Tag Archives: hotseat

Rafa Benitez: Winning will silence Chelsea fans

Only winning will silence abuse from Chelsea fans, admits Benitez

|

UPDATED:

12:13 GMT, 21 December 2012

Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez has admitted he does not understand the supporters who still abuse him in the stands and chant the name of former boss Roberto Di Matteo.

The Spaniard has been subjected to taunts from the Stamford Bridge crowd since his first game in charge, a 0-0 draw with Manchester City last month.

But Benitez, who led Chelsea to a 5-1 win over Leeds in the Capital One Cup in midweek, hopes improved results can silence the doubters.

In the hotseat: Rafa Benitez told Spanish radio he plans to silence the Chelsea doubters

In the hotseat: Rafa Benitez told Spanish radio he plans to silence the Chelsea doubters

'I have a challenge, that is to win and do well, it’s about time to
convince many,' he told Spanish radio station Onda Cero.

'If we can win, convincing will be easier, it says “be
quiet”, sometimes I do not understand the songs (fans sing against him),
I’m focused on the game and do not know what happens in the stands.'

Benitez has also brought about an improvement in maligned striker Fernando Torres with his Spanish counterpart scoring six goals in his last five games.

Under fire: Rafa Benitez has been abused by the Chelsea fans who preferred Roberto Di Mateo (below)

Under fire: Rafa Benitez has been abused by the Chelsea fans who preferred Roberto Di Mateo (below)

Roberto Di Matteo

'Fernando is working very hard, I have the ability to talk to him in
Spanish, but he can still improve and he knows it.

'We are making small
adjustments to the tactics and motivation, and Torres is trying to help
the team a lot. His main job has to be to attack and be as close as
possible to the area.'

Former Liverpool manager Benitez also admitted it can be difficult to adapt to England after spending so long in Spain.

Helping hand: Benitez has brought the best of Fernando Torres after linking up with the striker again

Helping hand: Benitez has brought the best of Fernando Torres after linking up with the striker again

'I spent 20 years in Spain and six here, and it is a very nice place but you have to adapt, if you don’t it is very difficult to bring players, the family does not fit,' he added.

'There is a lot of tradition, it’s all very endearing, it’s a very beautiful place. In England football is lived differently and to train here is very nice.'

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0 match report:

Celtic 2 St Mirren 0: Wanyama and Hooper on target in Parkhead stroll

|

UPDATED:

17:41 GMT, 15 December 2012

Goals from Victor Wanyama and Gary Hooper either side of the break
gave Celtic a comfortable win over St Mirren in their Clydesdale Bank
Premier League clash at Parkhead.

In the 15th minute of a one-sided first-half peppered by Hoops penalty
appeals, none of which were given, midfielder Wanyama opened the scoring
at the second attempt following a Charlie Mulgrew corner.

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Scramble: Celtic's Victor Wanyama (4th L) scores against St Mirren

Match facts

Celtic: Forster, Lustig, Ambrose (Izaguirre 72), Wilson, Matthews, Brown, Kayal (McCourt 85), Wanyama, Mulgrew,S amaras (Nouioui 76), Hooper. Subs Not Used: Zaluska, Miku, Rogne, Watt.

Goals: Wanyama 15, Hooper 83.

St Mirren: Samson,van Zanten, McAusland, Goodwin, Dummett, Teale, McGinn, Robertson (Guy 82), McLean, Imrie, Thompson (Parkin 74). Subs Not Used: Chris Smith, McGowan, Carey, Reilly, Barron.

Booked: Goodwin.

Ref: Calum Murray (Scotland).

The latest SPL table, fixtures and results

Saints showed resilience if nothing else as they withstood a constant Celtic procession towards their goal but seven minutes from time they succumbed again when former Scunthorpe forward Hooper struck from close range, following another Mulgrew corner.

The Buddies' last victory at Celtic Park was in 1990 and since taking over the St Mirren hotseat in 2010 Danny Lennon has failed to manage a point or even a goal against the champions and earlier in the season the Hoops strolled to a 5-0 victory in Paisley.

Thus, there was no surprise that Celtic emerged victors but it should have been a more convincing scoreline. The Parkhead club will discover in Thursday's Champions League draw who they will face in the last-16 of the competition and they will certainly have to be more ruthless if they are to progress further.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon had called it right when he brought Wanyama and Hooper back in to the side for Emilio Izaguirre and Lassad Nouioui who both dropped to the bench.

Saints boss Lennon also made two changes with midfielder Jon Robertson in for suspended stopper Lee Mair and wide-man Dougie Imrie replacing striker Lewis Guy who started as substitute.

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the second goal

Cool finish: Celtic's Gary Hooper scores the opening goal

Celtic started in determined mood and in the fifth minute, following a Mulgrew corner, there was a penalty appeal amid Wanyama's header and Efe Ambrose's subsequent shot but referee Calum Murray ignored the pleas, perhaps blinded by the sheer number of Saints defenders in the box.

