Step Forward QPR
Queens Park Rangers go into the final two games facing an uphill battle - here we examine the managerial switch and the players' role in Rangers' demise.
There are a vast range of views when it comes to Mark Hughes and the merits of such an appointment have long since debated, particularly with reference the R's current plight in the Premier League. Hughes inherited a side on the brink of the bottom three, with one home win - albeit against Chelsea - and three wins on the road with Neil Warnock controversially axed.
Warnock cut a forlorn figure against Milton Keynes Dons in the FA Cup, with his QPR side turning in a scandalous display, something that ultimately tipped the scales for chairman Tony Fernandes. A bold decision indeed from the chairman but who would he select to fill the void created by the departure of Rangers' promotion hero.
Many were stating that the appointment of Hughes itself was shrewd, although the key point to be taken from those that were willing to dispense advice on the Welshman was that he was a slow builder. This was borne out in his opening fixtures - a crucial period for the club - one win in seven fixtures with one clean sheet in 23 games - surely a mainstay of any side looking to retain their top flight status.
Four home wins on the bounce have transformed fortunes, only to be tempered by a frankly farcical away record - culminating in a thumping defeat away at neighbours Chelsea. Now with two games left on the horizon - most notably against Stoke City at Loftus Road - Rangers have an opportunity to carve out their own destiny.
Players have stated their intent before the fixture in the customary manner, but this time their words need to hold more credence than they ever have before.
It has been very easy in the past for the players to conjure up their own images of donning their battle armour and heroically slaying the opposition, but now it must reign true in the defining game of QPR's season. While we can look back and discuss the merits of Warnock and Hughes, the players must also take the lion's share of responsibility for both sides of QPR's form this campaign.
Joey Barton and Shaun Wright-Phillips underperforming desperately, Djibril Cissé cutting his season short by seven games and Adel Taarabt getting only a cameo role owing to his temperamental nature. This is a team that has been pulling in several directions throughout a troublesome campaign, but now must steer the ship in the right direction for Hughes and repay the supporters' unrelenting faith.
All the words, all the performances, and all the expert opinion, all the rallying cries - one thing stands out, the overriding need to pick up three points this weekend.
The rallying cry that matters will be heard for miles around in Loftus Road on Sunday - it is the players that must now step forward and create an insurmountable gulf ahead of the final day.Come on you Rs