Sacked by QPR, Is Mark Hughes Now Unemployable in Top Flight?
After Tony Fernandes finally pulled the trigger and sacked Mark Hughes following months and months of underachievement, it brought to an end the worst spell of the Welshman's managerial career.
Lauded as one of the best British managers currently in the game, many people thought Hughes would be a huge success at QPR after the dismissal of previous manager Neil Warnock. He was given money to spend in the January transfer window, and his remit was simply to keep the club in the Premier League, which he managed despite a dramatic last day defeat at eventual champions Manchester City.
After the match Hughes made the bold statement that they would never find themselves in that position again under his stewardship, and owner Fernandes lapped up the conviction in his words.
When he took over at QPR Hughes was generally deemed by many to have had a positive career in management.
His first job after retiring was in charge of his national team, Wales. Over a five year period he proved himself more than capable of managing at the highest level, and for a bit more luck would have led Wales to Euro 2004.
After deciding he fancied a crack at club management, he moved to Blackburn, replacing Graeme Souness, who in turn had moved to take the hotseat at Newcastle United. What followed was three of the best years in Blackburn's recent history, with a top six finish and a place in Europe among his achievements during his time at the club.
Will Mark Hughes get a Premier League job in the next 12 months?
Moving onwards and upwards, he took over the vacant position at Manchester City in the summer of 2009. Little did he know the drama that was to follow. Before August was out, City had been taken over by owners with bottomless sums of money, and he found himself having signed Robinho hours before the transfer window closed. After an up-and -down first season in charge, the club eventually finished in 10th position with a great deal of speculation as to whether or not Hughes would keep his job, as the club was being linked to Jose Mourinho and Roberto Mancini.
However he saw out the summer and brought in players such as Carlos Tevez, Emmanuel Adebayor and Wayne Bridge among others. Despite much improved results the following season, Hughes found himself out of a job in late November after a run of draws led to the side slipping out of the Champions League places.
Known to be extremely disappointed by his treatment at the hands of the club, it was eight months before Hughes found himself back in football, taking over at Fulham in the summer of 2010. What followed was another trademark Hughes season. Solid but not spectacular: an 8th place finish and a spot in Europe through the Fair Play League.
What happened next surprised everyone. Hughes resigned halfway through a two year contract, citing a lack of ambition on Fulham's part. It seemed a strange decision as he wasn't leaving for another job, and he spent six months on the sidelines waiting for a club who could match where he wanted to go.
QPR were that club. Backed by the wallet of Tony Fernandes, QPR were expected to push for a top ten spot this season. When they were beaten comprehensively at home against Swansea in the first game of the season, it was written off as a mere blip. It wasn't to be. QPR never won a game under Hughes before he was pushed politely out the door. Undoubtedly, this is a huge blip on his CV, and it makes you wonder whether he will ever get a top job again.
Who would hire him? The two jobs where he has had money to spend (Man City and QPR) he has had a mediocre record in the transfer market. Roberto Mancini is still trying to offload some of the players that Hughes brought in on big money, such as Santa Cruz and Wayne Bridge. The chances of Hughes ever getting a top job again are zero.
He is more suited to the kind of jobs he did at Wales, Blackburn and Fulham. Getting players of limited ability to maximise their potential.
However, clubs at that sort of level, Wigan for example, should now be reluctant to give Hughes a job. He has shown himself to be ruthlessly ambitious and will always leave a club if he thinks a better opportunity lies elsewhere. I wouldn't rule him out of getting another job in the top flight, but he may have to drop down to the Championship to restore his reputation.
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