The official took more stick from the Hoops fans when he ignored a further penalty claim when it looked like an Adam Matthews cross from the by-line might have hit a Buddies arm and also when he judged Saints skipper Jim Goodwin and defender Paul Dummett had not sandwiched Hooper in the box.

However, moments later that was all forgotten when Wanyama knocked the ball in from close range after his header from a trademark Mulgrew corner had been spilled by Saints keeper Craig Samson.

In the 26th minute, as the home side continued to monopolise possession, striker Georgios Samaras sent a shot from the edge of the box wide of the far post, before the Greek's low drive from 25 yards moments later drew a decent save from Samson.

With the beleaguered Buddies hanging on, but only just, Ambrose flashed a drive over the bar following yet another Mulgrew corner.

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

So close: Celtic's Scott Brown (2nd R) attempts a diving header

At first glance. the interval respite looked to have revitalised the visitors.

With three minutes played in the second-half midfielder Kenny McLean combined with Robertson before sending a drive from the edge of the box over the bar.

However, Celtic should have doubled their lead in the 51st minute when Samaras' cross from the by-line to the back post allowed Hooper to set up Scott Brown, whose point-blank header was blocked by Samson, with the Hoops skipper taking a bang in the face for his troubles.

The home fans were growing increasingly irritated by Celtic's apparent determination to walk the ball into the net. Just after the hour-mark, Wanyama, perhaps sensing the mood of the crowd, tried his luck with a 30-yard drive which bounced off Samson but away to safety, before Celtic defender Mikael Lustig headed a Mulgrew corner off the bar, with the Paisley side surviving again.

Despite Celtic's reticence in front of goal the visitors still looked unlikely to level but the Celtic support held its breath during a rare away break in the 66th minute when midfielder John McGinn's left-footed drive had keeper Fraser Forster scrambling down to his left to save.

The home side kept pressing for the second goal and in the 79th minute, after Goodwin was booked for a foul on Hooper 30 yards from goal, Mulgrew sent his curling free-kick over the wall but just past the post.

However, Hooper made sure of the points when he was in the right place to flick in after Mulgrew's corner had landed at his feet a couple of yards out after coming off Marc McAusland.

There was still time for Samson to make another save from Hooper down at his right-hand post but by that time the destination of the points were more than certain.

Hull 0 Crystal Palace 0 – match report

Hull 0 Crystal Palace 0: Tigers growl but can't break staunch Eagles defence

|

UPDATED:

22:11 GMT, 27 November 2012

Hull failed to make their dominance count as Steve Bruce had to settle for a goalless draw against former club Crystal Palace at the KC Stadium.

The Tigers boss watched his side produce a superb performance against the Eagles, who he managed for a short spell in 2005 before leaving to take up the hotseat at Birmingham.

However, City were unable to convert their chances with Robert Koren – making his 100th appearance for the club – firing over from close range midway through the first half when the goal was at his mercy.

Big chance: Robert Koren fired over when well placed

Big chance: Robert Koren fired over when well placed

MATCH FACTS

Hull: Stockdale, Elmohamady, Chester, McShane, Bruce, Brady (Rosenior 83), Koren (Proschwitz 76), Evans, Meyler, Quinn, Aluko (Mclean 76).

Subs Not Used: Jakupovic, McKenna, Simpson, Faye.

Booked: Meyler, Brady, Mclean, Rosenior.

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Ramage, Delaney, Parr, Zaha, Dikgacoi, Garvan, Jedinak, Bolasie, Easter (Wilbraham 61).

Subs Not Used: Price, Martin, Moxey, O'Keefe, Appiah, Gabbidon.

Booked: Easter.

Att: 16,656

Ref: Darren Drysdale (Lincolnshire).

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE LATEST CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE, FIXTURES AND RESULTS

The visitors seemed to be feeling the
effects of seeing their 14-game unbeaten run come to a halt at Leeds on
Saturday, but could have won it with the last kick of the game, only for
David Stockdale to deny winger Wilfried Zaha.

The draw sees Hull drop a place to
sixth in the npower Championship, while Ian Holloway's outfit stay a
point behind leaders Cardiff, who were held at Derby, after failing to
find the net for the first time this season.

City went close to making the
breakthrough in the third minute, but Koren and David Meyler could not
get on the end of a dangerous Robbie Brady ball that fizzed across the
six-yard box and out of play.

Palace responded and on-loan Fulham goalkeeper Stockdale had to be alert to stop an angled drive from Yannick Bolasie.

Koren was guilty of missing a glorious chance to make his side's dominance count in the 24th minute.

Ahmed Elmohamady's persistence on the
right saw him deliver a cross that fell to the influential midfielder
just six yards out, but he leant back and blazed the ball over the top.

The Hull captain was aggrieved not to
be given a penalty when his blocked shot rebounded on to a Palace's
defender's hand in the box before Stephen Quinn volleyed wide in the
35th minute.

