Mark Hughes remains defiant as QPR go in search of first Premier League win


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The Independent Football

Mark Hughes insists he retains the full backing of QPR owner Tony Fernandes despite the club's woeful start to the season.

Hughes brought in 11 first-team signings this summer, some of them from glamour clubs like Real Madrid and Inter Milan.

The Welshman has failed to get his team to gel, however, and he goes into Sunday's relegation six-pointer against Reading having seen his team take three points from their opening nine matches.

Fernandes has made a number of public statements backing his manager since last weekend's defeat to Arsenal - their sixth reverse of the season - and Hughes is sure the Malaysian businessman is fully behind his project at Loftus Road.

"How many times does he have to say (he backs me)?" the QPR boss told a press conference.

"He doesn't say one thing to (the media) and another to me. That would be absolutely crazy. He is an honest guy and he is very open.

"We haven't discussed (my future). He is very supportive. He was very upbeat when I was with him yesterday. He is in great spirits."

After pumping tens of millions into the club, it would be understandable if Fernandes was upset at seeing QPR at the bottom of the table, especially after the Londoners' last-gasp escape from relegation last term.

Hughes, who had to endure speculation about his future while he was in charge at Manchester City, is therefore extremely grateful for Fernandes' backing.

"He is a great guy to work for. He is very enthusiastic. He has been a great help," the former Blackburn boss said.

"He is an outstanding guy, a very successful businessman, and he wants success for QPR.

"He knows he has people working exceptionally hard to make that happen for him and he is very clear in what we are trying to do.

"He is fully behind everything that we have tried to implement here."

QPR's winless start can be put down to a number of factors. The new signings have struggled to gel into the team, a series of injuries have disrupted Hughes' plans, and shoddy defending has also meant the team have conceded an average of two goals per game.

Two red cards - the latest being Stephane Mbia's dismissal at Arsenal last weekend - have not helped matters either, but Hughes is confident his team will soon go on a winning run, starting with Sunday's clash against fellow strugglers Reading.

"I think we all feel we are very close to gaining maximum points and moving up the table," said Hughes, whose side face Stoke and Southampton in their following fixtures.

"Conceding goals has not helped us, and the sendings-off haven't as well. And on occasion we haven't helped ourselves in terms of defending correctly.

"All those things have had an impact in terms of where we are and why we don't have as many points as our play has deserved.

"We need to correct it very, very quickly, but I have been pleased with what the guys have been producing in training this week.

"They have been excellent and everyone is looking forward to the game."

The team's defensive shortcomings have led to suggestions that Hughes could swoop for Chris Samba, but the R's boss played down the idea today, claiming the Congolese's huge pay packet would prove to be a stumbling block.

"He is at a club where he is, I would imagine, paid a substantial amount of money," said Hughes, who used to manage Samba at Blackburn.

"That may take him out of the equation in terms of what we could go to."