Tuesday, November 20, 2012

QPR Report Tuesday: A Day of QPR Rumours and Hopes: Dashed (Thus Far)...Next: Manchester United...Flashback: Chairman Paladini's Reported "I'm Going to...."

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Courtesy of QPR Report Poster & Moderator, HaQPR1963




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Will Today be "The Day"?

Yesterday was  a day of rumors and hopes and speculation - ultimately dashed - at least for the day - by QPR Spokesman, Ian Taylor's Tweet 'Rumours suggesting Mark Hughes has been sacked as manager tonight are NOT true


Standard's James Olley

“@JamesOlley: Think story is this. Board met, asked Hughes to step down (hence first tweet). Hughes said no (hence second tweet). Apologies for confusion.”





Dave McIntyre/West London Sport

Hughes fights on and is promising change

Under-fire boss Mark Hughes arrived at QPR’s training ground this morning with the club insisting it was ‘business as usual’ despite speculation over his future.

Hughes did not take yesterday’s session at Harlington, where chief executive Philip Beard spent much of the day.

That is not unusual – Beard is there regularly and Monday’s training is usually a warm-down session which Hughes does not attend – but it prompted reports of a lengthy meeting between the pair and suggestions the manager was being fired.

Hughes has made it clear he will not resign and believes he will be given more time by the club’s owners, while his agent Kia Koorabchian last night also denied rumours the Welshman had been dismissed.

Hughes saw Beard on Monday.

Rangers’ board are due to hold talks in the next 48 hours, when Hughes’ future should become clearer.

Tony Fernandes, a friend of Hughes and the man who brought him to Loftus Road 11 months ago, is keen for him to stay.

But the chairman must convince other major shareholders the former Manchester United forward should remain in the job – at least for the time being.

Disgruntled fans want Hughes out, with Harry Redknapp touted as a replacement.

Redknapp, a friend of ex-QPR chairman Gianni Paladini, has been out of management since leaving Tottenham in June and is keen to return to the Premier League.

Hughes, whose team are bottom of the table and without a league win this season, has indicated there will be significant changes if he remains at the club.

Previously placid towards his under-performing players, he read the riot act in the dressing room following Saturday’s humiliating 3-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.

There is support for him among players despite misgivings about some of his signings.

Stalwarts like Jamie Mackie and Shaun Derry are likely to be asked to play an important role in the coming weeks should Hughes cling on.

The return of Stephane Mbia is also seen as important as it would enable Hughes to permanently replace Anton Ferdinand at the heart of his leaky defence – something he has been looking to do for some time.

Ferdinand was increasingly out of favour prior to Mbia’s three-match suspension for a red card in the recent defeat at Arsenal. West London Sport


Dave McIntyre/West London Sport

http://www.westlondonsport.com/qpr/hughe....ising13-changes

Hughes fights on and is promising change

Under-fire boss Mark Hughes arrived at QPR’s training ground this morning with the club insisting it was ‘business as usual’ despite speculation over his future.

Hughes did not take yesterday’s session at Harlington, where chief executive Philip Beard spent much of the day.

That is not unusual – Beard is there regularly and Monday’s training is usually a warm-down session which Hughes does not attend – but it prompted reports of a lengthy meeting between the pair and suggestions the manager was being fired.

Hughes has made it clear he will not resign and believes he will be given more time by the club’s owners, while his agent Kia Koorabchian last night also denied rumours the Welshman had been dismissed.

Hughes saw Beard on Monday.

Rangers’ board are due to hold talks in the next 48 hours, when Hughes’ future should become clearer.

Tony Fernandes, a friend of Hughes and the man who brought him to Loftus Road 11 months ago, is keen for him to stay.

But the chairman must convince other major shareholders the former Manchester United forward should remain in the job – at least for the time being.

Disgruntled fans want Hughes out, with Harry Redknapp touted as a replacement.

Redknapp, a friend of ex-QPR chairman Gianni Paladini, has been out of management since leaving Tottenham in June and is keen to return to the Premier League.

Hughes, whose team are bottom of the table and without a league win this season, has indicated there will be significant changes if he remains at the club.

Previously placid towards his under-performing players, he read the riot act in the dressing room following Saturday’s humiliating 3-1 defeat at home to fellow strugglers Southampton.

There is support for him among players despite misgivings about some of his signings.

Stalwarts like Jamie Mackie and Shaun Derry are likely to be asked to play an important role in the coming weeks should Hughes cling on.