Hull started the second half where
they left off in the first and Julian Speroni had to parry a Quinn shot
to safety, while Sone Aluko curled a 25-yard free-kick just over.

The Tigers kept knocking on the door
and Quinn wasted another chance, flicking an Elmohamady cross wide,
before Koren failed to breach the defences of Speroni.

Hull were fortunate not be reduced to
10 men with 14 minutes remaining when last man Brady was only booked for
bringing down Zaha 25 yards out.

Bolasie had a chance two minutes from
time, but he shot wide after latching onto a short back pass, while
Speroni, diving to his right, produced a wonderful save to deny
substitute Aaron Mclean moments later.

Zaha – linked with a January move to
Arsenal – almost snatched the three points for Palace deep into stoppage
time, but Stockdale was on hand to deny him.

Chelsea captain John Terry trains wearing Roberto di Matteo"s No 16 before Manchester City clash

Backing the new boss, JT Chelsea skipper Terry trains wearing Di Matteo's No 16 before Manchester City clash

|

UPDATED:

13:48 GMT, 26 November 2012

Rafa Benitez hasn't had the smoothest of transitions into
the Chelsea hotseat, but he could have at least hoped for the support of the
club captain.

But before the cries of 'you're not welcome here' roared
around Stamford Bridge on Sunday afternoon, John Terry had already made his feelings clear with a personal tribute to Roberto Di Matteo, who was sacked last week despite guiding the club to last season's Champions League and FA Cup.

The defender, currently sidelined with a knee problem, usually wears No 26. He took
to the Chelsea pitch to train with the club's fitness staff wearing a No 16 drill
top, the number Di Matteo wore in his playing days for club and country.

Delivering a message, JT John Terry worked on his fitness before the Manchester City match wearing Roberto Di Matteo's No 16 squad number on his chest

Delivering a message, JT John Terry worked on his fitness before the Manchester City match wearing Roberto Di Matteo's No 16 squad number on his chest

Put through his paces: John Terry worked on his fitness before the Manchester City match

Put through his paces: John Terry worked on his fitness before the Manchester City match

Sweet 16: Terry takes a light jog around The Bridge before the 0-0 draw with Manchester City yesterday

CAPTAIN'S LOG…

John Terry wrote in yesterday's matchday programme…

I want to say that it was a privilege to play for Robbie. I had the pleasure, as a YTS player growing up, of watching and learning from him and to go on and play under him as captain was an honour.

To win two competitions last season, including the Champions League that we had wanted for so long, was incredible.

Robbie is a great man and an absolute legend. We wish him every success in the future, because saying thanks doesn't seem enough.

On Thursday, we welcomed Rafa Benitez as our first-team manager. All the players are looking forward to working with him and we can get off to a great start if we beat Manchester City today, which will move us within a point of them.

Di Matteo was sacked last week following a disappointing run
of results which threatened the Blues' place in the top four as well as leaving
them on the brink of Champions League elimination.

Chelsea fans had something to smile
about at the end of a tough week for the club as Terry trained before the visit of Manchester City.

Terry has been sidelined since
damaging his knee in a collision with Liverpool striker Luis Suarez
during a 1-1 draw between the sides on November 11.

The central defender had only just
returned to the side after serving a four-match ban for racially abusing
Anton Ferdinand, and was expected to be out for around three weeks.

The Blues struggled in his
absence with just one win in eight games in all competitions before facing City – a run of
results that cost Roberto Di Matteo his job.

Former Liverpool boss Benitez stepped in as interim manager and he took charge for the first time
in Sunday's goalless draw.

Terry is looking forward to working with Benitez following the Spaniard's appointment.

There have been suggestions some of the Blues' senior players might be sceptical about Benitez being handed the reins following his run-ins with his new club while at Anfield.

But Terry wrote in his programme notes (panel above right): 'On Thursday, we welcomed Rafa Benitez as our first-team manager. All the players are looking forward to working with him.'

Iconic: Chelsea supporters brandish a replica of Di Matteo's No 16 shirt at Stamford Bridge yesterday

Iconic: Chelsea supporters brandish a replica of Di Matteo's No 16 shirt at Stamford Bridge yesterday

Chelsea's Roberto Di Matteo struggles for the ball against FC Copenhagen's Peter Nielse

Italy's national soccer team players Enrico Chiesa, Dino Baggio, Roberto Baggio, Sandro Cois and Roberto Di Matteo

Midfield marauder: Di Matteo gets stuck in against FC Copenhagen (left) and wearing his favoured No 16 shirt on international duty (right) with (from left) Enrico Chiesa, Dino Baggio, Roberto Baggio andSandro Cois

Terry also paid a glowing tribute to Di Matteo, saying: 'It has been a difficult week all round, both on and off the pitch.

Terry
remains about a fortnight away from a first-team return and he said:
'It's been really difficult for me, missing these last two games.
Believe me, I can't wait to get back out there again.'

