QPR chairman Tony Fernandes had the choice of putting £15million into Neil Warnock’s January targets – or pulling the plug on the manager who won them the Championship last summer.
He chose the latter as we know, and the bullet came after it became harder attracting players for a relegation battle under Warnock than first anticipated.
After all, prospective new faces come for the dough, the feel of the club, and the manager.
Assuming number one pans out, the last two make the crucial difference.
Invest now and repent later, was probably a mantra Fernandes chanted to himself all the way down the M1 on Saturday after the uninspiring 1-1 draw at MK Dons nailed the ex-manager’s fate.
The bookies favourite to replace the personable Warnock is Mark Hughes, an interesting choice bearing in mind Sparky’s previous.
The former Fulham boss departed Craven Cottage last summer hinting the neighbours lacked ambition, according to the Welshman’s agent Kia Joorabchian, presumably code for they’re not going to win anything.
So what is Fernandes telling Hughes and Joorabchian about a club lying 17th in the Premier League and one with an 18,000 capacity ground?
“Don’t worry, Mark. We have a new stadium and training ground in the offing. And yes, here’s a cheque book to go and get who you can, just as long as you keep us in the Premiership,” something of the sort, perhaps?
But assuming Hughes brings his own methods to the fore, he still inherits a squad that is Warnockian to its bootlaces.
Paddy Kenny, Shaun Derry, and Clint Hill go back a ways with the departed manager. Adel Taarabt would have been out on his ear with any other coach. Jamie Mackie has oft expressed his gratitude to Warnock for the faith shown in him. Armand Traore would still be languishing in Arsenal’s reserves, etc etc.
No chance to clear the lot out in January if they’re not to Hughes’s taste, only time to patch over with two or three new faces, and it’s been nearly eight years since the former Chelsea striker was tasked with a real relegation battle at Blackburn.
And if it doesn’t work?
The ambitious Hughes becomes a Championship manager for the first time in his career, and there are wholesale, and I mean 10,12 or more players to move on in the summer - no easy job if they're on decent contracts. But that’s the gamble you take – as the QPR chairman is about to find out..