Mark Hughes is finding votes of confidence easier to come by than points at the moment. Tony Fernandes, the Queens Park Rangers chairman, has given a second message of support to the manager in the space of a week, and the players who are bottom of the table have also issued a ringing endorsement of the manager's credentials.
"For all QPR fans. Fans who analyse properly. I am not changing anything. And all shareholders agree," tweeted Fernandes on Sunday morning, in response to the criticism that followed a fifth defeat of the season. "No team except the first game [against Swansea] has outplayed us. We need a consistent four defenders, not changing every week, especially left and right-back. Mark is the right man. For all those calling for change, this is the team that outplayed Spurs [and] gave Chelsea a damn good game, and you want change? No way."
Hughes, in other words, is in for the long haul. Fernandes, though, has helpfully identified a few areas where the manager needs to get to work. There were times in the first half against West Bromwich Albion when QPR were a shambles defensively. Clint Hill's lack of pace was horribly exposed at left-back, Anton Ferdinand looked like a man whose mind was elsewhere after the events of the past few days while José Bosingwa gave the impression tracking back and picking up Zoltan Gera was not part of his job description.
Albion ran riot, taking the lead when the outstanding James Morrison converted a wonderful cross from Shane Long before adding a second after Gera punished Ferdinand's mistake. Adel Taarabt's volley 10 minutes before half-time was sublime but it failed to paper over the cracks.
"It took us until the second half to play to our potential," Ryan Nelsen said. "In saying that, we still conceded [in the second half]. We're just giving away soft goals. You just can't do that in this league. It gives us a mountain to climb. Teams aren't really earning their goals against us to tell the truth. There's a long way to go yet but we know each and every one of us have got to be a lot better. We're letting the manager down here."
Esteban Granero, one of 12 summer signings, suggested the finger of blame needs to be pointed at the players, rather than the manager who has picked up 22 points from his 25 games in charge. "We all support the manager – we know he is the best manager we can have," said the Spaniard, whose fine goal in injury time counted for nothing. "Most of the losses are not his fault. It is our fault – the people that are on the pitch. We are the ones who have to improve. We are worried because this is not where we want to be. This is not expected of the squad we have."
Albion's position, among the early pacesetters, was also unexpected although they have proved to be a real force at home, where they have won their opening four home league games for the first time in the top flight for 93 years. Manchester City could be in for an awkward afternoon when they visit after the international break.
Some of Albion's crisp passing here was a joy to watch, in particular in the lead up to the third goal that culminated with Youssouf Mulumbu finishing off a flowing move by sweeping home from 12 yards. "Our squad is by far the best one we've had in my four years here," said Jonas Olsson, who signed a four-year contract on Friday. "We didn't go all the way to the top seven, top eight last year, but if we keep performing like this, who knows where the season could take us."
Man of the match James Morrison (West Bromwich Albion)
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