Misfiring Queens Park Rangers failing to live up to Hughes’ expectations

Mark Hughes is convinced his Queens Park Rangers side has plenty of goals in them, despite their poor Premier League return this season.

Mark HughesThe Londoners slipped into the relegation zone on Saturday afternoon, when Bolton Wanderers leapfrogged them on the back of a 2-1 win at the Reebok Stadium. And as unlucky as they were that assistant referee Bob Pollock failed to spot Clint Hill’s effort clearly crossed the line at 0-0, the visitors managed just a further three shots on goal, one of which was converted by Djibril Cisse from an offside position.

Rangers have now won just two of their last 17 matches, and none of their last six. Only bottom club Wigan Athletic have won fewer all season, and only Bolton have notched up more than their 16 defeats. And the bad news for Hughes and his players is that life could get a whole lot more difficult for them in the closing stages of the campaign.

A look at their remaining ten fixtures reveals some tricky opponents lying in wake for the Loftus Road club, who welcome Liverpool and Arsenal before the end of the month and Tottenham Hotspur in April, whilst they still have to travel to Manchester United and Chelsea before ending their season at current leaders Manchester City. It is no surprise, then, that bookmakers are offering slim odds on them making an instant return to the Championship after just one season back in the top-flight.

Their troubles stem from a lack of goals, with just 29 recorded from their 28 matches thus far. Hughes has plenty of numbers to pick from when it comes to attacking options, especially since the January arrivals of Cisse and Bobby Zamora. Both are proven players at this level, but they have joined the club at a time when they are needed to forge an instant partnership. Yet the loss at Bolton was just the second time they have played together, as the first, the 2-1 home defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers, saw the French striker sent off after just 34 minutes for which he served a three-match suspension.

The injury to eight-goal leading goalscorer Heidar Helguson, who hasn’t been seen since picking up a groin injury in January and is not expected to be available for another fortnight, hasn’t helped. Hughes, though, is convinced he has enough in his arsenal to stave off relegation, insisting that there is plenty of goalscoring potential in his squad.

“I am not worried about goals with the team that we’ve got,” he said last week, following the 1-1 home draw against Everton. “The one thing we have is a threat. I have no doubts about us. I would be more concerned if I felt we didn’t have the ability to score goals in the Premier League. I know we have that threat.”

Of course Hughes has to show a certain amount of public faith in his players, but how much his words will calm any frayed nerves amongst the QPR support is debatable. And with arguably the most difficult fixture list of all the teams scrapping at the wrong end of the ladder, he will be hoping his strikers find their shooting boots sooner rather than later.

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