Rob Dickie has taken to the Championship like a duck to water.
The centre-back has swiftly grow to be a fan favorite at QPR due to his spectacular performances as a part of a again three since becoming a member of from Oxford in the summertime. Significantly throughout a run in 2021 that has seen them win six of their final seven video games.
Their most up-to-date clear sheet got here in opposition to Blackburn initially of February, in a recreation the place Dickie, 24, was confronted with the problem of marking Adam Armstrong – a participant he considers to be the second greatest striker within the Championship. Afterwards, Rovers boss Tony Mowbray admitted he had switched Armstrong to the left aspect of his assault to attempt to reap the benefits of Dickie’s, as he put it, ‘perceived weaknesses’.
Naturally, I needed to ask. And Dickie’s reply was assured as his efficiency in QPR’s 1-0 win that day.
“A couple of folks have requested me about that and to be trustworthy with you it was no extra satisfying than profitable every other recreation,” he tells Sky Sports activities. “I do not assume I really mentioned something about it.”
He did, nonetheless, submit a considerably tongue-in-cheek photograph of himself and Armstrong from that recreation after the win on Twitter.
“I utterly perceive it from Tony Mowbray’s viewpoint, although. He has Adam Armstrong in his crew and I personally assume he is the most effective striker within the league – aside from Charlie Austin!
“So he needs to make use of him to reveal centre-backs. And since we’re taking part in in a again three the center man within the again three is not actually going to get uncovered an excessive amount of as a result of he has our bodies round him.
“You will not put him on the precise as a result of he is then going to be reducing in onto his left foot, the place he is not good at ending. So naturally he’ll play on the left, and play in opposition to me.
“So whomever Tony Mowbray is taking part in in opposition to, if they seem to be a again three the precise aspect of the again three goes to be the weakest hyperlink, as a result of their strongest hyperlink is Adam Armstrong. So I did not take it personally!
“I am formidable and I need to make the step up, and meaning taking part in in opposition to gamers like Armstrong each week. It is an excellent expertise for me, and I felt I did a great job on the day. We received the sport and saved a clear sheet, which I am actually proud of.”
The early components of the season have been a little bit of a wrestle for QPR. Late November and December was significantly poor as they dropped down the Championship desk, and scoring targets was a little bit of an issue.
However the flip of the 12 months has reinvigorated their season. Performances have changed into outcomes. Robust defensive performances are actually bearing fruit, significantly with Austin on the different finish of the pitch placing probabilities away.
There was loads of curiosity in the summertime for Dickie, however he feels QPR has proved to be the precise transfer, with taking part in underneath Mark Warburton and his fashion of play the decisive components for him in making the swap to the west London membership.
“I got here right here for a purpose,” he says. “I just like the soccer that the supervisor performs. He made it fairly clear from the outset that he wished and wanted me on the membership, and that was a giant factor for me. Nevertheless it’s additionally due to how we play right here, that basically attracted me.
“We’re attacking and fairly free-flowing. Typically we get punished for it. Typically we do not. However I take pleasure in being in a aspect that performs good soccer. I prefer to go the ball from the again and produce it by the thirds. I began off as a No 10 after I was youthful and performed quite a bit in midfield, in order that’s why I really feel technically good. However I additionally really feel like I am somebody who can combine it up and I take pleasure in defending too.
“I am actually having fun with it. I simply love taking part in soccer and it is good to be taking part in right here week in, week out in opposition to the sort of strikers that know what they’re doing. They’re extra medical, their motion is healthier. They’re higher bodily, they’re faster.
“It has been powerful, however I feel I’ve made the step up fairly effectively.”
Dickie started his profession at Studying – the membership he additionally helps – however was handed only one Championship look – spending most of his time there out on loans both in non-league or League Two.
He admits even in these phases of his profession he felt he had what it takes to play for Studying, however there isn’t any resentment in any way over his lack of alternative. Primarily as a result of it gave him the prospect to develop and develop by his mortgage spells, earlier than lastly making a everlasting transfer to Oxford in 2018.
“I imagine in my capability and myself so I feel I may have contributed for them on the time, however it simply wasn’t to be,” he says. “On the time there have been quite a lot of senior centre-backs on the membership, and I simply wasn’t going to get the prospect.
“I got here by the academy at Studying and so my technical recreation was fairly sound, however the decrease leagues helped form different components of my recreation. I performed within the Convention South, the Nationwide League, League Two. That is the place you be taught your actual core fundamentals. Defensive headers, defending crosses, issues like that.
“There have been no unhealthy emotions after I left, as a result of I did not need to go on mortgage once more. It sounds humorous, however whenever you go on mortgage you simply really feel a bit borrowed. I suppose I wished to really feel a reference to a membership and be steady there, somewhat than simply always transferring to totally different golf equipment across the nation. I wished to go someplace that I used to be actually wished, to really feel a part of one thing for a few years and to construct myself.”
Dickie loved a profitable two-and-a-half 12 months spell at Oxford, however there’ll all the time be a component of frustration in his thoughts that his closing marketing campaign there did not culminate in promotion.
Oxford have been flying earlier than the curtailment of final season because of the coronavirus pandemic. With 11 video games to play they have been third within the desk off the again of a outstanding profitable run, with simply two factors between themselves and Rotherham in second.
“I do know it is easy to take a seat right here now and look again and say we’d have gone up, however we had received 5 on the spin and we have been solely actually heading in a single route within the final couple of months,” he says.
“No video games are simple, however we had quite a lot of video games developing in opposition to sides we needs to be beating in that division. I actually imagine if issues had stayed the identical we’d have had a very good shout.”
Oxford ultimately needed to come again and attempt to win promotion by the League One play-offs in July. They beat Portsmouth on penalties after two legs of their semi-final, establishing a Wembley closing in opposition to Wycombe.
“It was troublesome as a result of the circumstances have been so unusual,” he says. “These video games are large and there was no actual correct preparation. You’d flip up in your automotive, prepare, then head straight again residence afterwards. You could not go to the fitness center, or have any actual conferences. However everybody needed to take care of that.”
Dickie describes himself as a pure chief and sees the second he led Oxford out at Wembley as captain because the proudest second of his profession up to now. Nevertheless it didn’t finish the best way he wished, as they fell to a 2-1 defeat.
“It was fairly horrendous,” he says. “At Oxford they have been my team-mates however they have been actually good buddies as effectively. [Karl Robinson] was among the finest managers I’ve labored with and I felt the membership deserved to get that subsequent step as much as the Championship.
“These video games are a one-off. Errors can occur and sadly we have been on the incorrect finish of it. It was only a disgrace.”
Dickie did discover his strategy to the Championship himself in the summertime as he made the transfer to QPR, and has the idea in himself that he may be the newest in an extended line of defenders to work their approach by the EFL and make it to the Premier League.
You possibly can sense the drive in his voice when he talks about it, and also you definitely would not again in opposition to him going all the best way.
“I am an formidable man and if I by no means performed within the Premier League I do not assume I might retire comfortable if I am trustworthy with you,” he says. “I really like soccer and I’ve watched the Premier League for so long as I can keep in mind, so to play in it might imply the world to me.
“Proper now although I am loving taking part in this season for QPR within the Championship. To get again to this stage is all I’ve wished for a very long time.”
Little question QPR might be hoping to maintain him on the membership for so long as doable.