Mark Hughes’ reign as Queens Park Rangers manager begins today at St James’ Park… sorry the Sport Direct Arena, with his side having dropped into the relegation zone following Blackburn’s 3-1 victory over Fulham yesterday.
Only Wigan Athletic (3) have fewer wins in the league than QPR so far this season to give you an idea of the task ahead for Mark Hughes.
Wigan Athletic, Bolton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Wolves are all shorter odds to be relegated than the 2/1 Ladbrokes are offering for Rangers to drop back down to the Championship at the first attempt.
Neil Warnock hasn’t left the greatest of squads behind at this level. Paddy Kenny’s 58% shot save percentage is one of the lowest amongst all goalkeepers in the Premier League this season. Only Heidar Helguson has scored more than 2 goals through 20 games.
Queens Park Rangers have kept 4 clean sheets this season, with Anton Ferdinand and Danny Gabbidon in the middle. Hughes has already signalled his intentions to bring in two new centre backs, being linked to both Chris Samba and Alex already.
Up front, Carlos Tevez was temporarily favourite to sign for Queens Park Rangers on Thursday although a move to Loftus Road looks very unlikely. A move for Roque Santa Cruz would be more realistic for Hughes and the Hoops…
Whilst Hughes needs to bring in a few players this month, it’s his work with both Blackburn Rovers and Fulham that give me confidence he will maintain Queens Park Rangers’ Premier League status at the end of the season.
Hughes will get 100% out of his players. He won’t stand for any poor performances from Traore or tantrums from Taarabt. I would expect an improvement in fitness levels also with Sparky’s training methods.
Blackburn Rovers (2004-08)
Finishing 15th the season before under Graeme Souness, the ex-Liverpool player and manager left Blackburn in the relegation zone as he departed for Newcastle.
Mark Hughes stepped down as Wales boss to take charge at club level for the first time. After a slow start, Hughes guided Blackburn to safety (15th) and the semi finals of the FA Cup, losing to Arsenal. This would be the first of three successive semi-finals for Hughes who was unable to take them to the grand stage itself.
During three further seasons with Rovers, Hughes guided them to 6th, 10th and 7th place finishes before departing for Manchester City in the summer of 2008.
With a limited budget at Blackburn, Hughes managed to make a number of successful signings, including Chris Samba (£400,000), Roque Santa Cruz (£3.5 million), David Bentley (£500,000) and Stephen Warnock (£1.5 million).
After 19 months in charge at Manchester City, Hughes was relieved of his duties in December 2009. At the end of that season, Hughes became Fulham’s manager following the departure of Roy Hodgson to Liverpool.
Matching Roy Hodgson’s success of taking Fulham to the Europa League final the previous season was never going to happen under Hughes (for one, they weren’t even in the competition the following season having finished 12th).
However, Hughes guided the Cottagers into 8th position in his only season. As he had done with Blackburn previously, Hughes made Fulham a difficult side to beat. A number of bore draws, yes.
Results included a 2-2 draw with Manchester United in his second game, during a 7-game unbeaten streak to start (albeit, just 1 win). Last season, Fulham also recorded a draw with Chelsea, at Manchester City and at home to Arsenal under Hughes. As well as four 3-0 victories.
Queens Park Rangers (2012-)
Mark Hughes will make his new side difficult to beat and with a few signings this month will be the start of a successful reign.