Crocked: Terry has been out for a fortnight following an unfortunate collision with Luis Suarez

Crocked: Terry has been out for a fortnight following an unfortunate collision with Luis Suarez

Brendan Rodgers praises Liverpool board for showing patience in him

Thanks for standing by me! Rodgers praises Liverpool board for showing patience in him after tough start to life in Anfield hotseat

|

UPDATED:

18:45 GMT, 21 November 2012

Brendan Rodgers feels the backing given to him by owners Fenway Sports Group helped get him through a difficult start to his career as Liverpool manager.

The Northern Irishman endured a tough induction as he replaced club icon Kenny Dalglish and having reached mid-October with just one Barclays Premier League victory he found everything from his suitability to his methods called into question.

In an environment where even Roberto Di Matteo loses his job six months after winning Chelsea’s first Champions League title and also lifting the FA Cup Rodgers admits patience is a rare commodity in football.

Scroll down for video

Things are looking up: Brendan Rodgers has guided Liverpool on a seven-match unbeaten run

Things are looking up: Brendan Rodgers has guided Liverpool on a seven-match unbeaten run

But after a number of early-season setbacks the Reds boss thinks the club is beginning to show signs of recovery and will continue to grow in line with his long-term plan.

'If you believe in a manager and put him in place and give him time what has been proven in this country is that can lead to success,' he said. 'I think those early months were always going to be difficult; you are trying to instil and implement ideas initially without a great deal of success.

'Those early months could have been difficult but in terms of myself, players and staff we were very much focused on our job and there has been no change in ourselves, only improvement.

'All you can do is have an inherent belief in how you work and I believe this is the way the club wants us to work.

'As a manager, in order to fulfil what you want to over the longer term you have to take care of the short term – that was something I learned in my job at Reading.

Game for a laugh: Luis Suarez (right) jokes with team-mate Glen Johnson (left) during training on Wednesday

Game for a laugh: Luis Suarez (right) jokes with team-mate Glen Johnson (left) during training on Wednesday

Taking no prisoners: Martin Skrtel (left) goes in on Joe Cole during training at Melwood

Taking no prisoners: Martin Skrtel (left) goes in on Joe Cole during training at Melwood

'I was given a three-year contract and took the job in the great belief I was brought in to change the philosophy and ideas of the club and 20 games later I was out of a job.

'That was the harsh reality of managing a football club and from that I learned a lesson.

'I have been grateful to the board here because in order for me to come here that (support) was something which was going to be important because if we were going to keep the club moving in the right direction it was going to need some stability.'

Liverpool seemed to have turned a corner in the last couple of weeks and they are unbeaten in seven league matches.

Despite defeat in Moscow a fortnight ago the Reds can also qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League should Udinese fail to beat Anzhi in Russia and the Merseysiders defeat Young Boys a couple of hours later.

Knees up: (left-right) Cole, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher prepare for the clash against Young Boys

Knees up: (left-right) Cole, Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher prepare for the clash against Young Boys

Rodgers gets the feeling his side are over their teething troubles in adjusting to a new way of working, although he accepts they are far from the finished article.

But he expects them to challenge on the domestic as well as European front, especially once he has been able to bring in new players in January.

'Of course, in that short term you want success and you have to show there is improvement,' he added.

'I believe we are starting to show improvement and there is a real spirit and unity among us all.

'If we can stay like that and go through the pain together we can get out the other side and restore Liverpool to where it should be.

Man in the middle: Rodgers says he is building for long-term success at Liverpool

Man in the middle: Rodgers says he is building for long-term success at Liverpool

Eyeing progress: The Reds can qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday

Eyeing progress: The Reds can qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League on Thursday

'But it is difficult in the modern game. There will be pain along the way, at times we will take two or three steps forward and take another step back, but that is a part of the journey.

'It is an opportunity for us tomorrow night. If the other result goes with us we can navigate our way through the group.

'We will improve in the second half of the season, this group will get stronger, and it will be easier going forward once we have supplemented the group.

'I wanted to build a competitive group and that means competing at the top end (of the league table).

'That is where every team wants to be and for us it is no different.'

VIDEO: Brendan Rodgers on Matteo in Spurs Press conference

DM.has('rcpv1981966095001','BCVideo');

Mark Hughes responds to criticism from Martin Samuel: QPR must beat Southampton

EXCLUSIVE: After being criticised in these pages by Martin Samuel, the QPR manager responds in his own words… 'I'm angry, the whole club's angry, so now WE MUST WIN

|

UPDATED:

22:01 GMT, 16 November 2012

Make no mistake, Saturday's game with Southampton is massive for both sides and a potential launch pad for us in the Premier League.

Our chairman, Tony Fernandes, has called it a must-win game — and I can’t argue with that. As I said after the game at Stoke last week, we can’t keep simply playing well without being ruthless.

Only that ruthlessness will get us away from the foot of the table and only a consistent run of results is going to keep us out of trouble.

