Sport Soccer

Wednesday 16 January 2019

Rotherham move gives Manning important chance to shine

Ryan Manning of Republic of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Ryan Manning of Republic of Ireland. Photo: Sportsfile
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Ryan Manning is accustomed to securing good results in August.

He picked up 555 points in his Leaving Cert while merging study with a burgeoning football career.

The 22-year-old made the leap from his native Galway to England and he's facing into another important test following a season-long loan move from QPR to Rotherham. He should make his home debut in tonight's Championship encounter with Hull.

It's a switch sideways with a view to taking a step forward in his career.

There were high hopes for Manning two seasons ago when the arrival of Ian Holloway saved his QPR career.

The Londoners were prepared to release the former Galway United player at the end of the 2016/17 season, but Holloway took a shine to the midfielder and gave him his opportunity in the English second tier.

He embraced the stay of execution and became a first-team player, earning a contract extension for his troubles.

However, he struggled to really build on it last term, with Holloway preferring other options as Manning slipped down the pecking order until the final third of the season - he played just five minutes of football between November and March.

The eccentric boss departed in the summer to be replaced by Steve McClaren and the decision was taken to send Manning elsewhere for this campaign.

"I think it's part of every young player's development to go out on loan and experience something different - different environments, different cultures and different ways of playing," said McClaren.

He was sent to Rotherham, not Rio, but it should still be a learning exercise.

McClaren listed four players that were ahead of Manning, but his own future is already on the line after a 7-1 thrashing at the hands of West Brom over the weekend. Maybe Manning got out at just the right time.

It is a major boost that another Championship club were willing to take Manning on when the fear was that he would have to drop down a division.

It's also important for Ireland. Declan Rice is the star of the U-21 side that still has a chance of qualifying for the European Championships, and his West Ham colleague Josh Cullen will shoulder a lot of the responsibility if senior commitments prevent Rice from making a full return to that level.

However, Manning is vitally important too, wearing the No 10 shirt and assuming a lot of the creative responsibility. His ability in dead-ball situations is also an important asset.

As a teenager at Galway he was an attacking midfielder with an eye for goal, but his breakthrough at QPR actually came as more of a deep-lying playmaker.

With Ireland he is slightly more advanced and that's a position where options are required to unlock defences, with Wes Hoolahan's international retirement leaving a void.

Therefore, it will be intriguing to see how he is used by Paul Warne, a highly rated young manager who steered Rotherham back to the Championship at the first attempt.

Richie Towell was on loan from Brighton last term and raved about his man-management skills after playing a key role in the side that made its way up via the play-offs.

Warne favours a system with three central midfielders that should suit Manning and wants to strengthen further in that department - a return for Towell is still a possibility - so the newcomer is not guaranteed of anything.

However, it appears to be a more stable environment than QPR and might just allow Manning to flourish. He missed out on Martin O'Neill's experimental squads earlier this year because he simply wasn't playing enough games at a good level.

Now the ball is in his court.

Irish Independent

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