Mark Hughes joins Bradford: When Joey Barton challenged him to a fight at QPR

After more than three years out of the game, former Manchester City, Blackburn and Stoke boss Mark Hughes is back in football after being appointed manager of League Two outfit Bradford City.

Far from the bright lights of the Premier League, 58-year-old Hughes will be hoping that his no-nonsense style of management can help propel the 15th-placed Bantams up the table in England’s fourth-tier, starting with the visit of Mansfield on Saturday afternoon.

The Welshman’s approach to management isn’t for everybody, though, and certainly didn’t go down well with Joey Barton, who played under Hughes at Queens Park Rangers during a reign that lasted barely 10 months.

“I don’t like Mark Hughes. I don’t think he is a good manager,” Barton told talkSPORT in 2018.

“His tenure at QPR was, let’s be honest, abysmal. For me, he’s a really, really, really poor manager.

“That’s my experience of him. He has his fanboys like [Robbie] Savage – who he’s pals with – but, to me, his record doesn’t stack up.

“I struggled with Mark because he’s just got no people skills.”

BRADFORD, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 24: New Bradford City Manager Mark Hughes poses for a photograph at Utilita Energy Stadium on February 24, 2022 in Bradford, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)

Barton then went on to savage Hughes’ record as a boss.

Given that Hughes had been sacked by Manchester City, QPR and Stoke before arriving at Southampton in March 2018, Barton was incredulous that the former Manchester United striker had been given an opportunity at St. Mary’s

“It’s unbelievable that he’s got the Southampton job. It shows how poor the managerial pool is.

“Football management is one of the few jobs where you can be absolutely c**p and get paid a lot of money for being c**p because you get sacked.”

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Mark Hughes, Manager of Southampton reacts during the Premier League match between Southampton FC and Newcastle United at St Mary’s Stadium on October 27, 2018 in Southampton, United Kingdom. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

As harsh as that might sound, Barton was pretty much bang on the money when it came to Hughes’ prospects at Southampton. He was relieved of his duties in December 2018 – less than nine months after arriving at the club.

That was Hughes’ final role before taking over at Bradford on Thursday. It remains to be seen how he will fare in west Yorkshire.

Watch: Joey Barton savaging the managerial ability of Mark Hughes in 2018

Barton certainly didn’t hold back with his feelings towards Hughes, but nothing that he said would have come as a shock to the veteran boss.

Barton once challenged Hughes to a fight

On a 2016 episode of Sky One’s A League Of Their Own, Barton revealed that he had actually tried to fight Hughes in his office during the pair’s time at QPR.

“I followed one high-profile manager, [later revealed to be Hughes] into his office, locked the door on him and said, ‘Come on let’s just sort this out, me and you.

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“The only way to sort this out is me and you have a fight ’cause I hate you so much and you hate me, let’s just sort it out and whoever walks out, walks out and we get on with it,” he said, per The Sun.

It was up to Hughes to remind Barton that any physical altercation would have major consequences for them both.

‘No, no, no. He was like, ‘What do you mean?’

“I said: ‘You’re treating my like a k***head, you think I’m a k***head’, and he was like, ‘I obviously can’t fight you, I’m the manager of the football club’, and I was like, ‘Oh yeah – actually you can’t’.

“So we had to kind of de-escalate it.”

Hughes might have successfully calmed the situation down, but we reckon he’d have loved to have had a swing at Barton if circumstances would have allowed it.

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