It’s proven to be a testing season for Mark Hughes and QPR so far, following some hefty pre season spending. Hughes has seen his side take just two points from their opening seven games, and the Welshman has already become odds on to win this seasons sack race.
Many have voiced their surprise at QPR’s current predicament, considering the money they have spent during the last two transfer windows and the appointment of the highly rated Hughes last season.
Personally, I am not so surprised, being of the opinion Hughes is highly overrated. I have never really understood the hype surrounding Hughes and his coaching ability.
Press and pundits almost simultaneously gathered to mourn his sacking at Manchester City, as if a managerial great had been cruelly snatched away from the Premier League. The brutal nature of his dismissal surely played a part in the outpouring of sympathy, but the harsh truth of the matter is that Hughes didn’t do nearly well enough at the Ethihad.
I have struggled to see any particular playing style Hughes brings to the teams he coaches. None have ever been hailed as particularly exciting, interesting considering his own skillful and flamboyant playing style. His sides are infact often considered overly physical and aggressive. When in charge of Blackburn, Hughes saw his side finish bottom of the fair play league in all four of his seasons in charge. Let us also not forget the seemingly never ending list of red cards QPR received in the second half of last season.
Off the pitch I have also struggled to warm to him. Hughes’ post match interviews are never the most interesting or exciting, and more often than not consist of blaming match officials for a lack of result rather than providing answers for his teams shortcomings. His resignation from Fulham in 2011 showed a distinct lack of class, claiming: “As a young, ambitious manager I wish to move on to further my experiences”. His struggles at QPR since prove he may have been better staying at the club who rescued him from football wilderness after his ill-fated spell at Manchester City, for slightly longer than 11 months.
Looking back at his managerial career, there has been limited success. A top six finish with Blackburn in 2005-2006 is arguably the highlight, alongside narrowly missing out on qualification for Euro 2004 with Wales.
But since his spell in charge of Manchester City, Hughes has struggled. The problem I think lies in Hughes dealings in the transfer market. His most successful spells in management came at Wales and Blackburn, where on both occasions he had to simply work with what he had.
He did very well on a limited budget at Ewood Park, bringing in the likes of Benni McCarthy, Roque Santa Cruz, David Bentley and Christopher Samba for a combined total of roughly £9 million. It is my opinion that Hughes is better working at smaller clubs where there is less pressure, as his strengths appear to lie in galvanising a team that is struggling and scrapping for points as underdogs.
It is when Hughes has had money to spend at a bigger club that he has been questioned. Hughes was responsible for spending over £100 million during his time at the Etihad. Of all the players he bought in from 2008 to the present, only Gareth Barry, Vincent Kompany, Kolo Toure, Joleon Lescott Pablo Zabeletta and Carlos Tevez (just about) remain.
The likes of £32.5 million man Robinho have long gone, alongside other expensive acquisitions such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Wayne Bridge, Nigel De Jong, Shay Given, Craig Bellamy, Tal Ben Haim and Jo. Of all the names in that list, how many were successful at the Ethihad?
It seems Hughes has bought that unpredictability in the transfer market with him to QPR. Last season saw him tasked with keeping Rangers in the Premier League, and was given money to spend in the January transfer window. It went to the last day, but following some superb home performances QPR avoided the drop, and served as another example of Hughes galvanising a struggling side.
But this season, having been tasked with taking QPR to the next level as an established Premier League side, Hughes has once more looked out of his depth. He has virtually started from scratch at Loftus Road, purchasing almost an entire new squad, in what looks like something of a scattergun approach.
The likes of Park Ji-Sung, Julio Cesar, Fabio, Ryan Nelsen, Andy Johnson, Jose Bosingwa, Esteban Granero, Stéphane Mbia, Samba Diakité and Junior Hoilett have all arrived at Loftus Road, with the vast majority being free transfers over aged 30 or above. January signings Djibril Cisse and Bobby Zamora are also reaching the latter stages of their careers.
It is hard to see any sort of vision Hughes is outlining for the future, and looks more of an attempt for a quick fix. After a disastrous start to the season, it is time for Hughes to step up and get his team fighting for points as he has done before deploying the underdog tactic, a tactic that has served him well before.
It is only when Hughes is able to show more than this, that he will ever be considered anything more than a mediocre manager in my opinion. QPR should have enough to stay up this season, but the clubs owner Tony Fernandes, as well as Hughes himself would have been hoping for far more this time around.
Do you think Mark Hughes is overrated? Follow me on Twitter @LukeGreenwood89 and let me know your thoughts.