QPR boss Mark Hughes is still searching for his ideal line-up, says Iain Dowie
Iain Dowie says under-fire QPR boss Mark Hughes is still searching for his ideal starting line-up.
Last Updated: 20/11/12 2:49pm
Hughes' position at Loftus Road has come under intense scrutiny following Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to relegation-threatened rivals Southampton, a result that left the Hoops rooted to the bottom of the Premier League table with four points - and no wins - from their opening 12 games.
The former Man City and Fulham chief was busy in the transfer market over the summer, spending the riches of R's owner Tony Fernandes on the likes of ex-Real Madrid star Esteban Granero and Blackburn alumnus Junior Hoilett.
And Dowie, who had a spell as QPR boss in 2008, thinks the fact the players are yet to mesh effectively is the main reason for the Londoners' lowly position - and not a lack of effort.
"If you look at the sheer number of players Mark bought in over the summer it will take time to gel," said Dowie. "They still haven't figured out where best to play Esteban Granero and what Junior Hoilett's best position is and while Adel Taarabt is still being very creative, you have to play him in a certain way, too.
"I would like to think that given how well Mark and particularly Fernades have rewarded the players they would be trying at this crucial stage of the season; Ryan Nelsen put his body on the line on Saturday and Jamie Mackie made an impact when he came on.
"There are players who will demand a supreme amount of effort, while Hughes' teams have always been that way, too, but they were outplayed at the weekend and weren't able to put enough pressure on what has been a very porous Southampton defence."
Title chasers Manchester United and Chelsea also enjoyed frustrating weekends, losing at Norwich and West Brom respectively, but Dowie believes both sides can get back on track without resorting to splashing the cash in January.
"(Man United full-backs) Rafael and Patrice Evra have done great jobs at times but when there is only one holding midfielder - as there was at the weekend with Ryan Giggs partnering Michael Carrick - United can get a little bit exposed," added the Sky Sports pundit.
"But if Darren Fletcher (who has been out of action with ulcerative colitis) can get back to the level he is capable or Tom Cleverley steps up defensively, they would be good foils for their attacking four.
"Chelsea, meanwhile, have been hampered by the massive losses of Frank Lampard and John Terry and they haven't been able to get the Branislav Ivanovic, Terry, Gary Cahill/David Luiz, and Ashley Cole rearguard out there.
"And with their attacking players - Fernando Torres, Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata - not being great defensively, it leaves them exposed; Jon Obi-Mikel likes to shut doors and fill in holes but it is difficult for one man."