Paul Parker

QPR cannot afford to go down

Paul Parker

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You never want to see any manager get sacked and I hope Mark Hughes is successful despite having a very difficult season to date. But my former club QPR cannot afford to go down. It is simple as that.

A big problem for Mark is that having spent so much money on transfer fees and wages, QPR absolutely must stay in the top flight. That means there is more pressure on him and if things persist as they are - with no wins from 10 games - this they may be forced to make a change.

Owner Tony Fernandes is adamant it doesn't make any sense to sack Hughes and has said so repeatedly. He is on TV or Twitter every other day to publicly back his manager and perhaps there is an element there of trying hard to convince himself that sticking by Hughes is the right decision. He is certainly trying very hard to convince everyone else.

Fans are naturally sceptical of football owners as what they say one day can suddenly be switched around the next. Plus Fernandes will have to take into account the views of the board. But it does seem as though he has genuine faith in Hughes and will give him all the time possible to turn things around.

QPR fans will always be grateful to Fernandes for what he has done but quite rightly they feel aggrieved at having seen all this money spent on new players while the team remains static, fighting at the wrong end of the table. As football fans they want something back from what they have put into the club.

They are a community club - everyone who supports them is from the area - and so the emotional ties are very strong. Mark needs to remember that. They are die-hard fans and that area needs a lift from its football.

They take a lot of pride from their football team and desperately did not want a repeat of last season when they had to wait until the final day of the season to secure their top-flight status. I don't think they expected one either, not given all the money the club spent. No one did.

If you look at the players they have got compared to the teams above them in the table, it comes as a huge surprise to see QPR struggling as they are. Teams like Norwich and Aston Villa are certainly not better than QPR.

The reason is that they went out and bought too many players over the summer. You cannot ask a manager to just knit together almost a whole new team. It's like throwing a whole load of balls up in the air and hoping they land in the right place. They almost certainly won't.

They recruited some excellent players but the sheer numbers of new arrivals meant there was no natural evolution to the squad. Someone like Esteban Granero is a very good player and cost a lot of money from Real Madrid - making it a gamble for a club like QPR. But is he up for a relegation battle? We will see.

I think one win will make the difference. They have some very experienced players in the squad but it doesn't matter how good your CV is, sometimes you just need to get that first win to get started. The longer you go without it, the pressure gets more and more intense and the young players start to suffer.

QPR visit Stoke next and then have a home game against Southampton before making the daunting trip to Manchester United on November 24. You have to be satisfied with a draw at Stoke - it's a very difficult place to visit - but a subsequent win against Southampton could be crucial.

Their form to date has been very poor and they aren't at the wrong end of the table because they are unlucky - they are there because they aren't good enough. In some respects they haven't learned from last season and that is a concern.

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