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Hung by his own players, Hughes now in untenable position — full match report
Hung by his own players, Hughes now in untenable position — full match report
Sunday, 18th Nov 2012 22:22 by Clive Whittingham

QPR’s worst performance of the season saw them crash to an abject 3-1 home defeat against fellow strugglers Southampton at Loftus Road on Saturday leaving manager Mark Hughes staring down the barrel.

The media dubbed it ‘El Sackico’ – a match where defeat would cost the losing manager his job. With that in mind, the playing squads of Southampton and Queens Park Rangers delivered convincing verdicts on their respective bosses: the former delivering a committed and lively performance while 3,000 travelling supporters chanted Nigel Adkins’ name, the latter turning in a display that could scarcely have been worse if they’d tried to a cacophony of boos and calls for Mark Hughes to leave. The writing is now very firmly on the wall for the beleaguered QPR boss.

The day began with a line in The Times, missed by most, saying Bobby Zamora now refuses to eat lunch with the rest of the team because he is disillusioned with life at the club, and Anton Ferdinand is sulking because he asked to be made captain during the summer only to be told he was being replaced. It ended with Shaun Wright-Phillips telling supporters on South Africa Road they are at fault for the poor results because they create a negative atmosphere, while Djibril Cisse took to Twitter to offer fans criticising him what former Leyton Orient boss John Sitton might have called “a proper sort out.”

In between was a 90 minute performance that highlighted just how flawed the strategy of Hughes and the board of directors at Loftus Road has been over the past year. A team full of international players, Champions League winners and multi-million pound signings was completely outclassed by the side that sat just one place higher in the table, with five defeats from five away games, and the league’s worst defensive record at the start of play. Not only that, but QPR were carried through the match by 35 year old Ryan Nelsen, and three players who were here before Hughes even arrived and who he has tried to replace at every turn – Shaun Derry, Jamie Mackie and Adel Taarabt. Without them this could have gone into double figures – Southampton registered 15 shots on target as it was.

The defence was a particular embarrassment. Jose Bosingwa and Armand Traore were an embarrassment to themselves in the full back positions and Anton Ferdinand proved once more that he’s nowhere near good enough to approach Premier League football in a half hearted manner. Quite frankly Anton I wouldn’t let you captain a Lego pirate ship so if that’s what you’re sulking about kindly piss off.

Those three played at about 30% of what they’re capable of and then marched down the tunnel immediately at full time leaving Nelsen to carry the entire defence during the game, and then stand in the centre circle afterwards shaking his head and acknowledging the fans as they sang “Ryan Nelsen, he plays on his own.” He does.

Further forward the midfield was completely overrun. Samba Diakite was totally anonymous, Esteban Granero – admittedly played out of position wide on the right – disinterested and Junior Hoilett hardly in the game at all. After a truly, truly horrific first half Mark Hughes looked at this situation and decided Alejandro Faurlin was the problem and substituted him. Words fail me. Up front Adel Taarabt did everything he could, Djibril Cisse did not.

QPR were in trouble from minute one. Southampton did nothing more than keep the ball in an attractive short passing game and commit men forward to attacks but it was more than enough to totally outclass their hosts. With the time in single figures the Saints’ two outstanding attackers Rickie Lambert and Adam Lallana combined with an eye catching one-two on the edge of the box and the latter volleyed over the bar from 20 yards. Two minutes later Lallana stretched every sinew to reach a cross from Gaston Ramirez and got the faintest of touches to guide it onto Julio Cesar’s post with the keeper beaten. Then he got in round the back of Bosingwa and sent a devilish cross right through the six yard box with nobody on hand to apply a killer touch. Rangers cleared that behind, then left Lambert unmarked from the corner and he forced Cesar into a save. From the next set piece no fewer than three Southampton players were left unattended and able to win headers and when Jose Bosingwa cleared from the goal line Rickie Lambert could hardly miss from less than a yard out and the visitors led 1-0.

Mark Hughes says he prepares his team meticulously for every match. Less than a fortnight ago I saw Southampton play at West Brom and they approached this game in almost exactly the same way. I saw nothing from the Saints here that I hadn’t seen from them in games earlier this season, and yet QPR looked stunned by it. It was as if they’d never seen Southampton before. If this is a meticulously prepared team, I’d hate to see one that isn’t.

