Gifted and right choice manager given chance to keep R's up!
You may feel aggrieved to have heard about Neil Warnock being sacked as Queen’s Park Rangers manager but would your club settle for eight games without a win and sinking like a stone to 17th place of the Premier League – one point from the relegation spot? No, didn’t think so. Whilst Warnock received plaudits for the R’s style in blitzing the Championship, he has failed to set the top flight alight and probably deserved the boot in the eyes of Rangers’ current chairman Tony Fernandes after some expensive for promoted side signings in Shaun Wright-Philips and Joey Barton.
However, the important question would be, who was going to replace Warnock and guide Rangers away from their current predicament? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the irreplaceable Mark Hughes!
Sparky posing with his new club's work overalls. Source: Telegraph
Sparky has been without a club after leaving Fulham in the summer because of differences in club ambitions. I have been more than a little surprised that he hadn’t taken up the arguably bigger jobs at Aston Villa or Sunderland since he oozes managerial quality. Yet I see some bloggers doubting Hughes’ ability to bring success (and short term premier league safety) to Rangers. To them I say zounds! Here’s why.
To dispute Hughes’ managerial record would be maniacal. He took Wales (who were in a mess at the time) to the European Championship playoffs and beat Italy. Blackburn Rovers entrusted him with his first club job and repaid them with saving them from relegation from the Premiership and a FA Cup run going to the semi final. In his first full season, Hughes took Rovers to 6th place and UEFA Cup qualification and the semi finals of the League Cup. Dabbling with Europe and another semi final in FA Cup the season after were more highlights in his tenure at Ewood Park.
After Sven Goran Erikson left Manchester City in acrimonious circumstances in 2008, Hughes was brought to the blue side of Manchester to turn the club around. Whilst doing so, it was done by the new ownership arrival of the oil rich barons of the Abu Dhabi group. Given a ridiculous war chest and players like Robinho gifted to him, Sparky made plans to build the club onto the level of the “Big 4”, including cross city rivals (and Hughes’ former club as a player) Manchester United. However, he was sacked in December 2009, despite the club being only a few points from the Champions League spot and guiding them to their first League Cup semi final for years. It could be argued, if it wasn’t for a seven game drawing run in the league, Mark Hughes would still be at the City Of Manchester Stadium now.
After Roy Hodgson left Craven Cottage for Liverpool in mid 2010, Hughes was appointed manager of Fulham and carried on from their successful Europa League campaign by taking them to 8th place. They also qualified for Europe again because of the fair play standings. A cleaner style and change in squad discipline from Sparky shows he’s not afraid to transform his sides style of play. This compares to his Blackburn side finishing bottom of the disciplinary league in all four of his seasons in charge.
Despite all ups and downs, you may or not be surprised to know that in every full season, Mark Hughes has never finished below the top ten in the top flight. Whilst he is parachuting to Loftus Road in January, one would think he has more than enough experience to dealing with and getting away from a relegation battle.
What I like about Sparky is that he has a genuine eye for talented players at bargain prices. Whilst at Blackburn, he brought the likes of Benni McCarthy and Roque Santa Cruz who took the Prem by storm on their debuts. For the amount of goals they banged in, these two only cost Rovers 2.5 and 3.5 million respectively. Even at his short time at Fulham, he brought well in Carlos Salcido and Moussa Dembele for 6.5 million pounds, keeping them at the same level as Roy Hodgson did at the same club. Even though some would say his Manchester City career was below expectations, he did buy in key players like Vincent Kompany, Nigel De Jong, Gareth Barry, Pablo Zabaleta and Kolo Toure for the Citizens which are a key part of the squad even now under Roberto Mancini. With him coming early enough into January to make a difference, I have no doubt Sparky will have a list for viable targets to get Rangers moving up the table.
I think it’s a more than excellent move by Tony Fernandes and Rangers to have replaced Neil Warnock for Mark Hughes, even if old Sparky has his eye on the R’s being a stop gap in his managerial career. He said after taking the job: “One factor that concerns me is that I am an ambitious manager and have to make sure the club meets those ambitions.” Whilst I’m sure Hughes will be back at a top club soon enough, what harm is it for Fernandes to keep a man with such exceptional managerial talent like Hughes in a job for however long suits him as long as keeps Q.P.R in the highest level of English football and make them an attractive prospect for other managers. Who knows? In 18 months, we could be looking at fairly realistic prospect of Queen’s Park Rangers being in the top 10 of the league next season. Surely R’s fans would settle for Warnock’s departure now to obtain it?