The return of Stephane Mbia is also seen as important as it would enable Hughes to permanently replace Anton Ferdinand at the heart of his leaky defence – something he has been looking to do for some time.

Ferdinand was increasingly out of favour prior to Mbia’s three-match suspension for a red card in the recent defeat at Arsenal.

Read more: http://qprreport.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=general&thread=34009&page=1#ixzz2CkrjINdP



Express

MARK HUGHES emerged from a two-hour summit with QPR chief executive Philip Beard with the full support of the club’s board.

After plummeting to the bottom of the table with the 3-1 home defeat against Southampton, Hughes missed training to attend the meeting but did deliver a team-talk to his players before the session.

The QPR board still feel there is time for Hughes to turn things around and the hope is that an unexpected positive result against Manchester United at Old Trafford could kick-start the club’s season.
Express




London 24/Nick Wright

QPR verdict: How Mark Hughes lost his grip at Loftus Road

“As far as I’m concerned, we will never be in this situation again while I am manager,” so declared a bullish Mark Hughes after the astonishing finale to last season.

Mark Hughes

The Welshman had just watched his QPR side escape relegation by the skin of their teeth at the Etihad Stadium, where his old club Manchester City celebrated their first title win in 44 years after famously overturning a 2-1 deficit in injury time.

At the other end of the table, QPR’s Premier League status was saved by Bolton’s failure to win at Stoke City, prompting Hughes to make his doomed vow to turn the club around.

Six months have passed since that day, and after an ill-judged summer spending spree brought no fewer than 12 new faces to Loftus Road, QPR find themselves in crisis.

Since their disastrous 5-0 drubbing by Swansea City on the opening day, winless Rangers have taken just four points from a possible 33, leaving them five points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table.

The fans have emphatically lost faith in the manager, and if Saturday’s abject 3-1 defeat to Southampton is anything to go by, most of the players have too... That is, if they ever had any in the first place.

Even more worrying for Hughes is that owner Tony Fernandes has declined to offer public backing to his beleaguered manager in the wake of their most recent defeat, fuelling speculation that his time could finally be up at Loftus Road.

Hughes’ poor management has been decisive this season, but the board must also shoulder blame for sanctioning the fevered summer spending which has paved the way for the club’s downfall.

The poorly-planned impulsiveness of QPR’s transfer dealings transmits to their performances on the pitch, where their clumsily assembled mishmash of players resembles a group of total strangers.

Take the arrival of former Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar. Undoubtedly a class act, but signed out of the blue just weeks after the arrival of Rob Green, who became a scapegoat for their dreadful start.

Green joined the club as their new number one at the beginning of the summer, only to be immediately shunted to the bench. How can that decision have affected him? And more broadly, how can it have affected the atmosphere in the dressing room?

Cesar is an upgrade on the former West Ham man, but he came at a cost, and the team has suffered as a result of yet more upheaval, with players now aware that they could be unceremoniously axed by Hughes at any moment.

And Green isn’t the only one to be shut out.

Striker Rob Hulse was among those deemed surplus to requirements at Loftus Road during the summer. The 33-year-old was sent on loan to Charlton, where he told London24 he had been one of six senior players sent by Hughes to train with QPR’s youth team as the new signings continued to flood in.

The likes of Hulse, Heidar Helguson and Luke Young may be technically limited, but humiliating experienced pros was no way for Hughes to endear himself to his squad.

And with his expensive wave of signings looking wholly disinterested on the pitch, he might now wish he could call on more old heads to help pull them out of their malaise.

Let’s not forget that at this point last season, Helguson - now at Cardiff - had hit five Premier League goals in seven appearances. Hughes’ toothless side would cherish such a contribution now.

Indeed, it was ironic that Hughes called on old heads Jamie Mackie and Shaun Derry from the bench as he tried to rescue the game against Southampton.

On paper, Hughes’ squad should be comfortable in this league, but it was naïve to think such a ruthless overhaul of the playing squad would not have damaging consequences.

Having turned his back on QPR’s old guard, Hughes is left with a collection of overpaid cast-offs from top clubs who aren’t motivated enough to dig in and turn things around.

Jose Bosingwa is among the chief offenders. Six months ago the defender was winning the second Champions League medal of his career with Chelsea. He has passed his peak and he knows it. Against Southampton he was utterly woeful before his 73rd-minute substitution.

