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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

QPR's "Discarding" of Home Grown Talent: Perspective of Kilburn Times' Ben Kosky....Gareth Ainsworth on Changing QPR

Ben Kosky/Kilburn Times - What about tomorrow, Flavio?
JANUARY 2008 may become renowned as the month when Queens Park Rangers transformed beyond all recognition - but not necessarily for the better.
At first glance, everything seems rosy in the Loftus Road garden. Rangers have reversed a decade of penury by embarking on a breathtaking buying binge during the transfer window.
Few would question the wisdom of adding players of the calibre of Akos Buzsaky, Rowan Vine and Fitz Hall to the squad, even though some of the other recent signings look superfluous and overpriced.
But it's all too easy for Rangers fans to be carried away by the influx of expensive players and ignore the alarming trend with regard to movement in the opposite direction.
A few years ago, the playing staff included several promising youngsters nurtured by the likes of Gary Waddock and Joe Gallen and knocking on the first team door.
Tragically, we will never know how Ray Jones might have progressed - but what about Scott Donnelly, Shabazz Baidoo, Pat Kanyuka and, even more recently, Kieron St Aimie?
None of them were wanted at QPR. Donnelly and Baidoo seemed to lose enthusiasm after being frozen out by John Gregory, but both had shown enough ability to suggest they were far from being lost causes.
By contrast, Kanyuka performed well under Gregory until injury ruined his season - and having missed the first half of the current campaign for the same reason, he was surely worthy of a chance to prove himself under new boss Luigi de Canio.
Apparently not. Nor was St Aimie, handed a pro contract only six months ago and now discarded without more than a single substitute appearance in the Carling Cup.
All this sends out the message that QPR are a club that no longer places any importance on homegrown talent - because they can now shell out a fortune for other teams' youngsters instead.
One of those is ex-West Ham forward Hogan Ephraim - who, in a recent interview with the Times, stressed the need for Rangers to copy his old club's blueprint and make sure they are planning for the future.
Ephraim said: "Fans love nothing more than seeing one of their own players breaking into the team. If QPR can get on that road as well as bringing in quality players from elsewhere, it'll be a great mix."
Fat chance. Neither Flavio Briatore nor any of his fellow investors have said one word to indicate that they have any intention of putting funds into the Centre of Excellence - or, for that matter, regaining the club's Academy status.
Even Chelsea, the detested enemy who Rangers fans dream of deposing one day, were building up their youth facilities at the same time they were lavishing £24m on Didier Drogba.
That's because they plan to be a serious player in world football for many years. It looks as if QPR's plan is to keep stockpiling as many players as possible, then buy some more next season.
Some may see that as ambition. Actually, it's better described as greed, recklessness and stupidity.
Remember the pride we felt when Gerry Francis, Clive Allen, Peter Hucker, Alan McDonald, Kevin Gallen and many others broke into the first team to carry our hopes and dreams?
Remember those days well... because it looks as if they're gone forever. Kilburn Times

Gareth Ainsworth/Kilburn Times
THERE'S an unwritten law in football that, if you're at the same club for three or four years, you're seen as something of an old pro.
Martin Rowlands and myself are the only ones who fall into that category now at QPR, people who remember the day we got promoted at Sheffield Wednesday.
It's inevitable that'll happen because team-mates come and go - and, with times changing rapidly at QPR, we've had several people leaving in the last couple of weeks.
Marc Nygaard's gone back to Denmark and I know he's hoping to be able to feature in European competition and maybe even nudge his way into the national team there.
Marc sometimes took some stick from the crowd but, if you look at his record of playing in games we've won, it's phenomenal. He always gave 100 per cent and he's going to be missed.
Like Biggy, he made a big input during the dark days for this club. They deserve as much credit as the lads who are hopefully going to get us into the Premier League.
Biggy's departure was a bit more gradual, but I know he will get a great reception if he comes back to Loftus Road. He always wears his heart on his sleeve and, like everyone else, I'm sad to see him go.
Tuesday's result at Cardiff was very disappointing. The game was basically over after an hour, which isn't nice, and there were signs of an old problem creeping back in. Paul Parry and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink linked up well and Cardiff's firepower was superb. But we got outfought physically and we can't afford to slip back into that habit.
The gaffer made it clear there's plenty of work to do and now we've got to pick ourselves up for Saturday's game against Bristol City.
We battered City on the opening day of the season, and I don't think many of the lads would have expected them to be where they are - so it's credit to Gary Johnson that they've done so well.
He's picked up some shrewd signings and, with the fanbase City have got, I consider them as one of the bigger clubs in this division - and certainly one of the better footballing sides.
It should be a game for the purists. We've been playing some good football ourselves at home of late, so hopefully we can be the better footballing side on the day. Kilburn Times

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