LONDON (Reuters) - Stoke City boss Mark Hughes deserves a good reception from Queens Park Rangers fans despite being blamed for the club’s relegation to the Championship in 2013, manager Harry Redknapp said on Thursday.
The Welshman returns to Loftus Road on Saturday for the first time since he was sacked by Rangers chairman Tony Fernandes in November 2012 after his side went 12 games without a win.
Hughes, who had replaced Neil Warnock as QPR manager in January 2012, narrowly avoided the drop during his first season in charge but took much of the blame for the club’s relegation to the second tier in 2013.
“I hope he gets a good reception. Mark is a great lad and a top manager,” Redknapp, who replaced Hughes as manager but failed keep the club in the Premier League, told a news conference.
“He did okay here the first year, but then he had a difficult start to the season and that can happen to anybody. Anyone has got an opinion about everything – you can’t please all people all the time.”
Redknapp’s Rangers have scored just one goal in four Premier League matches since their return this season, conceding nine. They are 16th, with three points, while Stoke are 14th with four.
After escaping relegation in 2012, Hughes spent heavily on a number of marquee signings, including the likes of Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero, Brazil goalkeeper Julio Cesar and Chelsea defender Jose Bosingwa.
The new arrivals failed to deliver in west London, but Redknapp does not think the former Manchester City boss is entirely to blame.
“He wouldn’t have been responsible for the whole group of players in that spell,” said Redknapp.
“It wouldn’t all be down to Mark. He inherited some of them and some of them came in. He’ll take the blame as he was the manager. That’s football.”
Hughes has since rebuilt his reputation at Stoke, leading them to ninth in the Premier League last season, and Redknapp did not think the 50-year-old would be worried about returning.
“Mark won’t lose any sleep about coming back here. It will be another three points at stake for him,” added Redknapp.
“You’ll never get the perfect group and it was probably a difficult time for him. He’s done a good job at Stoke and I think they can finish in the top half.”
Reporting By Michael Hann, editing by Alan Baldwin