Casting aside the pre-season cynicism that has been in evidence this summer, the return of scout Mel Johnson to QPR is a positive step for the club.
Johnson links up with Ian Holloway for a second time and R’s fans will hope they can enjoy the same success in the transfer market as they did in their last spell together in Shepherds Bush.
Before his departure for Tottenham Hotspur 12 years ago, Johnson helped Rangers identify and sign players including Lee Cook, Gareth Ainsworth, Dan Shittu, Marc Bircham and Lee Camp; all of whom still fondly remembered in W12.
Since then Johnson has worked at Liverpool and West Brom as well as Spurs (where he apparently recommended an 18 year-old left-back by the name of Gareth Bale to the Lillywhites) and has a wider network of contacts for it.
He returns to QPR with a brief to scout the south of England and Europe and told qpr.co.uk he is happy to be back at Loftus Rd:
“I’ve gone away, travelled around the world, and built up so many great contacts in football.”
“My heart has always been at Rangers and I’m just so excited to be back.”
Personally, the spell where Johnson worked under Ian Holloway is up there with the most enjoyable periods of football I’ve seen in 30 years of watching Rangers. It was a time when I felt that the club and fans were truly in-step with one and other, long before the bloated excesses that would characterise the club in later years.
With the exception of that summer under Neil Warnock where Rangers brought Shaun Derry, Clint Hill, Paddy Kenny and Jamie Mackie through the entrance doors on South Africa Road; I can’t think of a time the club has worked so hard and so well in the transfer market as under Johnson and Holloway. Working on a shoe-string budget, QPR set about signing the right characters rather than signing big names or average players just to fill a position.
Johnson joins the club at a time when there has been criticism on social media that the club have not been bold or ambitious enough in the transfer window, but if Johnson’s arrival is a signal of the club being run as a stable and sustainable club in the Rangers tradition of yore then I’m all for it.
A club looking to find young, hungry players the supporters can bang the walls at Loftus Road for is a far better prospect than one where agents and mercenaries run the show.
Welcome back Mel, finding a new Danny Shittu and the next Stan Bowles would be a nice start!