Hughes favourite for QPR after Warnock's sacking

Shock decision by owner Tony Fernandes ends veteran's reign following slide to 17th in the table

Neil Warnock was unexpectedly fired last night as manager of Queen's Park Rangers. Owner Tony Fernandes, who only bought the club in August, sacked Warnock a day after watching Rangers snatch a late draw at the League One side MK Dons in the FA Cup third round.

Mark Hughes is favourite to take over as Fernandes wants a "big name". The Welshman's adviser, Kia Joorabchian, flew back from Brazil last night with a view to speaking to Fernandes, though it would not seem an obvious step up from Fulham, whom Hughes left last summer. A somewhat improbable managerial partnership of Gianfranco Zola and Ray Wilkins, who managed QPR between 1994-96, is also being discussed.

In a statement Rangers said the decision was due to "the commitment to retaining our Premier League status", adding that "our recent run of poor form has seen us slip alarmingly down the table and the board felt it was the right time to make a change".

A return of one point from the last 18 possible has dropped QPR to 17th in the table, one place and one point above the relegation zone. However, those six matches included one-goal defeats at Arsenal and Liverpool, and a 2-0 loss to Manchester United. At no stage this season have QPR been in the relegation zone and there have been no calls for Warnock's head from Rangers fans, despite just one win this season at Loftus Road.

"I'm disappointed because I think we've been playing well, but a lot of things haven't gone our way in recent games," said Warnock last night. "I'd like to have had the chance to strengthen the team in the transfer window and show what I can do with a few new players."

Warnock has had to operate for the opening half of the campaign with last season's Championship winners plus a few recruits added in great haste after the takeover in the final days of the August transfer window.

Warnock said that he left QPR with "a great sense of pride". He arrived at Loftus Road 22 months ago with the club embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation to League One. Having evaded the drop, he reshaped the side in the summer of 2010 and won the title, returning QPR to the top flight for the first time since 1996.

Wilkins was manager that season. The prospect of him and Zola, who is equally identified with Chelsea (and was in charge at West Ham the season they went down), is unlikely to cheer Rangers fans who, by and large, greeted Warnock's exit with a mixture of bemusement and anger. Fernandes tweeted that it was his "toughest decision in 47 years of life" and said "we had to think about the future of the club".

Warnock was told of the decision to sack him by chief executive Phil Beard not Fernandes, who did not speak to him at Milton Keynes. After the dismissal Fernades texted Warnock. The assistant manager, Mick Jones, and first-team coach, Keith Curle, both long-time associates, have also left the club.

QPR was the 63-year-old Warnock's 12th job in management, having begun at Gainsborough Trinity in 1980. It may be also be his last. While his record of seven promotions means he will not be short of offers from ambitious Championship clubs, he has two children of school age and a home in Cornwall and may now focus on media work including his column in The Independent.

Meanwhile, whoever takes over at QPR will be deprived of the services for the rest of the season of Argentine midfielder Alejandro Faurlin, who ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament on Saturday.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Major medical journal Lancet under attack for 'extremist hate propaganda' over its coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Lancet accused of 'anti-Israel hate propaganda' over coverage of Gaza conflict

Threat to free speech as publishers of renowned medical journal are accused of inciting hatred and violence
General Election 2015: Tories and Lib Dems throw their star names west to grab votes

All noisy on the Lib Dems' western front

The party has deployed its big guns in Cornwall to save its seats there. Simon Usborne heads to the heart of the battle
How Etsy became a crafty little earner: The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?

How Etsy became a crafty little earner

The online market has been floated for £1.2bn, but can craft and capitalism coexist?
Guy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle King Arthur - one of our most versatile heroes

King Arthur is inspiring Guy Ritchie

Raluca Radulescu explains why his many permutations - from folk hero to chick-lit hunk - never cease to fascinate
Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations for the man or woman on the street?

Apple Watch: Will it live up to expectations?

The Apple Watch has apparently sold millions even before its launch tomorrow
Don't fear the artichoke: it's a good cook's staple, with more choice than you'd think

Don't fear the artichoke

Artichokes are scary - they've got spikes and hairy bits, and British cooks tend to give them a wide berth. But they're an essential and delicious part of Italian cuisine
11 best men's socks

11 best men's socks

Make a statement with your accessories, starting from the bottom up
Paul Scholes column: Eden Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo

Paul Scholes column

Hazard would be my Player of the Year – but I wonder if he has that appetite for goals of Messi or Ronaldo
Frank Warren: Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal

Frank Warren's Ringside

Tyson Fury will be closely watching Wladimir Klitschko... when he wins it'll be time to do a deal
London Marathon 2015: Kenya's brothers in arms Wilson Kipsang and Dennis Kimetto ready to take on world

Kenya's brothers in arms take on world

Last year Wilson Kipsang had his marathon record taken off him by training partner and friend Dennis Kimetto. They talk about facing off in the London Marathon
Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad but it's not because I refuse to fly

Natalie Bennett interview: I've lost track of the last time I saw my Dad

Green leader prefers to stay clear of her 'painful' family memories but is more open about 'utterly unreasonable' personal attacks
Syria conflict: Khorasan return with a fresh influx of fighters awaiting the order to start 'shooting the birds'

Khorasan is back in Syria

America said these al-Qaeda militants were bombed out of the country last year - but Kim Sengupta hears a different story
General Election 2015: Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North for Ukip?

On the campaign trail with Ukip

Is William Cash the man to woo Warwickshire North?
Four rival Robin Hood movies get Hollywood go-head - and Friar Tuck will become a superhero

Expect a rush on men's tights

Studios line up four Robin Hoods productions
Peter Kay's Car Share: BBC show is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade

In the driving seat: Peter Kay

Car Share is the comedian's first TV sitcom in a decade. The programme's co-creator Paul Coleman reveals the challenges of getting the show on the road