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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Mark Hughes Era Begins: Big Plans for Little QPR!


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The Mark Hughes Era Begins: Good luck to Mark Hughes...Good luck to QPR...And of course, deepest and most profound thanks to Neil Warnock - who, along with Ian Holloway, a decade ago, truly "saved the Club" and took us to a higher level. Five, ten, twenty years from now - wherever we are personally and as a club: Be it in Europe playing at "New Loftus Road" Stadium; or in the lower leagues - Neil Warnock will be spoken in the revered, warm tones which are reserved for Alec Stock and Gordon Jago; Dave Sexton and Terry Venables. Neil Warnock has secured his place in QPR history; in QPR folklore; in the pantheon of greatest QPR Managers. So thank you again.

- Flashback: Fifteen Years ago Today, John Spencer's Hatrick.....Five Years Ago today, Kevin Gallen Leaves QPR (for the Second time)....Happy Birthday to Mike Sheron (Turning 40)

- Keith Curle Applying (Again) for the Bristol Rovers Managership Job

- A Manchester City Perspective of Mark Hughes

GUARDIAN/Jamie Jackson

What Mark Hughes must do to get Queens Park Rangers going again

Making some smart moves in the transfer market and hitting the ground running will be two of Hughes's priorities at QPR

Strengthen quickly

Managers live and die by their signings and Neil Warnock's summer recruitment drive proved the bell toll for his hopes of retaining his job. Of Kieron Dyer, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Jay Bothroyd, Danny Gabbidon, DJ Campbell, Armand Traoré, Bruno Perone, Brian Murphy, Anton Ferdinand and Joey Barton only the latter two have a case for not disappointing, and even that is a relative judgement.

Now Mark Hughes has to utilise the next three weeks to strengthen all departments of his side while turning round a rotten run of two points from the past eight league outings. The Welshman may chase Darren Bent, Andrew Johnson, Clint Dempsey and Bobby Zamora to lead his attack, Chris Samba, Sébastien Bassong, Alex, Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge to stop up the defence, Niko Kranjcar, Giovani dos Santos, Junior Hoilett and Josh McEachran to enhance the midfield. The word is that Tony Fernandes will "back Hughes if he can entice some big names", so this now becomes a test of his contacts book.

Hit the ground running
Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, Fulham, Everton and Bolton Wanderers are the league opposition starting from Sunday until 10 March before Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea come into view. QPR stand 17th, so Hughes will hope to ensure that the club has a safety cushion before the season moves towards the defining month of May.

Get QPR scoring
Especially at home. Nine league goals before the congregation at the supposedly hostile Loftus Road is not good enough. Neither is the one more scored on the road meaning that QPR have managed less than a strike a game from their 20 matches. An impression of the season so far is Jamie Mackie and the left-back Traoré bombing forward and delivering dangerous balls only for Bothroyd and Campbell, who has been hampered by injury, being unable to convert. Warnock came to rely on the 34-year-old Heidar Helguson whose seven league goals in 13 matches is an impressive return but the Icelander requires help. And not only from the attack: Barton and the full-back Luke Young, Bothroyd and Mackie are the next highest scorers with two.

Replace Faurlín

While QPR's insipid performance in the hardly deserved 1-1 FA Cup draw at MK Dons confirmed to Fernandes that Warnock should go, Alejandro Faurlín's anterior cruciate ligament injury in the tie leaves a creation void with the side's best performer ruled out for the remainder of the campaign. Perhaps Hughes can remind Adel Taarabt that he is the reigning Championship player of the season and was the team's totem before promotion and Barton's arrival and finally coax match-shaping displays from the temperamental Moroccan.

Solve the Barton problem
Barton is captain and the highest earner and how Hughes handles him will be instructive. The 29-year-old with a penchant for throwing his weight around on Twitter has failed to do so effectively in a QPR shirt – it is a struggle to recall any match he has won for the team. After Hughes met his squad for the first time at the training ground on Tuesday afternoon Barton walked to his car with a gesture to the TV cameras that said he was not allowed, or did not want, to speak.

This followed a heated exchange with Matt Holland, the former Charlton midfielder, on Twitter on Monday after which Barton stated he would avoid the social media site: "Am going to abstain for a week, see what the withdrawal symptoms are like. Have a nice week people. Spk soon," he wrote. Yet how long he can resist is moot and Hughes will not want any of his players straying off-message. Whether the new manager decides to retain Barton as skipper and if he can get him to shine on the field could define each man's fortune this season.

