- Happy Sixty-Second Birthday to Dave Thomas(Birthday also for Steve Slade
- QPR Coaches and Youth Tournament in India Begins Today
- Factoid: QPR have now played for the equivalent of an entire day and night (24 hours) without an Away win (16 Games): Hopefully this "Streak" will end at WBA
- QPR's 1931-32 Move to the White City (and Return to Loftus Road) - More at the Bushman Photo Archives
- Pre-Season Predictions for How QPR Would Do
Fascinating Interview with Mike Rigg. First Part re what he did at Manchester City...Second Half re QPR
- Premiership League Table from a year ago after Six Games
Mark Hughes' scattergun approach leaves holes in Queen's Park Rangers' morale
The Weekend Dossier
Saturday, 6 October 2012
For a team featuring five former Champions League finalists Queen's Park Rangers' results this season have been surprising. Mark Hughes' team have taken two points from 18, sit firmly in the relegation zone, and with their next three opponents being West Bromwich Albion (away), Everton (home) and Arsenal (away), could reach November still seeking a win.
Click here to see our graphic of the QPR squad since the were awarded promotion to the Premier League
Given the obvious quality in the squad their travails seems perplexing, but the answer is easy to find. Rangers have been dogged by chronic instability off the pitch for some years, though Neil Warnock still somehow managed to haul them back into the top flight 16 months ago. Since then the unrest has spread to the pitch.
When Stephane Mbia made his league debut during Monday's night's home defeat to West Ham he wore the No 40. It should have been 45, as that is how many players QPR have used in the 44 matches since returning to the top flight. The clubs promoted with them, Norwich and Swansea, have used 33 and 31 players respectively in that time. Newcastle United and West Bromwich Albion, promoted the previous season and still prospering, each used 37 players in their first two full seasons back in the top flight. Like QPR, all four clubs changed managers in this period.
QPR's scattergun selection process is partly explained by last year's takeover saga. When Tony Fernandes bought the club there was only a fortnight left to the end of the transfer window. Starved of funds by Bernie Ecclestone and Flavio Briatore, Warnock had been forced to strengthen his Championship-winning squad with free transfers and cast-offs such as Jay Bothroyd and Danny Gabbidon. An opening day 4-0 home defeat to Bolton highlighted the improbability of that squad surviving. When Fernandes took over Warnock signed who he could, bringing in players such as Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips. As his then-coach Keith Curle revealed in these pages yesterday, the need for haste meant they were not able to check out players' characters as thoroughly as they would like. Add the higher salaries of the new recruits and the seeds of dressing-room discontent had been sown. Nevertheless, Warnock kept the team outside the bottom three and went into January hoping to make a more measured dip into the transfer window. Instead Fernandes replaced him with Hughes.
Now the pick-and-mix selection policy went into overdrive. In the 24 matches under his command Hughes has deployed a staggering 35 players. Back in 1980-81 Aston Villa won the 42-match league title with 14.
Injuries have not helped, but every club suffers from them. Suspensions have been another problem, Samba Diakité's sending off on Monday was QPR's 10th red card since returning to the Premier League.
In attempting to upgrade a team that survived last season on goal difference, Hughes signed a dozen new players taking his spending to around £30m and pushing the wage bill to dangerous levels for a club with an average gate of 17,000, especially as few have much sell-on value.
Hughes has done his best to trim the squad with several players feeling forced out after being told to train with the youngsters and to report to the training ground at inconvenient times. Nevertheless, even with DJ Campbell becoming the fifth player loaned out yesterday he still has 28 senior players. And if the squad has been reduced the wage bill has not, as inherited players have demanded a measure of parity with new signings.
There are only 11 players in a team so even with pay rises and a busy treatment room there are a lot of disgruntled footballers at the club and the training ground is understood to be an unhappy place. Barton may be across the Channel but disruptive influences remain and some surprising names are said to be among the malcontents.
In the boardroom, with Fernandes and chief executive Phil Beard still learning about the football industry, the likes of Kia Joorabchian have had unusual influence. Since he is Hughes' adviser the manager still has time, but he needs results soon because Rangers simply cannot afford to be relegated. QPR have become, probably to Hughes' surprise, his most demanding challenge as a manager.
Rangers' medal men: Champions League
QPR's Champions League finalists:
Djibril Cissé (Liverpool, 2005), Park ji-Sung (Man Utd, 2009 & 2011), Julio Cesar (Internazionale, 2010), Fabio da Silva (Man United, 2011), Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea, 2012)
Five Asides.... INDPENDENT
|Hughes Defends His Goalie (or at least THIS One)|
Mark Hughes hails Cesar after 'unfair' criticism
Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes has vowed to stand by Julio Cesar despite the goalkeeper’s shaky performance in the 2-1 defeat by West Ham.
Cesar came in for criticism for the manner in which he conceded the goals at Loftus Road on Monday but is set to keep his place for the clash at West Brom tomorrow as Rangers look to haul themselves off the bottom of the table.
Hughes said: “I’m surprised he [Julio] was criticised. He has been excellent.
“One of the goals the other night was deflected past him and there was not a great deal he could do. The other one was poor defending, even before it came to the lad’s head and it went across and in at the far post.
“I’ve been delighted with Julio. He’s a very strong character and knows what’s required. He has been an asset since he has come to the club and will get stronger as he understands his back four. He has not had the same back four, so that has an impact.”
Hughes has rubbished rumours that Rob Green, who has been replaced by Cesar as Rangers’ first-choice keeper, will be leaving the club.
He said: “I have no idea where the story he would get a free transfer came from. That’s not the case.
“We were always going to buy another goalkeeper and then had the opportunity of getting one of the best in the world.”
Hughes is confident owner Tony Fernandes will stand by him as he bids to avoid going a whole calendar year without an away win.
He added: “We’re six games into a very long season. We understand what the requirements are and once we get points on the board it will settle everyone down.
“I’ve got great support here. I’ve got a great relationship with Tony and that will continue.” Standard