Ian Taylor from the QPR media department facilitated a meeting between the Fans Sites and Les Ferdinand and Chris Ramsey on June 11th in the W12 Suite at Loftus Road. Here are the minutes taken from the meet.
• Ian Taylor (Head of Media & Communications)
• Paul Morrissey (Press Manager)
• Les Ferdinand (Director of Football)
• Chris Ramsey (Head Coach)
• Richard Hennessy – Not 606 (www.not606.com)
• Ian Gamber (Bushman) – QPR Report (www.qprreport.com)
• Simon Dorset (Roller) – Not 606 (www.not606.com)
• David Fraser – QPR Pod (www.qprpod.co.uk)
• Matt Woolf – WATRB (www.wearetherangersboys.co.uk)
• Dave Thomas – AKUTRs (www.akutrs.co.uk)
• Ron Norris – QPR Net (www.qprnet.com)
• Clive Whittingham – LFW (www.loftforwords.co.uk)
• Paul Finney – IndyRs (www.indryrs.co.uk)
• Neil Dejyothin – Minutes
Les Ferdinand (LF) thanked those in attendance and said he and Chris Ramsey (CR) wanted to express how they saw the club going forward, and hoped it matched what the fans wanted.
CR followed on and talked about the fantastic opportunity he had on a personal level at QPR and went on to describe it as a great club with traditions. He mentioned a lot had gone on before he arrived and going forward he saw the importance of steadying the ship and providing a solid foundation to build on.
CR went on to discuss his brief time in charge and the style of play he adopted during the run-in. He said the approach he used was not his preferred style of play and pointed to his time at Tottenham Hotspur, other clubs and working for The FA as proof of this.
CR felt he was limited in terms of personnel at the club, including the types of players at his disposal and who was available for match day selection. He felt it necessary to try and play to the strengths of the players available to him to maximise the chances of success.
Ramsey went on to say that he felt that rolling the ball into the midfield early on often put ourselves in more danger,
Ramsey went on to say that he believed coaching wasn’t just about playing pretty football, that it’s about adapting to what players you’ve got and trying to play them in the right positions.
Ramsey said that moving forward they want to play a more attractive style of football and recruit players that do that. They know the finances are limited. They want to recruit players who can physically handle the Championship and who can express themselves technically in order to give us some attractive football for the fans.
Ramsey said we’d have older players playing, but that they’d try to recruit players that are young enough to do the job. He stressed that there wasn’t any crusade to play a youth team in the Championship and that they understood there’s an obligation to the fans to be competitive and get as far up the league as we can.
The Q&A focused on football matters only, as per LF and CR remit. They were not in a position to comment in detail on the ongoing FFP situation.
- The club’s football ‘philosophy’
LF said he’d asked the owners what they wanted to see from the football side having put their money in. From there, it's about bringing people in to fit around their requirements. The owners expressed their desire to see good attractive football being played and Ferdinand went on to say that he and CR have an idea of how they want to watch football and how it should be coached.
- Where does LF’s position begin and end in relation to CR?
LF said his job was to come in and try to set a philosophy. Tony Fernandes originally wanted to bring LF in as a coach but he felt that, despite liking Harry Redknapp as a man, his way of working was very different to LF’s view of how to manage and develop players. The discussions continued over a period of time between him, Tony and Ruben and in the end, they felt they needed to bring someone onto the board in a Director of Football role.
- How are transfer targets identified?
LF said it was a combined effort, not just between him and CR but with the scouting department.
LF explained that the club needed to work within its budget and that he’d be in close contact with the manager on the training field to understand his needs. He felt it important to be on the training ground regularly. He explained that if CR needed an attacking right back they’d work with the scouting team to identify targets within the club’s budget that fitted CR’s requirements. Then they’d provide him with a list to choose his preferred targets from.
LF said a lot of players come from the recommendations of agents and then the scouts go and have a look at them. He said the club have put systems in place to improve their recruitment strategy and are also now using Opta and Scout7 systems to help refine and identify targets. This targeted approach means they won’t be sending scouts out randomly up and down the country without a clear idea of what we’re looking for in a player.
