The thing with Mark Hughes is that we don’t really know why he left Fulham. There were various comments after the event mentioning a lack of ambition, which loosely translated seemed to mean “Fulham wouldn’t pony up £15m for Pablo Osvaldo”. Hughes had a ‘get out’ day in his contract and (out of nowhere, it seemed) used that clause to escape SW6. Presumably he thought he’d get the Aston Villa job, but (somewhat inexplicably) that went to Alex McLeish instead.
So while it’s fun to have a dig at Hughes I suspect in the cold light of day he had his reasons and wasn’t helped by the identity of his agent (although nobody held a gun to his head and forced him to work with Joorabchian), whose presence has the effect of lending Hughes the vague odour of shiftiness that makes him both hard to warm to and even hard to trust.
Few Fulham fans warmed to Mark Hughes, but we did, I think, respect him. He had a toughness, a ‘big time’ feel about him that said that people weren’t going to mess about with. While he was at Fulham, Fulham were a serious team. We don’t know the degree to which the players took over and ran the team – that was another rumour – but outwardly Hughes’ time here didn’t do him any harm.
Until he left us. At which point he had a problem. Having spouted all this gumph about ambition it became clear that there were few avenues for this ambition to be realised. Villa looked elsewhere, so did Chelsea (he was hoping for that, too, right?). He’s not getting Man City again, United might have been on the radar in the distant future (and may still be if he can put together a fairly staggering run of success between now and whenever SAF calls it a day), but Liverpool, Everton, Spurs… then before you know it you’re among Fulham’s direct rivals. Ambition? Maybe, but not very well thought through.
QPR are in that awkward position of having unproven wealth. Their chairman has talked a good game but the league is littered with wealthy owners who haven’t quite realised how much money they’re expected to waste in the name of competing. This is presumably what Hughes and Joorabchian have been assessing, “give us £30m or we’re not interested” being the supposed demand.
Good luck to them. We might want Rangers to implode but who can say that the Premier League has been poorer for their presence? That 6-0 victory goes straight into the Fulham vaults as one of our great afternoons. We won’t be able to do that again if they’re relegated.
An ideal situation would see Hughes come in, do a decent job (but not too decent) and allow us to enjoy some proper derby football for years to come. QPR *and* Mark Hughes? It’d be immense fun! Let’s hope it happens.