x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Best & Worst: Mark Hughes is favourite to win the sack race

The QPR manager is nearing the Loftus Road exit from QPR and Luis Suarez is the lone ranger, writes Paul Radley.

Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes looks on prior to their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at Loftus Road stadium, London, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran) *** Local Caption *** Britain Soccer Premier League.JPEG-04270.jpg
Queens Park Rangers manager Mark Hughes looks on prior to their English Premier League soccer match against Southampton at Loftus Road stadium, London, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012. (AP Photo/Bogdan Maran) *** Local Caption *** Britain Soccer Premier League.JPEG-04270.jpg

Best loner: Suarez

Star strikers have always loved it when their manager constructs the starting XI exclusively to service their personal needs.

The ego boost alone guarantees extra effort and extra goals. Brendon Rodgers has taken the idea to extremes at Liverpool by either selling or excluding any established attackers other than Luis Suarez.

Granted, it means the Uruguayan can never have a day off, but he still appears to be loving it at the moment.

The storied striker struck for his fifth Premier League game in a row when he netted twice against Wigan Athletic on Saturday.

His legend on the Kop is becoming cemented. While Kenny Dalglish was known as the "master craftsman" during his stellar playing career at Anfield, Rodgers termed Suarez the "master marksman" after his effort against the Latics.

Worst Wenger-vision: AVB

The sight lines at the Arsenal stadium - whether it be Highbury or the Emirates - have always suffered a bad press.

For the duration of his 16-year spell in charge of the club, Arsene Wenger has rarely seen everything that has gone on. He is always stuck behind a pillar whenever any bad stuff happens. Wenger-vision, they call it.

Said pillar must have been relocated to a position just in front of the away team's technical area, on the evidence of Andre Villas-Boas's musings after the North London derby.

"We were in control from the first minute to the last minute," the Tottenham Hotspur manager said.

Really? Arsenal strolled to a second successive 5-2 win in the fixture against 10 men. The home team must be wishing they can be outplayed like that every week.

Best header: Pilkington

In the good old days, mid-November was the time when pitches became mudbaths, prompting teams to dispense with the best-laid plans of summer to pass the ball, and just boot it into the box instead.

It is probably why the British game was known for producing the target-man No 9, who scored more goals with his head than he did his feet.

These days knowledge imported from sunny southern Europe says you are better off without a No 9 at all. Teams prefer this newfangled passing thing, where they end up walking the ball into the net.

Despite pitches being good enough to host carpet bowls nowadays, Saturday proved there are still few finer sights in the game than a nice bullet header.

Per Mertesacker got Arsenal back on level terms with Spurs with a vintage effort at Emirates Stadium. That was bettered later in the day, though, when Anthony Pilkington craned his neck to score the decisive goal for Norwich City against Manchester United.

Worst prospects: Hughes

Talking of the good old days, whatever happened to the dreaded vote of confidence? When an executive board full of suits told the manager they had every faith in what he was doing, just down the hall the accounts department were drawing up the severance package.

Proper old school, that. Now the concept has morphed into the dreaded tweet of confidence.

"Won't be happening. For the one millionth time. Stability," Tony Fernandes, the Queens Park Rangers chairman, tweeted last week when cyberspace implored him to dismiss Mark Hughes.

Then fast forward to the weekend, when QPR were soundly beaten at home by Southampton in "El Sackico". It was bleak.

"Let me tell you fans come first," Fernandes responded via the social network. "Everyone including me let the fans down. Many of us need a hard look at themselves. QPR has amazing fans. They deserve better."

Meaning Hughes may be advised to get his coat.

Best role reversal: Cattermole

If you read red card and Lee Cattermole in the same sentence the fiery Sunderland captain is normally the one who trudged off the pitch for an early shower.

Not so yesterday, as Fulham's Brede Hangeland had a moment of madness and was dismissed after 30 minutes. This was Fulham's first red card since May 2011 - 51 games ago - and they went on lose their second home game of the season.

Cattermole did not completely disappoint as he managed to get booked just before full time.

pradley@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE