (and this next point really is Kakay’s biggest hope for staying at QPR) he’s one of two proper full backs at the club alongside Niko, with the jury still out on where Adomah might play if he signs a contract extension.

Clearly the position is going to be very crucial to our style of play and has required some improvement and attention for some time. Now it feels like it’ll get that required attention.

To make sure a club has cover there will most likely need to be 4 full backs on the books at one time. To get to a healthy position we need to recruit minimum two players and possibly a third. If Kakay departs then we will be cutting our nose off to spite our face.

For that reason, Ozzy could likely stay and have the chance to fight for a new contract.

George Thomas

(Image: QPR FC)

As a proud member of the George Thomas Appreciation Society, it pains me to put his name down on this list. However, again like Kakay the mood amongst the fans isn’t a positive one.

I always found it strange the hate Thomas got when he signed. He’s a squad player who’s able to play in multiple positions. He’s obviously only going to be used sparingly and mostly off the bench.

At the end of the day as fans we’re there to support the team but there seems to be a lack of actual support at times. Thomas will put in plenty of effort and isn’t a chancer who’s here for the money. Do you remember the days of Jose Bosingwa not giving a f***? How many people just wanted “players that care” back then?

Regardless, with just one year left on his contract and an inconsistent few years dominated by injuries, Thomas faces an uphill battle to stay at the club.

We got to see plenty of him at the back end of last season, when Warburton was trying basically anything to make the 5-3-2 formation work again. What we got was some performances of promise. Stoke at home springs to mind where he could’ve had a hat trick.

(Image: QPR FC)

Then there were moments of despair. In the 4-0 thrashing of Reading, Thomas missed a glorious chance to get his first goal for the club but sent the ball wide.

I’m not going to say there’s a player in there somewhere that could be at Chair or Willock’s levels in the future, but what I will say is that there’s a useful player there right now.

Off the bench when teams are weary, his pace and willingness to make run after run can simply cause teams issues. He actually makes good attacking runs into the box hoping for a ball over the top in a way that Chair and Willock just don’t do, and personally I found it frustrating when we didn’t attempt to play him in.

Look at his role in the buildup to Amos’ first goal at Huddersfield, Thomas may not be the greatest player but he’s useful. There’s an option in his contract for us to extend it by another year. I think we should be going ahead with this at some point and use him as an impact player off the bench next season.

Olamide Shodipo

(Image: QPR FC)

Ah, the ongoing bizarre adventures of Olamide Shodipo. He’s now been out on loan at four different clubs, across Leagues One and Two, has been seriously affected by injury and now has just one year left on his contract.

Recently it was announced that Shodipo’s contract would be extended by a year, and it was reported by West London Sport that he was to get an offer from the club for another deal – a decision that was questioned instantly by fans.

It’s a weird situation with Shodipo, who disappointed on loan at play-off contenders and apparent sleeping giant Sheffield Wednesday in the season just gone. Shodipo made 21 appearances for the Owls scoring just one goal and creating only two goals as well.

I assume that the club wanted to see if he could continue his good form that he showed at Oxford United, where he got 15 goals and assists in 45 appearances, making himself a key player in a side that made the play-offs.

Obviously this hasn’t been achieved and consequently I wonder why he wasn’t sold after his good loan at Oxford United, when in theory he was at his most valuable.

Then again, hindsight is a wonderful thing and had you asked me at the time what we should’ve done with him then I probably would’ve said keep him. Instead he has just the one year left and we find ourselves in a difficult position when it comes to getting a decent price.

(Image: Sheffield Wednesday FC)

Going back to Kakay and where I reference that he’s in the perfect contract situation from QPR’s point of view for being sold because he has two years left. Well, in just one year that situation can turn into the graveyard for getting a good deal.

All the power is with the team buying as they know the selling team will be keen to recoup anything on the player. Perhaps this is the real reason why he’s been offered a new deal, so that when it comes to selling we’re in a better negotiating position. However this just seems like a really strange way to do business and doesn’t seem cost effective either. If his race is run at QPR for the sake of his career he should be allowed to move on and find his place in another team.

Or is this new deal one that comes with the backing of Michael Beale? I know I’ve already said that we’re expecting inverted 10s in our formation but a big plus that Beale brings to the table is flexibility. Warburton was the opposite unfortunately and it probably cost him his job in the end, however this doesn’t seem to be the case with Beale, as suggested by Cole Pettem in the latest R Generation on Air podcast.

Could Shodipo play a significant role this season perhaps off the bench after a tactical change? Apart from Adomah he’s the only natural winger in the first team so he could become valuable and tick a box for Beale.

I would think that this would be the only other valid reason for extending his time at the club. If we gave him a new deal to again loan him out it would be mind bogglingly stupid, then again this is QPR we’re talking about so I’m not ruling it out.

He’s shown he’s more than good enough for League One but perhaps the Championship is a bit too far at the moment, for me he doesn’t fit the project so maybe it’s time to cut our loses and move on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article, I’ve already plugged everything that R Generation has to offer at this moment in time. The only thing I will add is that Dan and Micah’s article on Michael Beale’s tactics really is brilliant and comprehensive. Go give that a read and really impress your QPR mates with the knowledge you’ve picked up form reading it.

Also keep an eye on the ‘R’ Generation on Air podcast, we’ve done plenty on Beale already and next week we’ll have another new episode out with a very special guest.

The latest episode featuring the Holtecast will be on this page somewhere in the form of an Acast player so give that a listen. Alternatively links to the podcast on other platforms can be found via the link in my Twitter bio (@AlexBullamore3).

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