Harry Redknapp needs immediate impact
26 November ~ Two quotes define Mark Hughes's disastrous tenure at Queens Park Rangers. The first is from the man himself following last season's knuckle-biting finale at Manchester City: "There is no way we will be in this situation again in my time here." The second came from club chairman Tony Fernandes on Hughes's hiring: "We didn't interview Mark. He interviewed us." Hughes's assertion will surely haunt him for years. To those who've watched his team underperform it appears sardonic that it was also the only occasion when he showed a trace of passion.
Perhaps he went home and howled with anguish at the moon but it never showed in public, nor apparently in the dressing room.
As QPR manager Hughes was expensive, dull and clueless. Supporters will forgive the first two qualities but not the third. Overly reliant on advisor Kia Joorabchian, he as good as admitted prior to last weekend's pathetic performance against Southampton that he didn't know what to do. The team was always "well prepared", he claimed, but evidence pointed to the contrary.
Tony Fernandes bears responsibility for Hughes's hiring, something his fellow investors are no doubt reminding him. If he were considering a senior manager for one of his airlines it's unlikely he'd let himself be "interviewed" for the position, nor suggest it in public. Why do so with his football club? Fernandes is approachable and well liked — a much appreciated counterpoint to the previous Flavio Briatore and Gianni Paladini regime at Loftus Road.
Unfortunately, like them, he knows next to nothing about football. He comes across as a bit of a starry-eyed fan-boy and it's costing him in the wallet and on the pitch. With Harry Redknapp's appointment history suggests January will see yet another batch of desperation signings. However, the existing manager/player carousel can't keep turning indefinitely. Fernandes knows this; his mantra of stability at all costs is the only thing that kept Hughes employed for the past month, but will he – can he – apply the brake?
Finally, Ryan Nelsen aside, not a single one of Hughes's purchases is better now than on their arrival. What little consistency there is comes from the likes of Adel Taarabt and Alejandro Faurlin, or the increasingly invisible Shaun Derry and Clint Hill who were part of the Championship-winning team two years ago. The rest see Queens Park Rangers as either a step down in their career or a total unknown — Stephane Mbia believed he was being loaned to a Scottish club. Whether Redknapp is willing to work with such a collection of talented but confused and disconsolate players or not, time is short. Fernandes knows that and he must make his new manager realise it too. John Carter