EX-SAINT Mark Hughes emerged from a barrage of questions about his future at yesterday’s pre-match press conference to insist he is still the right man to turn things around at QPR.
Despite a glut of summer signings – some of them from such glamour clubs as Real Madrid and Inter Milan – Hughes has failed to spark his team in to life.
This afternoon’s game against Saints has been dubbed “El Sackio” given the current predicament of both managers, and Tony Fernandes’ claim on Twitter last week that QPR “must win” the six-pointer against the south-coast club, who are one point above rock-bottom Rangers.
But Hughes insists he retains Fernandes’ backing and the Welshman is adamant that he can drag the Londoners away from the foot of the table.
“My future doesn’t hinge on this match,” Hughes told a press conference.
“People shouldn’t under-estimate the changes that have gone on at the club and I have been a big part of that.
“I have had great support from everyone. That doesn’t just get swept aside because we are in a difficult situation.
“It is because of that work we have done before that sustains you and allows you time to get through this period.
“The club has moved forward in a massive way since I came in the door through the work I and my staff have done. Everyone is pulling together to take this club forward.”
Hughes brushed off claims that Fernandes’ tweet amounted to an ultimatum.
“I don’t think it has been reported in the right context,” the Welshman said.
“I don’t think he was saying it is a must-win game.”
Hughes has put on a bullish front for weeks now at his weekly press conferences despite the fact that he has not been able to bring Rangers fans the win they have been yearning since they were thumped by Swansea on the opening day of the season.
But yesterday saw Hughes more defiant than ever about his ability to arrest Rangers’ alarming slump.
Hughes has been criticised for his apparent failure to instil discipline and concentration among the squad while some of the big-money imports are yet to live up to their billing as top-class players.
The former Blackburn boss admits he did not expect QPR to start the season so badly, but he still thinks he is capable of delivering success.
“No-one anticipated this run would go on as long as this, but we are still in an early part of the season we still have a lot of games to play,” Hughes added.
“The only way we change (our bad run) is by winning games and that’s our intention at the weekend.
“When you have a bad period the focus comes on you and people will ask questions.
“But I’m very confident I can answer anyone who comes here and questions how I prepare my teams, how we train and the intensity which we work at.”
Manchester United loanee Fabio is fit to make his return from a two-month hamstring injury lay-off, but Hughes could be without striker Bobby Zamora, left, who has a hip problem.