This article forms part of our Profit Players feature series, which is where Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at how well a player has fared since being signed or sold, using statistical figures and statements from pundits to prove how good of a deal the club managed to achieve.
Harry Redknapp’s QPR squad in the 2014/15 season, their last in the Premier League, contained some illustrious names – Rio Ferdinand, a multiple Premier League winner who had also lifted the Champions League; Shaun Wright-Phillips, a league winner with Chelsea; Niko Kranjcar, an experienced Croatia international; Leroy Fer, a member of the Netherlands squad that finished third at the previous summer’s World Cup.
It was into this company that an 18-year-old Irish prospect by the name of Ryan Manning arrived at Loftus Road in January 2015 for a fee of just £61,000, as per TransferMarkt. He came from the modest surroundings of Galway United, the flagship club in his native county yet one which, at the time of his move, weren’t even playing in Ireland’s top tier. Naturally, he wasn’t going to be immediately thrown into the heat of a Premier League relegation battle, although Redknapp was unequivocal in his delight at signing him.
Manning would have to wait until the last day of 2016 to make his senior debut for QPR, then under the management of Ian Holloway, who hailed the youngster’s display as “absolutely outstanding” as they beat Wolves 2-1 (as per West London Sport). He was kept in the team for most of the remainder of that season, playing in a variety of midfield roles, and signed a new deal at the club in February 2017. He chose a good time to score his first goal for the R’s, too, netting in a 1-1 draw against west London rivals Fulham (as per BBC).
Unfortunately for Manning, his strong start to 2017 didn’t carry over into the following season, in which he started only 10 Championship games under Holloway. He went on loan to Rotherham for the 2018/19 campaign but was recalled by his parent club midway through the season after a productive return of four goals in 18 games for the Millers.
He had barely featured under Steve McClaren but, after the ex-England manager was sacked in April 2019, caretaker John Eustace found a new role in the team for Manning at left-back and he duly started their final six games of the season. It has since proven to be a turning point in the Irishman’s career at the club.
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Mark Warburton must have seen something in those few games as he has kept the 23-year-old at left-back throughout the current season and Manning has firmly made the position his own, starting 32 matches in the 2019/20 Championship. Three goals and five assists for the season so far hint at the attacking influence he has offered from a defensive position and his WhoScored average match rating of 7.09 for the campaign so far is the second highest in QPR’s squad.
With 1.9 key passes and 2.3 successful tackles per game, the Irishman is a prime example of an attack-minded full-back who can also perform his defensive duties consistently and he has been called up to his country’s senior squad, although an international debut still awaits.
During the 2014/15 season, QPR spent significant sums of money on players such as Fer, Steven Caulker, Sandro and Jordon Mutch. History has shown that the comparative chickenfeed for which they signed Manning has perhaps been the best piece of transfer business they pulled off in that campaign, a testament to clever recruitment and astutely playing the long game.
QPR fans, just how good a signing has Manning been for only £61,000? Comment below with your views!
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