QPR’s meticulously prepared attacking plan basically consisted of giving the ball to Adel Taarabt and hoping he could produce some individual brilliance. After a quarter of an hour he dropped his shoulder and dummied through two would-be-tacklers on the edge of the penalty area but young Southampton keeper Paulo Gazzaniga – sporting an outrageously awful haircut that featured two small platted rat’s tails emerging from the back of an otherwise shaved scalp – raced from his line and made a save. Taarabt subsequently drilled a free kick into the wall on the half hour.

But this was one way traffic. QPR were making Southampton look like the greatest team to ever walk the earth, and Jason Puncheon like some sort of God. The former QPR loanee – fat, disinterested, ineffective during his time at Loftus Road – smacked one low shot at Cesar, as did Jack Cork, and then turned past Ale Faurlin and buried a second goal into the bottom corner with a venomous strike just before half time. It was nothing more than he, Southampton or QPR deserved and it ensured a hostile reaction from the home crowd when referee Mike Dean called proceedings to a halt moments later.

Whatever Mark Hughes said at half time was short and sweet – Rangers were back on the field of play within 12 minutes of leaving it. There they stood, separately, mooching around, mostly with hands on hips, nobody apart from Adel Taarabt talking to anybody at all. The Moroccan made his way round four team mates and each appeared more disinterested in what he was saying than the last.

The conclusion QPR’s embattled manager drew from the first 45 minutes was that Alejandro Faurlin needed to go off. Now, I’m sorry, but if ever confirmation was needed that Hughes has lost the plot then this was it. When is he going to realise that the main problem here is the amount of players he has brought into the club, and the attitude of them to their work? It’s the players that were here when he arrived – with the exception of Nelsen – who are actually doing the business for him, and yet it’s them that he is so keen to turn away from. Rangers lose heavily to Swansea, out goes Adel Taarabt; Rangers lose heavily to West Ham, out goes Ale Faurlin. Shaun Derry, Clint Hill, Heidar Helguson, Jamie Mackie, Paddy Kenny, Luke Young, DJ Campbell – Hughes has been absolutely determined from the minute he walked into the place to get rid of the players who were here before and who had enjoyed 18 months of success in this league and the one below. More to the point they feel something for the club, and try hard to do their best for it. What had Granero done in the first half to deserve a chance after half time? Or Diakite? Or Hoilett? Or Cisse? What was it particularly about Faurlin’s admittedly mediocre first half display that made Hughes decide he was the scapegoat? Why is Hughes so blind to the fact that it’s his 16 signings that are hanging him here?

Luckily he did recognise that the game needed Mackie’s drive and energy and so it was him – rather than some money-grabbing toad like Shaun Wright-Phillips – who came on. And wow, wasn’t the difference there for all to see? Mackie is a basic player with many flaws whose modus operandi is to pick the ball up and run in a straight line towards the goal until he either loses it, scores, or misses with a shot. But he’s a willing runner and worker and the difference having somebody in the team happy to do that made was actually embarrassing.

Straight away he won possession back for the team and put in a decent cross only to find the penalty box completely devoid of any QPR attackers. A minute later Taarabt demanded the ball wide on the left and sent in an excellent cross which Cisse volleyed straight at the goalkeeper. A further 60 seconds passed before Taarabt tempted Gazzaniga – dodgy all afternoon it should be said – from his line to claim a cross that was never his and Junior Hoilett was able to nod into the empty net. The effect of Mackie was instantaneous, it lifted the crowd and the team and within three minutes of kicking off the deficit was halved.

No doubt Hughes will start with Mackie next week and then, after an inevitable defeat at Man Utd, hold him responsible and drop him again.

This should have been a catalyst. Southampton, for all their attractive first half play and two goal lead, are not a team brimming over with confidence or ability. Conceding so early in the first half, with a goalkeeper in questionable form, could easily have been the beginning of their complete collapse. Not so, QPR proceeded to drain all the gathered momentum out of their performance and allow the Saints to resume control of the game.

