Mark Lawrenson's verdict on Neil Warnock's sacking by QPR

Neil Warnock
Queens Park Rangers could turn to Mark Hughes as Warnock's successor

Neil Warnock's sacking as QPR manager probably came as no surprise to him following the ominous messages sent out by owner Tony Fernandes in the last few days.

He revealed publicly that he had "lots to think about" after travelling back from QPR's 1-1 draw at MK Dons in the FA Cup third round - earned with a very late goal - and I suspect most people could have guessed what those thoughts were.

Fernandes had already delivered a shot across the bows saying everyone was responsible for the downturn in results, but ultimately it is always the manager that pays the price.

The new owner arrived and spent big in the August transfer window on players like Joey Barton, but it has just not happened for QPR. They have only won four Premier League games this season and their last victory was on 19 November at Stoke.

I do feel sorry for Warnock, as I do when anyone loses their job, especially as he took them up automatically from the Championship in some style under very difficult circumstances, but Fernandes has spent his money and clearly wanted better.

The funny thing is that I do not actually think QPR are as bad as their results have suggested, but they have simply not been able to score enough goals despite bringing in Jay Bothroyd, DJ Campbell and Shaun Wright-Phillips.

But Fernandes is clearly a man with ambitions and new owners often want new managers, their own managers. If you buy a new house you sometimes want new furniture and this is often the case with owners and managers in football.

And we are into that crucial January transfer window, QPR are 17th and struggling and clearly there is money to spend. Fernandes will have weighed up whether Warnock was the right man to spend it.

Having worked their way into the Premier League and invested heavily, Fernandes will not want QPR to be anywhere near the drop after spending his money.

So as well as results, and even though QPR are still in the FA Cup, there were plenty of factors for Fernandes to weigh up and his decision has been to change his manager, which is unfortunate for Warnock after he worked so hard to win promotion.

Also there are quite a few decent managers around and Mark Hughes was being touted very heavily as a potential successor once news of Warnock's departure was confirmed.

I think he would be ideal. He will be looking to get back into Premier League management after leaving another west London club in Fulham last summer. He will be the calibre of manager QPR would surely be delighted to have.

Hughes is an excellent, experienced manager and could be counted on to do a similar job to the work he did at Blackburn where he spent very well within his budgets and always had his side competing.

So while there will be sympathy for Warnock after all his work to restore QPR's fortunes, the events of the last couple of weeks means this news does not come as a big shock.

Mark Lawrenson was speaking to BBC Sport's Phil McNulty

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