Hughes’ squad is broken, possibly irreparably. His position is surely untenable, but there is no quick fix and a change of manager would not be an immediate solution.

These are disturbing times for QPR, and the thought of taking that sizable wage bill into the Championship makes you worry for the future of the club. London 24


GUARDIAN/David Hytner

Tony Fernandes wants Queens Park Rangers to revert to basics

• Chairman is keen to restore pride against Manchester United
• Fernandes was distraught over home defeat by Southampton

Tony Fernandes wants to see Queens Park Rangers revert to basics for Saturday's Premier League fixture at Manchester United, with the possible recall of stalwarts from the promotion season such as Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie, as he prioritises a restoration of pride.

The chairman was distraught on Saturday, when he watched his team lose the foot-of-the-table meeting at home to Southampton, with the emotion compounded by the fear that the manager, Mark Hughes, had lost the capacity to motivate key players. It has pressed Fernandes into a bout of soul-searching as he torments himself over whether to sack Hughes.

Fernandes has been hugely supportive of Hughes, whom he appointed last season to keep the club in the Premier League, after their elevation from the Championship the previous spring and, as much as anybody, he wants the manager to succeed. He has repeatedly backed Hughes in comments from his Twitter account, although the lack of support since the 3-1 defeat by Southampton has been ominous. Fernandes had labelled the visit of Saints as a must-win game.

Hughes met the chief executive, Phil Beard, on Monday and he was given no assurances about his future, further darkening the mood. It appears, though, that Fernandes, at least, is ready to give Hughes the United match, with the demand being to show some spirit at Old Trafford. It was notable that Derry and Mackie came on as second-half substitutes against Southampton and they are in contention to start against United.

The aspect that so distressed Fernandes against Southampton was the sight of players not giving their all and the home crowd voiced their anger when they chanted that some were "only here for the money". Fernandes, who is currently in Malaysia, oversaw a summer spree that brought 11 senior players to the club, many of them on huge wages.

Hughes warmed to the theme after the game, when he questioned the mental strength of the players that he had selected and promised there would be changes. He said that the performance had been the worst of his tenure and he conceded that relegation was a real danger. "Given the performance, I picked the wrong players," he said. "That can't be allowed to pass without changes being made."The situation is bleak and the club received another blow on Monday when it emerged that the striker Bobby Zamora faced surgery to correct a nagging hip injury, which would render him a long-term absentee. Hughes and his staff were back in training on Monday, after the players had the previous day off, and it was painted as business as usual. Yet the impression was of a man nervously awaiting his fate, together with his coaching staff.

Hughes has made it plain that he does not intend to resign, despite overseeing QPR's worst ever start to a top-flight campaign. The statistics make for grisly reading: no wins, four points and nine goals from 12 games.

Fernandes is mindful of the potential cost, in compensation, of dismissing Hughes, who is ten months into a two-and-a-half year contract, which is worth £3m-a-year. Hughes has also bought in a raft of additional personal, as he has restructured on several levels, chiefly the coaching set-up, youth academy and scouting network.

Harry Redknapp remains out of work, after his sacking in June by Tottenham Hotspur, and he has been strongly tipped to succeed Hughes. One of his good friends is Gianni Paladini, the former QPR chairman, who retains links to Amit Bhatia, the club's vice-chairman. "Until there is a change - if there is one - it would not be fair for me to discuss it," Redknapp said. Guardian



GUARDIAN 

Jokes about QPR's name – Quite Possibly Relegated – ring all too true

It took QPR fans a long time to turn against Mark Hughes, but now he could be cast in the role of captain of the Titanic

The Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes at the home dugout at Loftus Road in the defeat against Southampton. Photograph: Alan Walter/Action Images

You want a metaphor for Queens Park Rangers this season? Here are two, both from the dying moments of Saturday's abject capitulation to Southampton at Loftus Road. To the left of my seat in the front row of the West Paddock, Rob Green – brought in on a rumoured £50,000-a-week to replace Paddy Kenny in goal in the summer, only to be replaced almost immediately by the doubtless even more expensive Júlio César – sat in the dugout, his head resting against the Perspex wall, his eyes closed. To the right, Esteban Granero – played out of position on the right of midfield – was steadfastly and repeatedly ignoring the instructions of Mark Hughes and his coaches to go tight at short corners, loitering instead on his own at the edge of QPR's penalty area.

