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Sunday, November 04, 2012

Spot The Ball...Mark Hughes...OTD: Alec Stock Exits QPR...Simon Barker Birthday


- Play "Spot The Ball"


- Congratulations  to Former QPR Manager, Ian Holloway on Taking Over at Crystal Palace

- Join in the QPR Report "Live Chat" for QPR vs Reading

- Reading Perspective of Reading and QPR

- Forty-Four Years Ago: Alec Stock Exits QPR after Nine Years

- "The Doc" Tommy Docherty Takes over at QPR Succeeding Alec Stock

- QPR Away to Norwich in FA Youth Cup, Third Round

- Comprehensive - Premier League Stats: 20 Years Worth

Telegraph/Oliver Brown

QPR's progressive manager Mark Hughes faces day of reckoning as his team face fellow strugglers Reading

Mark Hughes wears a haunted look. Sanguine and tight-lipped even at the most auspicious of times, he appears cut to the core by the predicament at Queens Park Rangers, as if embarrassed that any team of his should be floundering this winter in the Premier League’s frozen zone.

QPR's progressive manager Mark Hughes faces day of reckoning as his team face fellow strugglers Reading

The scenario confronting the 49 year-old at Loftus Road this lunchtime is stark: either his side vanquish Reading, also in the bottom three, or club owner Tony Fernandes could be persuaded to administer the sacking that he is so desperate to avoid. If it happened it would be Hughes’s second sacking in three years.

For a proud man, who has styled himself as a devotee of ProZone data and emblem of managerial progress, the prospect is galling.

Mercifully for Hughes, Fernandes, the Malaysian entrepreneur who has consistently offered vocal support, is adamant that there is no immediate danger. But a sense grows, after QPR’s sequence of nine league matches without a victory, that Hughes is still waiting to find his niche as a top-flight manager.

Now in charge of his fourth club at the highest level, he still continues to crave long-term stability.

Barry Horne, a close confidant of his when he played for Wales, explains: “I believe that Mark is still waiting for the big opportunity.

"Through no fault of his own, he happened to be at Manchester City at a very tumultuous time, and since then he has been looking for the right job.

"The problem is that the best openings do not come around very often, and in the meantime you need to build and consolidate your reputation.”

Hughes continues to be a source of fascination: courageous as a player but unfulfilled as a manager, charismatic on the pitch and yet intensely guarded away from it. So just what type of person, amid QPR’s distracting turmoil, is he?

A glimpse of his backroom staff provides some precious illumination of his character.

For Hughes is renowned for bringing a coterie of trusted deputies to his managerial positions. Mark Bowen, his Neath-born right-hand man, has been everpresent since 1999, assuming an integral role in player recruitment.

At QPR the celebrated former Tottenham left-back is the invariably the figure observing coaching sessions alongside Hughes, paying particular attention to the defence of set pieces.

The two Marks have been friends ever since childhood, projecting a powerful sense of Welsh solidarity. Little wonder they have acquired a reputation as the ‘Taffia’, even if Bowen has been keen to downplay any sense of dependence: “When Mark gets offered a job, it is not as if he has five people outside his door with prayer mats, saying, ‘Please take us with you’.”

Such is Hughes’ natural circumspection, it can be a protracted task trying to infiltrate his circle of trust, but once accomplished there is the potential to be his lieutenant for life. “Mark is a man of old-fashioned values,” Horne argues. “He never gives those who do not know him more than he needs to, but he is fiercely loyal to those closest to him.”

Eddie Niedzwiecki, the first-team coach, discovered as much, first joining his friend’s Wales set-up on a part-time basis and finding himself retained ever since.

Such is the belief invested in him by the manager that he is allowed to take first-team training essentially on his own. According to Hughes, “The quality of the sessions that Eddie puts on is so high that I would only ruin the performance, and therefore the stats, by taking part. So I stay away and rely on my memories.”

The description of Niedzwiecki’s methods by QPR players — “demanding, but rewarding” — echoes the influence of Hughes. Data on every player is analysed, en route to determining the intensity of each work-out.

