QPR’S reputation is about to change. That is the verdict of Les Ferdinand, who is working hard to see more players from the club’s youth set-up make the step-up to first-team action.
Ferdinand, the club’s Head of Football Operations, has been busy since he rejoined the club in October.
Shortly after his arrival, he brought Chris Ramsey to the club and he has now added David Magrone, who joins as Head of Recruitment within the Academy set-up.
“We are putting in place a structure,” Ferdinand told www.qpr.co.uk.
“We haven’t had a big enough presence in and around the London area in terms of talent spotting, so we are setting up projects where we have an association with clubs in London, at all different levels.
“There are a lot of clubs that we can tap into. We need to establish an association with them.”
Part of Ferdinand’s challenge at QPR has been dealing with the historic lack of youngsters who have broken into the first team over the past decade.
And he believes the recent arrival of Ryan Manning, 18, shows QPR’s reputation is starting to change.
“My remit is to show young players that there is a pathway available for them,” Ferdinand said. “I was able to show it to Ryan. Our reputation is about to change, it will change. That’s part of the reason I am here.
“Ryan was someone that was on the radar of a few different clubs and we spoke with people who had seen him play and they told us he was worth looking at. I came from non-league football and needed someone to give me an opportunity. We have now given Ryan that same opportunity.
“There were quite a few other Premier League clubs interested in Ryan, but we managed to show him that there would be a pathway to the first team for him.
“In the past Queens Park Rangers always had that reputation for bringing players through and playing in the first team. That hasn’t been the case for more than a decade, and we want to get back to that.”
While Manning recently joined the R’s, fellow youngster Josh Laurent has left for Brentford. Ferdinand was keen to keep the midfielder at the club and is disappointed he was unable to do so.
“When Chris and I came into the club, we watched the boys train and he was one of the boys we looked at and thought he had something,” Ferdinand said.
“He had already been told he could leave the club by the previous regime, who didn’t feel he was going to make the grade.
“We came in and thought differently. Football is all about opinions, and in our opinion we felt he was good enough.
“Unfortunately I was unable to convince him that there would be a pathway, and he opted to go to Brentford.
“We are obviously disappointed to lose him but we wish him all the best, and hopefully he will go on to be a decent player.”
Looking forward, Ferdinand’s aims are clear. His short-term target is obvious, but it is the medium-to-long-term where his focus evidently lies.
“First and foremost the aim here is to stay in the Premier League,” he said.
“But also, the supporters have been complaining for a long time that there hasn’t been anyone looking at the youth.
“I am bringing more people in that I know are good at developing youngsters. Hopefully this pathway to the first team is one that will bear fruit in a short space of time.”