Puncheon, Lallana and Lambert were at the heart of everything. Lallana, man of the match for me, responded to Hoilett’s goal by making space for himself in the QPR penalty area and hitting a shot that was blocked away. Puncheon then drew an awkward save from Cesar and in the next attack crossed low for Lambert but he took a fresh air shot when unmarked in the box. There was a weak penalty appeal as Gaston Ramirez collapsed under a cross at the back post – never a spot kick in a month of Sundays but considering the one this referee awarded to Chelsea here in the FA Cup last season in almost identical circumstances you couldn’t blame the expensively acquired Uruguayan for trying his luck.

When Mackie accelerated in round the back of the Southampton defence and almost set up Cisse for an equaliser on the hour, Nigel Adkins decided to remove Ramirez and shore up his midfield with the introduction of Steven Davis. It was a nervy, unnecessary move. Southampton were streets ahead of QPR in every single department and put a ten pass move together at the midway point of the second half that concluded with Lambert nodding the ball down at the back post and Puncheon volleying wide. A minute later the stocky winger tried his luck from considerably further out, and sent a 25 yard barnburner an inch wide of the post with Cesar well beaten once again.

Jose Bosingwa’s attitude to proceedings could be summed up neatly by his sixty eighth minute booking for a deliberate handball made necessary because he’d allowed his man to run past him and he would have been free to run clear into the penalty area had the Portuguese full back not batted the ball down with his hand. Pathetic.

Hughes then took off Samba Diakite for Shaun Derry. Again, like the earlier substitution, I was glad to see the man coming on because it’s people like Mackie and Derry who are going to fight for this club now and Diakite had looked disinterested throughout. However, trailing 2-1 at home in a must win game against the team lying immediately above us at the bottom of the table, is bringing on another defensive central midfielder any kind of answer? I was glad to wave Bosingwa goodbye three minutes later when he went off as well – but again Hughes made a like for like change and sent on another full back in Fabio Da Silva.

If you’d just walked into Loftus Road at this point you’d have thought it was QPR protecting a lead: Southampton left two strikers forward when defending corners, QPR brought all 11 players back into their own box; when Adel Taarabt played a decent pass into the left channel shortly after the substitution Djibril Cisse had no choice but to cut in and shoot from a difficult angle because he was the only home player within 40 yards of the Southampton goal and yet when the visitors, who were already leading, attacked they had three or four options for every pass. This was staggeringly bad now, really amazing.

Within 180 seconds Puncheon sent a cross shot right through the goal mouth with a little touch from Cesar on the way, then drilled wide from range, then shot straight at the goalkeeper. We were making him look like Ronaldinho in his prime.

Despite bringing the entire team back into the penalty box to defend Southampton set pieces, Rangers still contrived to leave several visiting players unmarked at every delivery. Ten minutes from time Lambert had a free header brilliantly saved by Cesar and although Nelsen returned fire with a similar chance at the other end that fell nicely for Gazzaniga play was soon back at the School End and Davis drilled over after being set up by Lambert who had ghosted in behind a stationary QPR defence that had apparently forgotten you cannot be offside from a throw in.

The mood inside Loftus Road was ugly now, and the game was killed as a contest by a shambolic third that eventually went in off the boot of Anton Ferdinand. Few people deserved an own goal more.

At full time the QPR team left the field immediately except for Nelsen, Derry and Mackie. That said a lot for me. It’s a stock reaction for supporters to question effort, attitude and commitment of players in a struggling team and it’s usually an over-reaction and a load of nonsense. It’s not on this occasion though, the difference in attitude from those three and Taarabt compared to the rest is there for all to see.

Mark Hughes said on Friday he was still confident of a top half finish this season but by Saturday evening, with his team bottom of the league and five points adrift of safety, he looked shell shocked and broken. He told both Sky and the BBC afterwards that his coaching staff would sit down with the players to try and “get to the bottom of why this has happened” and that they “didn’t see this coming.” It’s the latest in a long line of quotes from Hughes, Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki that makes it all to plain that the QPR coaching staff don’t know why their team is playing this badly, or what they can do to stop it happening.

His persistent assertion that his coaching staff prepare the team meticulously for each game was renewed this week, and not for the first time this season was then completely blown out of the water across 90 diabolical minutes of football. Southampton played in the same manner, style and shape as they did ten days ago against West Brom and QPR looked absolutely amazed by it – as if Southampton had bought 11 new players during the week and played in a completely new and previously unseen way. The players letting Hughes down are not the ones he is blaming, or the ones he inherited, it’s the ones he brought here.