Under fire: Hughes side remain rooted to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League after 11 games

Under fire: Hughes side remain rooted to the bottom of the Barclays Premier League after 11 games

Martin Samuel on Mark Hughes

'Hughes was once tipped to follow Sir Alex into the United hotseat but now he's in a fight he can't afford to lose'

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

It would be easy to make excuses and point out the injuries to the likes of Andy Johnson, Fabio, Park Ji-sung, Jose Bosingwa, Armand Traore and Samba Diakite over the course of the season so far.

They’re not excuses but they have been a factor in where we find ourselves. The squad has been improved over the summer but we still can’t replace those guys like-for-like at the moment.

Through all that, we’ve shown we can play good football and that’s come out in games against Chelsea, Everton, Spurs and even at Stoke last weekend. Again, I come back to the need to be more ruthless when we’ve been on top.

Despite everything, if anybody thinks there’s a sense of panic among the players and the staff, they’d be wrong. There is a great potential at this club and we have to start realising that potential as soon as possible.

No joy: QPR have lost seven and drawn four of their league fixtures despite the number of new additions this summer

No joy: QPR have lost seven and drawn four of their league fixtures despite the number of new additions this summer

No joy: QPR have lost seven and drawn four of their league fixtures despite the number of new additions this summer

The players are angry. Angry they’ve
not got the results they think their football deserves. Angry they’ve
let down the fans, who’ve been superb. Angry the club is in this
position.

If there
wasn’t that anger there, I’d be worried. As a manager, you want the
players to have that fire, not to be moping around feeling sorry for
themselves. If that was the mood around the training ground, then I
would be worried and we’d be in trouble.

As
I said, I’m not panicking. Of course I’m upset, only a fool wouldn’t be
upset when you get to November and you are in the relegation zone and
there’s nothing in the victory column, no three points to our name.

But I’ve been here before when I
first took charge at Blackburn. We pulled out of that poor situation
and emerged a stronger group and a stronger club. That taught me time,
talent and hard work always pay off. I know we have all of those
qualities at Rangers. Last season when I arrived at Loftus Road it was
tough. We were charged by Tony and the board with saving QPR from
relegation and that’s what we did.

Yes,
it was tight but the home wins against the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool
and Stoke towards the end of the season were the key to our escape.
That’s the kind of form at Loftus Road we have to re-discover. Gritty,
tough, hard- working and disciplined, those are the qualities which will
see us right.

I read Martin Samuel’s column in these pages on Wednesday. I respect Martin’s views but if I had taken to heart half the things that have been said or written about me by him and others over the years, I would have walked away from football before I’d even started.

He talked about my track record and reputation being tarnished beyond repair by QPR’s current position. Firstly, it’s not about me at this stage, it’s about the players, my staff, the fans and the board. It’s about QPR. If I worried about my own reputation or about my ego being damaged, I wouldn’t have survived in football as a player or a manager for as long as I have.

Secondly, I truly believe every club I’ve ever managed I’ve left in a stronger position than when I arrived.

At Blackburn, we saw the club clear of relegation, finished sixth in my second season, 10th the next year and seventh in my final season. We also reached an FA Cup semi-final and regularly beat the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal.

When I arrived at Manchester City, the club wasn’t in anything like a sound financial state and in my first month we were tasked with selling to raise cash.

Ruthless: Hughes is angry his team have dominated games but failed to win them

Ruthless: Hughes is angry his team have dominated games but failed to win them

Ruthless: Hughes is angry his team have dominated games but failed to win them

Ruthless: Hughes is angry his team have dominated games but failed to win them

Martin Samuel's column last Wednesday

Martin Samuel's column last Wednesday

But we oversaw a huge change in
structure and culture once Sheik Mansour arrived and leaving them with
the likes of Vincent Kompany and so many others remains something I take
real pride in.

I was only at Fulham a year but we
identified talent such as Mousa Dembele who they sold for a club record
in the summer at a huge profit as well as finishing eighth and being
profitable.

None of
this buys QPR three points, I know that. But what it does do is
underline the work I and my staff put in at different clubs and why
there is still so much self-belief at QPR.

With
the help of Tony and the shareholders — who’ve been nothing short of
magnificent in their support — I feel QPR are a stronger, better club
than it was when we arrived.

There’s been a huge overhaul of the
scouting structure and we’re identifying top-class talent from across
Europe, bringing in players of real pedigree and character.

The academy has made huge strides in the nine months we’ve been here and I honestly believe QPR will never be in a position where they nurture somebody like Raheem Sterling but lose him to Liverpool for just 500,000.

As one of the board said to me the other day, we’re not building something at QPR for six weeks or six months, the work we’re doing here will see the club survive and thrive for the next six years and beyond.

Obviously what counts more than anything, though, is getting that elusive first win against Southampton today. That’s what matters, that’s what will lift the whole club and the supporters.

The belief is there. The character is there. The determination is there. We know we’re better than the league table tells us.

We just have to start proving it.