Stay the distance
Now 48, his CV already had Blackburn Rovers, Wales, Manchester City and Fulham on it before Hughes strode into the old club of Rodney Marsh and Stan Bowles to take charge.Successful everywhere he has managed (including City, despite being sacked), Hughes wants to build a legacy and has three, four, maybe five years in mind. Yet if he performs grandly this season chairmen will be quick to speed-dial his agent, Kia Joorabchian, with offers and, as a self-stated "ambitious" manager, the Welshman will listen.

Hughes is also Fernandes's first managerial appointment after the Malaysian inherited Warnock from the previous regime, and with QPR's majority shareholder still learning the moves of the Premier League his relationship with his new No1 is vital. On Monday, Fernandes tweeted: "You live or die with your decisions. I'm sorry to those I upset. Time will tell if we made the right or wrong decision. But a decision had to be made. I thank neil for all he's done and welcome mark to the QPR." Guardian


Queens Park Rangers give new manager Mark Hughes free rein to overhaul club in quest to become real force.

Mark Hughes has been given the mandate for a complete overhaul of Queens Park Rangers following his appointment on Tuesday as the club’s new manager on a two-and-a-half year contract.

Hughes will be involved in everything from the plans for a new 30,000-capacity stadium in west London and a state-of-the-art training ground to revamping QPR's scouting network, medical facilities and sports science department.

The 48 year-old has vowed to completely revamp the club, which is not regarded as up to Premier League standard, and is understood to be excited by the project and substantial financial backing he has been handed to create a new force in top-flight football with the support of owner Tony Fernandes and the Asian investors behind him.

Hughes’ immediate task, however, will be to stave off the prospect of relegation, with Rangers in 17th place just one point outside the bottom three, and it was instructive that in the press release issued by the club on Tuesday it stressed his record in signing players — including Nigel de Jong and Christopher Samba who he could attempt to attract to Loftus Road.

There are serious concerns about the strength of the squad and some of the signings made by the previous manager Neil Warnock who, as Telegraph Sport revealed, had lost the support of Fernandes and was sacked on Sunday.

Indeed Rangers are hoping to complete at least one new signing before Hughes’s first match in charge, away to Newcastle United this weekend with a renewed bid expected for Samba. Chelsea defender Alex is among other targets being identified.

Hughes, who took his first training session on Tuesday within hours of signing his deal, will be presented to the media today and will explain the reasons why he believes Rangers’ can fulfil his demand as a club that matches his own ambition — something he said Fulham failed to do when he left them last summer.

It is understood that the Welshman has reasoned that with Fulham’s infrastructure in place and the club apparently happy to simply remain in the Premier League, and despite plans to upgrade Craven Cottage, he didn’t feel there was scope for much improvement. At Rangers he inherits a completely different scenario where he can make a far greater impact.

Hughes arrives at Rangers with his trusted backroom staff of Mark Bowen, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Kevin Hitchcock and said on Tuesday: “It’s a great feeling to be back in football and to be manager of QPR. I’m fully aware of the challenge in the short and long term and I am genuinely excited about the ambition of the owners.

“Nobody can doubt the history of this great football club and the passion of its fantastically loyal supporters. Now the immediate priority is to consolidate our place in the Premier League, but beyond that the future is very bright and fills me with great enthusiasm.”

Fernandes said that Hughes’ desire to prove himself made him the ideal appointment. “He had a great passion to achieve as a manager and has already been hugely successful in his career,” he said. TELEGRAPH

he Independent - Complete control!

QPR's new man will relish being in control of the club
Mark Hughes will be given a freer rein to implement his ideas and ambitions than he was granted at Manchester City or Fulham


If there is a starting point for Mark Hughes' reign at Queen's Park Rangers, it is in the level of control that he will be afforded. Lower the eyebrows at a return to management for a relegation fight, forget QPR's recent history of upheaval and under-achievement. Mark Hughes is back in management because he has the chance to mould a football club in his image; an old-fashioned ideology perhaps, but one that was too good to turn down.

Only recently, in his admission about the devastation he felt at leaving Manchester City just over two years ago, Hughes offered this: "I compromised myself by allowing things to happen that I was not comfortable with.

"There were certain things I wasn't comfortable with and I allowed them to happen under my watch. The way it was sold to me was that I was still in charge of football things, but I'm presented with this dotted line, shown all sorts of charts and I thought, 'What the hell's all this?' I have an understanding of business and business models, but sometimes, really, it's about your relationships with people.

"Bringing in all these business people and business consultants to tell people what to do, and how to structure their club, wasn't right, but it was my own fault because I allowed it to happen. At the time I just wanted the club to succeed and you could see that the train was going in the right direction."

That is where the reasoning for a man who left Fulham seven months ago after finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League and took over as Neil Warnock's successor yesterday should begin. It is easy to forget the ascendancy of Hughes' career before he moved to Manchester City, before Sheikh Mansour took over and before the blue half of Manchester exploded.

Hughes had led Blackburn Rovers to European competition. He spoke of ambition when he left Ewood Park, but unwittingly walked into an avalanche of it on joining City. It is sometimes forgotten that it was Thaksin Shinawatra who was in control when Hughes was appointed in 2008. A football club changed its ambitions, its owners and its identity on Hughes' watch and for a man who was at Manchester United for 15 years, having power wrestled from the manager's office was never a prospect that he would be able to stomach.Perhaps the signing of Robinho on transfer-deadline day in August 2008 gave the greatest indication that Hughes had been usurped in the desire for a marquee signing. It would be unlikely for such an event to transpire during his latest managerial role.

This time the canvas presented before the 48-year-old by QPR owner Tony Fernandes has been left blank. The instruction is clear; stay up this year with investment in the current transfer window and then push for the top 10 next season when there will be the entire summer to show full intent in the transfer market.

That of course appeals. Hughes is no fool. He needs to strengthen his squad, and he will be given the finance to attract more players of the calibre of Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips, who were late signals of intent after the club had been taken over by Fernandes last summer.

But in building a football club there is a real, genuine attraction. In putting in place an infrastructure for two owners who have said all the right things about their combined ambition, there has been real desire from Hughes. He will revamp the club's scouting and youth set-up. There will be an increased use of sports science and the belief is that his profile will make the summer rebuilding at Loftus Road easier. The targeted players will be higher and the target from the owners will be as well.

Hughes agreed a two-and-a-half year contract and he will need that amount of time to push for the Premier League's second tier that is beginning to form underneath City, United, Spurs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool. That is the size of the ambition within the boardroom at Loftus Road, and this is perhaps the greatest contrast to the situation that Hughes walked away from at Craven Cottage. Then, after an eighth-placed finish, Hughes was rebuffed in his attempts to kick on in the transfer market. It did not make sense. As a result, he walked, ill-prepared to tread water.

Those that have played for Hughes talk of a meticulous attention to detail, of the strength of the working quartet he forms along with Mark Bowen, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Kevin Hitchcock, who have all joined him at Rangers.

"Mark was very thorough in everything he did," said Shay Given, who signed for Hughes at City. "Training was very sharp and match-orientated. We didn't train long but it was very intense. He wanted high intensity. Players really had to work hard in training just like they would play in games. He didn't leave any stone unturned in his preparation.

"I got on well with him. I enjoyed my time with Mark and the backroom staff. They work well as a team. They're comfortable working for each other. He has people he can trust around him. I worked with Kevin Hitchcock who is a great coach and there is Eddie and Mark as well. They're a really good team. They bounce off each other. That is why they have been successful.

"Mark Hughes covers all to be honest; both sports science and video analysis that big clubs would need. He's very thorough. I'm sure he'll do the same at QPR. They will be extremely well prepared.

"You respected him as a person and a manager because of what he did in the game and achieved as a manager," Given added. "You can see the clubs he's been at have been a success in the sense they've gone on from where they've been. Players want to play for him.

"He has that respect and aura and you could approach him if you wanted to. It was a mutual respect between him and the players. I think he will do well at QPR. He's ambitious. If the owners are going to invest in the team, he would have asked the questions about who he can bring in. He does want to do well. That is one of the reasons he left Fulham. He wants to progress QPR to be a club settled in the Premier League. If they do invest in three or four players, other teams will be looking over their shoulders."

As may one or two managers. Hughes is back, and do not let Rangers' recent history undermine the size of his ambition. Independent

Daily Star


ABOVE: Mark Hughes vowed to save QPR from the drop after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract I’m fully aware of the challenge in the short and long term and I am genuinely excited about the ambition of the owners
Mark Hughes
11th January 2012 By Paul Brown
MARK HUGHES vowed to save QPR from the drop after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract at Loftus Road.