Hughes must carry the can for signing these players – several of whom he’d worked with before and should therefore have known about their temperament. He too must accept responsibility for the mistakes he has made that have resulted in confidence draining defeats, rather than constantly trotting out this bullshit about meticulous preparations. And he must also be held to account for ostracising so many players who do want to play for QPR and will make an effort for the team – Helguson, Kenny, Campbell, Young, Mackie, Derry, Hill – in favour of those who don’t and won’t. It has made his position untenable in my opinion.

But managers don’t lose football games, football players do. It’s the players at QPR who are the problem – watch how they all suddenly up their game when a new manager arrives – and in the modern game they hold all the power. The players are untouchable, and they know it. Short term whoever is in charge must find a way to motivate them, medium to long term an entire change of mentality about the sort of players we need, and how we go about acquiring them, is required. Big ageing names from favoured agents is not working. Hughes and a board lacking football experience have worked the club into a dire position that will take many years to correct and I’ll say now that I don’t believe appointing Harry Redknapp and indulging him in the inevitable seven or eight January signings he’ll demand will be anything other than a very short term fix, if it even proves that successful. At the moment Kia Joorabchian seems to hold too much power – bring in Redknapp and that problem will still exist, with Willie McKay in the puppeteer role.

Tony Fernandes must now decide whether to make a stand against this player power, keep Hughes regardless and show football players that at QPR if you simply stop trying it is you that will be shipped out rather than the manager; or hold Hughes to account for his catalogue of errors and fire him. The former will almost certainly now result in relegation, and while it would be a worthy stand he’d be doing it behind the wrong manager. Hughes says QPR are working towards this and that and improving but he’s wrong and he knows it – QPR are getting worse. The latter will no doubt bring short term gains and possibly survival, but only until this group of mercenaries decide they don’t much fancy whoever replaces Hughes and stop playing for him as well.

Bad management has caused the problems here, but they’re so deep rooted now that it will take more than simply removing Hughes to cure them. That would be a start though.

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QPR: Cesar 6, Bosingwa 2 (Fabio 73, 5), Ferdinand 2, Nelsen 8, Traore 2, Granero 4, Faurlin 5 (Mackie 45, 7), Diakite 4 (Derry 71, 6), Hoilett 5, Taarabt 7, Cisse 4

Subs not used: Green, Wright-Phillips, Dyer, Ehmer

Goals: Hoilett 48 (assisted Taarabt)

Bookings: Bosingwa 68 (handball)

Southampton: Gazzaniga 4, Clyne 8, Yoshida 6, Fonte 6, Shaw 7 (Fox 74, 6), Schneiderlin 6, Ramirez 7 (Davis 61, 6), Cork 6, Lallana 8, Puncheon 8, Lambert 8 (Rodriguez 90, -)

Subs not used: K Davis, Hooiveld, Ward-Prowse, Mayuka

Goals: Lambert 22 (assisted Ramirez), Puncheon 45 (unassisted), Ferdinand og 82 (assisted Schneiderlin)

QPR Star Man – Ryan Nelsen 8 Everything you want in a footballer, surrounded by the sort of players you pray never end up at your club. I’ve never seen a one man back four before, but here he is.

Referee – Mike Dean 9 Very little to referee given how uncompetitive the game was but I felt he got just about everything right and controlled the contest in an unfussy way. I hardly even noticed he was there, which is always a good sign.

Attendance 18,174 (3,100 Southampton) After being remarkably patient with the team over the last four months, the QPR fans have finally snapped, and rightly so. They’ve put up with a lot, and enough is enough, I think the R’s support has been magnificent this season and everybody was fully justified in having their say on Saturday – the players and the club deserves it. The Southampton fans were as noisy as any travelling following has been at Loftus Road for years – even before they took the lead. Their vocal support for Nigel Adkins from the first whistle, compared to the QPR attitude to Hughes, should be another telling factor for the QPR board. Supporters of clubs like these two don’t necessarily mind defeats, if they can see effort and application and progress being made. Southampton can see it and support their boss as a result, the Rangers faithful clearly cannot and therefore don’t.

