MATT’S MOVE IS PAY­ING OFF

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Rob Guest

WITH Ful­ham push­ing for a re­turn to the Premier League, Matt Smith could have taken the easy op­tion and re­mained at Craven Cot­tage.

In­stead, the striker made the three-mile move to Lof­tus Road at a time when QPR were ner­vously look­ing over their shoul­der.

Many play­ers in his po­si­tion might have re­mained in SW6, but Smith’s de­ci­sion is vin­di­cated af­ter play­ing a star­ring role in the Rs’ up­turn in form.

The 27-year-old net­ted in Ful­ham’s first two Cham­pi­onship games this sea­son but failed to find the net again as op­por­tu­ni­ties be­came few and far be­tween.

But Smith scored three in his first eight QPR games and is happy with a change of scenery, even if he moved just down the road.

“It was a case of find­ing a that would tick all the boxes and it did with QPR,” he said. “It's done that and more.

“Ful­ham’s a big club, but at the same time I wanted to be play­ing foot­ball reg­u­larly.

“The op­por­tu­nity to come to an­other big club on my doorstep, un­der a man­ager (Ian Hol­loway) who val­ues me, wants to play me and, more im­por­tantly, gets the best out of me was too good an op­por­tu­nity to turn down.

“I’d had a re­ally frus­trat­ing 12 months. I’d not fea­tured much at all, so the meet­ing I had with the boss on my first day was a real breath of fresh air.

“To come into an en­vi­ron­ment like QPR and to hear those words was what I needed. For those words to then be put into prac­tice and come to fruition is tes­ta­ment to what a good man­ager he is.”

Hol­loway played a key role in en­tic­ing Smith to QPR, and the ad­di­tion of mid­fielder Luke Free­man a day ear­lier was also a plus.

The pair en­joyed a suc­cess­ful pe­riod to­gether at Bris­tol City two years ago as the Robins won League One and the John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy.

Eye-opener

“As a player, you al­ways look at who you're join­ing and I'm a player who is es­pe­cially re­liant on his sup­ply line,” said Smith.

“It’s the play­ers around me that are go­ing to make me look good.

“When I saw Luke heav­ily linked, it was a real eye-opener. We had a good time at Bris­tol City and he set up a lot of my goals.

“There is a lot of cre­ativ­move ity in the team here so I know I am go­ing to get the chances.

“It's up to me to put them away.”

Ahead of this week­end, Smith had al­ready hit the goal trail with strikes against Birm­ing­ham, Wi­gan and Rotherham.

His new Rangers fans have al­ready taken to him and he is look­ing to em­u­late for­mer striker-turned- di­rec­tor of foot­ball Les Fer­di­nand, whose goalscor­ing ex­ploits in the 80s and 90s led to him be­com­ing a cult hero at Lof­tus Road.

“Les was a top goalscorer through­out his ca­reer and a great header of the ball – what I like to do as well,” said the 27year-old.

“It's good to learn off him and get his bits of ad­vice on and off the train­ing ground. It’s only go­ing to be ben­e­fi­cial for me. If I can have half of his ca­reer, I'll be very happy.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HOOP-HOORAY: Matt Smith, left, cel­e­brates scor­ing for QPR and, in­set, Luke Free­man,

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