CR said everybody will be on their Sunday best and telling you the right things before you sign them, but you don’t know how they’ll react afterwards. LF added that’s why they had to change the working environment at the club.
- Style of play
LF said the club had been renowned for attractive football in the past. He talked about his experiences of meeting people coming to Rangers over the years, who weren't fans, but who wanted to watch a good game of football and that they got that at Loftus Road.
LF said the team lacked ‘legs’ last season and felt a big problem was players not being able to get around the pitch for 90 minutes. However he stressed that they want newcomers to be intelligent players, not just runners.
LF said Ben Gladwin and Massimo Luongo were good players, who were young and the right age, fit the way he and CR want to play football and the model of where they want to go.
CR said they wanted players to play with a bit of flair and that they didn't want everybody to be a stodgy basic type of player. He said we do want some players who can unlock doors with individual ability.
- Problems with past recruitment
LF said the players the club have signed in recent years would not have come to the club needing to be developed - they were seen as experts and established players who’d played at other clubs for a long time.
LF said that unfortunately, having spoken to agents, a lot of players want to come to QPR because they can earn lots of money for little effort, and that’s the reputation we’ve gained over recent years.
Ferdinand went onto say that the owners had acted with the best intentions and backed their managers, but unfortunately it hasn’t worked out.
LF said he’d been surprised to hear lot of agents say the recent change in philosophy was what QPR needed. He said some were being stand offish and trying to go behind his back to the owners, but that the owners have been good and re-directing them back to him. He lets them know that while his football club were renowned for paying lots of money in the past, they might need to revise the figures they had in their mind because that wasn’t going to be the case anymore.
- Club culture
LF said at any football club if you walk in and the mentality is hard work then you fall into that culture and similarly if you walk into a club where everyone’s not trying as hard, you’ll soon fall into that way or lifestyle.
LF said the majority of the big earners had already left and it was up to him and CR to change the culture of the club, not only on the playing side but the whole staff around the club.
LF said that he’s stressed to the players he’s brought to the club that there has been a culture here previously that they’re trying to change. He went on to say that we're going in a different direction now and they want players coming into this club that want to be a part of that, including getting in players that see this as a step up for them, rather than a step down.
Dave Thomas said that QPR used to be everybody’s second favourite club, and more recently we’ve become a whipping boy. LF said money does that, and the image we’ve portrayed is one of being flash. CR said the image has been tarnished over the years, CR said if you’re cleaning the toilets, clean them the best you can. If you’re crossing the ball, cross it the best you can. He said they didn’t want mediocrity anywhere in the club.
CR said if people at the club don’t want to be as good as he strives and wants to be, then they can go.
- Tony Fernandes
LF said Fernandes being ‘matey’ with the players wasn’t necessarily bad or unusual. He cited Inter Milan as an example, where the chairman was good mates with all of his players, and they still managed to win trophies. LF feels there needs to be a distance kept but discipline is key overall.
LF said he had been put in place to take some of that burden off Fernandes but was in constant contact with Fernandes and Ruben, and that Ruben was a lot more involved in the club than most realised. LF also mentioned that the arrival of incoming CEO Lee Hoos who will be a “fantastic signing for the club.”
- Growing disconnect between players and supporters.
LF said there is seen to be a disconnect between supporters and the majority of football clubs now, especially in the Premier League. There are lots of supporters complaining that there are players earning too much money and not giving enough back, and that does happen at most of the clubs in football.
- Facilities/youth academy
He said there are players at PL clubs who get sent out on loan who don’t want to go because they’d rather be in their plush surroundings. LF said it tells you what society we are in nowadays and a lot of these players are getting recognised in Under 21 leagues without having doing much.
LF said the academy had not been downgraded but a dome over one of the training pitches is needed to maintain status. They were in the process of doing that, but there has been an issue with the contractors beyond the control of QPR and that has stalled things.