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daveB added 22:41 - Nov 18
excellent report Clive, bang on as ever

N12Hoop added 22:46 - Nov 18
Nelson shaking his head in disappointment said it all. No fight, no spirit, no hope. 1 tactic: give it to Adel and see what he can do. Soton could have had 6 and it wouldn't have been harsh. The person I really feel sorry for is Tony F. He has the greatest of intentions but has been mugged off by whoever advises him. Surely however, come Monday, Bhatia, BeArd and the other shareholders will be saying to TF that the decision is not his alone and vote to pull the plug on Hughes. With Hughes in charge we'll be down in world record time.

qprdan added 22:47 - Nov 18
The one moment that sums this performance up was when the ball broke out from our box and Granero turned away from the ball, didnt contest the header, they eventually scored..Granero looked superb on debut against Man City and now look at him..


Thanks for the report though Clive.

"Wouldnt let him captain a Lego ship"..Quality

Grifter added 22:47 - Nov 18
Does anyone have a link to the Times article mentioning mentioning Zamora's eating arrangements?

baz_qpr added 22:50 - Nov 18
Bang on - though slightly harsh on Diakete who I felt was trying but was equally trying as hard not to get booked

OxheyR added 23:05 - Nov 18
Well summed up. Agree with you. Faurlin again the scapegoat. Why on earth play granero out wide right? Earlier this season the faurlin granero central midfield partnership looked so promising. However, with his bizarre love affair with swp and park Hughes gave up with that. I'm amazed that an experienced premiership manager clearly has no idea how to set up his team. The full back situation is a joke. They were an embarrassment to defending. Play Hill or Onuaha with Nelsen. I'm fed up watching Anton loping about. Blank expression on his face. Unable to run properly. It appears the defence is now trying out zonal marking as they certainly weren't marking players. Pathetic. I admire TF for wanting stability and backing the manager but after that performance he must act now. I don't know if its best to get HR to try and motivate the mercenaries or to look more mid term and get an up and coming manager from the lower leagues. Either way, relegation is a real possibility and will be a reality if nothing changes. After all the pre season optimism I'm very sad, angry, upset and dismayed. We desperately need a team full of Mackie 's !

RType added 23:06 - Nov 18
Excellent report as ever. I'm a half-glass full type normally, and until the Reading game was certain we should stick with Hughes. But the last 3 games have been sickening and we're past the point of no return with him now.

The attitude of most of the team absolutely stinks, we badly need someone new to come in and give them a rocket up their arse.

spiritofshittu added 23:15 - Nov 18
Brilliant Clive, how you maintain the energy and enthusiasm is a testament to being an Rs fan!

jamois added 23:20 - Nov 18
Great stuff Clive and well done for not descending into bitterness which frankly is all I've been able to muster toward Hughes since the debacle which isn't my normal me, though nor is total dejection/depression over the course of a weekend either. Very glad I'm not in TFs shoes on this one, what the solution is I'm really not sure.

lave16 added 23:23 - Nov 18
still of the opinion warnock should not have went...

no matter how many cisse scores he does not work back enough to deserve to play...
rob green for paddy kenny a joke.... cesar = ok a wee bit better than both
from the back 4 only nelson deserves to wear the shirt... boswinger could not control a bag of sand... traore is more concerned with growing his beard than playing.... anton = doh!
diakite looked good last year this year he looks terrible, gets booked every game clearly will not be up to the pace anytime... we need derry at least he cares, makie also and taarabht... zamora what is going on with that man...
I dearly wanted hughes to succeed from the start of the year but alas it looks like we are gonna end up with harry...

gingerranger added 23:27 - Nov 18
Clive, this is your finest work since the 5-0 reverse at Forest a few years back. Well done!

RedbourneR added 23:30 - Nov 18
Well done Clive. I don't think I could have digested that game and produced such an objective report in the time you've done so when I'm carrying around such a load of hatred towards Hughes at the moment.
I do think though that our problems are more deep-rooted than merely getting rid of Hughes, much as I'm looking forward to seeing him go. I can't see who can fix those problems in what little time we have left, maybe we can manage to scrape through the season somehow but it's the thinking behind Hughes - behind the signings - behind the things you've touched on in the past, like how we've not managed recently to coach a player into a better player - that will take a long time to fix. Whatever decision the board make I hope it's one with a long-term vision.