For Hughes is a manager forged in the ProZone era of sports science, believing passionately that software and highly-refined equipment can be harnessed to improve player fitness, in a system known as KPI (Key Performance Indicators).

It is this immersion in the minutiae that sharpens the sense of paradox around Hughes.

While his Blackburn sides were often harshly criticised as one-dimensional, even agricultural — Cesc Fàbregas once told him after a 0-0 draw with Arsenal, “That wasn’t Barcelona football” — Hughes is a man all too familiar with the aesthetics of the game.

He, like Fàbregas, played at Barcelona, even if he proved a disappointment in his one season under Terry Venables and was loaned out to Bayern Munich in 1986. Hughes’ failure at the Nou Camp (relative in terms of the rest of his career) might be defined as his inability to adapt to the brand of elegant football required.

The Catalan supporters swiftly branded him ‘El Toro’ (The Bull), prefiguring the same accusation that has stalked him throughout his management career, that he prizes physicality above skill.

But it is a misconception. Hughes blames himself for his deficiencies with the blaugrana, claiming “I had a fantastic opportunity and I didn’t take it”.

Plus, ever since he took to the technical area, he has been forensic in analysing every facet of his players’ talents. Hughes takes pride from his conviction that, at Blackburn, he produced the fittest team in the country.

As his former striker Jason Roberts told QPR players when the manager took over: “Mark and his assistants make big demands of them. The good news is that within three or four weeks, they will never have felt as fit.” Ryan Nelsen, his long-serving centre-back, also attests to his prodigious work ethic.

“He’s first in, last-out,” the New Zealander says. “The season here at QPR has been frustrating for me, so I can’t imagine what it is like for him. It is horrible. If we make a mistake, it is always the manager who takes full responsibility.”

Hughes, by his own admission, demands standards that are “quite high”, but this disciplinarian habit is reinforced by a deep understanding of science.

If you have ever marvelled at Morten Gamst Pedersen’s free-kicks for Blackburn, you might be intrigued to learn that they owe much to the Hughes-inspired method of ‘neuro-linguistic programming’.

This technique, essentially a process of repeated visualisation, had been embraced by Tiger Woods and Jonny Wilkinson and led to an instant improvement in the Norwegian’s accuracy.

The manager is understood to have acquired this intellectual curiosity during his eight years with Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, realising that he needed to stay open to fresh concepts, even from other sports, to remain competitive.

But Hughes went further, incorporating the diet and dehydration tests that he saw during his loan period at Bayern Munich, and ensuring that GPS devices were sewn into his players’ vests so that he could track their every move.

These were no crazed acts of control-freakery; Hughes was ahead of the curve, as shown when Ferguson eventually poached his main ProZone analyst from Blackburn.

Despite QPR’s perilous league position, Hughes’ team are not averse to playing in a cultured style. The acquisition of such flair players as Esteban Granero and Junior Hoilett underlines this, belying assumptions that Hughes will always opt for the 4-4-2, high-intensity, ‘up-and-at-’em’ approach.

“I am very confident, knowing Mark as the extreme professional, that he can improve QPR,” Horne asserts. Nelsen, a stalwart of Hughes’ since their Blackburn days, agrees: “All I can tell the fans is that the manager is doing everything he can to win these games.”

The great conundrum is whether Hughes the leader can yet realise his undoubted potential or whether, before his 50th birthday, this enigmatic soul has already hit his ceiling. Telegraph

Daily Mail - Zamora: They are all pointing the finger at us... every game now is massive

Bobby Zamora does not care for football. He groans at the expectation that he should constantly talk about it, never watches games and changes the channel when sport news comes on TV.
‘For so many years football has been your life and it’s all everyone wants to talk about, everywhere you go,’ said Zamora. ‘I don’t like talking about it. I’m not a massive football fan, really. Quite a lot more players than let on are the same.’
‘I don’t watch games on an evening or anything like that,’ added Zamora, before the QPR striker faces Reading on Sunday — a high-stakes battle of the Premier League’s only two winless teams.

