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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Martin Allen Returning to Loftus Road?

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David McIntyre/BBC606 - Allen back at QPR
- Martin Allen has been offered the chance to work for QPR in a scouting role.
- Allen, who made over 150 appearances for Rangers as a player, has been out of the game since his spell as Cheltenham manager ended last month.
- Rangers’ scouting set-up has been minimal in recent years, to put it mildly.

Most people associate scouting with looking at players, but looking at teams is the most urgent requirement and the bread and butter of most involved in scouting.

Think of a successful club, especially one with a small budget or unspectacular-looking team on paper, and it’s guaranteed that they are very strong in this area. It’s so important.

Iain Dowie made some desperately needed changes during his short time as manager, when he almost had to start from scratch.

Paulo Sousa, helped by Gareth Ainsworth, continued to make the best of a skeleton set-up and make improvements where possible.

More recently, John Gorman oversaw this area while Jim Magilton was at Rangers.

The departure of Gorman along with Magilton has left the incoming manager with a potential headache.

And arriving around Christmas, when matches come thick and fast, has not helped Paul Hart in that respect.

The limited structure in place before Magilton’s departure is largely still in place. The club’s ProZone operation, for example, is unchanged.

But Hart needed an extra pair of eyes and ears in the field, and Allen is an experienced football man.

It’s not a big deal. These informal appointments happen all the time and don’t mean too much, although QPR – no doubt keen to prove their set-up is not as bad as some claim – have been known to trumpet the arrival of scouts.

But it’s worth mentioning because Allen served Rangers as a player and his role at least shows Hart has been able to make changes behind the scenes.

In the longer term, the club needs to do a lot more in this area to have any chance of seriously challenging for promotion. Simply throwing money around won’t do.

Other Championship sides might not have QPR’s money but are bubbling along quite nicely with infrastructures far superior to Rangers’, and this is part of the reason why success continues to elude the club despite their big spending.

Last summer the appointment of a chief scout or a head of recruitment was discussed and a number of potential candidates spoke to the club, but nothing materialised.

Rangers need much more than one more scout getting to games. They need a strong team of them and someone to manage that team.

The appointment of a chief scout would be a good move, but even that would be a cosmetic change unless there’s a strong team of scouts for them to manage.

A chief scout isn’t a magic wand for getting better players and being well prepared for matches. There has to be a pool of information from a team of people for the person in that role to then follow up and report on to the manager and board.

Gianni Paladini’s arrival at Rangers in 2004 was followed by a change of direction in which the scouting set-up was reduced.

That doesn’t necessarily means that Paladini, now with the title of sporting director, is a barrier to building this area of the club five years on.

Ultimately, it is the owners who must make these changes happen - and they haven’t seemed interested. BBC606

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