Neil Warnock, who parted company with Leeds United on Monday, has said he hopes Mark Hughes succeeds him at Elland Road so that the Welshman can "destroy another team of mine". But Warnock's comments drew a sharp response on Wednesday night from Hughes's former right-hand man at Queens Park Rangers, Mark Bowen, who drew attention to Warnock's Premier League record.
Hughes, who has been linked with the Leeds' vacancy, replaced Warnock at Loftus Road in January 2012 and kept QPR in the Premier League on the final day of the season. Following a major overhaul and investment in the squad last summer, Hughes was sacked in November with QPR bottom of the table and without a league win.
Warnock's resentment about his departure from Loftus Road, and criticism of the squad he left behind, surfaced at the idea of being replaced by Hughes once again. "I personally hope Mark Hughes follows me again and destroys another team of mine," said the 64-year-old, who has not ruled out taking another job in football. "I don't think it's a club for a young manager.
"There is so much going on behind the scenes it is ridiculous really. It needs somebody who has seen it all and done it all. I laugh when I see some of these names: a) we can't afford the compensation and b) do you think Mark Hughes would want Leeds United at the moment? It's a hard one but there are a lot of applicants."
The former Reading manager Brian McDermott and the ex-Leeds assistant manager Gus Poyet are also in the frame but Poyet may prove difficult to lure from Brighton who are hopeful of promotion to the Premier League via the play-offs. Neil Redfearn, the manager of the Leeds academy, and Gwyn Williams, the technical director, are currently in charge and could remain in place for the remaining six league games to give the owners, GFH Capital, time to assess their options.
Warnock's criticism of Hughes prompted a withering response from Bowen, who worked alongside the former Manchester United striker at Wales, Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City, Fulham and QPR. Bowen claimed Warnock's Premier League record paled in comparison with that of Hughes.
"I'm not going to sugar-coat what went on at the start of the season with Mark's situation," said Bowen. "We were 10 games into the season and without a win. There are reasons for what has gone on at QPR and what we inherited. We finished the season getting rid of 21 senior players who weren't, with all due respect to them, up to the Premier League.
"Out of all of the players that left not one of them went on to gain a Premier League contract. These are players who Neil Warnock had brought in to the club.
"Everybody knows the club has been in a huge transitional period but it does stick in my throat a bit that Neil has lost another job and started throwing mud around. When you look at Mark Hughes's Premier League record, before he went to QPR, it was fabulous, he had never been out of the top 10.
"When you look at Neil Warnock's record, I think the three times he's been in the top leagues he's been relegated twice, with Notts County and Sheffield United, and won the sum total of about 14 Premier League games.
"That's what hurts me the most. There's no need for it, Neil doesn't need to come out and say things like that."