Ribenaboy added 23:33 - Nov 18
Think u have got the player ratings spot on. How can we have such little cohesion going forward against a team that had let so many in. Man Utd, Sunderland and Villa r the next 3 games and they will b rubbing their hands with glee.
Also not sure why we actually get penned in by our full backs laziness.
Helguson has been a big loss

carrotcrunch_R added 23:34 - Nov 18
I am so sad at how a position of promise before the start of the season has turned into such a disaster, I fear for anyone new taking on this job as it is going to be virtually mission impossible to even get us off the bottom . I never ever thought we wouldn't be able to compete with the saints god it makes me sick .

gobbles added 23:45 - Nov 18
Faurlin lost Lambert for the first goal and made a pathetic attempt to challenge Puncheon for the second, he was also caught in possesion on several occcasions. I thought removing him or Granero, who did not look the slightest bit interested, was the best option

Bedford_R added 23:46 - Nov 18
Eloquently put. I hope those lazy, shambolic players read this to get an idea what the fans think. Hughes too.

HantsR added 23:47 - Nov 18
Someone asked for the Times link; there you go!:
Three times he was asked, and three times he denied it. Sort of. “There is real belief from players, staff, ownership,” he said, the first time. Then: “My future does not hinge on this match at all.” And finally, least convincingly: “That is not my decision.”
Mark Hughes does not think he will be sacked as Queens Park Rangers manager if his side, without a win in 11 Barclays Premier League games this season, extend that drought to 12 against Southampton this afternoon, but he does not know. Not for certain, regardless of what Tony Fernandes, the club’s owner, tweets.
Nigel Adkins, Hughes’s counterpart, thinks he knows. The Southampton manager thinks he knows that both managers will survive beyond this weekend, whatever happens, whatever the result. Few would share his confidence. This game looks suspiciously like a derby of the damned, where the winner lives to fight another day, and the loser pays with his job.
Adkins, it is possible, is simply entrusting his future to logic. It would be unfathomably harsh of Southampton to sack him, after all, after winning consecutive promotions. Yes, Southampton are winless, porous, and look a little lost, but that is what happens when your team are comprised of players experiencing life among the elite for the first time. It takes some getting used to.
There is no such mitigation for Hughes: QPR were supposed to kick on this season, after narrowly avoiding relegation last year. “Our hope was to finish in the top half of the table,” Hughes admitted yesterday. Fernandes has equipped him with a team, in theory, to do just that. They have four players in their squad who have not just played in the Champions League, but won it.
They have a sky-high wage bill, lavishly wealthy backers and a manager who left his previous job because of Fulham’s “lack of ambition,” which means that there is also no sympathy for the irony in which he finds himself trapped.
And yet they have singularly failed to do anything like kick on. Even after the long-awaited departure of Flavio Briatore, with his four-year plans and his revolving door to the manager’s office, QPR remain the Premier League’s most dysfunctional club. The question Fernandes must answer, somehow, is why?
Is it the players? Hughes has a reputation as a meticulous, methodical manager who has succeeded elsewhere. Are his travails at Loftus Road explained by his squad having spent much of last season racked with internecine squabbling and that, even as he shipped out the troublemakers, an undercurrent of disharmony, remains?
