One player who Queens Park Rangers’ fans didn’t expect to be mulling over this season is Ryan Manning – the Irishman has become a key figure under Mark Warburton this season.
A central midfielder by trade, Manning emigrated to the UK from Galway United in the League of Ireland First Division in January 2015 to join Harry Redknapp’s QPR.
Manning had to wait for his chance in West London – he wasn’t favoured by Redknapp, or Chris Ramsey and Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink after him. It wasn’t until Ian Holloway returned to the club did the Irishman get his first-team debut.
He helped QPR end a six-game winless run against Wolves in December 2016, Holloway describing his performance as ‘outstanding’.
Ollie was dismissed at the end of the 2017/18, and Manning fell back out of favour under his eventual replacement Steve McClaren.
He sought refuge on-loan at Championship rivals Rotherham United last season, where he scored four goals in 18 games before returning to Loftus Road in January of this year.
And the rest is history – Manning has flourished under Mark Warburton who came into the club in the summer, and has established himself as a vital player in Warburton’s starting XI.
The 23-year-old has undergone a huge transition this season. Warburton spotted Manning’s talents are thought he’d be best utilised on the left-hand side of the defence, and he was right – Manning looks like a completely different footballer in his new role, and has his manager to thank for revitalising his career.
You only need to look at the numbers behind Manning’s season so far to see how good he’s been. He’s made that left-hand channel at QPR a hotspot for all their attacks, often releasing the pace of Ebere Eze or Ilias Chair with balls out from the back, or swinging the ball into the box for the likes of Nahki Wells or Jordan Hugill to get on the end of – see Hugill’s last goal v Blackburn.
Manning has been patient at QPR. He looked as though he was surplus to requirements under McClaren and many thought he’d depart after securing a loan move to Rotherham. But Warburton has saved his QPR career and Manning is now loving life at Loftus Road.