Must-win: Hughes is under massive pressure to secure to secure the first three points of the season against the Saints

Must-win: Hughes is under massive pressure to secure to secure the first three points of the season against the Saints

Mark Hughes is in a fight he can"t lose at QPR – Martin Samuel

Mark Hughes was once tipped to follow Sir Alex into the United hotseat but now he's in a fight he can't lose

By
Martin Samuel

PUBLISHED:

23:00 GMT, 13 November 2012

|

UPDATED:

23:47 GMT, 13 November 2012

If it all ends badly for Queens Park Rangers on Saturday, what next for manager Mark Hughes Short term, another vote of confidence, maybe one more stay of execution. But beyond What if, in time, the patience of his employer, Tony Fernandes, wears thin What if the end is sooner than we think and the meeting with Southampton is Hughes’s last as Rangers boss Where would he go from there

A must-win game, Fernandes called the weekend fixture, which is never a good sign. He has been impressively supportive to this point and indulged Hughes in the transfer market in the summer, in quantity if not quality. Yet even his loyalty has a limit and it may be exceeded if Rangers pass another weekend without their first Premier League win of the season.

Nigel Adkins of Southampton is also under executive scrutiny and in the bottom three but he has successive promotions as collateral. Even were chairman Nicola Cortese to lose patience, there would be plenty who would recognise Adkins’s achievements. Being sacked by Southampton hardly impacted on the career of Alan Pardew.

Under pressure: Mark Hughes is fighting to save QPR's season... and his own managerial career

Under pressure: Mark Hughes is fighting to save QPR's season... and his own managerial career

Under pressure: Mark Hughes is fighting to save QPR's season… and his own managerial career

It is different for Hughes. Fail at Rangers and the man who was once regarded as one of the brightest young managers in the English game, and a contender for top jobs across Europe if successful, would be close to unemployable. If the stakes are high for Rangers, they are peaking for Hughes.

Harry Redknapp is a fine manager, but he is out of work right now because he is an awkward fit. Tottenham Hotspur deserted him last season, so did the Football Association, and what else is left Is he likely to get one of the Champions League elite clubs: Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal or Chelsea Not at 65. Would the mid-table comfort zone content him after challenging in Europe with Tottenham Probably not, considering he turned down Newcastle United in 2008.

So what to do Even if a club suited him, a job opportunity must first arise. Redknapp back at West Ham United Not while Sam Allardyce is sixth in the league. Redknapp for Liverpool Brendan Rodgers must be given at least a season first. Redknapp costs money, overhauls team rosters, always wants financial backing and is the same age as the singer from Herman’s Hermits. And nobody is booking them for Glastonbury next summer, either.

Hughes has similar baggage, putting off potential suitors having walked away from Fulham. And, like Redknapp, when times are tight, the cost of his new broom is seen as problematic. Being bottom of the league is bad enough, but resting there at considerable expense is a terrifying thought for all owners. Those outside Rangers will look at Fernandes’s predicament, shudder and place a mental line through the name Mark Hughes.

Ominous: Rangers' owner Tony Fernandes (right) has warned that Hughes must beat Southampton

Ominous: Rangers' owner Tony Fernandes (right) has warned that Hughes must beat Southampton

He costs big, that is what they will think. He demands a significant budget — for wages, if not transfer fees — he brings an extensive backroom staff, he usually has grand designs on the training complex. And Hughes’s instincts for improvement are right on every count. Yet this season, he has also made some very public errors. Taking England goalkeeper Robert Green from West Ham United on 50,000 a week, and dumping him after three league games, was a shocker.

Julio Cesar, Green’s replacement, was also a free transfer but his wages will be significant after a career at Inter Milan. Green was blamed for a fair sprinkling of the nine goals which were conceded in matches with Swansea City, Norwich City and Manchester City — plus a smattering in pre-season friendlies — and Hughes acted swiftly. But 50,000 is a lot of money to pay a man to observe football from the sidelines.

Nor did it help when Cesar said that he accepted Rangers’ proposal because he wanted to live in London. Nobody was expecting him to cite a lifelong admiration for Stan Bowles, or the opportunity to work with Shaun Wright-Phillips, as his motivation, but such a flippant aside only contributes to the idea that Fernandes has ended up throwing good money after bad in his desperation to satisfy his manager.

A costly mistake: Hughes quickly lost faith in Robert Green - but the goalkeeper didn't come cheap

A costly mistake: Hughes quickly lost faith in Robert Green – but the goalkeeper didn't come cheap

It is a myth that Rangers spent hugely in the summer but they had a relative go for a club who have the lowest average gate in the Premier League, and would only be 11th in the Championship and behind Sheffield United in League One in terms of crowd figures. Rangers are not even among the six best-supported clubs in London — Charlton Athletic are bigger, too — so while Park Ji-sung may have been a free transfer from Manchester United, for a club of QPR’s size, he won’t exactly have been a bargain. The same goes for Jose Bosingwa.

