Mark Hughes has told Queens Park Rangers’ board members he will not walk away from the club after he was asked to resign as manager.
The Evening Standard says Hughes met senior figures including chief executive Philip Beard and other influential figures in a meeting at which the Welshman was asked whether he would stand down after just 10 months in charge.
With the club willing to allow Hughes to depart, rumours quickly circulated last night that the 49-year-old had been sacked. However, once Hughes indicated he was not prepared to walk away, the club stopped short of terminating his contract without chairman Tony Fernandes in attendance.
Fernandes is currently out of the country but is expected to return sometime this week before Saturday’s match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. It is thought that Hughes would be entitled to pay-off in the region of £5million were the club to sack him and Fernandes’ approval is required to sanction that lump sum.
Fernandes is reluctant to release Hughes because of the work he has done installing an infrastructure around the club. Hughes helped the QPR hierarchy draw up a club ‘code of conduct’ while overseeing improvements to the club’s medical department and training facilities.
But there is only so long such advice can offset poor performance on the pitch and concerns are growing that their current plight is beyond salvation.
Hughes is adamant he can turn the club’s fortunes around despite failing to register a single victory in their opening 12 Premier League games.
Another defeat would heap further pressure on Hughes with certain members of the QPR board understood to be keen on luring Harry Redknapp to Loftus Road as his replacement.
Hughes’ meeting lasted around 30 minutes and he was absent from training yesterday, although the club insist this was simply because yesterday’s session only involved minimal work.
The players were not told anything yesterday about Hughes’ future and asked to train “as normal”. Two away trips to United and then Sunderland in the space of four days may give Hughes a last attempt to save his job but those within the club pressing for a change in manager are keen to instigate it before their relegation battle becomes unwinnable.
Furthermore, the new manager would need time to identify targets in the January transfer window but any funds available would be reduced by the club’s need to pay Hughes off. He publicly confirmed last weekend he had no intention of quitting and privately that stance was firmly reiterated last night.
Hughes’ task is complicated further by striker Bobby Zamora admitting he is unable to continue playing through pain from a hip injury.
Zamora has been playing despite the problem for six weeks and is now likely to be sidelined for around three months with the prospect of surgery which would considerably lengthen that timeframe.
Supporters voiced their anger at Hughes during last weekend’s 3-1 home defeat to Southampton and winger Junior Hoilett said: “I can understand the fans’ frustrations. We’re as frustrated as they are because we want to change this around and climb the table."