In truth, it was hard to blame either. Why would Green bother taking any interest in a club that has treated him so poorly? Why would Granero – an elegant central midfielder bought from Real Madrid – take any notice of a manager who had put him on the wing, when the XI on the pitch already had two wide players in Junior Hoilett and Adel Taarabt? This season the jokes about QPR's name – Quite Possibly Relegated, Quarter Pound of Rubbish – ring all too true.

The coaching team, by their own admission, have had no idea what to do. On the Open All R's podcast the other week, Hughes's assistant Mark Bowen admitted the team's failure to win was a mystery to them all. We keep hearing how meticulously prepared the team has been, how the opposition have been studied intently, how the club was in a much stronger position than it had been when Hughes took over from Neil Warnock in January.

Until Saturday we kept hearing – despite the evidence on the pitch – that Rangers had been dominating games and should have won. Had Hughes been captain of the Titanic, one suspects he would have told the press: "We need to take the positives from the voyage and concentrate on the icebergs we didn't hit, because for most of the journey we were in no danger of sinking. What this ship needs is stability at the helm, and I'm still confident I can get all the passengers to New York alive."

Not that he's alone in that mindset. After fans gathered outside the ground on Saturday night to express their anger about the performance, one supporter claimed that Shaun Wright-Phillips had told him the crowd was to blame for failing to back the team. Djibril Cissé, meanwhile, took to Twitter in a series of since-deleted tweets to offer his critics outside. Look at it this way: when Taarabt is the most motivated and committed player in the starting lineup, the problems run deep.

One theory about Rangers' travails holds that the culture of the club is set by the owner, Tony Fernandes, and his executive team, none of whom have football backgrounds. The argument is that they demanded a starry team, with big statements of ambition rather than incremental growth, and Hughes is simply delivering what they requested. QPR, by this line of thought, is a club with no heart, and the players reflect the culture of Loftus Road.

It is often cited that Hughes has signed 16 players in his 10 months in W12, but the more telling statistic is that QPR are now on their fourth team in two years – Warnock's promotion team, Warnock's overhauled Premier League team, Hughes's first Premier League team, and now his second Premier League team.

Still, Hughes has much to answer for. The transfer policy has seen the club overloaded with midfielders, with a shortfall of strikers and decent defenders – Bowen admitted that QPR actually need 12 slots to accommodate the first-choice midfielders. The result is a side that can play lovely football in the middle third of the pitch, but is hopeless at either end. And if Hughes's preparation is so good, how come the team is so terrible in the penalty areas – leaving players unmarked at one end and failing to get bodies in the box at the other?

And how come twice – against West Ham and West Brom, in games five days apart – Hughes fielded two central midfielders against teams who overran Rangers with three strong, combative players in the middle? As Clive Whittingham of the admirable Loft for Words website has put it: if that's meticulous preparation, I'd hate to see shoddy preparation.

The oddest thing of all is that it took the fans so long to turn against Hughes. Rangers have had too much turmoil in recent years, something Hughes has played on with his assertions that stability is what the club needs. No one wants to see another manager sacked, but the issue is no longer whether a better replacement is available, but the fact that no one could possibly do worse with the resources at the Hoops' disposal.

When I visited the QPR website on Monday morning, the first thing I saw was an advert for personalised shirts, with a photo of Bobby Zamora, Park Ji-sung and Cissé. "Wear their name with pride," Rangers fans were instructed. Just one word need be corrected: strike out "pride", and replace with "embarrassment". Guardian



INDEPENDENT - Sam Wallace: QPR look out of fashion after big spree on top labels' cast-offs

A football crowd fired up on frustration and anger tends to get to the heart of the matter quickly and so it was at Loftus Road on Saturday, where the Queen's Park Rangers support chanted "You're only here for the money" at their own wretched players.


By any standards Mark Hughes's team have had a dreadful start to the season, culminating in Saturday's defeat at home to Southampton, one place above them in 19th position. It does beg the awkward question: if QPR cannot beat Southampton, then who can they beat?

When Neil Warnock was sacked by the club in January his team were 17th after 20 games with 17 points. That worked out at 28 per cent of the total points they had played for. This morning, Hughes's team are 20th after 12 games with four points – that is 11 per cent of the points on offer.

The looming reality at QPR on Saturday was that they have signed some players who do not care enough. A mercenary element was certainly what Hughes seemed to hint at afterwards when he criticised an unwillingness to "chase lost causes" and his intention to reinstate the old reliables like Shaun Derry and Jamie Mackie.

