What would Nelsen leaving mean for QPR?

Reports have surfaced recently that former club DC United are trying to lure Ryan Nelsen back to the states. Even fresher is news that an announcement is expected to be made today that he has signed as head coach of Toronto FC, what would that mean for Queens Park Rangers?

In a campaign that can so far be described as cataclysmic for Queens Park Rangers there have been few shining lights. Of late, the 1-0 victory overLondonrivals Chelsea provided hoops fans with a dim glimmer of optimism that relegation can be avoided. But the only real flicker of consistency for QPR this season has been New Zealand centre back Ryan Nelson.

The Loftus Road clubs vice captain has been one of the few recent signings that actually looks like he joined the club to play football, rather than sit on a final healthy pay cheque with a non caring smile on his face. Unlike most, Nelson has shown an iron stomach for the fight, his battle fuelled commitment for the cause quickly endeared him to fans. Not to mention a blood decorated face, this in football terms always demands respect.

The 35 year old has been one of few QPR players to escape criticism this season and manager Harry Redknapp has already spoken of his fear of losing him, 'There is some truth in the rumour I'm afraid. Nelsen is very important to us, a fantastic leader, a top player.’

'He has been fantastic. I took him to Tottenham last year from Blackburn. He's one of the best pros I've ever met in my life, a fantastic player, a great trainer, a leader.

'He is a massive part of your team. To lose him would be a massive blow for us.'

High praise indeed but, what effect would Nelsen’s departure really have on QPR’s bid to beat the drop? In short, being January, I think the answer would be not much. If there was no opportunity to bring players in for the remainder of the season I would have said that the effect would be hugely damaging. But there is nothing that Harry Redknapp enjoys more than winding down his car window on deadline day and charmingly informing Sky Sports News that he has just completed the signing of no less than 48 new players.

The heavy influx of personnel coming in during transfer windows has been a huge part of QPR’s problems, but this January it seems needed. That said there aren’t many better wheelers and dealers about than Harry Redknapp, he has the character to talk a couple of gems into joining Rangers fight against relegation and with him in charge you sense that anything could happen.

The obvious place to start of course would be defence. For all of Nelsen’s consistency and heart it is likely that Harry would have been attempting to bring in a couple of defenders anyway. Nelsen’s departure would probably only serve to encourage Redknapp that at least one inspirational top quality centre half is very much required at the club. The managers hand would almost certainly be pushed to ensure that someone even better than Nelson was bought in to fill the void.

It would be sad to see such a genuine, committed, professional, and manly servant of the Premiership leave English football, and for QPR fans it will be disappointing to lose one of their biggest on and off pitch influences but, it doesn’t necessarily spell disaster. January is generally a month when Redknapp excels, QPR fans can rest assured that there will be reinforcements bought in. Loic Remy is reported to have turned the Loftus Road club down; next on the list is M’Vila.

Wish Ryan Nelsen well and buckle up for the bumpy ride that will be the remainder of the season.

images: © p_a_h, © Tom Cuppens

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