Hughes will relish being in control

New manager will be given freer rein to implement ideas, says Martin Hardy

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The Independent Online

If there is a starting point for Mark Hughes' reign at Queen's Park Rangers, it is in the level of control that he will be afforded. Hughes is back in management because he has the chance to mould a football club in his image.

Only recently, in describing the devastation he felt at leaving Manchester City just over two years ago, Hughes offered this: "I compromised myself by allowing things to happen that I was not comfortable with.

"The way it was sold to me was that I was still in charge of football things, but I'm presented with this dotted line, shown all sorts of charts and I thought, 'What the hell's all this?' I have an understanding of business and business models, but sometimes, really, it's about your relationships with people."

That is where the reasoning for a man who left Fulham seven months ago after finishing in the top 10 of the Premier League and took over as Neil Warnock's successor yesterday should begin. It is easy to forget the ascendancy of Hughes' career before he moved to Manchester City, before Sheikh Mansour took over.

Hughes had led Blackburn Rovers to European competition, while with City it is sometimes forgotten that Thaksin Shinawatra was in control when Hughes was appointed in 2008. A football club changed its ambitions, owners and identity on Hughes' watch and for a man who was at Manchester United for 15 years, having power wrestled from the manager's office was never a prospect that he would be able to stomach.

This time the canvas presented before the 48-year-old by QPR owner Tony Fernandes has been left blank. The instruction is clear: stay up this year with investment in the current transfer window and then push for the top 10 next season when there will be the entire summer to show full intent in the transfer market.

Hughes is no fool. He needs to strengthen his squad, and he will be given the finance to attract more players of the calibre of Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips. He will revamp the club's scouting and youth set-up. There will be an increased use of sports science and the belief is his profile will make summer rebuilding at Loftus Road easier.

Hughes agreed a two-and-a-half year contract and he will need that amount of time to push for the Premier League's second tier that is beginning to form below the top six.

Those that have played for Hughes talk of a meticulous attention to detail, of the strength of the working quartet he forms with Mark Bowen, Eddie Niedzwiecki and Kevin Hitchcock, who have all joined him at Rangers.

"Mark was very thorough in everything he did," said Shay Given, who signed for Hughes at City. "Training was very sharp and match-orientated. We didn't train long but it was very intense. He didn't leave any stone unturned in his preparation. If [QPR] do invest in three or four players, other teams will be looking over their shoulders." As may one or two managers. Hughes is back, and do not let Rangers' recent history undermine the size of his ambition.

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