Apr 27 2012 By Paul Warburton
QPR players think away grounds are bigger than they actually are – according to their boss.
The mind game afflicting those in hoops is indirectly the fault of Loftus Road – both enemy and friend to Rangers as they prepare to face Champions League finalist and derby rivals Chelsea on Sunday.
W12 is a fortress right now, but Mark Hughes reckons the tight, little ground does nothing for beleaguered Hoops on their travels.
Such is the LR bear pit, it was the 12th man that helped beat Spurs last Saturday to go with recent fine wins over Arsenal, Swansea and Liverpool.
But on the road they have failed to register three points since the middle of Noevember.
Rangers are hoping to turn their wretched away form on its head when they cross Hammersmith & Fulham for the Sunday lunchtime kick-off.
And if Hughes is right, the enclosed surrounds of Stamford Bridge should be more to Rs’ taste.
He said: “Loftus Road is very tight.
“But when we go to bigger grounds it looks as if there is more ground to cover, a feeling of expanse if you like, when in fact the pitch sizes are very similar.
“We need to be more dynamic away from home. The key when you’re away is to score first, but there is definite plus playing at Loftus Road.”
Sparky comes face to face with his old Chelsea team-mate from the 90s, and the man of the week as far as west London is concerned following the miracle of Barcelona.
Hughes revealed that Roberto Di Matteo is anything but the suave, cool and collected manager he now portrays, and was a bit of a lad in the Bridge changing room.
Di Matteo held his own with the likes of Dennis Wise, according to Sparky, and the Rangers manager was unable to hide a smile when it was suggested the Italian was as quiet as his public persona suggests.
“I don’t remember him being shy and retiring, he was very much part of the banter,” said Hughes. “He’s very gregarious and enjoyed the company of everybody and liked a laugh and a joke.
“It was a tragedy his playing career was cut short when it was.”
Hughes hinted the full-time job at Chelsea is Di Matteo’s if he can land glory in the shape of the Champions League trophy and the FA Cup.
“Decisions will be made at the end of the season dependent on how many trophies he has,” added Hughes.