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A rivalry suddenly finds itself with common ground

713   //    13 Dec 2012, 23:30 IST

This pained look on the face of Mark Hughes became a staple at Loftus Road until recently.

Fulham are set to face winless Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road on Saturday. These two teams don’t like each other. These two fan bases don’t like each other. However, this Saturday, these two clubs and supporter groups will go into the matchup this weekend with something they’ve never experienced before.

Thanks to recent developments this season, it’s hard to determine which fanbase likes Mark Hughes less. Now unemployed, the “Ambitious One” has managed to alienate both clubs, one by choice and the other by a failure to produce results.

Intentional or not, Mark Hughes is a London outcast.

During his time at Fulham, he gave the club a boost it had been looking for for a few years. His sights set on the top 10, he took the foundation Roy Hodgson built and crafted the house in which to live in consistently. He was a well-liked, albeit hotheaded, figure who seemed to be on his way to bigger and better things in a few years once he had firmly planted Fulham in the Top 7 conversation, which many fans believed they were headed.

That all came crashing down when he announced his resignation from the position, and in the process describing to Fulham fans how his ego was far too big for the dressing rooms of Craven Cottage (which, to be fair, are quite small), and that his ambition too big to fit in Mohammed Al Fayed’s wallet.

Alienation 1 complete, Hughes moved on to phase two, at newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers, where Tony Fernandes provided the cash to satisfy Hughes’ desires. Fulham’s Anakin Skywalker, now fully transformed to the Darth Vader of the Premier League, began his wage bill conquests. He sent Real Madrid £9 million and Esteban Granero pocketed €2.5 per year. He sent Manchester United £2.5 million and sent £65,000 per week the way of Ji-Sung Park. He shipped £4 million off to Nancy in exchange for Samba Diakite. And that’s just the beginning.

Anytime you sign an older veteran from a major club, it’s going to be expensive on the wages. So in addition to Granero from Real and Park from United (who fit that bill perfectly), consider the following: Jose Boswinga from Chelsea. Julio Cesar from Inter. Add on £70,000 a week for Bobby Zamora, £50,000 per week for benchwarmer Robert Green, and over £40,000 for oft-injured Andy Johnson, and the wages start to bulge.

The club came out of the gates in August immediately at rock bottom, and this hilarious article aside, stayed there until after 14 winless weeks into the 2012-2013 season, Hughes was no longer employed in West London.


The situation these two clubs now find themselves in this Saturday is suddenly an intriguing one. The main storylines read as follows: QPR will be looking for their first win of the season, and Fulham will be set to build on Monday’s long-awaited 3 points to regain their early-season Top 10 form.

But in the back of everyone’s minds, both home and away supporters, will be the mutual feeling of betrayal planted by a former Manchester United striker destined for managerial greatness……or so he thought. The poison may have been applied differently, but its effects were felt the same on both ends; a nauseating feeling of confusion, frustration, and disdain for a fiery but egotistical man.

The two sides can, for at least a moment, relate.

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