On Saturday, as Rangers lost again at Stoke City, Hughes’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, could be seen behind Fernandes in the directors’ box. Joorabchian has excellent contacts in South America. Players from that country, however, rarely come cheap. Hughes’s link to Joorabchian — which was also a feature of his time at Manchester City — will only cement his reputation as a manager whose tastes cost.

Fine, if Rangers were where West Ham are now. The club went the extra yard to get Andy Carroll, Kevin Nolan and Matt Jarvis for manager Allardyce but have reaped the rewards with an impressive start to the season. As QPR and West Ham are seen to have shared ambitions this season, while Fernandes’s project remains stalled, Hughes looks increasingly like a manager whose judgment is not worth the coin.

The fall from grace in modern football can be savagely swift. Hughes’s c.v. affords old-boy status at some of Europe’s greatest clubs — Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and when his early managerial career showed such promise, it was widely presumed that he would walk back through the door at one of them as more than a guest some day.

Down and out QPR sit bottom of the Barclays Premier League and Hughes must quickly pick up his troops

Down and out QPR sit bottom of the Barclays Premier League and Hughes must quickly pick up his troops

Down and out QPR sit bottom of the Barclays Premier League and Hughes must quickly pick up his troops

More from Martin Samuel…

Martin Samuel: Remember, sport isn't a special case when we honour our heroes
11/11/12

It shouldn't be taxing to make fairness work
08/11/12

Martin Samuel: Strictly speaking, we are looking in the wrong place for racism
06/11/12

Martin Samuel: Thinking football I fear for England when we're always dumbing down
28/10/12

Parky should be interviewed… about his scandalous adverts
25/10/12

Ajax 3 Man City 1: City's comedy of errors renders them a laughing stock once more
24/10/12

Martin Samuel: Racism debate is too big for T-shirt and tweets, Rio
21/10/12

A-levels are hard. Just ask my poor son
18/10/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Yet mired in crisis at Loftus Road his stock among the great, the good, even the panicking wildly, slumps by the game.This is a sudden and unexpected shift in fortune. There was a time not so long ago when Hughes was well regarded by Roman Abramovich or seen as a potential successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. Not any more. The United link ended with his time at Manchester City and the bad blood around the Tevez acquisition but not even a long list at Stamford Bridge would contain his details these days.

From here, he makes Rangers work or slips from view.

Unemployable is a harsh term, but think on it. Hughes walked out on Fulham because the club did not share his ambition, so does not seem the ideal fit for a team intent on survival or outside the top division. He has worked at an elite club, Manchester City, and that did not end happily with serious money spent, and he has worked with an up-and-comer in Rangers and got them playing more like down-and-outers. What is left

Even if Hughes wanted to be a run-of-the-mill Premier League Mr Average, would any chairman take a chance Before Rangers, certainly before Fulham, there was sympathy and support in abundance. Hughes was considered the fall guy for the new regime at City, saddled with a project that wanted to run before it could walk. Robinho arrived without his knowledge and the doomed deal for Kaka rebounded on the image of the club more than the manager. As the deal fell apart, the only figure whose credibility remained intact was the quiet, diligent Hughes. When he was replaced, equally clumsily, by Roberto Mancini, he left in credit.

So QPR was thought a highly suitable project. Yes, there was another hurried rebuilding job to be done, but this time no galactico egos needed to be stroked. Having felt let down at Fulham, here was a perfect third way. Not too big, not too small, Rangers were just right; or so it seemed. Now Hughes is in a fight to the finish; literally, perhaps, if he fails to win on Saturday. This is bigger than even the six-pointer of cliche.

Still, it’s not all bad news. In case you hadn’t noticed, Joey Barton’s 12-match ban is up.

Deaths in Brazil should haunt us

There were 140 people murdered in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo in the last two weeks. That’s not crime; that’s a war. Britain has lost 43 in Afghanistan this year.

A crackdown on drug gangs in the build-up to the 2014 World Cup is blamed for the violent escalation, but not to worry. There is absolutely no mileage in warning against risk at major sporting events these days. To do so is to invite an accusation of colonial prejudice or worse. No doubt Sao Paulo will be safe as houses by the time you turn up and the state has finished with the bad guys.

It would have been nice had they been so committed to protecting their own people from gangsters without FIFA’s circus coming to town but as the saying goes, that’s football.

If England lose out on Zaha, so be it

Jack Wilshere no doubt felt he was being supportive of his manager, Arsene Wenger, when he said his England call-up had come too soon. Unfortunately, his words made quite the opposite case. ‘The last time I played for England was under Fabio Capello,’ Wilshere said. ‘Now there’s a new manager and new staff. I don’t know their thinking, their tactics and whether I would fit in.’

Exactly. So even if Wilshere plays for one half in Sweden, even if he does not play at all, just training would be a learning experience. It would have been a wasted opportunity for Roy Hodgson to leave him at home and, surely, despite his protests, Wenger understands this.

