The sporting week ahead (21/10/12)

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The Independent Online


Mark Hughes knows that if something doesn't change, his time is nearly up. For all the messages of support emanating from chairman Tony Fernandes, the manager knows his task is not to keep QPR at the foot of the table. A leg-up is needed. Fast. Somehow it remains difficult to warm to Hughes, now in charge of his fourth Premier League club without ever giving the impression he would be a permanent fixture at any of them. The talk in west London remains that Harry Redknapp is ready to zip up the M3, sign a dozen new players in the January transfer window and watch Rangers' fortunes soar. Will he get the chance? If Rangers lose today, it will be increasingly hard to argue against. Further north, Newcastle head to local rivals Sunderland for what is always a full-throttle affair.


And so November approaches fast: Wales become the first country to name their squad for the forthcoming rugby union internationals.


Remember Donetsk, the rip-off venue where England spent much of the European Championships? Now it is Chelsea's turn to sample the delights of the Ukrainian equivalent of Hicksville for what could be a tricky tie against Shakhtar. Barcelona (versus Celtic) looks a more attractive venue – and match – while Manchester United host Braga.


Manchester City's Champions' League campaign has hardly gone to plan and their trip to Amsterdam to take on Ajax looks suspiciously like a must-win game for Roberto Mancini. Arsenal should be in for an easier evening at home to Schalke.


Over the years Guus Hiddink has been frequently linked with the Liverpool job and tonight, as manager of the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala, he gets a chance to show them what they have been missing when the clubs meet at Anfield in the Europa League.


In case you missed it, there is now just one year to go until the rugby league World Cup kicks off in this country. So the clock is really ticking...


This time last year Paul Lambert was being lauded as the young up-and-comer in the managerial stakes while he was in charge of Premier League newcomers Norwich. Now he is at Aston Villa and both clubs are listing badly. Life must have seemed simpler 12 months ago.