QPR press conference

Hughes set for busy week ahead

August 25, 2012
By Miguel Delaney

The season may only be a few days old, but QPR's campaign has already been defined by high numbers. That's both in terms of goals conceded and players coming and going, with many reasonably assuming the two are interlinked.

Mark Hughes and chairman Tony Fernandes are set for a busy week
GettyImagesTony Fernandes: Backing Mark Hughes

A case in point came during the week. After Rob Green's error in the 5-0 defeat to Swansea, the story soon spread that the club were in talks with Inter goalkeeper Julio Cesar while also apparently chasing a series of defenders, not least Michael Dawson and Ricardo Carvalho.

Whatever the actual state of all of those moves, though, one thing is true: aside from Tottenham, QPR have recently been the subject of most speculation and are likely to be one of the busiest clubs this week.

At their training base on Friday, Hughes all but conceded that fact, while also sounding a note of caution about the entire transfer window, saying: "There are always a lot of conversations going on between agents at this time and you have to wheedle yourself between the layers. We're going through that process at the moment."

He insisted on clarity on another matter too. QPR are most certainly not going through the process because of a knee-jerk reaction to the 5-0, but because of a long-term plan.

If on a much lower scale, Hughes effectively finds himself in the same situation as at Manchester City four years ago. Because of the amount of money the club have relative to the teams around them, the window brings a chance to attempt significant upgrades in a series of positions.

"We've had a huge turnover of players since Tony Fernandes came to the club. We've probably allowed 20 to leave," he said. "Maybe 12-13, in my view, of better quality have come in. So that's what we're trying to do, trying to increase the quality of the top end of the first XI.

"Everything that we do is to make the squad more competitive and that's been the case since January. The work that we've been able to do and players we've attracted have certainly enhanced the squad we already have. If we can do a few more deals then, [apart from] the disappointment of last week, all is well and good.

"But, certainly, it's not a knee-jerk reaction. It was something we would have envisaged anyway."

But what about those mooted deals? While Hughes refused to go into too much detail, he did offer some.

Cesar? "It was my intention to bring in two quality keepers. If we did get two in, it would let Brian Murphy go out on loan. That was my intention." Reading between the lines, then, it is safe enough to say it's also Hughes' intention to sign the Brazilian.

And Dawson?

"It's not where I'd hoped it would be, but that may change. We've got a week until the window closes so it might be revisited. There was an issue with personal terms."

Finally, Carvalho?

"That was out there. Maybe Sky jumped the gun on that one. We're looking at players, some are attainable, some are out of reach. We'd like to think we've done some really good business. We've targeted players we felt could significantly improve the quality of the squad. We've done our work early and done really well. It's not easy, but we've done particularly well we think."

Many who saw the 5-0 defeat to Swansea may think otherwise and, certainly, the club's targets - as well as their defensive record and general lack of shape - illustrate the defence is simply not up to scratch. If QPR are to at least become the mid-table club their money and movements indicate they should be, signings that are at least similar in quality to the players named are going to be essential.

Either way, though, Hughes insists the team are not quite as bad as the result against Swansea suggested. He maintains it was something of a freak result.

"We got caught in the traps. Initially, I felt we did OK. We conceded a goal against the run of play and were still arguably the better team. But then, after the second, with us chasing the game, we got caught. Credit to Swansea because they took their chances. We know we have to do significantly better this weekend.

"We've worked exceptionally hard. It's been a good response. We've disappointed ourselves in what we did, and not least the fans. We've got to start our season."

Skewing matters, of course, is the fact that Norwich also lost 5-0 last weekend, to Fulham, so both teams have something to prove.

"They'll want to do it for their fans, similar to us. They will expect a response. I'm sure they'd prefer not to play us on the back of a 5-0 defeat as well."

Is Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar set to join the Rangers revolution?
GettyImagesIs Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar set to join the Rangers revolution?

One person who absolutely revelled in QPR's reverse was Paddy Kenny, with the former Loftus Road goalkeeper reportedly sending a series of abusive messages to officials at the club. Hughes says that no official complaint has been made but they have been in contact with Kenny's current club, Leeds United.

"By all accounts, there were some text messages which we thought were inappropriate. We didn't make a formal complaint. We just got in touch with Leeds to make them aware of the situation. It doesn't go anywhere [after this]."

One other controversial player may well be going somewhere, though: Joey Barton to Marseille.

"There's been some talk," Hughes added. "I think I mentioned that Marseille expressed some interest, in terms of emails being exchanged. I think further down the road it might be a possibility but we haven't had anything in the last couple of days."

That is likely to be very different, then, to the next couple of days and the countdown to the transfer deadline.

"These situations are always fluid and you can't always tell one deal from another. Sometimes they go very swiftly. Others drag on until the last minute. And that's part of it. Hopefully we'll have done our business by then.

"Certainly, this window won't be replicated in January. This is something we envisaged that needed to be done. I'll be comfortable with the squad if we complete all the deals I want us to in this window."

As such, the only reaction Hughes wants is one on the pitch.