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IN DEPTH: “Is Josh Scowen any good?” - QPR fans give honest views on Sunderland’s latest signing

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JOSH SCOWEN - IS HE ANY GOOD? We sat down for an in-depth chat with QPR Blog ‘Loft For Words’ and Paul Finney from QPR Pod to learn all about Sunderland’s newest signing, and whether he’ll be a useful addition to our squad.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Josh Scowen Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: Josh Scowen, then - is he any good?

Loft For Words: The first thing to say straight away is that Scowen divides opinion at QPR, and I really like him. So that will colour my answers to this and there will be other QPR fans who’ll tell you he’s crap, and other QPR fans who read this and tell me I’m talking shit. Won’t be the first time, I’m wrong a lot. So, here we go…

QPR Pod: Yes - Scowen had a really good first season at Rangers, and added some teeth to a midfield that was lacking it. He loves a tackle and will track a letter if he’s told to. You have a solid player there who will give his all.

RR: What sort of midfielder is he?

Loft For Words: Well when he came he described himself as “a bit of a rat”. He breaks up play, he covers enormous distance, his work rate can’t be faulted, and he’s nasty – 27 yellow cards in 77 starts and 22 sub appearances.

He does a nice line in coming off the bench with 20 minutes to go to “shore things up” and getting booked within two minutes for walloping somebody. However, like I say, at Barnsley he played further forward and scored a few more goals (including one against us) and two of the four goals he’s scored for us during his time here have been absolute screamers (v Barnsley and Swansea). He scored 12 goals for them and four for us in roughly the same amount of appearances for each.

QPR Pod: He’s hard working. He’s no David Beckham, but he has the ability to get booked or score a cracker in unequal terms. He will hunt all day for the ball, and is not scared to get a foot, head or arm lock in!

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Josh Scowen Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: What happened to Scowen at QPR - would you consider his time with the club as a success?

QPR Pod: There’s a question... I’m not sure what success is in the modern game. As I can only speak as I seen the man play - he gives his all, shows a willingness to tackle anything that moves, and I thought that he was decent enough. Trouble with us is having a new manager every season doesn’t help anyone settle, and Josh is a player that needs first team football and wants to give his all and be loved.

Queen’s Park Rangers are a club still in recovery from the Premier League years, and the massive overspending. Sadly, some fans demand more than the ability players have at this level, and seem to demand more than just going along trying to find your identity again, which is where we find ourselves. Some of the fans in recent would boo their own mother. It’s the same for most clubs I’m guessing. But yeah, I’d say he fell out of love with QPR due to the constant changing of managers, not being in their plans, and some binlids on Twitter going well over the top.

Loft For Words: Josh Scowen was brought to the club on a free transfer from Barnsley at a time when Ian Holloway was manager and Gary Penrice was head scout/head of recruitment. Since coming out of the Premier League, QPR have been on a long, drawn out quest to bring the wage bill down from north of £80m a year to around the £15m mark to make the club sustainable and comply with the FFP rules. We’ve flipped and flopped through a few methods of doing that, and at the time Josh arrived we’d gone from trying to pick up bargains from Europe (Polter, Sylla, Borysiuk, Ngbakoto) under Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink to trying to scout out gems and undervalued players from around the Championship and League One.

Scowen arrived just after Luke Freeman, and the pair of them were sort of the golden boys for Holloway, forming a midfield three with Mass Luongo around which the whole team was built. He did the dog work, Luongo ran box to box, and Freeman played ten. It worked really well while Holloway was here, although it caused problems elsewhere with us trying to play wing backs and a back three which we weren’t particularly well set up for.

After Holloway left he got on the wrong side of Steve McClaren almost immediately.

McClaren felt we had a lot of midfielders that were sort of wingers, sort of tens, sort of this and sort of that (not an unfair assessment) and wanted them to nail down specific jobs and be good at them. Scowen was the one who did have a clearly defined skillset and role – protect the back four, pass forward to more talented players – but he told McClaren early on that at Barnsley he’d played further forward as more of a goalscoring midfielder and wanted to be considered as that moving forwards.

McClaren seemed to get the hump with that before the season even began and quickly replaced him in the team with Geoff Cameron.

He came back into contention once McClaren had been sacked, and finished the season really strongly playing further forwards under caretaker John Eustace.

He then started this season in that more advanced ten role, but missed some really good chances in the opening few games and has since been usurped by a talented crop of youngsters Eze, Chair, Osayi-Samuel.

His form has certainly dipped, he’s struggled to get into the team, he doesn’t seem to fit with what Mark Warburton wants to do. He’s also become a bit of a scapegoat for the sort of younger, angrier element of our support (and I’m sure every club has this problem now) that inhabit social media and think it’s acceptable to bombard players they don’t like or aren’t playing well with stuff like “f*ck off out of our club”. Josh deleted his Twitter account because of the abuse he got, his dad is on there and fights his corner, but it’s got a bit ugly and a fresh start is probably best.

Personally I think he’s been harshly treated. Mission accomplished, that particularly sub section of the support have now set upon out of form goalkeeper Joe Lumley and are doing the same thing all over again.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Josh Scowen Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: What would you say his main strengths are as a player?

QPR Pod: He plays well in a box-to-box role, has an engine on him and above all else, he’s a hard worker who will shock at times with the odd screamer of a goal - and he can kick a player just as easy.

Loft For Words: His tackling, his ability to break things up, his work rate, aggression, ground covered, commitment and effort.

RR: And weaknesses?

Loft For Words: If you want somebody to start pinging nice diagonal balls in behind the opposing full backs, Josh Scowen is not your man.

QPR Pod: Josh hated not playing, so when he was picked as a substitute in games he would fly off the bench into a foul, as more often than not frustration gets the better of him. His rate of giving away free kicks in bad areas is poor, but if he’s played week in and out with the right manager, he might be able to cut down on that.

Sunderland Unveil New Signing Josh Scowen Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

RR: Do you think he’s good enough to oust Max Power and/or George Dobson from Sunderland’s midfield?

Loft For Words: I think he’s better than League One. He was borderline Player Of The Year for us in his first season under Ian Holloway. I like Max Power, and haven’t seen much of Dobson, but Josh is a Championship player in my opinion. Like I say, lots disagree.

QPR Pod: I’ve not seen enough to judge either Dobson or Power, as watching QPR is enough for my football stress levels. If anything, bringing him to the club will I’m sure spark them into life as well.

RR: What would you say to any Sunderland fans who aren’t sure about the signing of Scowen?

QPR Pod: Give him a run and some time to prove himself - he’s the kind of lad that needs love off the fans to give the love back.

He’s also a class act off the pitch - a tad shy, and very down to earth. He won’t let you down, that’s for sure, apart from increasing your yellow card tally for the season. Given time under a solid manager, he will be grand for you and hope he does well.

Loft For Words: Well why not crack on now with the social media abuse, get stuck into his dad, start making out like he’s the worst player that’s ever worn your shirt and stuff like that. Why wait, save time? Or... give a lad that may be limited in certain aspects of his game, but can be very useful if used right and played to his strengths, a bit of a chance?

Radical in the modern game I know, but it might be worth a shot. He’s 100% every game. Amazing how quickly the same fans who give it the “as long as they try for the shirt that’s all you can ask” turn to “he’s f**king s**t” at the first sign of a drop in form.