QPR’s attempted swoop for Cardiff’s England international centre-half Steven Caulker looks to have hit the skids thanks to Tony Pulis, with the Crystal Palace boss reportedly ready to meet the former Spurs youth’s £8m release clause.
The promoted west Londoners may be a tad shorter to be playing Championship football in 2015/16 at 2/1 than the 9/4 Eagles, but there are better reasons than preserving Premier League survival for Caulker to rejoin the man who handed him his Lilywhites debut in the League Cup four seasons ago.
R’s chief Harry Redknapp has coached England centre-halves Rio Ferdinand, Sol Campbell, Ledley King and Michael Dawson during his time as a top-flight gaffer, with all four receiving Three Lions caps under the tutelage of the Poplar native.
An accident of circumstances? Perhaps, but we can say with some certainty that the current Hoops manager has had measurably more success at getting – and keeping – his centre-backs into the England setup than the Selhurst Park supremo.
Ryan Shawcross – of Stoke City, where Pulis plied his trade from 2006-2013 – didn’t quite make it at Manchester United and was sold to the Potteries club for £2m in 2008, after a successful loan spell at the Britannia.
Stoke’s roughhouse tactics brought Pulis and his players notoriety, although the Chester native was desperately unlucky to be pulled from Fabio Capello’s England squad in February 2010, after breaking Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey’s leg with a mistimed tackle that was clearly not meant to injure.
Shawcross eventually made his England debut under Roy Hodgson in Sweden at the age of 25, incidentally alongside then 21-year-old Caulker, who scored in a friendly best remembered by Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s ridiculous fourth goal, which made it 4-2 to the hosts.
It seems the England boss saw enough of Shawcross in Stockholm to cross him off a very short list of potential centre-backs ahead of World Cup 2014, and the Potters’ stalwart’s experience should serve as a cautionary tale for Caulker.
Pulis’ defensive methods – while effective – appear to put Three Lions coaches off his players, and as the Cardiff bruiser’s other viable Premier League option appears to be under one of recent England centre-halves’ great advocates, switching to Loftus Road could be key to the 22-year-old’s international future.