It is different for Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace, promoted from the Under 21s. Zaha has still not made up his mind whether to declare for England, where he was raised, or the Ivory Coast, where he was born.

National service: Wilfried Zaha

National service: Jack Wilshere

Young Lion… but for how long Wilfried Zaha (left) joins Jack Wilshere (right) at England training on Tuesday

Maybe Hodgson thinks once he gets the taste of the senior international scene, his mind will be made up. Zaha, who has also turned down representing the Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations, sounds in something of a quandary.

England are playing a dangerous game. Zaha could reject Hodgson’s overtures, which would be embarrassing, or he could accept them for the wrong, perhaps commercial, reasons, while secretly wishing he had chosen his motherland.

There may then be trouble ahead. Zaha won’t be at Crystal Palace for ever, and a player who does not feel a true connection with his national team is more likely to listen to the interests and priorities of his club management.

Wenger made those clear this week. It would be better to let the young man decide his international future and if England lose out, so be it. Better that than complications, or a lack of commitment, down the line.

So Chelsea’s stats add up. Go figure

So Chelsea shuffled some transfer numbers, converted loans to equity, didn’t sack the manager to trigger a massive compensation payment, put the odd superstar of European football on next year’s budget, and hey presto, a profit of 1.4million was turned for the first time since Roman Abramovich arrived at Stamford Bridge.

This is the baby step towards compatibility with financial fair play. Good for them: just as long as they don’t now start demanding every other club with ambition is slung out of the Champions League for financial doping. Although don’t bet against it.

(By the way, the fact that a recent report shows Chelsea now have the fourth highest shirt sales in the world — outselling all bar Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid — suggests book balancing will happen over time anyway, without the need to skew the competition in favour of the wealthiest as FFP will surely do. Manchester City are 17th now but, in time, will rise. It wasn’t so long ago that Chelsea trailed the established order of Liverpool, Arsenal, Bayern Munich and Juventus, too.)

Sean Dyce and Steven Pressley favourites for Burnley job

Dyche and Pressley emerge as favourites for Burnley hotseat after Howe exit

|

UPDATED:

17:53 GMT, 24 October 2012

Sean Dyche and Steven Pressley are battling it out for the managerial vacancy at Championship club Burnley.

After losing Eddie Howe to his old club Bournemouth earlier this month, Burnley’s board sifted through a long list of candidates to replace him before finally whittling it down over the weekend.

Sportsmail understands former Watford boss Dyche and current Falkirk manager Pressley figure prominently on it and are uppermost in Burnley’s thoughts.

Sean Dyche

Falkirk manager Steven Pressley

In the running: Sean Dyche (left) and Steven Pressley are wanted by Burnley

Appointing Dyche would prove straightforward, given his availability, and his record at Watford has made him one of the favourites for the job.

A popular figure at Vicarage Road, he steered Watford to 11th in the Championship, their highest finish in four years, before being controversially sacked to make way for Gianfranco Zola in July.

Pressley is forging a reputation for himself at Falkirk, and Burnley are mindful that the last time they appointed a manager from the Scottish First Division, in Owen Coyle, they ended up being promoted to the Barclays Premier League.

Anderson: I fear for Manchester United future when Sir Alex Ferguson retires

Anderson reveals fears for Man United's future after Fergie retires

|

UPDATED:

11:25 GMT, 10 October 2012

Anderson believes Manchester United will struggle to maintain their high standards when Sir Alex Ferguson finally calls time on his tenure at Old Trafford.

Fergie has been at the helm for 26 years, but speculation is rising the 70-year-old is close to taking retirement.

United front: Anderson hold fears for his club when Fergie finally retires

United front: Anderson hold fears for his club when Fergie finally retires

The Scot has won it all in his time at United, including 12 Premier League titles, two Champions Leagues and five FA Cups.

But Anderson holds fears for the future, once Sir Alex finally decides to draw a line under his time in the hotseat.

The midfielder said: 'Manchester United is Alex Ferguson. When he leaves, the club will lose 30 to 40 per cent. So much depends on him.

'He's a father to all the players, a very respected person and when he retires, the football world will really feel his loss.

'He always helped me, and I have a great affection for him. He lives for training and always wants to know how his players and their families are.'

Feet up Sir Alex has given no indication of exactly when he will retire

Feet up Sir Alex has given no indication of exactly when he will retire

Michael Laudrup wants Swansea job

Legend Laudrup wants to replace Rodgers in Swansea hotseat

|

UPDATED:

00:41 GMT, 7 June 2012

Danish legend Michael Laudrup, 47, who has coached Real Mallorca, is interested in the Swansea vacancy.

Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins has spoken with Wigan coach Graeme Jones and been linked with Denis Bergkamp and Marcel Desailly but former Mallorca coach Laudrup, 47, is understood to be very keen to take over.

Up for grabs: Denmark legend Michael Laudrup

Up for grabs: Denmark legend Michael Laudrup