LF said people talk about the reasons why you should want to be Category 1 because of its status and who you can play against, but he stressed that he and CR had just been at a Spurs where they had Category 1 status, but that doesn’t mean you have the best youth team in the league.
LF felt that QPR’s unique selling point to attract players can be the opportunity of playing first-team football which won’t be offered at other clubs in the area. He said that he’d looked at his coaching staff in the youth team and development squad, and the younger players, and thought they must be feeling flat, because of the lack of players progressing to the first team. He wants to change their mindsets and give them an end goal for coming into work – something they haven’t had here for a long time.
- Other clubs (Norwich, Southampton) scouting and developing in West London
LF said that getting back into the local areas and further afield was part of his remit, and perhaps we haven’t done that enough. He said that Southampton were in a position to have a development centre or academy in Ladbroke Grove because parents could look at the club and their set-up and see it as a good option for their children.
Ferdinand however went on to say that Southampton have been in the area for years and said when he attended Christopher Wren school and was in the same class as Dennis Wise Southampton came to scout them both and yet QPR were right on the doorstep – so this has been going on for 20 or 30 years.
- Chris Ramsey’s coaching staff
Discussions ongoing, announcements in due course.
- Aims for the first team next season
CR said that recruitment is ongoing but we need to steady the ship and not repeat what happened to Wigan. The aim is to finish as high as possible, but we have to be realistic with the budget we have available and the situation we’re in. CR said the type of players we’re signing will need time to settle, and a big turnover of players can be unsettling.
- Players on Twitter/general conduct
LF talked about the issue between Joey Barton and Rodney Marsh on Twitter and said the question he asks himself is how do QPR police that? It’s the player’s personal Twitter account and isn’t a club account. He questioned whether it was a club problem as it was a personal argument between the two. He described a hypothetical scenario where a player could have a personal argument with a stranger in the street, and whether that was bringing the club into disrepute?
Ian Taylor clarified that there was a code of conduct that has been drawn up that LF and heads of various departments had helped put together.
CR said that from now onwards, the players we recruit are going to be the ones they expect to behave in a certain way. CR said he would have an emotional credit with those players as they will have realised he’s brought them to QPR and they’ll want to do their best for him and the club.
LF said the players reporting back for pre-season will respond to the new ethos and remit, and if anybody didn’t want to be a part of it they would be moved aside. LF said football had changed a lot since he was a player, and the senior players no longer run the dressing room. Players no go to the manager/chairman/agent with problems, fearful of the reaction they may get for raising it personally with some team mates. He gave examples of his time at other clubs since he quit playing and has found the dressing room is much more reactive than pro-active and gave a story of going into the dressing room on the opening day of the season with the team losing 1-0 at half-time, and the players were simply waiting there to be instructed by the manager rather than speaking up themselves.
The issue of applauding the fans after the game away from home, regardless of result, was raised following recent matches at Man City and Leicester. LF said that some players are embarrassed about performances and results, and from their point of view it’s difficult to go over when you know you haven’t produced. However they will be looking to make the players do this win, lose or draw. Ian Taylor said it would be included in the code of conduct.
- Chris Ramsey’s appointment/ perceived inexperience
LF asked why an experienced coach and inexperienced coach get sacked? It’s because they failed.
He went on to talk about other managers, and that he’d often been asked about Mark Warburton, who has done really well at Brentford. He said all that happened was Warburton was given an opportunity and a chance. He went back to last season and said that Rangers had one of the most experienced managers in the league in Harry Redknapp and yet still had problems.
LF said that while much of the discussion had been about problems and ‘bad eggs’, there are a lot of really good people at the club who want it to be successful. He says it’s about bringing more of those people who understand QPR and what it is and wants to see the club progress.
CR said he wanted to get a work ethic and belief back into the club. He said QPR is not in the shadow of its local rivals and is a much friendlier club than many of those around it.
LF added that everybody here, including the fans, needs to be a part of the club.
Ferdinand ended by saying that he hoped that in a years’ time we’re sat around the table again and not able to talk about any bad eggs.
**With thanks to Neil and Clive from LFW for transcribing the minutes**