ASTLE (1) vs QPR (0)
QPR manager Mark Hughes insists he is confident his new side is capable of escaping the relegation zone despite the first game of his tenure ending in defeat at Newcastle yesterday.
Leon Best’s nimble 37th minute finish was enough to move Newcastle ahead of Liverpool into sixth place and condemn the west Londoners to a ninth defeat in their last 13 games.
Rangers, who slipped into the bottom three following Saturday’s results, struck the woodwork twice in the first half through Shaun Wright-Phillips and Jay Bothroyd, but hardly registered as an attacking threat after the break, yet Hughes claimed to be encouraged by what he saw from his charges.
“It’s a hard place to come, we understand that, it was never going to be easy so that’s why I’m encouraged by what I saw today,” he said. “We haven’t had that much opportunity to work on our attacking play, it was more this week about making sure our shape was good and everybody knew what was expected of them and I think you could see that in our play.”
Despite his upbeat assessment, Hughes admitted he would be working hard to enhance his squad in what remains of the January transfer window.
The club are working on deals to bring defenders Christopher Samba and Alex to Loftus Road, while Hughes also confirmed there was no truth in the reports that suggested he is ready to offload controversial skipper Joey Barton.
Hughes (inset) said: “Joey is captain of the club, I have re-iterated that this week. He is a quality player and we are looking to bring quality in, not to get those type of players out of the building.
“It’s fair to say we are in the market for good players if they become available and if they are attainable. We would like to think the players we are able to bring in would be the right quality, and I am sure they would be.
“It’s common knowledge we’ve put in a bid for Chris Samba. We have a number of players we would like to bring to the club. We’ll have to wait and see.”