92 clubs favourite players – Fulham – Aaron Hughes

Fulham have not had the greatest start to the season but that does not mean they have a poor squad and I expect them to get better and Martin Jol to guide them to safety.

They have experienced players that have played at the highest level and a lot of talent in their squad including Dimitar Berbatov, Adel Taarabt, John Arne Riise and Scott Parker. But even though I do like these players and think they are brilliant footballers, the player I have decided to choose is central defender Aaron Hughes.
Aaron Hughes
This may seem like a strange choice at first but personally I do not think there has been a more consistent player in the Premier League. Over the years he has not grabbed any headlines but he has also not made many mistakes which a lot of the top defenders strive for. The 33 year old has had a good career and it has got even better since joining Fulham and having one of the most underrated central defender partnerships with Brede Hangeland. They are one of the main reasons why some believe they overachieved and under Roy Hodgson got to the final of the Europa League. Hughes helped the club have a great home record and even though in recent years it has not been the greatest they are usually very consistent at Craven Cottage and even the bigger teams struggled to get results there.

It is not surprising to me that when he is not in the starting 11 Fulham look shaky at the back and it was a similar story when he was younger at Newcastle United. While at Newcastle he played all across the back four and occasionally in midfield. He also played in a Uefa Cup semi final but unfortunately for him and the team they ran into Didier Drogba who was on top form and unstoppable. I was very surprised when they sold him because Newcastle are famous for having some pretty bad defenders that make a lot of mistakes and he was always the one that put in good performances. But for whatever reason he left the club and joined Aston Villa and it didn’t quite work out for him there but he was first choice in his first season at the club.

I do feel sorry for him on the international stage because Northern Ireland have never looked like qualifying for a tournament and even though he has over 50 caps he would have maybe hoped for more. However he has been involved in some historic wins for his country and will obviously be proud to have played so many times for his country.

In his career he has not scored many goals and only got seven club goals in his career and they include goals against Manchester United, Everton, West Ham United, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Norwich City and Dnipro. Maybe for a centre half that went forward for a lot of corners he should have scored more however this is not what he will be remembered for and unfortunately for him he has never got the recognition his talents have deserved.

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QPR in the Championship

QPR finished bottom of the Premier League and this was very unexpected after once again spending a lot of money in the transfer windows.

But, the players they brought in clearly did not care for the club and only joined to make a lot of money very quickly. Not every single one of them was a mercenary but they just had too many problems to be successful and Mark Hughes might be the one to blame but the board and the owners need to take a look at themselves and learn from their mistakes. Harry Redknapp is now the man in charge and to me it looks like he might be looking for the first opportunity to leave the club but if they can convince to him stay for at least one season they may just be able to bounce back at the first attempt. He has a lot of things to sort out over the summer and will need to make a lot of changes as there will be quite a lot of players that do not want to play in the Championship and will most likely go abroad. There are still some positives for the club but they need a quick start next season.

Robert Green in goal could be crucial because it wasn’t long ago that many people wanted him to be England’s number one and is still a good goalkeeper but can be a little error prone from time to time. In front of him is where they have more of a problem because they made a lot of mistakes and were nowhere near consistent enough. It looks as though they may have to rely on Clint Hill once again to try and lead them to promotion but I think they need to keep hold of Nedum Onuoha as he had a lot of potential and he is certainly good enough for the Championship.

A lot of money was spent in the midfield positions and it is looking likely that their best one Adel Taarabt is going to leave so they will lose a lot of creativity. But Jermaine Jenas is someone that I feel will do brilliantly in the Championship and may even add a few goals to his game. I think the most important player though could be Junior Hoilett because he did not show the QPR fans his true potential and owes them something next season.

In attack they may not lose too much because none of them performed that well apart from Loic Remy who will not want to play in the Championship at all. So I do not see many clubs wanting to sign Bobby Zamora or Jay Bothroyd. The one player that I did like was Jamie Mackie but unfortunately he only got two goals and I don’t think any Premier League teams will be willing to take a chance on him. Finally, Andrew Johnson will be hoping to get over his injury problems and score the goals and get the club back into the Premier League.

Will Ricardo Carvalho and Michael Dawson be the right options for QPR?

QPR manager Mark Hughes is reacting quickly to his side’s 5-0 defeat against Swansea City on the opening day of the season by trying to recruit some new defenders.

