Hughes ‘is right man for QPR’

EXCLUSIVE: Former England star Southgate believes Fernandes takeover made Warnock a dead man walking

QPR have picked the right manager to steer them clear of the drop in Mark Hughes, but the writing was on the wall for Neil Warnock from the moment Tony Fernandes took over the club in the summer.

That is the view of former England star Gareth Southgate, who knows all about life at the sharp end of the Premier League from his time as Middlesbrough boss, and now heads up elite development at the Football Association.

Former Fulham, Manchester City and Blackburn manager Hughes takes charge of his first Rangers match on Sunday at Newcastle following the controversial sacking of Warnock last weekend, and Southgate believes the Welshman was the outstanding candidate on the market.

“Mark Hughes is clearly a very accomplished manager, very experienced in this league and has performed well at Blackburn, which is a similar size of club to QPR,” Southgate told City A.M. “Who would have been available with more experience than him? Fulham finished in the top 10 last year and he did a pretty decent job at Manchester City really.

“He’ll view it as an opportunity to show what he’s made of again, and I’m sure he’ll do very well.”

While Southgate endorses Hughes’s credentials he feels huge sympathy for Warnock, who was discarded just seven months after masterminding QPR’s return to the top flight. Warnock paid the price for a recent run of eight defeats in 12 games that has left them 17th, but Southgate believes the decisive moment came last summer, when Fernandes completed his buy-out.

“A new owner is always going to want to have their appointment in the end,” he added.

“The previous owners would’ve known Neil’s way of working, what he did last year, and would’ve felt a debt of loyalty and a stronger bond with him.

“A new guy coming in is totally judging him on what he sees in that short period of time, and in that spell they lost a lot of matches. I can’t help but feel for Neil. I felt QPR would survive and I’m pretty sure that they will.”

Gareth Southgate was speaking at the launch of the Carlsberg Pub Cup, a nationwide five-a-side competition for players of all standards. To register your pub visit www.carlsberg.co.uk/pubcup. Carlsberg is The Official Beer of The England Football Team and sponsor of Uefa Euro 2012.