Mark Hughes, 48, had refused to agree terms until he was convinced the club matched his ambition but yesterday took charge after being promised a £20m transfer kitty.

The former Manchester City, Wales and Fulham boss replaces Neil Warnock, who was sacked on Sunday.

Sparky, who was impressed by the club’s plans for a new 30,000-seat stadium, said: “It’s a great feeling to be back in football and to be the manager of QPR.

“I’m fully aware of the challenge in the short and long term and I am genuinely excited about the ambition of the owners.

“The immediate priority is to consolidate our place in the Premier League. But beyond that, the future is very bright and fills me with great enthusiasm.”

Hughes walked out on Fulham claiming he had doubts about the club’s ambition, but was won over by the plans of Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes.

He agreed to become QPR’s ninth full-time manager in just four years after missing out on vacancies at Aston Villa and Sunderland.

Hughes hopes to make Fulham striker Andy Johnson his first signing, with the clubs £500,000 apart on his valuation.

He is also chasing Blackburn defender Chris Samba, City misfits Nedum Onuoha and Wayne Bridge, and Chelsea defender Alex.

Rangers chairman Fernandes said he faced a backlash from fans unhappy at his treatment of Warnock, who won promotion in his first full season at the club.

But QPR could be in the bottom three before they face Newcastle on Sunday, and Fernandes said: “You live or die with your decisions.

“I’m sorry to those I upset. Time will tell if we made the right or wrong decision. But a decision had to be made.”

Hughes met his players and took training for the first time yesterday, with midfielder Tommy Smith the first to give him a warm welcome.

Smith said: “We’re all very pleased. His record as a manager has been good, and his playing record speaks for itself, so it seems like a positive move.

“Maybe certain players who didn’t think they had a chance under the last manager will now.”

Warnock said last night: “People think every time you get a new manager it works, but we will have to see. I am still feeling very confident.” Daily Star

Mirror/John Cross
Hughes to get £1m bonus if QPR stay up

Mark Hughes will be paid Champions League money to manage QPR - and get a bumper bonus if he keeps them in the Premier League.

The former Wales, Blackburn, Manchester City and Fulham boss Hughes has signed a two-and-a-half-year deal that's worth nearly £10million, making him one of the best paid managers in the top flight.

At around £3m-a-year, Hughes is just behind the likes of Arsene Wenger, Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini in terms of wages.

There are also big-money bonuses written into his deal, including around £1m for saving the west London side from their current precarious position one point and one place above the bottom three.

QPR owner Tony Fernandes has also promised Hughes around £30m to spend to prevent the Hoops making an instant return to the Championship - although there is likely to be a clear-out as well as new arrivals.

Aston Villa and England striker Darren Bent is Rangers' top transfer target, while the likes of defenders Clint Hill and Fitz Hall are set to be sold off this month in a major shake-up of the squad.

Hughes, 48, will be officially unveiled on Wednesday and will be in charge for Sunday's televised game against Newcastle.

"I'm fully aware of the challenge in the short and long term and I am genuinely excited about the ambition of the owners," he said.

"Nobody can doubt the history of this great football club and the passion of its fantastically loyal supporters.

"Now the immediate priority is to consolidate our place in the Barclays Premier League, but beyond that, the future is very bright and fills me with great enthusiasm."

Fernandes insists Hughes is the man to keep QPR up.

He said: "Mark has a proven track record in the Premier League, bringing a wealth of experience at both Club and international level.

"He has a great passion to achieve as a manager and has already been hugely successful in his career.

"His ambitions match those of the Board and we are delighted to have him at the helm." Mirror

Dave McIntyre/West London Sport - Paul Parker's Perspective re Hughes and QPR (and Great Parker comments re QPR)

Dave McIntyre/West London Sport

Dave McIntyre/West London Sport

Hughes may need to change style – Parker


by David McIntyre

Ex-QPR and England star Paul Parker believes his former team-mate Mark Hughes may have to adjust his style if he is to succeed at Loftus Road.

Parker knows the Welshman well, having playing alongside him for Manchester United after leaving west London in 1991.

And he insists the sometimes aloof Hughes will find managing Rangers a very different type of assignment to his last job at Fulham.

