Hughes out, Redknapp in

Mark Hughes has been sacked by QPR and will almost certainly be replaced with Harry Redknapp. Shock. Horror. Despite this season’s relative infancy, this chain of events is probably the most inevitable and unsurprising footballing news of the season.

Personally, I haven’t rated Hughes as a manager since he left Blackburn. He started his managerial career with a bang, so nearly taking Wales to Euro 2004 and excelling with the Rovers. But then he flopped at Man City, didn’t really do anything of note with Fulham and consequently disrespected and abandoned them for a more “ambitious” club. And then came his QPR debacle.

During Hughes’ tenure QPR have been dire. Last year they piddled around the bottom 6 and only scraped Premier League survival because other results went their way. This year, aside from spirited performances against Chelsea and Tottenham, they have been the league’s worst team. I spoke earlier of their ragtag squad and how so far have been completely vindicated (go me!).

Coming a mere two days after one of the most controversial and undeserved dismissals in Premier League history, it is almost a welcome relief to see such a unequivocally correct decision. No-one can argue with Tony Fernandes here, nor can they with who they’ve lined up to replace him.

Redknapp is the natural successor to a squad of big personalities in need of a sorting out. It’s almost identical to circumstances when he took over Tottenham. I bet QPR fans are as ecstatic about the likely appointment of Redknapp as they are of Hughes being kicked out.

In fact, I’d say the only people unhappy are all those who put bets on Hughes being the first manager to be sacked this year. They so nearly won…

If Sylvester Stallone were to build a football team…

A lot was made of QPR’s summer transfer work, with many big names coming in from clubs as prestigious as Inter Milan, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Chelsea. They are an ambitious club with a lot of money, a manager with Premier League experience and, now, a host of shirt-selling signings. All of which contributed to some of my friends speaking of a European push, and one of their own signings – Julio Cesar – even suggesting they would challenge for the title one day. The big talk, big players and big wages have, so far, come to a big fat nothing. The Hoops are struggling, anyone can see that. Not only have they left themselves vulnerable to financial trouble, with many of their players lacking in resale value due to their age and on expensive contract with no relegation wage cut clauses, but they have also amassed a squad full of risks, either through age (Ryan Nelsen), injuries (Kieron Dyer) or Premier League adjustment (Esteban Granero).

I am not saying that QPR are doomed or will be relegated – one thing they’ve got in bucket-loads is experience and that should see them safe this year, but I think they need to drastically change their transfer policy for them to reach the levels Tony Fernandes, the owner, clearly wants. After all, at the moment their 2012 summer signings seem to me to resemble the cast of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables – a group of ageing  expensive big names working together to create something brilliantly mediocre. Let’s look at the cast and ‘their’ player:

Sylvester Stallone – Julio Cesar:

     

A dark-haired strongman with a surprising amount of commitment to the cause. Seen as a major asset to the team and guaranteed to get a huge amount of action. Built like a machine, he’s almost definitely paid way more than anyone else.

Jason Statham – Esteban Granero:

     

One of the few members in the crew in demand and sought-after. He has talent in his own way but certainly isn’t as renowned as those he’s been working with. Is probably wondering why he signed up for them after very underwhelming results. Was probably lied to during the negotiating process. Is either wondering if he could have done better or enjoying being one of the better individuals in the team.

Jean-Claude Van Damme – Stephanie Mbia:

     

A strong badass who don’t take no shit. Arguably better known outside of England, but will probably grow in prominence after recent exposure with Coors Light advertising/QPR (delete as appropriate). With a name like that you’d really think he’d be French, wouldn’t you?

Jet Li – Park Ji-Sung:

     

Chuck Norris – Robert Green:

     

Made into a bit of a joke (Green for the gaffe against USA, Norris for the infamous ‘Chuck Norris jokes’) despite actually being fairly successful. Overshadowed by a better, more important person who plays exactly the same role as him, meaning he’s not going to get much time in the spotlight.

Bruce Willis – Andrew Johnson:

     

Bald, aging guy who should probably stop working so much and take a bit of time out to relax. Had a good career and will probably continue working despite getting on a bit. Not going to lie though, it’s mostly just the bald thing.

Arnold Schwarzenegger – Ryan Nelsen:

     

A robust, strong, manly man who has been working at the top level for a long time despite not actually being very good. However, his commitment cannot be faulted and he has been a valuable asset to both his country of birth and the country where he made his name. Also, they both have a really wide face…

Liam Hemsworth – Junior Hoilett:

     

The youngster of the group. An up and coming star surrounded by loads of old guys out for one last battle. Has talent and probably on the cusp of being huge, but should be wary of committing to a failing cause.

Jay from The Inbetweeners – Fabio:

     

You know how Orange have those adverts in Odeon cinemas of how mobile phones can ruin your film and stuff? Well, for those who haven’t seen the Expendables one, it involves James Buckley, Jay in The Inbetweeners, as part of their crew. Fabio reminds me of him – a fresh-faced youngster who hit the big time quite luckily with his last career decision and is surrounded by better known and more talented teammates. Might do well for himself, but we all know he’s a little bit rubbish really.

That was fun.

Back to being serious for a sec, I’m not really sure what Tony Fernandes’ objectives are. If he told Mark Hughes: ‘make sure we stay up this year’, then I think his manager has done as he’s asked, as Hughes has brought in a lot of quick-fix players for a short-term solution. But if Fernandes instructed his manager to build a serious Premier League contender then mistakes have been made. This bunch of players will never become a team together; there are too many older players set in their ways and reluctant to adapt – or incapable of adapting – their game to suit whatever strategy Hughes wants. Building a team requires younger players that are more impressionable and mouldable than Hughes’ mercenaries. Furthermore, a lot of their players based their game on pace that they won’t have now that they’re older – notably Cisse, Johnson, Wright-Phillips and Dyer. They will have to work on changing their own game and improving in other areas, which will go one of two ways. Either Hughes will realise where his team needs improvement and train his players in those areas (for example, if he wanted a forward with a useful first touch he could mould Cisse into a Berbatov/Crouch-esque player) or the aforementioned quartet will focus too much on their own game and neglect to adapt to Hughes’ style. For QPR’s sake, I hope it’s the latter, and I’m intrigued to see if it will be more successful than Stallone’s all-action extravaganza.