Ryan Manning – a central-midfielder by trade, shifted out to left full-back under the new manager and establishing himself as one of the league’s best from that position – has been a revelation.
It’s been quite a season and quite a journey for Manning in his short footballing career. Beginning with Galway United in Ireland, Manning got his move to England in January 2015 when he signed for Harry Redknapp’s QPR.
‘Arry was delighted to bring in the 19-year-old to West London but when he left the club a month later, citing issues with his knees before being appointed manager of the Jordan National team a month later.
Under caretaker manager Chris Ramsey and then Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, Manning wasn’t a preferred choice in central midfield, and wouldn’t feature for either manager.
That was until Ian Holloway returned to the club in November of 2016, and was tasked with developing a fresh batch of exciting, hungry young players at QPR – and Manning was one of those.
Manning saw his game-time again fall under another new boss in Steve McClaren, who loaned him out to Rotherham United for part of last season. But Warburton has taken a shining to Manning, and the Irishman is enjoying the best football of his career so far.
Everyone talks about his creativity on the left – he’s got three assists and two goals so far this season, and has even found himself a target of several Premier League clubs with his contract at QPR running out in the summer.
As a more attacking full-back though, Manning’s defensive game has been called into question.
For Britt Assombalonga’s first goal on Saturday, Manning was dispossessed far too easily and it’s not the first time this season that Manning’s ability at the back was scrutinised.
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He’s a fine player is Manning, and a fine full-back at that. The transition has proved a masterstroke from Warburton and if Manning can work on his tackling, tracking and so on, he’ll be a Premier League full-back in no time.
Both Newcastle and Southampton have shown interest in Manning of late, who might even leave in January should the club want to cash in on him.
Contract talks are said to be underway, but these talks have been ongoing for some time indicating potential issues in getting Manning to extend his stay at the club.
It could mean that they’re forced to sell him in January to not risk losing him for nothing in the summer. Nevertheless, he’s a quality player with a lot to his game, and definitely one to watch for the future for both club and country.