Mark Hughes is no longer the manager of Queen’s Park Rangers. Many of us have been aware of that for some time, but it was made official last Friday, after Harry Redknapp somehow convinced the Rangers board that he genuinely wanted to manage the Ukraine national team. As part of the ruse, Redknapp took photos of his son Jamie tied up and beaten, showed them to QPR chairman Tony Fernandes, and insisted that “We’re in deep wiv the gangsters! I ain’t got no choice!”.
Hughes has immediately plunged back into work, having been hired by Transport For London, where he will travel on trains and tut extremely loudly at anyone that misbehaves. But what about his backroom staff? It’s no secret that Hughes is accompanied to each new club by an extended coterie that fulfils his every need. Assistant manager Mark Bowen and goalkeeping coach Kevin Hitchcock are reasonably well known, but there are others working behind the scenes who are vital to Hughes’s middling success. Let’s take a look at some of the work conducted by Team Hughes.
Jon Plumber, Carpenter – His primary role is given to making extra large desks for Hughes, although in recent months he has been working ever more frantically, sanding down wooden surfaces (such as doorframes, shelves etc) that have been bitten by QPR players out of sheer frustration at their own bumbling incompetence. A fan of the sitcom Seinfeld, he is eager to try out the infamous ‘desk-bed’ model famously pioneered by George Costanza. He has been pitching the idea to workaholic Hughes for years, with no apparent success. His next club may well benefit from such unfulfilled furniture potential; it is thought that Reading’s Brian McDermott, with his poor diet high in sugar and saturated fats, may benefit from such power naps. Invaluable for team morale, with his ironic surname causing no end of dressing room japes!
Anna Plapp, Freudian Analyst – Paid every 15 minutes to assess the troubled psyche of the Welsh manager-turned-redundand. May struggle to find work at another Premier League club, having attracted criticism for failing to recognise the obvious phallic symbol represented by Hughes’s pathological proclivity for increasingly large desks. That such an experienced analyst would fail to spot such a glaring neurosis is a damning indictment of their work, but is considered a rare oversight. She once famously diagnosed Hughes’s unconscious desire to hump his mother simply by observing the way the Welshman ties his shoelaces. Hughes has been a fan ever since, and he and his mother are now happily in sex with one another.
Loz Smith, Feng Shui adviser – Forever indebted by Hughes for the masterstroke of placing two big, round, pink beanbags either side of his big desk to make them look like balls. This technique was employed while at Fulham, and was an implicit invitation to the players to sit next to the manager and discuss their personal problems throughout the day. This unorthodox method helped to raise team spirits, and developed the manager’s rapport with his team, whilst also making Hughes feel as if he had massive testicles, which he liked.
Keith Bembley, Club Stationer – Responsible for stocking and arranging vital office equipment such as mousemats, Post-It notes, desk tidies, desktop calendars and other essential desk-related sundries. Must also ensure the prompt delivery of Desk! magazine by the first Friday of each month. He doesn’t really do much else. An essential part of Team Hughes.
Susan Guzan, PA – Plays a vital role, constantly taking dictation on behalf of Hughes, noting down every thought to spill from his pinched old lady mouth and prematurely aged head. He is unable to take notes of his own, as years of obsessive (David Bentley once said “monomaniacal”, surprisingly) desk use have rendered him incapable of writing down anything unless he is at a perfect 90 degree angle to a flat page. Previous attempts at taking pitchside notes whilst standing up have resulted in some harrowing tragedies, such as the time he accidentally severed a ball-boy’s jugular vein when trying to double-underline the phrase ‘flat back four’. Hughes has only ever used crayons since.