Warnock sacked as QPR search for safety and stability

Neil Warnock was sacked as manager of Queens Park Rangers on Sunday evening after a run without a win in eight Premier League games and an FA Cup tie with lower-league MK Dons that nearly saw the top flight side dumped out of the competition at the first hurdle. Former Manchester City manager Mark Hughes is the early frontrunner for the position.

In charge at Loftus Road for nearly two years, Warnock stabilised the West London side before guiding them to promotion in 2010-11. But boardroom disagreements and a power struggle between the club’s prior owners hampered the manager’s preparations for the new season. When Tony Fernandes bought the club in August 2011, it appeared a new day was dawning – one that would provide Warnock with security in his job and finances to establish QPR as a Premier League side. Warnock spent heavily in the latter stages of the August transfer window, bringing in Shaun Wright-Phillips, Luke Young and Joey Barton – the latter on a free transfer but with substantial wages – and leaves Rangers 17th in the division.

Evidently, sitting a place outside the relegation zone in January was not part of Fernandes’ plan for the club, and Warnock has paid the price. Ironically, chief executive Philip Beard spoke of a desire to bring stability to the club when the new manager is appointed, the same quality Warnock was heavily praised for bringing to QPR himself after an uncertain period under Flavio Briatore. Beard said: “We think the time is right to make the change. We haven’t made this change lightly. What we really want is a period of stability.

Beard added that, with the club’s Premier League future in question, they would be active in the transfer market this month: “The results have not been good over the last few months. We are now in the infamous January transfer window and we want to do some business.” The BBC reported that whoever replaces Warnock – with Hughes the bookmakers’ favourite but former West Ham boss Gianfranco Zola and ex-QPR manager and Chelsea Coach Ray Wilkins also in the frame – would receive the necessary funds to add to the squad this month. After a season-ending injury to midfielder Alejandro Faurlin, the midfield would appear an area in need of attention, as well as topping up the goal tally that has seen only 19 goals scored in 20 league games.

One home win all season has left QPR looking over their shoulder into the relegation zone – just a point above 18th-placed Bolton Wanderers – and only three off the very bottom of the league. Whoever replaces Warnock, be it Hughes, Zola, Wilkins or an unidentified dark horse, must hit the ground running to climb out of the relegation mire the bare facts make plain QPR are in. And, as the 16th R’s manager in 15 years, the new man must fight against the turbulent recent history of the club to rise above the chaos and build for the future.

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