Following the decision by the QPR board to bring an end to Neil Warnock’s two years in charge, Mark Hughes was unsurprisingly installed as the new manager at Loftus Road. Having been out of the game for over a year since leaving Fulham, Hughes has returned to the Premier league looking to build upon his reputation as one of Britain’s most promising young managers. The task in hand for Hughes is not an easy one.
QPR had returned to the top flight under Warnock for the first time since 1996. Additions had been made to the Championship winning side and despite a promising start to the new campaign fortunes quickly began to change. The R’s went twelve games without a win in all competitions since a 2-1 home victory over Chelsea in October. This poor run of form saw the team slip to 17th place in the league. Owner Tony Fernandes felt the time had come for immediate action. It seems the solution in the owner’s eyes is the appointment of Mark Hughes.
Hughes had left Fulham under a cloud of mystery citing he was in search of new challenges in his managerial career. His somewhat unexpected exit from Craven Cottage led to suggestions he would fill the newly available posts at Aston Villa and Chelsea though both clubs chose to look elsewhere. The challenge that now faces Hughes is to show he has the credentials to get QPR up the league and challenging the top half of the table. So what does Hughes bring to the role exactly?
In his first season as Blackburn boss Hughes steered the club away from relegation. He went on to record three consecutive top ten finishes whilst in charge. Not only was this done under far tighter financial constraints than he can come to expect at QPR, but it proved his ability to get the best out of players in tricky situations. His time as Manchester City manager will have more so prepared him for the role. After a 10th place finish in his first season, the new ownership at Manchester City gave Hughes barely anytime to cement the side into top-four contenders and was subsequently sacked. This experience has shown Hughes the importance of getting results quickly. QPR need results quickly and will be looking for Hughes to reignite the team and get points on the board. Hughes will be aware from past knowledge that football owners today are ruthless and expect results fast.
Hughes continued to enhance his growing reputation in his one season at Fulham with a respectable 8th placed finish. To have left a club in such a stable position as Fulham suggested Hughes was moving on to bigger and better things. Instead Hughes has landed at a club realistically fighting a relegation battle. Time will tell whether Hughes can implement his football philosophy upon the side and build a team capable of fulfilling his managerial ambitions.