Bobby Zamora, the striker, often leaves the training ground without even eating lunch with his team-mates, so disillusioned with life at the club has he become. Anton Ferdinand asked to be made captain in the summer, just as Hughes was trying to find a replacement for him. The bad mood spreads.
Players who are not in the side always detest their manager, but at QPR there are a number of first-team players, too, who are unconvinced by the Welshman.
Are they right? Must Hughes take responsibility? Last season, he had the excuse of working with a group of players brought together by another man.
This, though, is his side, recruited at his behest. Has Hughes just bought poorly? Is that the problem? He says not. “If I had been able to pick the same back four and the same team for 11 games, we would not be in this position,” he said. “We have not had the benefit of that. We would like a clear run.”
Fernandes might, in his darker moments, suggest that the reason QPR have such a high wage bill is to ensure that the manager has a large enough squad to cope.
Hughes has been allowed to recruit three times since arriving, 11 months ago: in January, at the start of this summer and at the end, when he realised that a number of the players he signed earlier on were not good enough, with Rob Green the most notable example.
Much of that recruitment has been done through his agent, Kia Joorabchian. It was Joorabchian who brought Nedum Onuoha — the defender earns about £46,000 a week — to the club in January, and it was Joorabchian who did the deals to sign Esteban Granero and Stéphane Mbia, among others. The Iranian tends to be a kind of Minister without Portfolio wherever Hughes goes. He has excellent contacts and incredible power in South America, apparently. His results do not explain why that should be the case.
But he is part of the Hughes team, along with Mark Bowen, his assistant, Eddie Niedzwiecki, his goalkeeping coach, and Mike Rigg, the technical director. They come as a package, and they do not come cheap, not least because Hughes, as he admitted yesterday, tends to like to institute an overhaul of a club’s training facilities.
“People should not underestimate the changes that have gone on at the club, and I have been a big part of that,” he said. “That doesn’t just get swept aside because we are in a difficult situation. It is that work that sustains you and allows you time to get through this period.”
That time is running out. Fernandes may remain staunchly supportive, but there are other rich, powerful men at QPR who are growing increasingly anxious; the club’s shareholders are not nearly as convinced as the publi-city-hungry Malaysian magnate. Someone is to blame. Should Hughes lose the derby of the damned, they may just decide that they do know who, after all.
The revolving door
• Transfer dealings at Queens Park Rangers have been fast and furious since Mark Hughes became manager last January.
IN: R Zamora (Fulham, £4.5m), D Cissé (Lazio, £4.4m), S Diakité (Nancy, loan, then £4m), D Hoilett (Blackburn Rovers, £4m), N Onuoha (Manchester City, £2.5m), Park Ji Sung (Manchester United, £2m), E Granero (Real Madrid, undisc), R Green (West Ham United , free), A Johnson (Fulham, free), R Nelsen (Tottenham Hotspur, free) J Bosingwa (Chelsea, free), J César (Inter Milan, free), F Macheda (Man Utd, loan), T Taiwo (AC Milan, loan), Fábio Da Silva (Man Utd, loan)
OUT: T Smith (Cardiff City, £300,000), M Connolly (Cardiff, £200,000), P Kenny (Leeds, undisc), B Orr (Blackburn, undisc), H Helguson (Cardiff, undisc) P Agyemang (Stevenage, free), F Hall (Watford, free), P Ramage (Crystal Palace, free), D Shittu (Millwall, free), R Vine (St Johnstone, free), A Buzsaky (Portsmouth, free), L Cook (Leyton Orient, free), D Gabbidon (Crystal Palace, free), B Perone (Linense, free), M Rowlands (Colchester, free), G Borrowdale (released)
Estimated net spending: £23 million