Jose Bosingwa, acquired on a free transfer this summer, has been the worst of the bunch, and Saturday's defeat was arguably his poorest performance yet. Esteban Granero, played on the right, did not get past Southampton's 17-year-old left-back Luke Shaw, a fine young prospect. Djibril Cissé has two goals in 12 games this season and only one of them in the league.

Hughes has suffered injuries to key players this season, and is currently without Park Ji-sung and, long-term, Andy Johnson. But a manager complaining about injuries is rather like moving to west London and moaning about the traffic. It is a fact of life. The trick is to take precautions.

These are early days yet, with only a quarter of the season gone, and it is possible that QPR might finish above the likes of West Bromwich Albion, who beat Chelsea on Saturday; or Norwich City, who had a famous win over Manchester United. But if that is the plan, then QPR's players have a funny way of going about it.

The trouble is that as the club chased the dream this summer by signing a selection of players who had once done it at the sharp end of European football, so elsewhere English football was changing.

In June, Premier League clubs began moves towards a salary protocol, a kind of domestic salary cap to protect themselves from blowing the extra revenue from the new TV broadcast deal on increased wages. In short, they are fed up of losing money and would like to stop paying the players so much (although if they are successful do not expect ticket prices to come down).

The very fact that last week the 20 clubs sanctioned a study into the feasibility of such a plan is further evidence of a new militancy when it comes to paying big wages, especially for players outside the elite. At the same time, QPR have – broadly speaking – rewarded mediocre players with decent contracts, arguing that savings on transfer fees justifies the approach.

West Brom, conquerors of Chelsea, are one of the clubs opposed to a salary control because they see little point in legislation to enforce a rule they adhere to voluntarily. Not that their tight spending parameters always mean they get it right: between 2002 and 2010 they moved between the Premier League and the Championship seven times.

Currently in fourth place under Steve Clarke with 23 points, they have exceeded all expectations this season so far. No one expects them to be in the Champions League draw come August but their astute scouting has paid dividends. Claudio Yacob, an Argentina international signed on a free, has arguably been as successful as any of QPR's summer acquisitions.

Equally, Norwich, 13th after beating United, have refined their own approach to Premier League survival. They had just three non-British and Irish players in Saturday's starting XI, not a guarantee of lower costs but a sign they stick with a market they know.

Wes Hoolahan, Anthony Pilkington, Bradley Johnson and Robert Snodgrass were all signed from Championship clubs and Grant Holt from Shrewsbury Town. Compare that to some of the clubs QPR's new players have either been signed from or released by: Real Madrid, Internazionale, Chelsea, Manchester United and Marseilles.

Norwich are by no means assured of survival yet, although they have put themselves in a good position. If they do go down they are protected by a financial model that delivered an operating profit of £13.5m in their last accounts.

Everton, Newcastle United, Aston Villa and Swansea City are all moving towards that same model, placing their faith in young players and cheaper signings. Even Southampton, with a team largely developed from the Football League, and more than likely to go straight back to the Championship, demonstrated much more commitment than QPR on Saturday.

In that context, QPR's pursuit of Chelsea's out-of-contract right-back and Inter's disgruntled goalkeeper does not just seem expensive – it looks, by modern standards, unsophisticated.

No doubt Hughes has grand plans to run a club built on prudent signings and a productive academy. Who wouldn't want to do that? Equally, he inherited the likes of Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd, demonstrating that he is not the only one at QPR who got it wrong.

Hughes's defence of his own record is that he has left every club he has managed stronger. Testing that claim at Manchester City is difficult, given the changes wrought by Sheikh Mansour, although Hughes did buy Vincent Kompany and Pablo Zabaleta for £6m, pre-takeover. At Fulham he signed Moussa Dembélé .

To my mind, however, his greatest achievements were the impressive sixth and seventh place finishes at Blackburn Rovers in 2006 and 2008 which are largely overlooked by his detractors.

At Blackburn he built a team from inspired signings like Roque Santa Cruz, Chris Samba, David Bentley and Ryan Nelsen, all considered a success at Rovers, and many were sold for a profit (albeit, in the case of Cruz, to Hughes at City). It is a model that others have aspired to.

It also makes you wonder why QPR have not pursued it themselves. The moment they signed Julio Cesar to replace Rob Green should have told us that this was a transfer strategy going awry. They looked like a gambler at the card table chasing their losses which, in the new era of Premier League survival, where the stakes are high and the margins are fine, is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. Independent