I was really surprised that Hughes didn’t try and strengthen the defence to begin with as they already had a decent enough strike force with Bobby Zamora and Djibril Cisse as well as the always unpredictable Adel Taarabt. Just look at the defence that started on the opening day, Fabio, Clint Hill, Anton Ferdinand and Nedum Onuoha with Ryan Nelsen on the bench. Fabio is only young and could improve but he is not the best at defending yet and looks better going forward. Anton Ferdinand has never been more than an average centre back in the Premier League and if he is first choice your team will mostly finish in the bottom half closer to relegation. Onuoha, just simply hasn’t lived up to his potential when he first came through at Manchester City and it could be a long season for him. Finally, Clint Hill, how on earth is he a Premier League? Yes, first season up leave him in there, but now the ambitions have changed and surely someone better should have came in.

QPR have bid for Michael Dawson and he has been a fantastic centre back for Spurs over the years, although he can be a little injury prone. But, he is exactly what the team needs, he isn’t afraid to put his head in where it hurts and just seems to want to block every shot and will throw his body in the way. He has played 242 times for Tottenham and this Premier League experience will be invaluable to QPR and he would play like a leader on the pitch whether he is given the captain’s armband or not. Now that it is known that he is available there may be other offers from clubs but I think realistically he will join QPR if he leaves Spurs because it means he can stay in London and they will surely offer him a very good contract with a high wage.

Dawson has four caps for England

Next, Ricardo Carvalho is reportedly close to joining the club on a season long loan from Real Madrid and even though he is 34, I think he is one of the best centre backs to have ever played in the Premier League. He made John Terry look like a great defender as Carvalho’s positioning got him out of a lot of bad situations and to me it is not coincidence that Terry has looked a shadow of his former self since the departure of Carvalho. He played 210 times for the London club but the only problem is that he only played 13 times for Real Madrid last season so there will be question marks over his fitness and form.

Carvalho has played 75 times for Portugal

These are the sort of signings Mark Hughes should have been making from the beginning but unfortunately it seems like he currently has 11 individuals on the pitch rather than a team and if he doesn’t sort that out soon then a relegation battle will be on his hand yet again.

Hughes looking to improve QPR

A slow start to the transfer window might be starting to pick up the pace with QPR and Mark Hughes finally getting somewhere. They had been in talks with a lot of players and clubs to bring players in but finally they got in Taye Taiwo, a left back from AC Milan who has been linked to Arsenal and Newcastle in this transfer window.

The 26 year old has only played four league games for Milan but he was a very good full back for his previous club Marseille and was rated as one of the best in Europe at one point. QPR fans will be hoping he can rediscover this type of form and can aid them in their quest to stay in the Premier League.

No offence to the current left backs at the club but that is where they are the weakest and obviously Mark Hughes has identified this quickly. In his first two games he played Clint Hill in that position and although he is a very steady player in the Championship he is not good enough for the Premier League and left back isn’t even his best position as I believe he does a better job at centre back. The other left back in the squad is Armand Traore who is 22 and does seem to have some potential which former manager Neil Warnock spotted but against the better side he looks poor when defending and not very effective going forward with wayward passes and awful crosses. Which was shown mostly in his last game for Arsenal when they shipped eight at Old Trafford and then proved once again that he is a liability in one of his first games for QPR when he was branded a disgrace by Warnock for his sending off in the game against Aston Villa.

Hughes obviously wants to improve the defence with QPR being linked to players such as Chris Samba and Wayne Bridge. However, both of these look unlikely as Blackburn are reluctant to let Samba go and if they do Tottenham seem very interested and will probably be a better destination for the centre back. Wayne Bridge is a strange one for me as he doesn’t seem interested to leave Manchester City even though he gets nowhere near the first team, he just seems to want to pick up his wages and sit in the reserves. I hope I am wrong about him because to me he has been the second best England left back for years and if it wasn’t for Ashley Cole, he would have been first choice. I also feel sorry for him because he always joins a club with a lot of money and potential and then gets replaced, at Chelsea with Ashley Cole and now at City firstly with Kolarov and now Clichy. They are also in talks with Nedum Onuoha who may be a good signing as he did look promising for City.

QPR need to focus on improving their strike force though if they have realistic ambitions of staying in the league because Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell (although he was impressive for Blackpool last season), Rob Hulse and Federico Macheda they are not going to score a lot of goals. I would have put Heidar Helguson in that list but so far he has done the business somewhat surprisingly but I don’t think he alone will score enough goals to keep them up.

They also need a goal scoring midfielder but they aren’t easy to find so they may just be hoping that when Taarabt comes back from the Africa Cup of Nations he will live up to his potential because I was expecting a lot more from him but he has been unable to step up to the plate.