“As far as I'm concerned,” Hughes said following the clubs final day survival “we will never be in this situation again while I am manager”. Clearly suggesting that the relegation mire that QPR found themselves in last season was not of his making.
Since then, Hughes has brought 12 players to the club and there can be little argument that Warnock’s decisions can be used as an excuse anymore. With two draws and four defeats from their opening six games QPR find themselves rooted to the foot of the table.
What’s interesting is the way in which Hughes now chooses to explain this less than impressive start to the season.
Never one to apologise to the supporters or rant too wildly about referees (though he does have his moments) he does deliver apparently frank assessments of poor performances in distinctive welsh monotones. Although these often centre upon his two favourite expressions “we need to do better” and “we were poor”.
However, behind the understated delivery lies a politician-esque vocabulary, which sounds honest but on close inspection doesn’t really take too much responsibility. You barely noticed last night that his explanation for the pathetic start against West Ham was for “whatever reasons”.
His post match comments following a defeat frequently use the word “we” but when you examine what this “we” refers to it is almost always something that he is not directly to blame for. Instead, it links to the failings of Hughes’ players.
Take these comments after his Manchester City side were humiliatingly dumped out of the FA cup by Nottingham Forest in 2009 "We are bitterly disappointed with the level of performance that we produced"; this is textbook Hughes, at first glance it appears to be an incredibly honest assessment, however take a moment to dissect what he says and it is soon apparent that the blame lies predominantly elsewhere.
There is no suggestion that the preparation was wrong or that the tactics should have been different, it is the “performance” that wasn’t good enough. The “we” sounds good and doesn’t implicate him too much in what failed.
Perhaps it’s unfair to single Hughes out for this method of shifting the blame. His honest sounding assessments could certainly be seen as preferable to blaming referees or injures for a bad performance, and other manager’s are of guilty of using this type of language too.
But QPR fans must hope that behind closed doors Hughes is far more willing to take responsibility after a defeat otherwise their team might well be in trouble.
image: © simonw92