Mark Hughes fights for his job but QPR fans turn to Harry Redknapp

QPR manager says too much change would be wrong, but chairman’s support is ebbing away

Mark Hughes is battling to save his job as manager of Queen’s Park Rangers, hoping that the promise of a return to the fighting spirit that avoided relegation last season will earn him a last stand at Loftus Road.

His words were as tough, uncompromising and combative as his players were not in the 3-1 defeat by Southampton that leaves his job hanging by a thread, and he will have to hope that they persuade Tony Fernandes, the owner, to give him the time he needs to alter the mindset of a team that does not seem to have  noticed its perilous situation.

One bookmaker made Hughes odds-on to be sacked by midnight on Monday even before Fernandes, who was attending yesterday’s US Grand Prix, had said on Twitter that the fans had been let down and omitted to repeat his oft-tweeted support for Hughes. When he gets back to London, the message from Hughes will be that he wants to fight on.

Hughes, who took over from Neil Warnock in January, had promised in the summer that there would be no repeat of last season’s struggle against the drop, but now he must restructure his team for exactly such a scrap, which suggests that old reliables such as Shaun Derry will be back on the team sheet rather than the bench.

“We’re not talking about a successful mid-table finish now,” he said. “Given the manner of the performance today we have to accept that we’re in danger of going down.

“The sooner we recognise that, we will get the right mentality to move us forward, and maybe the right players. I have to look at the make-up of the team because today can’t be allowed to pass without changes being made in personnel.

“We have to look at who we’ve got and get the balance right.”

Southampton celebrated their first away points of the season but would be wise not to read too much into the result given Rangers’ feeble display. Hughes defended his players – up to a point – against accusations from supporters that some of them were only at Loftus Road to pick up some pretty impressive wage packets, but also  admitted that he had read the Riot Act afterwards.

“I can understand totally the frustration of the fans but I can assure them that everyone is working really hard to turn this around. When you have a performance like that, the fans are absolutely right to criticise, given where we are. In fairness, I was of the same view. We’re at a point where we’re so disappointed with what we  produced that something needed to be said. We need to understand that we have to compete and give what’s required.”

But whatever upheaval he decides on for the first team, he still believes that continuity in the dugout is essential. But then he would, wouldn’t he? “Stability is absolutely what this club needs long-term,” he said. “Making wholesale changes again would be the wrong decision. You would expect me to say that but I honestly believe it.”

And of course he praised Fernandes and the club’s shareholders for holding the same view up to now. But that resolve, if it holds, will be tested again by next weekend’s match against Manchester United at Old Trafford, followed by a visit to Sunderland, before Aston Villa come to Loftus Road for another of those must-win games that, so far, QPR have not managed to win. “The Premier League is tricky,” Hughes said. “There are no gimmes. You have to work with the same intensity and do the fundamentals well. If you don’t, you get beaten.”

Harry Redknapp, the subject of a banner held up towards the end of the match that read: “Harry come and save us,” said on Match of the Day that it would not be fair for him to discuss the job while Hughes is still in it and that his wife had made the banner. “She just wants me out of the house,” he joked, but then added, perhaps significantly: “We’ll just wait and see.”

Tony Fernandes, over to you.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin