Friday Football Feature: Mark Hughes keen to build dynasty at QPR


Hughes has strong Premier League pedigree at managerial level, having taken the reigns at Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Fulham.


By Jamie Dickenson

Newly appointed Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes admits he could not resist the opportunity to build a dynasty at the West London club.

The Wrexham born 48-year-old affectionately known as ‘Sparky’, has strong Premier League pedigree at managerial level, having taken the reigns at Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Fulham after moving on from a successful five year stint with national side Wales.

Underwhelmed by Blackburn’s aspirations, Hughes jumped ship to City with the hope of establishing the club as a European heavyweight, but was unceremoniously dumped by the Citizen’s new Abu Dhabi owners after 18 months in charge at Eastlands.

The Welshman lasted just one season at Fulham before leaving Craven Cottage, again citing a lack of ambition shown by the club upon his departure.

Perhaps at QPR, Hughes has finally found the place to put down roots for the future, whilst remaining fiercely competitive in his pursuit of glory and success.

The plans of Chairman Tony Fernandes that tempted Hughes to Loftus Road on Tuesday revolve around a reported £30million transfer kitty, as well as a long-term objective to build a new 30,000 seater stadium.

Hughes clearly felt Fernandes’ vision matched his own, and on paper it does look like a partnership that could turn QPR into an established Premier League force.

The former United striker has a proven track record in the transfer market, with a keen eye for a bargain. Whilst at Blackburn, Hughes worked on a shoe string budget to recruit Ryan Nelson (free), Chris Samba (£400k) and Roque Santa Cruz (£3.5million).

At City he was given more money to play with, and oversaw a process of rebuilding in Manchester. Amongst his best value signings were current captain Vincent Kompany (£6million), Craig Bellamy (£4million) and Shay Given (£7million).

At QPR, funds are likely to peak somewhere between Hughes’ low end budget at Blackburn at the bottomless pit of Sheikh money available at Manchester City. That sort of price range is where this manager does his best business.

It will be fascinating to see the comings and goings in Shepherd’s Bush this month, with a flurry of transfer activity predicted.

Strengthening the defence will be a priority for the new boss, with Chelsea’s Alex, Blackburn’s Chris Samba and Manchester City’s Wayne Bridge heavily linked with moves.

In his first press conference, QPR’s new boss spoke about the possibility of signing a new striker, with media speculation quickly ascertaining that outrageous bids for their rivals African forward Didier Drogba and Aston Villa’s Darren Bent were being prepared.

Those rumours may be far-fetched paper talk, but fans can expect a host of new faces to appear at the club in January, and with Hughes at the helm money is likely to be spent well.

He also has the man-management skills in his arsenal to get the most out of the current players at his disposal, something that his predecessor Neil Warnock struggled with.

The enigmatic talents of play-maker Adel Taarabt may be realised under Sparky’s control, whilst he will look to light a fire under the careers of out-of-form stars Anton Ferdinand, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd.

Already assured of retaining his captaincy, a change in the manager’s dugout may be just what Joey Barton needs to refocus his game after a spate of disciplinary issues and the recent birth of his first son.

However, Hughes will be under no illusions that to take the Premier League newcomers to the next level requires investment in fresh playing staff, and of course time.

At City, Hughes believed he was just beginning to implement his methods successfully before prematurely receiving his P45. The cycle of not just players but management at clubs with new, rich owners is an unforgiving one. Just ask former Chelsea bosses.

It remains to be seen whether Mark Hughes is given substantial time to transform QPR from relegation threatened newcomers to secure top ten performers, or whether Tony Fernandes’ promises of financial war-chests and new stadiums come to fruition.

Whatever the outcome, it will be worth keeping a firm eye on events in West London this month and during the remainder of the season, as QPR’s dizzy return to prominence looks set to open a new chapter.

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