“QPR are in a precarious position and need to dig themselves out of it, but ‘Sparky’ doesn’t lose many battles,” Parker told West London Sport.

“Sparky’s got a reputation from when he was a player and he’s got to earn the respect of QPR fans.”

“He inspired Blackburn after taking over from Graeme Souness and will be looking to do the same at Rangers. It’s a great chance for him.”

Parker, who started his career with Fulham, added: “When you manage QPR you’re part of a community as well as being a manager.

“I hope Sparky appreciates that and is open, comes out and speaks to people. He’ll need to engage the fans.

“He’s managed Fulham but I can say that QPR is 100% a totally different club to Fulham – and he’ll find that.

“Fulham don’t have the same mentality or hardcore of fans as QPR. At Rangers you find loads of fans who were there way before I played there and can tell you everything about that club.

“It’s a proper club – a smaller version of Man United in that sense. Fulham is a different type of club and the QPR way is something I hope Sparky embraces.

“I’ve always likened QPR to West Ham, who were my local team. They’re similar sorts of clubs.

Parker was a fans’ favourite at QPR.

“It’s a great chance for him there and I’d love to see him do well because I love QPR – it’s always them I look out for first.”

Hughes, 48, is remembered by many R’s fans for his bruising – and sometimes controversial – encounters with Parker, Danny Maddix and in particular Alan McDonald during the 80s and 90s.

He also played for Rangers’ local rivals Chelsea, but Parker believes supporters will be keen to get behind the new man.

“Sparky’s got a reputation from when he was a player and he’s got to earn the respect of QPR fans,” he said.

“A lot of Rangers fans don’t like him because they accuse him of getting Alan McDonald sent off [in an FA Cup tie in 1989].

“But results make all the difference and they’ll of course give him an opportunity if things go well.”

Hughes’ appointment was confirmed within 48 hours of Neil Warnock’s sacking. He met the players for the first time at Rangers’ Harlington training ground on Tuesday afternoon.

And with the R’s having recently been linked with the likes of Chris Samba, Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora, Parker suspects the ex-Manchester City boss was lined up by majority shareholder Tony Fernandes some time ago.

“He must have been in the thoughts of Tony Fernandes,” Parker said.

Fernandes is keen to make major signings.

“You look at the players QPR have been linked with over the last six to eight weeks and they’ve mostly been at Blackburn or Fulham – players who’ve played under him before.

“It may be a pure coincidence, but it seems very strange to me. It suggests to me that Fernandes wanted Mark Hughes all along.”

He added: “Tony Fernandes is all about big names. He wants big-name players and a big-name manager.

“And for quite a small club, Rangers has always been a very good club – a top club in London for many years – and will feel they’re back where they belong now.

“But you have to earn the right to sign big players. You first have to consolidate in the Premier League and once that happens, I’m sure players will want to go to QPR because it’s a good club.

“It’s also a club in the best part of London. Players from up north and outside England will want to live around west London rather than anywhere else, so Sparky’s got a great opportunity.” West London Sport

The Updated First Team Staff Directory

(Currently have TWO Goalkeeping coaches: Incoming Kevin Hitchock. And David Rouse whose been with QPR for several years]

Manager - Mark Hughes
Assistant Manager - Mark Bowen
First Team Coach - Eddie Niedzwiecki
Goalkeeping Coach - Kevin Hitchcock

Reserve Team Manager - Ronnie Jepson
Strength & Conditioning Coach - Carl Serrant
Goalkeeping Coach - David Rouse
Head Physio - Nigel Cox
Assistant Physio - Sangi Patel
Kit Man - Gary Doyle
January 11 2012 Premiership Table: The Start of the Hughes Era!

January 11, 2012
1 Man City 20 40 48
2 Man Utd 20 29 45
3 Tottenham 19 16 42
4 Chelsea 20 14 37
5 Arsenal 20 8 36
6 Liverpool 20 6 34
7 Newcastle 20 4 33
8 Stoke 20 -9 29
9 Norwich 20 -5 25
10 Sunderland 20 4 24
11 Everton 19 -2 24
12 Swansea 20 -3 23
13 Aston Villa 20 -4 23
14 Fulham 20 -4 23
15 West Brom 20 -9 22
16 Wolves 20 -14 17
17 QPR 20 -16 17
18 Bolton 20 -18 16
19 Wigan 20 -23 15
20 Blackburn 20 -14 14

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