ozranger added 23:52 - Nov 18
Pretty well spot on Clive. You only missed the actual fact that the original bench only had Mackie as an attacking substitute. So, while you attack Hughes for his like for like, would you have chosen to bring on (tongue-in-cheek) Wright-Phillips or Ehmer instead? So, what does that say about Hughes when he has zero forwards on the bench and is playing a midfielder in the forward line? I think it will become hard for us to score anywhere if this is the case. Next week is going to a thrashing.

For TF, as you say, he is between a rock and a hard place. The real concern, as I see it, is that the real financial backers may pull the plug on TF and the club and that could see some significant problems in the future. I just hope he makes the right decision, and soon. Oh, and I do not feel that Rednose is the right choice.

UPPERLOFTNZ added 00:09 - Nov 19
Hit the nail on the head Clive. The hollow feeling in my stomach watching 7 of the team look like they couldn't wait to get into the showers reminded me so much of sitting in the Upper Loft watching vauxhall motors beat us on penalties. TF is a smart businessman, and I wonder now if he'll be accepting relegation and seeing if he can ship out as many of the big wage earners and make do until the drop with some of the youngsters and loanees? Surely if we take this wage bill down to the championship with us, we'll be stuffed?

Kaos_Agent added 00:12 - Nov 19
Thank you Clive, a well rounded perspective as always. The post-Championship signings are becoming less and less engaged. This ultimately has to be the fault of management although as you say, the players hold all the cards and they know it. I wonder if Pep Guardiola feels up to a challenge.

TacticalR added 00:20 - Nov 19
Great report as ever. I really have nothing to say about the match that you haven't already said.

It only remains to discuss Hughes. It is simply no longer possible to suspend disbelief. That match has removed all doubt in my mind (and hopefully everybody else's) about Hughes' ineptitude and utter cluelessness. My worst fears have been realised...Hughes really is the grey nonentity that he has always appeared to be. His mind seems rigid, fixed faraway on his 'big club ambitions', and unable to comprehend the task at hand. The lights are on but nobody's home.

Where we go from here I don't know, but somehow pride, dignity and a sense of purpose must be restored to the club, the players and the supporters.

Nov77 added 01:17 - Nov 19
If I were tony F I would be looking for a meeting with some of the players. Derry, Hill and nelson. I would be asking them what they really think of their team mates, who's pulling their weight and who isn't, whose attitude is right and whose is wrong.
Then in January I would put em up for sale, just get rid. Give 'em free transfers if you have to.
I'm sick of these egomaniacs who see our club as 'beneath them' as if they are doing us a favour by being here whilst pocketing £50k every week.
Tony F has to take some of the blame for his billy big Bollox attitude in sanctioning all this mad spending. You don't need big names to survive in this league, you do need togetherness and team spirit and warnock is right, we've lost that.


ozexile added 02:19 - Nov 19
I think Fernandes should come back and Interview Derry and Taarabt and ask them if Hughes has lost the players. If the answer is yes then get rid.

RangerKIK added 02:32 - Nov 19
Well chaps, just when you thought it couldn't get any worse......

I believe you said last year Clive that we were a combination of 'not very good and not very lucky'. Up until this weekend I thought the new mantra could be that we are a combination of 'not too bad but with moments of utter calamity'.

I do not think that now.

I had posted on here earlier in the year that I thought that we lacked belief and always looked like the team who would blink first. Stoke last week is a good case in point. But even I did not expect to see the utter balless, pathetic, passionless pile of sh*t I witnessed Saturday.

The only word for it was a complete 'disgrace'. It felt that the players were almost taking the p*ss out of us. And I have never felt that watching a game of football ever. Where was the fight?

I often think back to the Tottenham game. We played so well. And without the two minutes of 'calamity' we would have won the game. Confidence would have been high. We would probably be sitting mid-table now with TF thinking about buying a few new faces to push for Europe next season.(Put in noise of needle being scratched off record here). Of course this is QPR and there is never going to be a fairytale ending, but I never expected a few weeks later to witness the sort of performance I saw on Saturday. No passion whatsoever. No understanding of the history, the previous players, the effort the fans make week in week out. I think if you went up to Bosingwa and mentioned Stan, Les and Rodney he would probably say he thought Hardy was the funnier guy, Blankety Blank was off the chart and he's never missed an episode of 'Only Fools and Horses'!

We all know the weight of being bottom of the league sucks all the talent out of your legs and so it then comes down to heart. But this lot looked like they have already given up. We must get Hill alongside Nelson as the centreback pairing. Derry in front and Mackie, Adel and Dyer, if injury free, must play. We are in the trenches now boys and need players who have the stones for the challenge. THIS IS SPARTA.

P.S. Hearing that Zamora doesn't eat with the team anymore, which therefore leaves a left over meal for another teamate, has at least shed light on the mystery of Anton Ferdinands ever expanding backside.

JohnMcCo added 03:17 - Nov 19
I feel that the gossip about Messrs Wright Phillips, Zamora, Cisse and Ferdinand are unwarranted. I could not give a shit how much Zamora hates football or his fellow professionals. In fact the latter shows a certain good judgement from him and I believe as a player he shows much much better judgement than most generally. I also think that SWP and Ferdinand give more than the rest of the mercenaries but they are clearly limited/confidence shot. Cisse, I just ain't sure.

Nevertheless, we are a desperate joke. Hughes has to go, Bosingwa needs tarring and feathering and I have reached the stage where ANY new guy will do. Hughes is probably the worst manager in the history of QPR, down there with Paul Hart and Stewart Houston.

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