‘A lot of people find it strange [that I don’t like football]. I’m not sure what I want to do after I finish playing but if it means watching football then I don’t want to get involved.’
Even for a player so detached from the noise accompanying football, the speculation around manager Mark Hughes’ fragile tenure at Loftus Road has not gone unnoticed. QPR are bottom, with a dismal three points from nine matches.
There is speculation that defeat by Reading, who are one point and two places above them, could prompt the end of Hughes’ time at QPR.
Owner Tony Fernandes has again thrown his support behind Hughes, but unless the raft of new players signed in the summer pull together to bring about a much-needed victory, senior officials are likely to lose patience.
‘Fingers are being pointed at Mark and the pressure is on for him and us,’ said Zamora. ‘But he’s a good manager and Tony Fernandes is right behind him.
‘Tony was down at the training ground the other day and said that to the lads as well. He is a very down-to-earth, relaxed guy, so I don’t think he’s somebody who will do anything hasty.
‘Every game now is massive. We’ll work our socks off to get the three points because they’re desperately needed. We all know that teams around us, like Reading, are the ones which we should be picking points up against.’

Come on! Mark Hughes team are languishing low
Zamora worked under Hughes at  Fulham and is one of several players, including Nedum Onuoha and Ryan Nelsen, who have played for the boss at previous clubs. He praised Hughes’ ‘21st century management style’ and insisted he was the right man for a ‘club that wants to grow and go places’.

‘Mark is loyal,’ said Zamora, ‘I wouldn’t have come to QPR if he hadn’t been there. He’s a good character and he’s done everything in the game. He’s very professional, has all the stats, video analysis and made the right signings.’
Nelsen said he ‘felt sorry’ for Hughes, attributing the poor run — three points from the last 51 on offer – to ‘variables’ outside the manager’s control.

‘The most frustrating thing is that the performances have been there but the points haven’t,’ said Nelsen.
‘There have been a number of things, guys getting sent off, silly individual mistakes. It’s been frustrating for me so I can’t imagine how it’s been for the manager. It’s horrible because if we make a mistake or get sent off it’s the manager taking the full responsibility, so I feel bad for him.’
If Hughes was feeling the pressure, it was not apparent on Friday.
He questioned how many times owner Fernandes had to make emphatic declarations of support before suggestions of an imminent departure abate.
With matches against Stoke and Southampton following Reading, an answer is likely to arrive soon.


Man Utd 10 24
Chelsea 10 23
Man City 10 22
Everton 10 17
Tottenham 10 17
Arsenal 10 15
Fulham 10 15
West Ham 10 15
West Brom 9 14
Newcastle 9 13
Swansea 10 12
Wigan 10 11
Liverpool 9 10
Norwich 10 10
Stoke 10 9
Sunderland 9 9
Aston Villa 10 9
Reading 8 4
Southampton 9 4
QPR 9 3

  [The whole matter of how QPR Treat - Ignores  its former players (except  for, in a few instances, a few of the "Super Stars") has been a long-standing issue of contention at least with this blogger]

A New Book About QPR's Early Days

   While some QPR Fans really don't care too much about QPR History; others are almost obsessed about it!  At one extreme are those for whom QPR "History" is anything which occurred prior to a season ago. Certainly for many fans, QPR "Pre-History" is the more than three quarters of a century period which came prior to the Famed 1967.

   Just published: A short booklet on the truly early year of QPR. The booklet by Brian Belton is entitled "West London Born: The Early Years of QPR" and is published by Endeavour Press.

   The booklet offers a short, nice contribution to the certainly not-large-enough section of writings about QPR's early years, from the Club's Founding to around World War I.  

   (I'd be remiss in noting the publication of "The Early Years," without also noting a book published last year, by QPR Fan (and QPR REPORT Messageboard Contributor) John "Gramps" Clifford Queen's Park Rangers: 'The Old Days (1939-1970)"

  [I'd also be remiss in not also taking note (and paying homage!) to the truly-incredible Bushman Photo Archives on the QPR Report Messageboard which cover QPR over the decades - including the period covered in Brian Belton's booklet.

QPR a Year Ago After Nine Games -

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