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Hughes told Saints battle is do or die

IT did not really need an after-match tweet from the Queens Park Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes to spell it out for Mark Hughes. The Rangers manager had already acknowledged that his side must win Saturday's home game against rival strugglers Southampton.

After a 2-1 defeat away to Stoke City, Hughes also admitted he could face another battle to keep Rangers up, having ensured survival only on the final day of last season.

Yet there is no guarantee that Hughes will remain in charge long enough to see the job through. For, having taken in this game en route from Malaysia to the United States, Fernandes used social media to lament Rangers' shortcomings at both ends of the pitch, before adding: "Must win next..."

Much could be read into those three little dots, even though Fernandes gave Hughes his public backing last week, yet the manager accepted the score. His side have made their worst ever start to a top-flight season, are bottom of the table, and still seek their first league win.

"It needs to happen next week," Hughes said. "I'm confident that, given the effort and determination of the players to turn this round, we'll be fine. There's a lot of focus on us. We are more newsworthy than other clubs in situations where they don't have many points on the board.

"We understand that and we will cope with it. There is still time to turn it around, but the longer it goes on, the more likely it is that we get involved in the type of season we had last year and that's not what we want."