Chris King on why Mark Hughes is not the only reason behind the Rs’ abject start to the season, and a run of 12 games without a league victory.
Queens Park Rangers lie five points clear of safety at the foot of the Premier League table after a damaging 3-1 defeat to Southampton. The performance produced by the vast majority of those sent out to represent the club on the pitch was nothing short of atrocious, but sadly it was not an aberration.
Despite not having picked up a win for 11 matches, supporters vocally backed their side early on before the Saints took control of the game and imposed themselves upon the hosts. Only three players – captain Ryan Nelsen, Adel Taarabt and substitute Jamie Mackie – are exempt from the following assessment.
Rs manager Mark Hughes is facing the sack for the club’s wretched start to the season. This is only right and correct, for he has consistently offered lame excuses for defeats, over-focused on injuries and misfortune and avoided the fact that not once this season have Rangers played well: not once.
Whatever mistakes the Welshman has made throughout his tenure, and there have been many, what fans are so quick to forget is that a manager only picks the team. While his charges are on the pitch there is very little he can actually do to influence what takes place, let alone control it.
Regrettably, it seems that QPR are in the throes of a mutiny which is causing players boasting successful careers at the highest level of European football, such as Djibril Cissé, Esteban Granero, Júlio César, Jose Bosingwa and Ji-sung Park, to turn in performances that would embarrass 14-year-olds having a kick about in the local park.
The ineptitude on display against Southampton was astounding, while the inertia and unwillingness to obey even the simplest rules of the game, such as not allowing dangerous wingers to cut inside and shoot at will, is a stain on the professionalism of the individuals at fault.
Hughes deserves to be sacked, if only for promising that Rangers would not be in the same position as they finished in last season, 17th, while he was in charge. His words are likely to ring true – the Rs look to on course to remain in the relegation zone from now until May.
Yet the fact remains that the players provided for Hughes by owner Tony Fernandes have proven largely to be mercenaries. Individuals such as Shaun Wright-Phillips, Cissé, César, Park, Granero and Bosingwa appear to have taken one look at the club and sensed that they could extract whopping salaries for doing very little.
For if QPR do go down at the end of the season, which is fast becoming a certainty, it will cost millions to release all the past-their-best brigade, many of whom signed up to long-term contracts knowing full well that the board and its enthusiastic owner had not a clue what they were letting themselves in for.
A banner at the match called for Harry Redknapp to “come and save us”, but while the former Tottenham Hotspur boss is an excellent man-manager, he does not come cheap, and nor will he be expecting to skimp on reinforcements in the January transfer window.
This crisis extends well beyond who is sitting in the dugout, and it is almost impossible to pinpoint where it started. Since the first minute of the opening game against Swansea City back in August, the players have looked disinterested, week after week.
We have not been unlucky, we have been woeful. Defeats on the road have become about as certain as day and night, and a record of five goals at home in six matches is completely unacceptable. Against the Royals, Cissé did nothing but score. For a striker this is almost permissible: the only problem is, he does this every single time, and has only found the net once in the league.
For players to show no passion, no commitment, no drive, no determination, no ability, no common sense, no concern, no impetus and absolutely no appreciation of just what a crisis QPR are facing is completely and utterly unforgivable. This was the case on Saturday, when every single player bar Taarabt, Mackie, Nelsen and to a small extent Diakité, sold Hughes down the river.
Whenever the gaffer is relieved of his duties, and a successor appointed, this group of overpaid, under-committed charlatans must start performing. They have already gone down in history as being responsible for one of the worst starts Rangers have ever made to a season. Now they owe us, the long-suffering supporters – who pay upwards of £600 to watch them fail – with a significant improvement, and fast.
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Originally published on Football Speak on Monday November 19 2012.