Could Tony Fernandes’ vote of confidence sink Mark Hughes?


After a miserable start to the season, QPR chairman Tony Fernandes has moved to quash rumours about Mark Hughes’ future at the club. Following the Hoops’ 2-1 home defeat to West Ham United on Monday, the Malaysian owner of the west Londoners took to Twitter to calm fans of the current plight they find themselves in, stating: ‘QPR fans, don’t worry. We have a great manager, new stadium, new training ground, great players. Mark will sort it out.’ Fernandes’ comments are in stark contrast to what he stated whilst Neil Warnock was in charge at the club – ‘No job is safe’ he muttered on the social networking site. The Yorkshireman was sacked only two days later.

It’s the dreaded vote of confidence, the old  football cliché – once the manager publicly backs you, then you’re surely in line for the sack. In this case, if Hughes was to be shown the door, would it necessarily be the wrong decision? The Welshman has spent a fair bit of money since taking the helm at Loftus Road, both in the January transfer window and summer just gone, and they’re not much better off than they were when he took over. In January, he recruited Nedum Onuoha, Djibril Cisse, Bobby Zamora and Samba Diakite amongst others in a bid to avoid the drop. Hughes succeeded in doing so, by the skin of his teeth, keeping Rangers up on the last day of the season in dramatic fashion at Manchester City.

In a bid to avoid further problems occurring early doors in this campaign, Hughes quickly set about rebuilding the squad, drafting in Park Ji Sung from Man United, Junior Hoilett from Blackburn and Rob Green from West Ham United on a free. Fabio Da Silva followed Park to London and Andy Johnson made the short switch from down the road at Craven Cottage. Bolstering in key areas of the field, yes, but it’s the defensive area of the pitch in which they’ve come unstuck. Starting off on the back foot on day one, suffering a trouncing from Swansea City, 5-0 at home, and since failing to bounce back. Indeed, it’s currently October and they’ve yet to register a Premier League win this season.

You could argue that Hughes’ signings have hardly been inspired; Rob Green, signed on a free from the Hammers, shipped five on the opening day and has since been dropped in favour of Brazilian Julio Cesar who was also signed just before the latest window closed. Johnson is another example of a player signed who is way beyond his best days, now 31, he is facing the rest of the season on the sidelines after damaging his anterior cruciate ligament in a recent game with Chelsea. Injury-prone and not the answer, certainly striker-wise. Hoilett has shown promise but is young, raw. Park is a super, combative and positive attacking midfielder, given the captain’s armband – but, forced to carry the load in a generally average midfield, he doesn’t have the easiest of tasks.

Should Sparky be given more time? Well, the green shoots have been there but they’ve been few and far between. His side were super in the first half against Spurs recently and should have been more than one goal to the good at half-time – sure enough, Spurs equalised and they fell away. They also acquitted themselves well in a 0-0 draw with Chelsea, the European champions, retaining the ball well and standing firm when faced with pressure. Again, these are sparse moments in otherwise difficult campaign thus far. Injuries to key defenders have hindered their cause, sure – Jose Bosingwa, Armand Traore, Fabio and Anton Ferdinand are all currently out.  But, with square pegs in round holes at the back, they could at least expect the strikers to make amends at the other end – Zamora and Cisse are experienced enough at this level but have yet to hit the ground running. Starved of service? Disillusioned? Maybe it’s both – one thing is for certain though, it’s not been a start Hughes and his men would’ve wanted or envisioned in the summer.

The turn-around needs to come soon or that sack race could be won before it’s Christmas. My rule of thumb is, at least give a manager until the festive period – at least then he’s had half the season to mould his team, instil his methods. Could Fernandes have the patience? His public show of support might dictate otherwise. Stranger things have happened.

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