QPR: players letting manager down
By Graham Hill
Queens Park Rangers have been accused of being a bunch of strangers looking for their true identity as a team this season. They may be bottom of the Premier League. They may have gone into the October international break without a win to their name. But there is one thing they are united in - their support for manager Mark Hughes.
It is Hughes who has inevitably found himself in the firing line after trying to mould a squad of individuals into a side worthy of the amount of money that has been spent on them. But so far, Hughes has had to live of flashes of brilliance while still searching for the substance he needs to take Rangers out of the bottom three.
The names look impressive enough, Bobby Zamora, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Adel Taarabt, Djibril Cisse and former Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero are among those who suggest the West Londoners should be aiming higher than a relegation battle. But a catalogue of defensive errors have left critics wondering how much time Hughes actually will get to turn this around.
Owner Tony Fernandes came out fighting after the defeat at West Bromwich Albion, hitting back following criticism by supporters on Twitter, and insisting Hughes is the right man for the job. And it is a view echoed by QPR’s players.
Granero says they are the ones are to blame following a 3-2 defeat at The Hawthorns. He said: “We all support the manager. We know he is the best we can have. Most of the losses, for sure, are not his fault. It is our fault - the footballers’ fault. Against West Ham he told us what was going to happen, and after that it happened.
"We are the ones who have to improve. The manager is great. We are worried because this is not where we want to be. We know we deserve more because of the play and the squad. Our manager and everybody knows - we have to improve.”
Granero admits he did not see this scenario coming when he signed from Madrid to find himself bottom of the table. He added: “I didn't expect to be where we are. This is not expected of the team we have and the squad.
“Of course in every season you have bad moments of results. But I think we are strong enough to get over it. I am very happy here. The reality is that right now we are at the bottom but I want to be part of this. It was my first goal of the season at West Brom, but I don't care. This goal means nothing to me because there are no points with it.”
Defender Ryan Nelsen insists everyone is under pressure from Hughes through to the players. He said: “That’s life in this league isn’t it. If you don’t win games that’s the pressure that managers and players are under. We just have to win. I think every player has let the manager down at some stage this season. That’s not good enough at this level.
“Mistakes cost you. We’re letting the manager down here. There was nothing really special about the goals we let in at West Brom. It was just mental lapses on our part. We’re just giving away soft goals. But teams aren’t really earning their goals against us to tell the truth. We have to start from 20 yards behind - we have to remedy that and as soon as we do it’ll be a lot easier to get ourselves up to win games. I don’t it was anything extraordinary or special about West Brom.”
Nelsen believes Rangers have reasons for finding themselves in trouble. He added: “Unfortunately, we have had injuries to our wide defenders, but I don’t want to make excuses. We’ve got players playing out of position and coming back from injuries. So I don’t think we’ve had a settled back four which doesn’t help."
Nelsen insists the pressure of being expected to do well after the money that has been spent cannot be used as get out. He added: “We’ve got to live up to expectations, it’s our livelihoods, we have to win games. It takes time to gel, injuries to players in key positions haven’t helped. The only real bright spot for us is that at least it’s happening now. There’s a long way to go yet. But we know each and every one of us have got to be a lot better.”