Is Mark Hughes’ time at QPR running out fast?
QPR were one of the busiest clubs in Europe during the summer transfer window this season. The London based club has offloaded as many as 17 players at the start of this season and brought in 12 new faces. They have nearly brought a whole new team!
While QPR’s spending certainly cannot be compared to that of Manchester City or Chelsea, but it was a substantial budget that Mark Hughes was handed over, and investment accompanies expectations. With the squad that Mark Hughes has at his disposal, fighting a relegation battle is certainly not the expectation the fans will have this season. A mid-table finish should be achievable for this squad.
So where is it all going wrong at the moment?
The biggest worry for Mark Hughes this season has been the defense. It is the weakest link in the squad. The defenders that were brought in this summer don’t exactly ooze confidence. The full-backs like Fabio, Bosingwa and Traore are certainly not the best defensively. Nelson at 34, is well past his best. So Clint Hill and Anton Ferdinand are perhaps the most reliable defenders Hughes has in his squad.
Mark Hughes is yet to find his best defensive combination and he has experimented with his back four so far, which hasn’t helped either. To develop an understanding between themselves, defenders needs to play together consistently. But in these seven matches so far, QPR have put out the same back four in two consecutive matches only once. To accommodate his three most experienced and reliable center backs in their last league fixture against West Brom, Mark Hughes pushed out Clint Hill to his less favored left back role. That allowed him to pair Anton Ferdinand and Nelson in the center of the defense. But the role of right back is still a problem. Onouha is perhaps a better defender than Bosingwa, and one should not be surprised to see the former Chelsea man being removed from the starting eleven in the next match. Although that defense conceded three goals against West Brom, Mark Hughes should stop experimenting and give the defense sometime to jell together.
Mark Hughes is also unsure of his tactics. He has experimented a lot tactically this season. The former Manchester City manager has used 4-2-3-1, 4-4-2 and 4-4-1-1 formations so far. But QPR’s best performance has come while using the 4-4-2 formation, in the match against Chelsea.
Upfront Bobby Zamora has been the most consistent of the three strikers. He has scored three goals so far, but Djibril Cisse and Andre Johnson have struggled to influence. QPR certainly cannot depend on Zamora to take all of the goal scoring responsibility and at the moment Adel Taarabt is the only player from the midfield who looks like scoring goals. QPR have only scored six goals so far in the league and they have conceded 16 so far, clearly they are struggling at both ends of the field.
Although Chairman Tony Fernandes has given his full backing to Mark Hughes, if results don’t turn around quickly, the Welshman’s reign at Loftus road might come to an end. While it is expected that a new squad will take time to settle down and develop understanding between each other, in today’s world ‘patience’ is a lost virtue.