Friday 9 December 2016

Mark Hughes to stand by controversial QPR captain Joey Barton

Published 11/01/2012 | 15:10

MARK Hughes has confirmed he has no intention of stripping Joey Barton of the QPR captaincy.

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Hughes was given the green light to overhaul Rangers' squad after being appointed manager yesterday but that will not include demoting midfielder Barton, whose career has been dogged by controversy.

"Joey's the captain and I see no reason to change that, as we speak," Hughes told QPR Player.

"Obviously, I'll be having conversations with all the players and understanding the dynamics of the team.

"But it's not my intention to take the captaincy away."

Hughes insisted he would run the rule over his entire squad before deciding how much of the reported £20million-£30million he has to spend before the end of the January transfer window.

"It's all well and good saying there's a certain amount but you've got to be able to spend it in the right way and with the right players," said Hughes, who has reportedly already lodged a bid for Chelsea defender Alex.

"If there are weaknesses then we need to address them."

QPR sacked Neil Warnock on Sunday after they slumped to within a point of the Barclays Premier League relegation zone.

Hughes is confident the current squad needed only minor surgery to stay up and refused to rule out a top-six finish next season, emulating a feat he achieved after taking over at former club Blackburn.

He said: "I think we were second from bottom and we ended that season something like 15th and then the next year we were sixth, which would be great to replicate. We can do that."

The fact owner Tony Fernandes shares that ambition convinced Hughes to sign a two-and-a-half-year deal, having quit Fulham in the summer because he felt they had not bought into his vision.

"I needed to understand what the owners want for the club and that was communicated to me very, very quickly and with great enthusiasm and passion," Hughes said.

Fernandes claimed this morning Hughes would use his new job prove he is "one of the best in the world".

Rangers chairman Fernandes told talkSPORT: "When you have someone who wants to show he's one of the best in the world, that [is something] money can't buy.

"And I think his record in the Premier League speaks for itself.

"What he saw is that QPR is a rough diamond.

"I think the fans should be proud that we could attract a top-class guy in Mark."

Fernandes played down any suggestion player unrest had contributed to the departure of Warnock.

He said: "The players were very appreciative of what [Warnock] had done.

"That's a chapter and we move on. The players are very excited about working with Mark."

Fernandes confirmed his hope ultimately to build a new stadium for the club.

"My first goal is to build a decent training ground and we're weeks away from that," he said.

"I'm optimistic going forward we will have a new stadium. It will have to be in the Loftus Road vicinity."

Fernandes, a big user of Twitter, said he would not move to restrict players' freedom on social media.

Barton in particular has attracted attention for his output.

Fernandes said: "I am the ultimate liberal and I believe in openness and transparency. That's not something I want to get involved in and I think Mark will have to make his call."

QPR have been linked with a host of signings this month, including the likes defender Chris Samba and strikers Didier Drogba, Andy Johnson and Bobby Zamora.

"We've told Mark to come back to us with what he needs, we have some ideas but he's the man in the hotseat," Fernandez added on Sky Sports News.

"We hope we can do something before Newcastle (whom QPR play on Sunday)."

Fernandez insisted, though, a move for Manchester City's wantaway striker Carlos Tevez, in whom AC and Inter Milan are both interested, is not on the cards.

"That's not something I can realistically afford," Fernandez told talkSPORT

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