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Nov 19, 2012, 10.42 AM IST | Source: Reuters

Hughes sweats it out as clock ticks on QPR reign

SOCCER-ENGLAND-QPR-HUGHES:Hughes sweats it out as clock ticks on QPR reign

LONDON (Reuters) - As a player Mark Hughes never shirked a challenge nor backed away from confrontation. Dreaded by defenders throughout Europe, the Welshman enjoyed a fearsome reputation as a fighter.

Rarely in his playing days, however, can the bellicose Hughes have encountered the enormity of challenge now facing him as he bids to cling on to his job as manager of rock-bottom Queen's Park Rangers.

Saturday's home defeat to fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton left Hughes's team as the only team in England's four professional divisions without a win this season.

It also left the manager squarely in the firing line.

"HARRY COME AND SAVE US" read a placard held up by fans at Loftus Road, beseeching former Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp to rescue the ailing West Londoners.

Chants of "You're only here for the money" rang out at the club's Shepherd's Bush stadium, accompanied by the more direct "Hughes Out".

The manger, though, remains defiant in the face of fans' criticism. "I don't run away from challenges, and this is a huge challenge," he told reporters.

"(The performance) was unacceptable. We have to take it on the chin... it is my intention to see it through."

Most pertinent, though, has been club owner Tony Fernandes's response. Usually publicly very supportive of his manager, the Malaysian airline tycoon took to Twitter in the wake of the defeat, but pointedly for once failed to back his man.

"I feel gutted," wrote Fernandes, who also owns the Caterham Formula One motor racing team.

"I have put my heart and soul into this with my other shareholders. And done all we can to give support to players and all management. I can only apologise to the QPR fans. We keep fighting.

"Let me tell you fans come first. Everyone including me let the fans down. Many of us need a hard look at themselves."

On Sunday night, he took to Twitter again. "On my way home from America," the chief of Air Asia

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