Sunday 18 March 2018

QPR chairman stands firm behind Mark Hughes despite fifth loss of season

MANAGER Mark Hughes has been assured his job is safe despite QPR's winless run in the Premier League extending to a seventh game.

The Welshman presided over a fifth defeat of the campaign as his side tumbled 3-2 at West Brom on Saturday, sparking speculation the former Manchester United and Chelsea striker could soon lose his job.

Hughes has been armed with an enviable budget to overhaul the London club's playing staff and positive results have yet to follow the outlay, but chairman Tony Fernandes insists he is not looking to make a change.

Fernandes wrote on Twitter: "For all QPR fans. Fans who analyse properly. I am not changing anything. And all shareholders agree.

"No team except the first game [a 5-0 home defeat to Swansea] has outplayed us. We need a consistent four defenders not changing every week especially right and left back. Mark is the right man."

Fernandes added: "For all those calling for change, this is the team that outplayed Spurs and gave Chelsea a damm [sic] good game and you want change. No way."

Defender Ryan Nelsen, brought in on a free transfer from Tottenham, said the players were at fault.

"The only real bright spot for us is that at least this run is happening now. There's a long way to go yet," he said.

"But we know each and every one of us have got to be a lot better. We're letting the manager down here."

Goals from James Morrison and Zoltan Gera put Albion in control against their visitors before Adel Taarabt reduced the arrears. Youssouf Mulumbu made it 3-1, and Esteban Granero netted Rangers' second.

West Brom have made a flying start to the campaign, gathering 14 points from their opening seven games.

Their head coach, Steve Clarke, said: "It takes a lot to surprise me. I knew when I came into this job that I was inheriting a really good group of players.

"I knew the club was on the up and for me it was a fantastic opportunity. To start this way is really pleasing."

West Brom stand sixth, two places ahead of Arsenal who were 3-1 winners at West Ham.

A superb left-footed strike from Santi Cazorla put the seal on the derby victory, and left Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger purring about the quality of the Spaniard, comparing him to the Englishman he signed for Monaco 25 years ago.

"He is right-footed, but when you watch him play you don't know. Glenn Hoddle was like that, left-footed, right-footed, you could not say what he was," Wenger said. "Cazorla is on that front similar.

"I don't remember anyone else I have worked with who was as much two-footed as that."

Everton left-back Leighton Baines could be in line for an England start against San Marino on Friday, so it was timely that he should deliver a terrific performance in the 2-2 draw at Wigan.

Manager David Moyes said: "Leighton was extraordinary for us. At times he was unstoppable - he was that good."

Baines smashed home a late penalty to earn Everton a point, and Moyes added: "I think we were disappointed we were trailing and it was a great effort to stick at it and get a hard-earned point."

Swansea began the season with two thumping wins, so to follow up by failing to win in their next five games has been the cause for slight worry.

They came from two down at home to Reading on Saturday to rescue a point though, Wayne Routledge firing the leveller, and manager Michael Laudrup is not minded to abandon the passing principle on which the club's success has been founded.

Laudrup said: "When you lose games and the confidence is not the highest, it would probably be easier to just pump the ball up there to the two up front and see what happens.

"But it is not the way we play and we will continue playing as we do."

Norwich might have to rethink their tactics though as they are in the same boat as QPR, without a league win so far and thumped 4-1 at Chelsea on Saturday.

Manager Chris Hughton said: "We're not out on a limb. There is plenty of time to turn things around."

Sunderland's 3-0 loss at Manchester City was triggered by Aleksandar Kolarov's fifth-minute free-kick strike.

It ended the Black Cats' unbeaten start, with goalkeeper Simon Mignolet saying: "In games like this you want to keep it goalless as long as you can, but by conceding early it meant a tough game got even tougher."

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