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After 10 Premier League games without victory the pressure is on the Rs boss, but the club needs stability to address the real issue of their underperforming players

COMMENT
By Tom McKeown

On a chilly November afternoon in west London, QPR’s progress remained frozen as they yet again failed to pick up a first Premier League victory of the season.

Mark Hughes cut a forlorn figure on the touchline, animated with frustration over the refereeing decisions he did not agree with, but showing quiet dejection when his players regularly gave the ball away sloppily and ended up second best in most 50-50 challenges, especially during the first half.

The inevitable boos from the home supporters rang around the ground at both half-time and full-time, and many QPR fans will feel justified in calling for the manager’s head.

HUGHES HAPPY WITH A POINT
The draw with the Royals was yet another display which showed real frustration as the Rs too often elected to shoot from long range rather than try to create something more clear-cut.

The second half showed more promise and, but for a world-class performance from Reading shot-stopper Alex McCarthy, that elusive first win would have arrived and the pressure on Hughes would have eased.

Ten games without a win is usually ammunition enough to warrant a sacking, but QPR have to seriously consider their options before making a decision over the future of their manager.

Removing the manager after a quarter of the season could do more harm than good. Hughes has amassed a talented squad of players who, unfortunately for him, simply are not performing at the top of their game.

In his programme notes before the match, Hughes’ opening line was: “Our luck has to change.” There is a clear feeling at the club that they are just one or two strokes of fortune away from turning the corner.

The defeat at Arsenal was a prime example of that, with the QPR boss furious over Mikel Arteta’s late winner, for which Hughes was certain the Gunners midfielder was offside.

BOTTOM OF THE PILE?
5/1 QPR are 5/1 to finish the season bottom of the league with bet365
But bemoaning one’s fortune can be detrimental to the attitude of the players, as it implants the notion that they are going to lose whatever they do, and QPR must pull themselves out of the depths of self-pity if they are to escape the depths of the Premier League table.

There is no indication that Hughes has lost the dressing room, and the impression is that the club is as one in trying to work together to resolve their problems. It must not be forgotten that Reading find themselves in the same situation as the Rs, but Brian McDermott seems safe in his position and that stability will inevitably pay dividends.

It is widely believed that Sir Alex Ferguson was one game away from being sacked by Manchester United in 1990 after a dismal run of form. But the Scot kept his job and ended up creating a footballing dynasty.

While the situation is not exactly the same at Loftus Road, the concept is. In an era where football is a results business and sackings are part and parcel of the sport, the temptation to remove Hughes and bring in fresh blood is clearly great, but QPR should stand firm for the time being and concentrate on getting their players to live up to their potential.

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