Wednesday 5 February 2020 3:26 pm

Les Ferdinand interview: QPR director of football on making the club a talent factory again

Les Ferdinand harbours dreams of leading QPR back into the Premier League but the club legend and current director of football insists a new era of success in west London will not be ushered in overnight.

Ferdinand, who marked five years in the role this week, believes the Championship outfit’s return to a philosophy of developing talent such as Ebere Eze, Bright Osayi-Samuel and Ilias Chair is, however, a step in the right direction.

“It’s been tough. We want to get back to being a force again,” said the 53-year old former England, Tottenham and Newcastle striker.

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“It’s about getting some stability and once we’ve got that stability in the Championship you can push on. Our dream is to get back in the Premier League before long. If you’re not thinking like that, you’re in the wrong business. 

“The owners of this football club have been fantastic. They lost loads of money but they are still there and want to get back to where we used to be.

“We all know it’s going to take time but we think we have the right manager in Mark Warburton and hopefully we can push forward and bring in the right players that will make QPR successful again.”

Producing players

QPR used to be known for discovering future stars, whether through an academy that nurtured Raheem Sterling or talent-spotting, as in the case of Ferdinand, who was plucked from non-league football. 

During their most recent spell in the Premier League, Rangers abandoned that approach in favour of signing established, big-name players, but it backfired and in 2015 the club suffered relegation from the top flight for the second time in three years.

Les Ferdinand and Tony Fernandes
Ferdinand (left) was brought back to QPR five years ago by owner Tony Fernandes

“QPR had a great reputation of producing players, buying them for very little and selling them big,” Ferdinand said.

“We lost that identity for a while, which is normal because when you are in the Premier League, you try to compete so you end up buying players that you think are going to keep you there. Unfortunately that did not happen for us and we’re having to build again.”

Premier League potential

Interest from Premier League clubs in attacking trio Eze, Osayi-Samuel and Chair – all 22 or younger and the most high-profile graduates of an under-23 team that has produced 18 first-team players – is testament that the club is moving in the right direction again. 

Despite Championship survival being far from sealed – they lie 16th in the Championship and face Huddersfield on Saturday – there is a sense that Ferdinand is overseeing a new dawn in W12.

“At the moment we’ve got some young players coming through the system which takes us back to what the values of QPR were in the past,” he said. 

Bright Osayi-Samuel
Left winger Bright Osayi-Samuel is another graduate of the club’s under-23 set-up now making his mark in the first team

“All the talk has been about Eze this season and rightly so. He has played absolutely fantastically well. 

“Bright is now showing the potential which most Premier League teams like. He’s got pace and power and he has now started to produce things on a regular basis so he’s got a great chance. 

“Ilias may take a little bit longer but he will get there as well because he has got a determination and desire to play at the highest level. I really think all three have got the potential to do it.”

New training ground

While fellow London clubs Arsenal, Tottenham and West Ham have moved into bigger, more modern stadiums and neighbours Brentford will do later this year, Ferdinand admits that QPR have, despite plans for a new training ground at Warren Farm in Southall, been left behind.

“Yes, I think we have if you look at other clubs in the capital,” he said.

“We’ve had plans in place for a while to build a new training ground. Unfortunately the legislation has faltered. But the intention is that we will have a new training ground in the next couple of years. 

Mark Warburton
Ferdinand says the club are confident that current manager Mark Warburton is “the right man”

“The ground might take a little bit longer because most of our supporters want to stay in the Shepherd’s Bush area.

“The areas where you are able to build a stadium is prime land and that does not come up very easily in W12. We’re looking and hoping.

“The ground will take a little bit longer but the training ground will be on its way in the next year or two.”

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