Oct 19 2012 By Paul Warburton
QPR’s captain just needs time – despite what fans and former players say, reckons Mark Hughes.
The Rs boss is unrepentant at having signed Park Ji-sung from Manchester United in the summer and making him skipper.
In fact, the more Park stays on the pitch, the better he will become, says Hughes.
The Korean international must feel he has been backed up against a wall by his own fans after a string of lacklustre performances ended in him being substituted twice in the past three games and yellow-carded in the defeat to West Brom the weekend before last.
But the most astonishing outburst came from former Rs hero Lee Cook, who says Park is just not pulling his weight.
Cook, now at Leyton Orient, is a dyed in the wool Rangers fan and he believes the captain is far from the finished product.
"Every time I saw Park at United, he was a workhorse," he said. "For me, he doesn’t seem to be working as hard as he did there.
"People I know think a few of them are there for a pay day. At halfway through the season, you will be able to tell whether this is true or not."
Tweets and web postings have lambasted the Korean for being lightweight and seemingly disinterested.
Others say he is being played out of position and is not helped by the instability in the side.
But Hughes and chairman Tony Fernandes beg to differ, and the former explained Park’s appointment as captain was about his impact on the squad – not just about creating interest in the Far East market.
"He’s a good player and his experience will be invaluable," the manager told the Chronicle. "In the last couple of years he hasn’t had a run of games and that can get a lot of getting used to.
"He’s a good character around the group and that’s one of the reasons I gave him the armband.
"He’s just needs to get into the rhythm and continuity of playing that he hasn’t had up to now.
"Once he has that, it will help his form and his impact on games."
Hughes maintains Rangers will be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the campaign.
They sit rock bottom without a win going into Sunday’s home match against Everton, but history is on the coach’s side.
In his one season down the road at Fulham, Hughes was also in danger of the sack.
After a poor run, the Whites went to Stoke just after Christmas 2010 and went on a run that took them out of the relegation zone to eighth – their second highest finish in the top flight.
"My teams have been invariably stronger in the second half of the season and it’s what we’re working towards on a daily basis," he said.