Pressure builds on Hughes
Under-fire QPR manager Mark Hughes is the overwhelming bookmakers' favourite to become the first Premier League manager sacked this season after a defeat to Southampton that chairman Tony Fernandes felt the need to apologise for.
The bottom-of-the-table Hoops suffered an embarrassing 3-1 home loss to fellow strugglers Saints - a side that came into the match just a point and a place better off. "Hughes out" and "You're only here for the money" were chanted by portions of the disgruntled home support, who again showed their displeasure with boos at the final whistle.
It was a result and, most pertinently, performance that led chairman Fernandes to take to Twitter, but, unlike so many times before, he stopped short of backing manager Hughes. He said: "I feel gutted."
Fernandes continued: "I have put my heart and soul into this with my other shareholders. And done all we can to give support to players and all management. I can only apologise to the QPR fans. we keep fighting."
Some bookies shortened the odds on Hughes becoming the first top-flight manager to lose his job to 1/3 after a game in which Southampton counterpart Nigel Adkins drifted to 10/1. The Welshman, though, remained defiant after the defeat, which he pinned on the lack of desire shown by his players.
"The fans are well within their rights to criticise myself and the staff that prepare the team, and the team, because the performance was not of the required level," Hughes said. "We have to take it on the chin and ride it out. Listen, I don't run away from situations. I came into the situation with my eyes wide open and it's my intention to see it through."
Fernandes tweeted in the build-up to the game that, "for the millionth time", he would not be firing Hughes and has regularly highlighted the need for stability. Told of the comments, Hughes said: "The club does need stability, absolutely, and that is what we are trying to bring.
"It's a huge effort to bring the club to where it wants to be and we are going through a lot of pain at the moment, but there was always potential for that.
"It only changes if you win football matches and that has been difficult for us this year. I still have confidence in the group that I have. They totally underperformed and each and every one of them held their hands up and accepted that.
"Maybe that's a watershed moment because we can't get any lower than this so it is about how high we bounce now."