Another signing which came as a shock to most supporters this week, as the official site confirmed yesterday that we had bought veteran QPR striker Heidar Helguson for what they described as an undisclosed fee. Now, there are those amongst the club’s support who have been crying out for us to sign a target man – at just five foot ten he would not, on the face of it, appear to fit the bill, but in the thirteen years since arriving at Watford from Lillestrom, Helguson (who has scored twelve times in his fifty five appearances for Iceland) has proved himself to be very adept in this role at Premiership and Championship levels.
The obvious drawback to this signing is that someone who will be thirty five in three weeks is going to find it progressively harder to maintain his previous standards and this is shown by the fact that Helguson has only been given a contract for the one season. However, with thirteen goals as a regular member of QPR’s title winning team in 10/11 and eight Premiership goals in more of a bit part role (he was still their top scorer in all competitions last season) last time around, there is not much evidence yet that his powers are on the wane.
Being honest, for much of the last decade, I always thought of Helguson as a pretty straightforward, hard working but limited performer. However, my opinion of him began to change when he played very well in a losing cause at Cardiff City Stadium for a Watford team managed by Malky Mackay back in March 2010. Despite often conceding three or four inches to the man marking him, he was consistently able to not just win headers, but also direct them skilfully and accurately to team mates – he also topped off an impressive individual performance with a fine volleyed goal in stoppage time to make it 3-1 and give a final score which better reflected the part the visitors had played in an entertaining match. Since then, Helguson has often impressed me in televised matches (especially last season) with the way he has unsettled good quality defenders and the reaction of QPR fans has been uniformly positive with one or two suggesting it was a mistake to let him go – therefore, it would appear that this is another clever signing by Malky Mackay (in the short term at least).
Still on the transfer front. with Great Britain and South Korea due to meet at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow in the Quarter Final of the Olympic football tournament, it would appear that a resolution to at least one long standing rumour/transfer is in sight. All of those “in the know” on the messageboards seem convinced that Craig Bellamy will be signing for us once Great Britain are eliminated from the competition, while Kim Bo-Kyung’s work permit application will be considered when South Korea take their leave from the tournament (the player will have to leave Britain for the duration of the procedure, which may mean him missing our first league match in the event of him being granted a permit).
With most of the close season being taken up by an issue which has enabled many to state how much they have fallen out of love with the game, I have to say that it’s great to finally have some football to talk about – the Olympics have been better than I expected them to be up to now, while City have played twice and enjoyed very contrasting fortunes against lower league opponents. A 1-0 defeat to Conference side Forest Green Rovers was hardly an ideal way to start, but I suppose the fact that it was used very much as a training exercise does offer some excuse for what still was a pretty embarrassing scoreline. The low key nature of the whole affair can be seen from the way that Malky Mackay changed the entire team at half time and then had to watch his “second eleven” reduced to ten for all but five minutes of the second period as the referee refused to allow the injured Steve McPhail to be replaced by someone who had played the first forty five minutes.
On Tuesday, a squad short of many potential first team players who were left out after picking up minor injuries, travelled to play a Cheltenham team who had been beaten in the League Two Play Off Final back in May and were fresh from a 1-0 win over Birmingham three days earlier. For a while City struggled, but once Andrew Taylor had given them the lead with a long range daisy cutter, they never looked back. Earnie added a second with a powerful header from about fifteen yards two minutes later and Craig Conway made it 3-0 at the break with a crisp finish. Peter Whittingham played in Earnie for a lob which hit the top of the bar early in the second half and shortly afterwards, he had cheekily fired in his first goal of the campaign from a free kick twenty five yards out to put City four up with about forty minutes still to play.
From this point on, Malky Mackay again rang the changes as the match quietly faded out into a 4-0 win for the City. That was an impressive result in itself, but it looked even more so when you consider that the eleven which finished the match bore more relation to last season’s Academy team that any senior side we fielded – City’s side for the last twenty minutes or so read;-
Joe Lewis, Deji Oshilaja, Dekel Keinan, Ben Nugent, Kane Owen; Declan John, Kevin Sainte-Luce, Theo Wharton, Gethyn Hill; Nat Jarvis, Jesse Darko
Yes, it’s good to be able to have some football to talk about, but, the re-branding and our finances are always going to be close by for some time yet I fear and the end of the July marked the passing of a deadline (imposed by Sam Hammam I believe) for the Langston loan note debt to be settled by. All of the signs are that this has not happened and so it seems very unlikely that the debt to equity conversion of the loans we have had from Vincent Tan will now go ahead in the short term, as had been hoped for by club officials back at those meetings with supporters’ representatives in May. Whether the passing of this deadline makes any difference to the overall situation is, at least, arguable, but it has to be said that many in the reluctant red camp were prepared to accept the proposals if it meant nearly all of our existing debts were wiped out – that may still happen, but it looks like it’s going to take a lot longer than we were led to believe three months ago.