The return of Wayne Routledge to Loftus Road in January on loan from Newcastle United has been one of the best signings for QPR this season. Having made an impact for the Super Hoops previously before being sold to the Toon Army last January, he’s come back even better.
His two goals against Sheffield United showed his class, with great composure and finish to score both goals, the 26 year old is starting to perform more consistently than earlier on in his career. Now, rumours speculate a £1.5 million move back to Rangers is on the books come the summer.
However, should Newcastle reconsider selling Routledge after his impressive performances this year? Despite continual criticism of the player finding his level in the Championship, he’s not played regular first-team football in the top flight, like he’s enjoyed in the Football League.
Understandably, the critics point out his record of having played for four Premier League teams (Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Newcastle and Tottenham Hotspur) and not scoring a single goal. However, his move to Spurs was unfortunate after picking up a serious injury after only 2 appearances.
By the time he got back to fitness, Aaron Lennon had made a name for himself on the right wing for Spurs and Routledge moved onto Villa. At Villa, he wasn’t favoured either, making 2 appearances in two seasons despite impressing in the reserves.
However, his first season in the Premier League with Crystal Palace, 2004-2005, saw him play all 38 games and getting 10 assists to his name, which earned his move to Spurs. Perhaps this is just a player who’s not been given a proper chance in the top flight?
This season, he made 17 appearances for Newcastle United before being loaned out by Alan Pardew. However, it was Chris Hughton who gave him a chance before dropping him to include Joey Barton in the team after Cheik Tiote and Kevin Nolan impressed in the middle.
Should Pardew look to keep Routledge at the club, who could provide a more attacking edge on the right wing? As a Rangers fan I certainly hope not, but Newcastle could be losing out on a decent player, if used in the right formation.
Although, I think Routledge’s style of play causes him to be left on the bench at times. At the moment, with QPR flying at the top of the table and the 4-2-3-1 system that Neil Warnock is using, it allows Routledge to be a part of that attacking 3.
In the Premier League, such a formation may be less effective. Routledge is an old fashioned winger, which is starting to become unfashionable in the modern game. Without much defensive ability and his slight build, Routledge is not useful tracking back in midfield to battle for the ball.
Perhaps this is why Alan Pardew will be prepared to let him go. If Rangers do achieve promotion this season, hopefully Neil Warnock will continue with his dynamic formation which will allow Routledge the freedom to perform in attack, however if we ever start to struggle in the top flight, his talents will be substituted for those players of a more physical and defensive approach.