Hughes: Owner on a pub crawl will NEVER pick my teams
Published 22:24 02/03/12 By Neil McLeman
Mark Hughes yesterday insisted Tony Fernandes is no Flavio Briatore.
But before the current QPR owner’s pub crawl around West London today, boss Hughes warned the last orders he ever takes will be from any chairman trying to pick his team.
The Rangers squad warmed up for today’s vital clash by watching a fly-on-the-wall BBC documentary about the eventful previous regime starring Italian Briatore.
Hughes joked: “I have heard of similar situations, but not all at one club.
“It is an incredible time that this club has come through.”
Yet Briatore’s fellow Formula 1 owner Fernandes has a similar love of the limelight.
The Malaysian millionaire hinted heavily that he would dismiss previous manager Neil Warnock using his Twitter account.
And yesterday he went on TalkSport to claim the Hoops will deal with relegation if it happens this season.
But Hughes, who worked for Fulham’s Mohamed Al Fayed last season, said the Air Asia tycoon is building a proper business to withstand the turbulence of the top flight.
The Welshman, who was appointed as manager in January, added: “There has been a lot of change and turmoil at the club and that is something we are trying to take out of the equation.
“We are trying to get the right people and players here to make sure what has happened in the past – with the amount of change and maybe the mistakes that were made – will not be happening in the future.
“I would like to think that my staff and I are part of that and together we can make this happen.”
So no texts from the directors’ box ordering substitutions during games, or tactical team talks from the owner – like under Briatore?
After a withering look that said, ‘What do you think?’, Hughes stated: “No, it has never occurred. If it came to that point, it would be time to go.”
Fernandes’ plan to tour Shepherd’s Bush watering holes to hear the opinions of QPR fans is still unusual.
He tweeted yesterday: “Doing the pub tour as I love getting to know our fans and they can get to know me.”
After one Premier League win in 14 games since November and sacking the popular Warnock, the drinks will certainly be on him.
Especially as he still states “always a Hammer” on his Twitter homepage.
Hughes explained: “I think Tony likes that part. In his businesses, he is very people-orientated and that is how he gets an understanding of the businesses he is involved in.
“Everyone knows that Tony has got the best interests of the club at heart. “
That includes planning for an immediate return to the Championship.
Fernandes, who took over at Loftus Road in August, said: “We’ll have some setbacks and if we go down, we go down.
“We’ve got to be real, it’s tough in the Premier League and if we go down we’ll have to deal with it.
“It’s a long-term project. But I’m resolute, I love what we’re doing and once you put a good structure in the results will come.” They need to come soon. QPR are only out of the drop zone on goal difference and must face Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City in their final eight League games.
Hughes yesterday claimed his club will not need the traditional 40-point safety net to stay up this season, but insisted he and the owner had not even discussed relegation.
He said: “I speak regularly with Tony and have been in his company a number of times this week and we don’t talk in those terms.
“It is certainly not in our minds at this time. But given the situation, we are asked about it and we try to give honest opinions.
“Certainly our focus from now until the end of the season is to stay up and that is what we will strive to do. But you have to have plans for different scenarios.”
A different scenario for QPR today would be ending the match with a full team after receiving three red cards in their last four home games.
Hughes said: “We haven’t helped ourselves because of our inability to keep 11 players on the field.
“It is very difficult to overcome that difference at Premier League level.”