This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Last season, Ryan Manning spent the campaign on loan at Rotherham.
The 23-year-old was used primarily as a midfielder by Paul Warne, making 14 appearances as a centre midfielder, seven as an attacking midfielder and one as a defensive midfielder, per Transfermarkt.
He managed to grab four goals and an assist in 27 Championship appearances for The Millers, but upon his return to the Kiyan Prince Foundation, there was a different plan in store for him.
Mark Warburton – who was appointed as the R’s boss back in May – decided to take the Irishman under his wing and alter his position slightly, moving him to left-back.
Manning has taken to the role like a duck to water, performing excellently in both a wing-back position and as part of a flat back four.
The full-back has registered the most assists for QPR in the Championship this season with three to his name – one off the summit of the league’s assist rankings – and has also created the most chances amid a barrage of other impressive statistics, as you can see below.
Most assists ✅
Most chances created ✅
Most crosses ✅
Most fouls won ✅
Most possession won ✅
Most tackles ✅
Most touches ✅
— Queens Park Rangers FC (@QPR) October 8, 2019
It’s safe to say that it was a masterstroke by Warburton to play Manning at left-back.
However, the Londoners could be made to pay for the former Brentford manager’s genius decision.
Premier League duo Newcastle and Southampton are interested in signing Manning for a cut-price fee, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2020 – QPR do reportedly have the option to extend his deal.
It is presumably tough for any player in the Championship to ignore interest from the Premier League, and if Manning does leave as a result of his fine showings at left-back, then QPR may well have to pay the price for Warburton’s masterstroke with the Irishman by waving goodbye to one of their best players.