Mark Hughes's hold on his job as Queen's Park Rangers manager seemed increasingly tenuous on Monday night. Hughes, who has presided over a dismal start to QPR's season, spent two hours in talks with club chief executive Philip Beard. He did not take training.
The QPR chairman and majority shareholder, Tony Fernandes, was not in the country but may return for talks or an eventual decision on Hughes's future. The Rangers board are thought to be divided on whether Hughes should remain manager.
Rumours swept the internet that the Welshman had been sacked yesterday but Kia Joorabchian, who represents Hughes, told the BBC that claims the he had been removed from his position were "not true at all". Hughes is expected to take charge of training on Tuesday.
Rangers have had an abject start to the season, taking just four points from their first 12 games. They are the only team in the Premier League yet to win a match. On Saturday, they lost to Southampton at home and were jeered by their own supporters, who condemned the players as only being at Loftus Road "for the money". Southampton, in 19th place, are four points clear of QPR.
Hughes presided over a summer of heavy investment in the first team, bringing in high-profile players including former Internazionale goalkeeper Julio Cesar; Fabio and Park Ji-sung from Manchester United; Jose Bosingwa from Chelsea; Esteban Granero from Real Madrid; and Stéphane M'Bia from Marseilles. However, so far, Rangers are performing worse than they did at the start of last season under Neil Warnock. It is the second worst start in the 20-year history of the Premier League.
QPR's difficult battle to survive will be even harder given the news last night that Bobby Zamora may miss the rest of the season. Zamora has scored three of Rangers' nine Premier League goals but may need surgery on a hip injury. If he does, he may not play again this season, leaving QPR with only Djibril Cissé as a fit centre forward.
Rangers legend Rodney Marsh insisted Hughes should be given more time as manager. "If I was the owner, I would sit down now and say 'Mark, I am going to give you four games,'" Marsh told the BBC.